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poets-the right sort, the manly simplicity that makes him write like Burns and Crabbe, from the forcible dictates of nature; and the wrong sort, perhaps, better entitled to the name of credulity, that gulls them to believe in the false resources of their art. The worthy and single-hearted Mason was of the latter description : he was one of those, to use Burns's words,
" Who think to climb Parnassus' bill
By dint o' Greek." He not only persuaded himself that he could incorporate the Attic chorus with the modern drama--an attempt like that of ingrafting a dead branch on a living tree, but he made his experiment with a play that is without action and without interest. We might forgive him for perverting history, and showing off Elfrida, who was a barbarous traitress, as a tender wife, but it defies all patience to find her employed in nothing but making speeches, and calling on her waiting-maids to strike up odes to the rising sun. In order to save her husband, and divert the king's affection, she makes a promise to stain and deform her beauty, but she never performs it; and, when her lord is killed, she hurries off her poor maids into a nunnery, without consulting their inclinations. All this time he dreamed himself, and wrote to his friends, that he was imitating Sophocles !
[April 30.] The next new character which she performed was that of Rosalind, in “As You Like It.” After a successful transition from the greatest to the gentlest parts of tragedy, it would have been but one step farther, in the versatility of genius, to have been at home in the enchanting Rosalind ; and as the character, though comic, is not broadly so, and is as romantic and poetical as any thing in tragedy, I somewhat grudgingly confess my belief, that her performance of it, though not a failure, seems to have fallen equally short of a triumph. It appears that she played the part admirably in some particulars. But, altogether, Rosalind's character has a gay and feathery lightness of spirits, which one can easily imagine more difficult for Mrs. Siddons to assume than the tragic meekness of Desdemona. In “ As You Like It," Rosalind is the soul of the piece, aided only by the Clown (and, O that half the so-called wise were as clever as Shakspeare's clowns !)-she has to redeem the wildness of a forest, and the dulness of rustic
Her wit and beauty have “ to throw a sunshine in the shady place." Abate but a spark of her spirit, and we should become, in the forest scenes, as melancholy and moralizing as Jaques. Shakspeare's Rosalind, therefore, requires the gayest
and archest representative. In a letter from Mr. Young, which I have before me, he says, 6. Her Rosalind wanted neither playfulness nor feminine softness; but it was totally without archness,-not because she did not properly conceive it ; but how could such a countenance be arch ?"
Here alone, I believe, in her whole professional career, Mrs. Siddons found a rival, who beat her out of a single character. The rival Rosalind was Mrs. Jordan : but those who best remember Mrs. Jordan, will be the least surprised at her defeating her great contemporary in this one instance. Mrs. Jordan was, perhaps, a little too much of the romp in some touches of the part; but, altogether, she had the naïveté of it to a degree that Shakspeare himself, if he had been a living spectator, would have gone behind the scenes to salute her for her success in it.
Anna Seward, who, though her taste was exceedingly bad in many points, had a due appreciation of our great actress, speaks of her as follows in the part of Rosalind. 6 For the first time, I saw the justly celebrated Mrs. Siddons in comedy, in Rosalind; but, though her smile is as enchanting as her frown is magnificent-as her tears are irresistible, yet the playful scintillations of colloquial wit which most strongly mark that character, suit not the dignity of the Siddonian forin and countenance. Then her dress was injudicious. The scrupulous prudery of decency produced an ambiguous vestment that seemed neither male nor female. But," Miss Seward adds, " when she first came on as the Princess, nothing could be more charming; nor than when she resumed her original character, and exchanged comic spirit for dignified tenderness."
During the season 1784-5, Mrs. Siddons performed seventyone nights, and in seven new characters.
Of these she played Margaret of Anjou thrice ; Zara twice ; Lady Macbeth thirteen times ; Desdemona four times; Elfrida twice ; and Rosalind twice.
Mrs. Siddons's salary, as I have already mentioned, was, on her return to Drury Lane, in 1782, ten guineas per week. When John Kemble joined the company, his salary was five guineas.
In 1784, Mrs. Siddons's salary was raised to twenty-three guineas and seven shillings per week, and Mr. Kemble's to ten guineas.
In the summer of the year she performed at Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Glasgow. On crossing the Tweed for a second time, she had no longer to complain of
- sre se man's siers that makes him
se iron she forcible dictates of na** sa pas des esitled to the name Sishen u delete the false resources of s mi subera Mason was of the
* as a hist, » ese Burns's words,
Nu e de ceata incorporate th De ma De I truri_2 sesape like that
er met hom toe, bet be made his e em ane are sad without intere
un sat, and showing en Es sa teeder wife, bu i el seu mesma esothing but mał
liug met studs so strike up ** E ** sure her husband, and di Res se maksmise to stain and de
w she even : 204, when her lo she turns the nve made into a nunnery, wi
ther sin les sime be dreamed hin
z = Tres Drah : 33 imitating Sophocles die Persiaracter which she perfo shani & Tea Lite k* After a sue Ta on eran use gesclest parts of tra
de pe de a sep Barcher, in the versatil Share pe hame in the enchanting Rosalind se ne uga came, is not broadly so, and e ani wedi sme sung in tragedy, I som
deles her performance of it, diens was take allen equally short of a trit Ik ste pred de paut admirably in some pa
ne stergaters Remote character has a gaj (alex del Sur which one can easily imagine white le Sitens to assume than the tragic mee
Drita In As Yon" Resalind is th
2 (and, Othat he ale wise were as el
peare's clowns !) has redeem the wildn
and the dulness of Her wit and be
row a sunshine shay palace Abat
er spirit, and we
wcholy and morali decone in the fores
refore, requires the Jaques. Shakspe
Andlery at Bee
d neither sites
mble joins te
time, she main
office, jelm. veeds, Toister; me caves, er prayers, Seless saints : 's bounty: d be number'd tyne nauseous phial ?
as this fine frameuft desiresaprehensive soul,
faculties“. u drudgery?'
irez. nditions of our state. Me seeds, with toil on death, st of our hopes in heaven.'
Velasquez. ey who trust no future chance,
the sluggishness of Scottish enthusiasm. A rustic in the Glas. gow theatre was so enchanted, that he exclaimed, “ She is a fallen angel !” and in Edinburgh, the people collected in a vast crowd before her lodgings. Though there was a multitude, however, of the lowest people, there was not a mob. On the contrary, the decorousness of the national character was shown, by the many thousands who collected to look at her, observing the most respectful silence. I heard another instance, lately, of the strong impression which she had now made on the feelings of the Scotch. A lady is still living in Edinburgh who was at that period one of her ardent admirers, and who was herself looked up to in the higher circles of the Scottish capital for her taste and intelligence. Her once vivid faculties, however, are now sunk in the torpor of extreme old age. She is blind, and scarcely ever speaks or expresses interest in any worldly subject. A friend went to see her, and by some chance the name of Mrs. Siddons was mentioned, when the venerable invalid astonished her family by breaking her accustomed silence, and speaking of a matter that regarded this world with warm and prolonged interest. She dwelt earnestly on her recollections of the great actress; and the subject brought smiles over her features, though they were pale with a hundred years.
Old Drury was again opened on the 7th of September, 1785. The first new part which she performed this season [Oct. 20] was that of the Duchess,* in Jephson's "Braganza." In this character Mrs. Yates had been often admired; and I remember Mrs. Siddons saying that she thought “ Braganza” very passable for a modern tragedy. Without pretending to uphold Jephson as any thing like a masterly dramatist, I must confess I have a certain liking for his literary memory. It may seem contemptuous to say that I cannot praise him so much as I could wish ; but, since I knew nothing of the man, that very regret shows that his writings must have given me some plea
At a time when the native genius of Tragedy seemed to be extinct, he came boldly forward as a tragic poet, and certainly, with a spark of talent: for if he has not the full flame of genius, he has at least its scintillating light. In fervour and boldness he is somewhat deficient ; but, in more than one of his tragedies, I cannot help thinking him graceful and touching. The following scene, in his “ Duke of Braganza," in which Velasquez, the Spanish minister, engages a monk to poison the Duke, appears to me to be far from indifferent :
* Duke of Braganza, Kemble ; Velasquez, Smith.