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stage part out of Margaret of Anjou. I could conceive her having been impressive in the so-called Shakspeare's Queen Margaret of Henry the Sixth :" though it is doubtful if Shakspeare wrote much in that tragedy ; but her dignifying La Harpe's and Franklin's heroine, as I never saw her perform the part, appeared to me unimaginable. If it should convict me, however, of being a false critic on the written play, I am bound to confess the fact, as it is attested to me by others, that Mrs. Siddons made it interesting in representation. Mrs. Bartley told me that “her superb disdain, as the captive queen, dwelt strongly in her recollection; and that when she informed Elizabeth that her Warwick had not an hour to live, her dissyllabic pronunciation of the word hour was so powerful that it still seemed to vibrate in her ears."

Mr. Bartley, when I wrote to consult him on the subject, had the goodness to favour me with the following note :

“ I despair of being able to convey any idea of the wonders which Mrs. Siddons wrought in The Earl of Warwick;' for wonders they may be called, as I agree with you that it is a very indifferent tragedy. But especially I feel the difficulty of giving you any idea of that indelible impression which she made upon me, as Margaret of Anjou, in the last act of the piece. The performance I allude to must have occurred either in 1809 or 1810, at least twenty-four years ago ; and yet, to my imagination, she stands before me at this instant.

“On that occasion I happened to personate the character of King Edward the Fourth, who, in the scene referred to, learns that Warwick has taken Margaret and her son captives, and is momentarily expecting the triumphant appearance of Warwicle. He does not know (nor does the audience) that Margaret had taken advantage of an unguarded moment to approach and stab Warwick as he stood in triumph over her son. Instead of Warwick, therefore, Margaret enters : and the skilful management made by this great performer to produce her effect was the following. The scene had a large archway, in the centre, at the back of the stage. She was preceded by four guards, who advanced rapidly through the archway and divided, two and two on each side, leaving the opening quite clear. Instantly, on their separating, the giantess burst upon the view, and stood in the centre of the arch motionless. So electrifying was the unexpected impression, that I stood for a moment breathless. But the effect extended beyond me: the audience had full participation of its power; and the continued applauses huzzas, and waving of handkerchiefs, which, however gratisying as testimonials of their changed opinion, were not sufficient to obliterate from my memory the tortures I had endured from their injustice, and the consciousness of a humiliating vocation."

I believe that, in spite of preponderating applause, her entrée for several evenings afterward, was met with attempts to insult her. She made her reverence, and went on steadily with her part : but her manner was for a time perceptibly damped; and she declared to one of her friends, that, for many a day after this insult, all her professional joy and ambition drooped in her mind, and she sickened at the thought of being an actress.

On the 3d of November, 1784, she appeared, for the first time, in Franklin's tragedy of the “ Earl of Warwick," as a heroine distinguished in English history, namely, Margaret of Anjou.*

This play, by Franklin, was an unavowed translation of La Harpe's Comte de Warwick ; in which the French author, says Mr. Boaden, had the mortification to see the tender interest of his piece frittered away. For the translator's concealment of his original, I have no apology to offer ; but, of the alleged tender interest of that original, I confess myself unable to perceive a' trace: and Mr. Boaden, I conceive, is as much mistaken in eulogizing the French tragedy as in confounding its author with the Colonel La Harpe who was tutor to the Emperor of Russia. The Gallic poet, with equal defiance of nature and history, represents the beautiful Lady Elizabeth Woodville as enamoured of the old iron-sheathed Earl of Warwick, and refusing King Edward's hand from her preference of the graybeard. He also makes Margaret of Anjou assassinate with her own hand the Earl of Warwick. This is rather too bad; as every schoolboy in England may be supposed to know, that Edward the Fourth made a romantic lovemarriage with Lady Elizabeth Woodville ; that Warwick was old enough to be the father of the said Elizabeth ; and that the tough old king-maker died fighting in the canse of Queen Mar. garet.

Indifferent as the French play may be, however, I grant that the English translator has not made it better : and no information that I have ever received respecting Mrs. Siddons ever struck me with so much surprise as to learn, from unquestionable authority, that she made an imposing and electrifying

* Earl of Warwick, Smith ; King Edward, Palmer; Lady Elizabeth Grey, Miss Kemble; Margaret of Anjori Mre. Siddons.

stage part out of Margaret of Anjou. I could conceive her having been impressive in the so-called Shakspeare's Queen Margaret -of " Henry the Sixth :" though it is doubtful if Shakspeare wrote much in that tragedy ; but her dignifying La Harpe's and Franklin's heroine, as I never saw her perform the part, appeared to me unimaginable. If it should convict me, however, of being a false critic on the written play, I am bound to confess the fact, as it is attested to me by others, that Mrs. Siddons made it interesting in representation. Mrs. Bartley told me that “her superb disdain, as the captive queen, dwelt strongly in her recollection; and that when she informed Elizabeth that her Warwick had not an hour to live, her dissyllabic pronunciation of the word hour was so powerful that it still seemed to vibrate in her ears.”

Mr. Bartley, when I wrote to consult him on the subject, had the goodness to favour me with the following note :

“ I despair of being able to convey any idea of the wonders which Mrs. Siddons wrought in “The Earl of Warwick;' for wonders they may be called, as I agree with you that it is a very indifferent tragedy. But especially I feel the difficulty of giving you any idea of that indelible impression which she made upon me, as Margaret of Anjou, in the last act of the piece. The performance I allude to must have occurred either in 1809 or 1810, at least twenty-four years ago ; and yet, to my irnagination, she stands before me at this instant.

“On that occasion I happened to personate the character of King Edward the Fourth, who, in the scene referred to, learns that Warwick has taken Margaret and her son captives, and is momentarily expecting the triumphant appearance of Warwick. He does not know (nor does the audience) that Margaret had taken advantage of an anguarded moment to approach and stab Warwick as he stood in triumph over her son. Instead of Warwick, therefore, Margaret enters : and the skilful management made by this great performer to produce her effect was the following. The scene had a large archway, in the centre, at the back of the stage. She was preceded by four guards, who advanced rapidly through the archway and divided, two and two on each side, leaving the opening quite clear. Instantly, on their separating, the giantess burst upon the view, and stood in the centre of the arch motionless. So electrifying was the unexpected impression, that I stood for a moment breathless. But the effect extended beyond me: the audience had full participation of its power; and the continued applauses that followed gave me time to recover and speculate upon the manner in which such an extraordinary effort had been made. I could not but gaze upon her attentively. Her head was erect, and the fire of her brilliant eyes darted directly upon mine. Her wrists were bound with chains, which hung suspended from her arms, that were dropped loosely on each side ; nor had she, on her entrance, used any action beyond her rapid walk and sudden stop, within the extensive archway, which she really seemed to fill. This, with the flashing eye, and fine smile of appalling triumph which overspread her magnificent features, constituted all the effort which usually produced an effect upon actors and audience never surpassed, if ever equalled. “ I am, dear sir, &c.

“ G. W. BARTLEY."

Her next new character was Zara, in the tragedy so named, which Aaron Hill translated from the “ Zaïre" of Voltaire. She appeared in it on the 7th of November, 1784.* I find, from the contemporary prints, that high expectations were entertained respecting Mrs. Siddons in this part: for tradition still told of Mrs. Cibber's brilliant performance of it. It should, however, have been remembered also, that the latter actress had Garrick to assist her, whose magic acting, as Lusignan, I suspect, gave the main spell of popularity to this tragedy on its first appearance. The

The part of Zara, whatever impression our great actress made in it, certainly never became one of her favourites, nor has the play been ever revived since that season at Drury Lane.

In justice to Voltaire's “ Zaïre,” it must be owned, that the young Orosmanes and the old crusader Lusignan are in some degree imposing personages. But it is altogether a frigid production. Indifferent as the Grecian Daughter is, I think she is a better heroine than Voltaire's ; for Euphrasia is a main agent in the drama to which she belongs, while Zaïre is shut up from action; and, while other personages engross a paramount attention, she has only to suffer and declaim.

The French themselves seem now to appreciate Voltaire pretty soberly as a dramatic poet. Even La Harpe, after extolling " Zaïre" for alleged beauties, such as might be found in the commonest melo-drama, lets out that, in his own days,

* Osman, Smith ; Lusignan, Bensley; Nerestan, Brereton.; Chatillon; J. Aickin ; Zara, Mrs. Siddons.

it was scarcely ever acted in Paris. This circumstance he attributes to the want of such actors as Le Kain and Mlle. Gaussin ; of the latter of whom it was eloquently said, that “there were tears in her voice ;” a fine expression to be sure, but which will not clench La Harpe's conclusion as to the sole cause of the “ Zaïre's” infrequent representation. Voltaire's general fame as a man of talents, and as a stormer of prejudices in their strongest holds, justly rests undiminished ; but his glory as a tragic writer is as justly on the wane.*

On the 2d of December (1784), Cumberland's tragedy of the “Carmelite” gave Mrs. Siddons a new character, in the Lady of St. Vallori.f The piece was well received, and deservedly, for it is respectable, though not superlative, nor, in my opinion, perfectly original. I will not indeed go so far as to say that Cumberland borrowed his subject from Home, but he treads close enough upon

Douglas” to show that that tragedy had given him strong suggestions. In both stories, a mother has for twenty years lamented the husband of her youth ;-in “ Douglas” a real, in the “Carmelite” an imaginary, death. And each of the mothers has a son, to whom the demonstration of her maternal love is misconstrued, and brings or threatens tragic results. To Home's heroine the mistake is fatal, while Cumberland's plot is wound up agreeably to our wishes, and Hildebrand, the counterpart to Glenalvon, alone perishes. The scene of Hildebrand's death, by-the-way, has considerable power, and contains one memorable poetical passage. When the supposed murderer of her husband speaks of mercy to Matilda, she replies to him,

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“Mercy !--and dare thy tongue pronounce the name ?
Mercy !-thou man of blood, thou hast destroy'd it.
It came from heaven to save St. Vallori.
You saw the cherub messenger alight
From its descent : with outspread wings it sat
Covering his breast : you drew your cursed steel,
And through the pleading angel pierc'd his heart !"

Nothing in Napoleon's personal history is more interesting than his quick-sightedness in literature. In one of his conversations at St. Helena, after dismissing Voltaire's miserable conception of Mahomet's character with deserved contempt, he said, “ It is astonishing how ill all his dramas are adapted for reading. When criticism and sound taste are not cheated by pompous diction and scenic illusion, they immediately lose a thousand per cent."

+ St. Vallori, Smith ; Montgomeri, Kemble ; Lord Hildebrand, Palmer; Lord De Courci, J. Aickin ; Gyfford (an old servant), Packer; Matilda (the Lady of St. Vallori), Mrs. Siddons. It was acted thirteen timeş.

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