« AnteriorContinuar »
her natural ease of deportment, and grandeur of person, concealed every minor failing. In the course of conversation, upon even trifling topics, she had a singular method of charming the ear; she uttered her words as Shakspeare advises the actors, smoothly and trippingly from the tongue; and however voluble in enunciation her part might require her to be, not a syllable was ever lost.
"A remarkable instance of public regard was shewn to this lady when she first brought her daughter on the stage. Mrs. Pritchard stooped to play Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, in order to introduce Miss Pritchard in her attempt to act Juliet; the daughter's timidity was contrasted by the mother's apprehensions, which were strongly painted in their looks, and these were incessantly interchanged by stolen glances at each other. This scene of mutual sensibility was so affecting, that many of the audience burst into tears, and all were enthusiastic in their applause.
"In the year 1768, Mrs. Pritchard took leave of the public, in her favourite part, Lady Macbeth; and out of respect to that excellent woman, Garrick performed the ambitious Thane, as it happened also, for the last time. Mrs. Pritchard's action, both before and after the murder, was strongly characteristical; it presented an image of a mind insensible to compunction, and inflexibly bent to achieve its purpose. When she snatched the daggers from the irresolute Macbeth, despising his remorse and terror, she presented to the audience an awful picture of intrepid guilt. As she grappled the instruments of death, and exclaimed, "Give me the daggers," her look and gesture cannot be described, and will not soon be forgotten by the surviving spectators. At the banquet scene, she discovered, if possible, still greater felicity in delineating this terrible character. Macbeth, on beholding the ghost of Banquo, betrays himself to his guests by his alarm and perturbation. Mr Pritchard's skill in endeavouring to engage the attention of the company, and draw them from the observation of her lord's agitation, equalled anything that was ever seen in the art of acting. In exhibiting the last scene of Lady Macbeth, in which the terrors of a guilty conscience keep the mind broad awake while the body sleeps, Mrs. Pritchard's acting resembled those sudden flashes of lightning which more accurately discover the horrors of surrounding darkness.
"She spoke her farewell epilogue with many tears and sobs, which were increased by the generous feelings of a numerous and splendid audience. She retired to Bath and died there, about four months after, of a mortification in her foot."
THIS lady was a little above the middle size, with a fair complexion, well made, but rather incling to the en bon point. Her hair was of a light auburn, and fell gracefully on her shoulders, particularly in those parts which required this mode of head-dress. Her features were regular, and corresponding; and though her eyes were naturally strong, or distinctly brilliant, they gave a pleasing interest to her looks. To all these there was a certain modest gaieté de cœur in her manner and address, that at once conciliated respect and affection.
Her chief excellence lay in the gentle and pathetic characters of tragedy; her Desdemona was a truly admirable effort; the whole part being so naturally sustained, that her audience was cheated into a belief that the sufferings she delineated were real. In her old age the manager of Covent Garden theatre induced her to return to the stage, as the rival of Mrs. Siddons, then in the zenith of her popularity. Competent judges have declared that Mrs. Barry was superior in pathos; but her fine
powers were then impaired, and the triumph of her wonderful successor was not long doubtful. Mrs. Barry died in November, 1801. MRS. SIDDONS.
THE natural advantages of this wonderful woman were of the highest order. She was rather tall, yet not ungracefully so; her form was perfectly symmetrical, and the dignity of her gait and general deportment has never been equalled. In her youth she had all the feminine graces of her sex; but at a maturer age, her countenance, though extremely beautiful, was chiefly remarkable on account of the commanding intellectual expression evident in every feature. The piercing intelligence of her eyes was quite astonishing; she frequently threw more meaning into a single glance, than could have been conveyed in a whole page of blank verse. Her voice was by far the finest we have ever heard, and her articulation was so distinct, that even a whisper from her was audible in the remotest parts of our immense theatres. Our notice of her parti
cular excellencies must be confined to four of her
principal Shakspeare characters, in all of which she has left an impression which makes it dangerous for any other actress to attempt them.
Isabella, in Measure for Measure. Her dress in this part was extremely plain: she appeared in the simple habit of a nun; yet her surpassingly noble figure was, perhaps, never seen to greater advantage. The moment she came before the audience, every other object lost its attraction, and the most restrained motion of her hand produced a sensation which can only be conceived by those who have seen her. When Lucio informed her of Claudio's peril, the mournful expression of her fine face told all a sister's love, and her eager willingness to become a suppliant to Angelo was most affectingly impressive. At the close of the scene, she had to go over the whole depth of the stage before she could leave it, yet such was the grace and dignity of her exit, that it was constantly followed with immense applause. Her supplication to Angelo was surely the most moving piece of eloquence that ever flowed from mortal lips; it was not merely pathetic, it was sublime; and in the speech beginning
"Oh! you and I, and all the souls that are, Were forfeit once,"
her action was indescribably beautiful; she placed her left hand on the cross at her girdle, the other was raised in an attitude of solemn adjuration, he■ devotion, softened into tenderness by a recollection countenance gradually kindled into an ecstacy of of her brother's danger, and as she proceedec with her energetic appeal, she stood before the au dience like a being under the immediate influence Angelo's base proposal for extending mercy t of inspiration. When she was fully possessed o Claudio, the "corrupt deputy in the terrible burst of indignation which she poure seemed to withe claimed "I will proclaim thee to the world. forth; as with irrepressible vehemence she ex Nothing could be more natural than her dejectio less, and the expression of deep sorrow which sh when convinced that her complaints would be use threw into the following passage, as she retireč can never be forgotten:
"I'll tell him yet of Angelo's request, And fit his mind to death for his soul's rest."
Her interview with Claudio in the prison, ha every excellence of which such a scene is suscept ble. When Claudio, on hearing Angelo's term exclaimed, "Thou shalt not do it," her headlom delight, as she threw herself into his arms and crie out in the triumphant wildness of joy, "Ther spoke my brother," filled the audience with ast nishment, which shewed itself in perfect silence f several seconds, and then broke into a shout applause which appeared to shake the house.
Lady Constance. This character appears only in three scenes of King John; yet whenever Mrs. Siddons performed it, it was the chief point of attraction, and it deserved to be so. In her personification of this wonderful delineation of maternal affection and sorrow, you saw, from the first, that she was the prey of some all absorbing grief; yet pily was not the only sentiment she inspired, for ber miseries had a sublimity and grandeur about them, which made mere compassion improper. In the first scene, her eye was scarcely ever withdrawn from her "pretty Arthur;" she appeared to live in his looks, and in the desolation of widowbood, her heart seemed incapable of any other comfort. Yet her mind seemed to retain all its exalted character. The slightest wafture of her hand seemed to have the force of an irresistible comad; her most casual glance appeared to compel sbedience, and those that surrounded her, looked only worthy to be her servants. In the next scene, her reception of the messenger from the kings, and her refusing to be content," were in the finest strain of tragedy; but when she threw herself on the stage, exclaiming, "Here I and sorrow sit," a sublimely affecting picture was produced, which not even Garrick's Lear, when he cursed Goneril, could have surpassed. Her taunts of Austria,
** Hang a calf's skin on those recreant limbs," were conceived and uttered in a tone of bitter irony and contempt, which seemed to blast the being it was directed against. And in her appeal to beaven from the injustice of man, her voice, lok, and attitude, were so eloquent, intellectual, and commanding, that it was impossible to doubt the rectitude or success of her supplication. All this, bowever, was but preparatory to the effect produced in her last scene. Arthur is taken prisoner and carried into England by king John, and Constance on hearing of the event, abandons all hope. She entered with the hurried step and wild despairing look of madness; her voice had grown harsh with grief, its tones were broken and unequal. When the Cardinal addressed her in the ordinary topics of consolation, her answer, He talks to me that never had a son,"
Queen Katharine-Dr. Johnson, in a conversation with Mrs. Siddons, said, that in his opinion this was the most perfect female character in the whole range of our drama. Until Mrs. Siddons made it peculiarly her own, it had never been adequately filled she was the very being of the poet's fancy-grand, commanding, melancholy. Her plead mes for the people against Wolsey's exactions were most majestically delivered: but who can describe her excellence in the trial scene? Harlow's pucture may give an idea of her attitude and action, but any attempt to depict the intellect displayed must be futile. The lion-like Elizabeth, in the days of her glory, could not have uttered thing more indicative of mental power than the **Lord cardinal-to you I speak," as delivered Mrs. Siddons. The struggle of mind and matter, drsity and fortitude, so wonderfully drawn in Katharine's last scene at Kimbolton, were never xtually given till painted by this highly-gifted * As she reposed on her cushioned chair, Abe would cause the pillows to be shifted with all
the restlessness so common in disease; and then becoming tranquil, would listen to the solemn music with an air of divine content that made her look more than mortal; and during her supposed sleep, the rapture that breathed over her countenance did not seem of the earth. On awakening, the calm collected way in which she made her last requests might well be thought too real for mere acting; and her concluding speech,
"When I am dead, let me be us'd with honour," was a noble burst of dignified sentiment, which, conveyed in the melody of her voice, became a glorious triumph of genius.
Lady Macbeth.-This terrible character, the one in which Mrs. Siddons left the stage, was, perhaps, her most astonishing performance. When she appeared, reading Macbeth's letter, her keen, penetrating eye seemed to devour the lines, and her spirit revelled in the hope of coming greatness. Her courtesy to Duncan was of the most insinuating description, and well entitled her to be called "most kind hostess." When she persuaded her husband to the murder, her arguments were given in a cold, fiend-like tone, that curdled the blood with horror. After the perpetration of the deed, her scorn of Macbeth's terrors, and her exclamation, "Give me the daggers," was beyond conception powerful. Her dignity and grace in the banquet scene left competition at an immeasurable distance : there can be but one Siddons. We are almost afraid to speak of her excellence while she uttered the few sentences in which Shakspeare describes the terrors of a remorseful conscience. Her dress was perfectly white, and her face paler than her robes; her steps had no echo, and the immoveable fixedness of her eye was awful; she walked to a table and put down her taper without speaking. Then, as she rubbed her hands, and made the action of pouring water upon them, with fearful earnestness, she ejaculated, in a whispering tone, "Out, damned spot!" Her task is hopeless, the evidence of guilt remains. The blackness of despair overwhelmed her, and as she solemnly inquired, "Will all the perfumes of Arabia sweeten this little hand?” the throbbings of her heart were obvious both to the eye and the ear.
WE mention this enchanting actress as the most perfect representative of Juliet that ever graced the stage. To a finely-proportioned form, a Grecian head and features exquisitely harmonized, was added a mind fully capable of conceiving the sublimity and terror of the concluding scenes in the character of Juliet. We see her still, as she moved in the light of her own loveliness through the more level business of the play. At first, all playfulness and girlish vivacity; then, as in the garden scene, her volatility of heart tinged with a shade of melancholy; the subtle fever of love stealing over her fine countenance, now giving its roses a deeper blush, and now leaving it as pale as monumental marble. In a little while, the timid, fearful maiden became, without any violence to the spectators' feelings, the resolute, heroic woman; and, in one scene, that in which Juliet swallows the sleeping potion, not even Siddons, in her noblest moments of inspiration, could excel her. As she proceeded with her terrible description of the horrors of the tomb, the vault of the Capulets seemed to rise: Tybalt, festering in his shroud, was no longer a dream of fancy; and the madness which usurped the brain of the trembling Juliet, seemed amply accounted for. Nothing could equal this, unless it was her own acting, when on slowly awakening in the monument she becomes conscious of her situation; beholds Romeo just expiring; and, tired of the world and its sorrows, ends her own in the friendly arms of death.
upon the plan of Ranelagh, decorated with various devices. Transparencies were invented for the town-house, through which the poet's most striking characters were seen. A small old house, where Shakspeare was born, was covered over with a curious emblematical transparency; the subject was the sun struggling through clouds to enlighten the world; a figurative representation of the fate and fortunes of the much-beloved bard. The Jubilee lasted three days; during which time, entertainments of oratorios, concerts, pageants fire-works, &c. were presented to a very brillian and numerous company assembled from all parts of the kingdom. Many persons of the highes quality and rank, of both sexes, some of the mos celebrated beauties of the age, and men distin guished for their genius and love of the elegan arts, thought themselves happy to fill the grand chorus of this high festival. Mr. Garrick's Ode o Shakspeare was that part of the general exhibi tion which most excited the regard, and gaine the applause, of the candid and judicious part the company.
WE quote from Murphy and Davies, some account of the Jubilee celebrated by Garrick in honour of the mighty dramatist whose productions he so nobly illustrated. Davies gives us the following information:-"The idea of a Jubilee, or grand festival in honour of Shakspeare, was reserved for Garrick. Not many years since, a wealthy clergyman purchased the house and gardens of Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon. A man of taste, in such a situation, would have congratulated himself on his good fortune; but the luckless and ignorant owner trod the ground which had been cultivated by the first genius of the world, without feeling those warm emotions which arise in the breast of the generous enthusiast. The mulberry-tree, planted by the poet's own hand, became an object of dislike to the tasteless proprietor, because it overshadowed his window and rendered the house, as he thought, subject to damps and moisture. In an evil hour, the unhappy priest ordered it to be cut down. The people of Stratford, who had been taught to venerate everything which had belonged to Shakspeare, were seized with grief and astonishment when they were informed of the sacrilegious deed; and nothing less than the destruction of the offender, in the first transports of their rage, would satisfy them. The miserable culprit was forced to skulk up and down, to save himself from the rage of the Stratfordians. He was obliged at last to leave the town, amidst the curses of the populace, who solemnly vowed never to suffer one of the same name to reside in Stratford. The mulberry-tree, thus cut down, was purchased by a carpenter, [Skottowe says a watch-tion of their townsman, the lower and more ig maker named Thos. Sharp] who, knowing the value rant class of the people entertained the most p which all the world professed for anything which posterous and absurd notions of the Jubilee: th belonged to Shakspeare, very ingeniously cut into viewed Mr. Garrick with some degree of app various shapes, of small trunks, snuff-boxes, tea- hension and terror; they considered him as a r chests, standishes, tobacco-stoppers, &c. The gician, and dreaded the effects of his wand corporation bought several of this man's curious strongly as the deluded populace did formerly manufacture of the mulberry-tree; and influenced the darkest days of ignorance, the power of wi by good sense and superior taste, they enclosed craft. Yet one thing must not be forgotten; tho the edom of Stratford in a box made of this these sordid wretches were so stupid as to imp sacred wood, and sent it to Mr. Garrick; at the the violent rains which fell during the Jubilee same time, they requested of him, in very polite the judgment and vengeance of heaven, which terms, a bust, statue, or picture of his admired by them supposed to be angry with the exhibi Shakspeare, which, they informed him, they in- of fireworks, balls, assemblies, masquerades, tended to place in their town hall; they also begged other public diversions, they took advantage of bim to oblige them with his own picture, to be vast crowds of people who flocked to Strat placed near that of his favourite author, in lasting from all parts of the kingdom, to exact the remembrance of both. This judicious compliment exorbitant prices for lodgings, provisions, gave rise to the Shakspeare Jubilee. In September, every necessary article of accommodation.' 1769, an amphitheatre was erected at Stratford,
All this might appear very grand and impo
The airs of this ode were set to music by D Arne, who combined all the powers of harmony do justice to the subject. The recitative spoken by Mr. Garrick, with such grace, energ and propriety, that music was, for the first tim compelled to yield the palm to the superior for and harmony of speaking. Though the wealt and liberal part of the inhabitants of Stratfo were truly sensible of the honour conferred up them by this magnificent festival in commemo
zh, decorated wit icies were invente which the poet en. A small al rn, was covend
ical transparen Hing through clas rative represen le much-beloved s; during whi , concerts, p ted to a very embled from sons of the g es, some of the
ge, and men is love of the Py to All the p fr. Garrick's
the general ey regard, and ad judicioas
et to music
wers of harm he recitatin
ch grace, For the first he superar ugh the sa nts of Su conferred in com and more d the m Jubilee & ree of
d him wis his was
d formed wer ef
otten; the as to e Jubiles e exhibi ierades
ntage d Str
et the stars
the Jubilee ended abruptly, and the company left the place with precipitation.
The Stratford Jubilee was, in October, trans
for he intended to mimic the Stratford Jubilee at
to Garrick and his contemporaries; but whether
Murphy's account of the Jubilee, is as follows:
lagh, was erected on the banks of the river, and
to work. A boarded rotunda, in imitation of Rane-intermixed; and the whole concluded with a grand procession, in which Shakspeare's plays were exhibited in succession, with a banner displayed before each of them, and a scene painted on the canvas to mark the play intended. A train of performers, dressed in character, followed the colours, all in dumb shew, acting their respective parts. Mrs. Abington, at last, in a triumphal car, represented the Comic Muse. Dr. Arne's music, the magnificence of the scenery and decorations, and the abilities of the actors, conspired to establish the entertainment in the public opinion in so powerful a manner, that we are assured, by a gentleman who has a collection of the playbills, that it was repeated no less than one hundred times in the course of the season. During the run of the piece, Garrick, on several intermediate nights, ascended a pulpit raised on the stage, and there spoke his Ode to the Memory of Shakspeare in a style of graceful eloquence.'
"On the 8th of September, there was a splendid ball in the rotanda, and for the following day was announced a grand procession through the town, in which the principal characters in Shakspeare's plays were to be exhibited. It happened, however, that a violent tempest of wind and rain made it impossible to put this part of the scheme into execution;
This dramatic piece was revived by Mr. Kemble, on the 23d of April, 1816, exactly two hundred years after the death of Shakspeare, but it was not very favourably received.
"A nation's taste depends on you;
to which the pretended Roscius was to answer,
THE most minute particulars relative to our great dramatist have a peculiar charm for his admirers; and anything, however insignificant, which time has hallowed with recollections of Shakspeare, becomes venerable from the force of association.
Some traditions affirm that Anne Hathaway, Shakspeare's wife, was born at Shottery, a village in the vicinity of Stratford. The cottage where Anne's family resided, still stands: some time ago, there was a bed in it, which attracted great notice; an old woman of seventy was the chief witness in its favour, she had slept in it from childhood, and had been invariably told that it was as antient as the house, consequently, Shakspeare wight have slept in it. Large sums of money were repeatedly offered for this treasure; but in vain. During the celebration of Garrick's Jubilee, his brother George, purchased an inkstand, which the poet is said to have used, and a pair of fringed gloves, which it was assumed he had worn. David Garrick, notwithstanding all his enthusiasm for Shakspeare, was too careful of his purse to part with its contents for reliques, the genuineness of which was so questionable.
In the garden attached to New Place, flourished mulberry-tree, which the dramatist had planted with his own hands; and in 1742, when Garrick and Macklin visited 'Stratford, they were regaled beneath its venerable branches by sir Hugh Clopdown according to Malone's assertion, repaired it and did
everything in his power for its preservation. The rev. Francis Gastrell purchased the building from sir Hugh Clopton's heir, and being disgusted with the trouble of shewing the mulberry-tree to so many visitors, he caused this interesting and beautiful memorial of Shakspeare, to be cut down.
In the recess of a chimney stood an old oak chair, which, for many years, received worshippers as numerous as the renowned shrine of the Virgin at Loretto. This relic was, in the year 1790, purchased by a Russian princess, and removed to London in a post-chaise.
The first folio edition of Shakspeare derives estimation from a variety of circumstances, and happy is the bibliopole who can rank among his treasures a genuine copy of this invaluable book. The original price of this work was £1; and the late Mr. Boswell, at the sale of the Kemble library, thought himself fortunate in obtaining that gentleman's folio Shakspeare for £112:7s.; it is probable, however, that Mr. Kemble had spent three times as much in illustrating it.
The best authenticated Shakspeare reliques were disposed of at the sale of Garrick's effects, in 1823. An auction took place at that great actor's residence in the Adelphi, on the 23d of June. His collection of pictures fetched a large sum, but the following lots are the only ones necessary to be noticed here:
An ink-stand, formed of the
tree; sold for £5: 15s: 6d. to Mr. Knowles. A
salt-cellar, made ofdelft-ware, which it is believed belonged to Shakspeare, sold for £2: 2s. to Mr. Webb.
A pair of gloves and a dagger, formerly worn by Shakspeare, said, on tolerably good grounds, to be authentic; sold for £3: 5s. Mrs. Garrick also bequeathed a pair of gloves, once worn by Shakspeare, to Mrs. Siddons; how are we to distinguish the genuine?
Å box, made of the mulberry-tree at Stratford, containing the freedom of Lichfield, presented to Mr. Garrick; £4: 10s. We have little confidence in the gloves, dagger, and salt-cellar: the box and ink-stand were certainly curious, and if composed of the true wood, acquire a value with every lover of genius.
A vase and pedestal of the most exquisite workmanship, formed of the mulberry-tree, planted by Shakspeare, curiously mounted and ornamented with silver gilt, and a finely polished black marble
base and steps, the pedestal containing a medallion of Shakspeare on the one side, and on the other the following inscription: Sacred to the memory of William Shakspeare, the applause, delight, and wonder of the British stage, born 1564, died 1616," supported on a carved and partly gilt bracket, with a glass cover, sold for £22:11s: 6d. This vase was placed in the chamber in which Garrick slept. A singularly curious elbow-chair, enriched with the emblems of tragedy and comedy, admirably carved from a design by Hogarth, with a medallion of Shakspeare on the back, carved from a portion of the celebrated mulberry-tree, by Hogarth himself; sold for £152: 3s. This chair was always placed by the side of the statue of Shakspeare by Roubilliac, in the temple dedicated to the bard. A medallion portrait of Shakspeare, carved on a piece of the Stratford mulberry-tree, and originally worn by Garrick at the Jubilee, sold for £13.
Original Dedication and Preface to the Players' Edition.
The Dedication of the Players. Prefixed to the first
Whilst we studie to be thankful in our particular, for the many favors we have received from your L. L. we are falne upon the ill fortune, to mingle two the most diverse things that can bee, feare, and rashnesse; rashnesse in the enterprize, and feare of the successe. For, when we valew the places your H. H. sustaine, we cannot but know their dignity greater, then to descend to the reading of these trifles: and, while we name them trifles, we have depriv'd ourselves of the defence of our Dedication. But since your L. L. have been pleas'd to thinke these trifles some-thing, heeretofore; and have prosequuted both them, and their Authour living, with so much favour: we hope that (they out-living him, and he not having the fate, common with some, to be exequutor to his owne writings) you will use the same indulgence toward them, you have done unto their parent. There is a great difference, whether any booke choose his Patrones, or finde them: This hath done both. For, so much were your L. L. likings of the severall parts, when they were acted, as before they were published, the Volume ask'd to be yours. We have but collected them, and done an office to the dead, to procure his Orphanes, Guardians; without ambition either of selfe-profit, or fame: onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, and Fellow alive, as was our SHAKESPEARE, by humble offer of his playes, to your most noble patronage. Wherein, as we have justly observed, no man to come neere your L. L. but with a kind of religious addresse, it hath bin the height of our care, who are the Presenters, to make the present worthy of your H. H. by the perfection. But, there we must also crave our abilities to be considered, my Lords. We cannot go yond our owne powers. Country hands reach foorth milke, creame, fruites, or what they have: and many Nations (we have heard) that had not gummes and incense, obtained their requests with a leavened Cake. It was no fault to approch their Gods by what meanes they could: And the most, though meanest, of things are made more precious, when they are dedicated to Temples. In that name there
fore, we most humbly consecrate to your H. H. these remaines of your servant SHAKESPEARE; that what delight is in them may be ever your L. L. the reputation his, and the faults ours, if any be committed, by a payre so carefull to shew their gratitude both to the living, and the dead, as is Your Lordshippes most bounden, JOHN HEMINGE, HENRY CONDELL.
The Preface of the Players. Prefixed to the first
It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthie to have bene wished, that the Author himselfe had lived to have set forth, and overseen his owne writings But since it hath bin ordain'd otherwise, and he by death departed from that right, we pray you, do not envie his Friends, the office of their care and paine, to have collected and publish'd them; an so to have publish'd them, as where (before) yo were abus'd with divers stolne, and surreptition copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds an stealthes of injurious impostors, that expos'd them even those are now offer'd to your view cur'd, anperfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolut in their numbers, as he conceived the: Who, as h was a happie imitator of Nature, was a most gent expresser of it. His mind and hand went together and what he thought, he uttered with that easinesse that wee have scarse received from him a blot his papers. But it is not our province, who onel gather his works, and give them you, to praise him