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man had begun her part. By her change of tone and manner she showed that her heart was wound up to fulfill its destiny, and she bids the Nurse “Go in,” in a tone of dignified command. That there was such a change in Juliet we have always felt, but to mark its precise moment was reserved for this accomplished actress in a single tone.
It is hardly needless to say, that Mr. Kemble's Mercutio was delightful, independent even of the gallant spirit with which he carried off the weight of his anxieties on the first evening. It was charmingly looked, acted, and spokenwith only one little touch of baser matter in the mimickry of the Nurse—and closed by a death true to nature, and exhibiting, in milder light, all the brilliant traits of the character. Warde showed his good feeling in accepting the part of Friar Laurence, and his good taste in eaking the poetry of which it is made up: Mrs. Davenport played the Nurse as excellently as she has played it for the last twenty years, and not better than she will play it for twenty years to come; and Mrs. Kemble went through the little she had to do in Lady Capulet with true motherly grace.
THE MELO-DRAMAS AGAINST GAMBLING.
(New Monthly Magazine.)
THERE is at Paris, where all extremes meet, a kind of subtheatrical public, which makes amends for the severity of the orthodox dramatic code, by running wild after the most extravagant violations of all rules, and the strangest outrages on feeling and taste. Thus the members of this living paradox keep the balance even, and avenge the beautiful and the romantic. If they turn away with disgust from the Weird Sisters, and defy the magic in the web of Othello's handkerchief, they dote on Mr. Cooke in the Monster, and consecrate ribands to his fame. If they refuse to pardon the gravediggers in Hamlet, they seek for materials of absorbing interest in the charnal-house which no divine philosophy illumines. If they refuse to tragedy any larger bounds of time than their own classical poets could occupy with frigid declamations, they will select three days from distant parts of a wretched and criminal life, in order to exhibit in full and odious perfection, the horrors which two fifteen years of atrocity can accumulate and mature. Of all the examples of the daring side of their eternal antithesis, the melo-drama against gambling, produced within the last few months, is the most extraordinary and the most successful. Each act is crowded with incidents, in which the only relief from the basest fraud and the most sickening selfishness is to be found in deeds which would chill the blood if it had leisure to freeze. We do not only “sup full of horrors,” but breakfast and dine on them also. A youth, who on the eve of his wedding-day sells the jewels of his bride to gamble with the price, and who deceives her by the most paltry equivocations; a friend, who
supplies this youth with substituted diamonds which he has himself stolen; a broken-hearted father who dies cursing his son; and a seduction of the wife, filthily attempted while the husband is evading the officers of justice, are among the attractions which should enchain the attention, and gently arouse curiosity in the first act of this fascinating drama. The second act, exhibiting the same pair of fiends, after a lapse of fifteen years, is replete with appropriate fraud, heartlessness, and misery. But the last act crowns all, and completes the “moral lesson.” Here, after another fifteen years passed in the preparatory school of guilt, the hero verging on old age is represented as in the most squalid penury-an outcast from society, starving with a wife bent down by suffering, and a family of most miserable children crying for bread. His first exploit is to plunder a traveller, murder him, and hide his body in the sand; but this is little; the horror is only beginning. While his last murder is literally “ sticking on his hands,” his old tempter and companion, who had attempted to seduce his wife and had utterly blasted his fortunes, enters his hut, ragged and destitute, and by a few sentences rekindles the old love of play, and engages him in schemes of fraudulent gaming. After this little scene of more subdued interest, the parties leave the hut to inter the corpse of the assassinated traveller, and give opportunity for the entrance of the eldest son of the hero, and his recognition by his mother. In her brief absence, contrived for this special occasion, the friends resolve on murdering the youth, of whose name they are ignorant; the father watches while his familiar stabs the stranger on his couch; and just as the full horror is discovered, a thunderbolt sets fire to the dwelling of iniquity, and the father hurls his tempter into the flames and follows him! Such is the piece which has delighted the dainty critics of Paris, who revolt from Julius Cæsar as bloody, and characterize Hamlet as “the work of a drunken savage.”
But the most offensive circumstance attendant on the production of this bloody trash is the pretence that it is calculated to advance the cause of morality by deterring from the passion of gambling. What a libel is this on poor human nature! Of what stuff must that nature be made, if it could
receive benefit from such shocking pictures as representations affecting it nearly! No longer must we regard it as a thing of passion and weakness,-erring, frail, and misguided, yet full of noble impulses and gentle compassions and traits, indicating a heavenly origin and an immortal home; but moulded of low selfishness, and animated by demoniac fury. If earth has ever produced such beings as are here exposed on the scene, they are not specimens of any class of humanity, but its monsters. And on what minds is the exhibition to operate? On such as contain within themselves a conscious disposition to its atrocities, if any such there be, or on the rest of mankind, who sicken at the sight? The first are far beyond the reach of the actor's preaching; the last feel the lesson is not for them-if they indulge in gambling, they have no fear of murdering their sons, and their withers are unwrung.” In the mean time the “ moral lesson,” impotent for good, has a mischievous power to wear out the sources of sympathy, and to produce a dangerous familiarity with the forms of guilt, which, according to the solemn warnings of Sir Thomas Browne,“ have oft-times a sin even in their histories." “ We desire,” continues this quaint but noble writer,“ no records of such enormities; sins should be accounted new, that so they may be esteemed monstrous; they omit of monstrosity as they fall from their rarity; for men count it venial to err with their forefathers, and foolishly conceive they divide a sin in its society. The pens of men may sufficiently expatiate without these singularities of villany; for, as they increase the hatred of vice in some, so do they enlarge the theory of wickedness in all. And this is one thing that may make latter ages worse than the former; for the vicious example of ages past poisons the curiosity of these present, affording a hint of sin unto seduceable spirits, and soliciting those unto the imitation of them, whose heads were never so perversely principled as to invent them. In things of this nature, silence commendeth history; it is the veniable part of things lost; wherein there must never rise a Pancovillus, nor remain any register but that of Hell.” The murderous phantasm of Paris will never deter men from becoming gamblers, who have the fatal passion within them, but it may assist in making gamblers demons.
In London, this piece has, we are happy to find, succeeded only in the minor houses, where the audience are accustomed to look for coarse and violent stimulants. It was first produced at the Coburgh; and, assisted by splendid scenery and powerful melo-dramatic ting, was attractive for some time; but has given way to real operas, got up with great liberality, and the graceful performances of a young gentleman named Smith, who acts with more taste and feeling than the clever aspirants of his age usually exhibit. It was afterwards announced at both the winter theatres; but, fortunately for Covent-Garden, Drury-Lane obtained the precedence, and the good sense of Mr. Kemble profited by the example set before him. Here the enormities were somewhat foreshortened, being compressed into two acts, but unredeemed by a single trait of kind or noble emotion. Cooper, as the more potent devil, and Wallack, as his disgusting tool, played with considerable energy; but no talent could alleviate the mingled sense of sickness and suffocation with which their slimy infamies oppressed the spectators. Although much curiosity had been excited, the piece did not draw, and was speedily laid aside; while at Covent-Garden, where its announcement was dignified by the names of Kemble, Ward, and Miss Kelly, it was most wisely suppressed in the shell. At the Adelphi, we have been told that it was rendered somewhat less revolting; but we could not muster courage to face it here, or even to endure it in the improved version of the Surrey, where, according to the play-bills, the Manager has, “after due correction, reformed his hero, and restored him to happiness and virtue.” What a fine touch of maudlin morality! To hear Elliston deliver it from the stage, with all the earnestness of his mock-heroic style, we would undergo the purgatory with which he threatens us. He is the reforming Quaker of dramatic legislation, and his stage, during the run of the piece, was a court of ease to Brixton, as Drury-Lane was to Newgate. Nothing can equal the benevolent discrimination of his theory, except that of a popular preacher, whom we once heard deprecating the orthodox doctrine of the eternity of future punishment and cheering his audience with the invigorating hope, that, after being tormented for three hundred and sixty-five