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heroine. The simplicity of her dress might be described, but not the moral simplicity of her demeanour, that brought the expression of lofty feelings in close succession to meekness, and made her final sternness to her brother as becoming as her former sisterly suavity. It is true, that, in Isabella, she had less scope for impassioned acting than in Constance and Lady Macbeth ; she had to represent principle more than passion : but Mrs. Siddons, with that air of uncompromising principle in her physiognomy, which struck you at first sight, and was verified by the longest acquaintance, looked the novice of St. Clair so perfectly, ihat I am sure, if Shakspeare had seen her among a thousand candidates for the part, he would have beckoned to her to come and perform it.

Hitherto Mrs. Siddons had been but indifferently supported by actors in the highest tragic parts at Drury Lane. Henderson unfortunately played at the other house. Bensley delivered dialogue with a propriety of emphasis and a nicety of discrimination that evinced a sound and comprehensive judgment; but when we are told that his voice and manner were well suited to Malvolio, and to the Ghost in “Hamlet,” we are naturally prepared for what is added by his most candid describers,--that he showed a mind labouring against natural defects. He had an ungainly solemnity of action, and a nasal pronunciation. A good judge of acting, who remembers him, tells me that, in seeing him on the stage, his mind alternated between admiration of Bensley's sagacity as an actor, and regret that one so unfitted by nature for acting should have chosen it for his profession.

Smith has been imortalized by Churchill as a gentlemanly actor: but his forte was comedy. His person was agreeable, his countenance engaging, and his voice smooth and powerful, though monotonous. A potent physical personage he must have been, who could swim a league at sea, drink his bottle of port, and after fatigue and conviviality, commit his part distinctly to memory. He was respectable in Richard the Third, and a tolerable Hotspur.* Mr. Boaden, in mentioning Sinith,

* In the Catalogue of Mathews's “ Gallery of Theatrical Portraits," I find a quotation from Charles Lamb, stating that Bensley was an inimitable Hotspur. If so, Mr. Genest, in his “ Account of the English Stage,” is strangely at fault in omitting Hotspur among the parts of Bensley. But, much as I respect both the taste and sincerity of Charles Lamb, I should suspect that he is here speaking from some exaggerated impressions made upon him in his boyish years. Bensley great in Hotspur ! The thing is impossible.

speaks of the “hunter's health that glowed on his shoulders."
It was a strange place, if he had clothes on his back, for his
health to make its appearance; but he means, I

suppose,

that Smith had no great refinement as an actor.

Aickin can scarcely be quoted as even considerable in tragedy. His forte lay in the representation of an honest. steward, or an affectionate parent. Brereton was, with the exception of John Kemble, the most promising young actor of the day; but his career was short,* and his end unfortunate. He died, while yet a young man, in an asylum for the deranged.

But Mrs. Siddons this season found a coadjutor in acting, who was an acquisition to the English stage, and not the less acceptable to her for being her own brother. John Kemble had not, indeed, yet reached the height of his reputation, but he was fast advancing to it; and he was already so decidedly popular, that the prejudices which had pursued her sisters for merely daring to act on the same boards with Mrs. Siddons, were dropped in welcoming him. His acknowledged talents and heroic appearance disarmed invidious, or, at all events, contemptuous comparison of him with his noble sister. There was a pleasing harmony in their manner, although hers was the more natural; and, side by side, they appeared the two noblest specimens that could be produced of the breed of England. Her first appearance in conjunction with her brother was in the “Gamester," in which she played Mrs. Beverley (Nov. 22.) Their success was brilliant. As this tragedy has some great beauties, and as it continually affects large audiences with strong emotions, I shall trouble the reader with no lucubrations of my own on its imperfections, but content myself with stating the fact, that Mrs. Siddons made it deeply affecting. Mr. Young, the actor, related to me an instance of her power in the part of Mrs. Beverley over his own feelings. He was acting Beverley with her on the Edinburgh stage, and they had proceeded as far as the 4th scene in the 5th act, when Beverley has swallowed the poison, and when Bates comes in, and says to the dying sufferer, Jarvis found you quarrelling with Lewson in the streets last night,” Mrs. Beverley

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* Brereton was considered but a third or fourth rate actor till the time that Mrs. Siddons acted Belvidera. There was none of the actors already celebrated who could be trusted with the part of Jaffier. To Brereton the part was given as an experiment; he was inspired by Mrs. Siddons, and acted to admiration.

# Cast of parts : Beverley, Kemble ; Stukely, Palmer; Jarvis, J. Aickin; Charlotte, Mrs. Brereton.

H

says,

“No! I am sure he did not !” to which Jarvis replies, “Or if I did ?"--meaning, it may be supposed, to add, "the fault was not with my master :”—but the moment he utters the words “ Or if I did ?" Mrs. Beverley exclaims, “ 'Tis false, old man !-they had no quarrel--there was no cause for quarrel !" In uttering this, Mrs. Siddons caught hold of Jarvis, and gave the exclamation with such piercing grief, that Mr. Young said his throat swelled, and his utterance was choked. He stood unable to speak the few words which, as Beverley, he ought to have immediately delivered : the pause lasted long enough to make the prompter several times repeat Beverley's speech, till Mrs. Siddons, coming up to her fellow-actor, put the tips of her fingers on his shoulders, and said, in a low voice, “ Mr. Young, recollect yourself.

It does credit to the taste of George the Third, that his wish to see the Siddons and the Kemble together, in the tragedy of “ King John” was the immediate cause of her coming out this season in the new character of Constance.* I find, to my surprise, the contemporary daily newspapers exceedingly truculent in their remarks on her performance of this part; and if their testimony were to be solely relied upon, we must believe that she was at first an infinitely less popular Constance than she ultimately proved to be. Attaching, as I do, a certain consequence to the newspaper criticism of that period, I should nevertheless be sorry to give it my arbitrary credence only when it speaks in favour of my heroine. It was her boast that she gradually improved in all her characters, and that she never repeated her performance of any part without studying it anew to the utmost of her power and leisure. Thus I can believe it possible, that she was not at this period the same perfect Lady Constance, such as I saw her some ten years afterward. Besides, the entire tragedy of " King John," from conforming to history more than to our wishes, disappoints us by Constance belonging to it only in two acts, and disappearing before its catastrophe. This circumstance is a disadvantage to any actress, however great she may be in the part; or, at least, a difficulty not likely to be overcome, till, by repeated impres· sions, she has won the public to feel the tragedy worth seeing

* Cast of the other parts : King John, Kemble ; Falconbridge, Smith; Hubert, Bensley; King of France, J. Aickin; Dauphin, Barrymore ; Pan. dulph, Palmer; Chatinon, Farren ; Queen Eleanor, Mrs. Hopkins.

# The dramatic criticism of our newspapers at that time was as inferior to what it has since been, as the engravings of the same period are inferior to those plates which so exquisitely adorn several modern publications.

for the sake of Constance alone. “King John” had not been revived for several years; and, with Mr. Boaden's leave, it is not credible that Kemble was in the least comparable to Garrick in the dreadful death-scene of the tyrant. Accordingly, the main weight of resuscitating the popularity of the play fell on Mrs. Siddons; a task which she ultimately, though possibly not all at once, accomplished. At the same time, I cannot help suspecting that there was even thus early an evil agency at work in the press against her professional fame, not uncon. nected with that which soon afterward attacked her personal character.

Be that as it may, she was ere long regarded as so consummate in the part of Constance, that it was not unusual for spectators to leave the house when her part in the tragedy of “ King John” was over, as if they could no longer enjoy Shakspeare himself when she ceased to be his interpreter. I could speak as a wonder-struck witness to her power in the character, with almost as many circumstantial recollections of her as there are speeches in the part. I see her in my mind's eye, the imbodied image of maternal love and intrepidity ; of wronged and righteous feeling; of proud grief and majestic desolation. With what unutterable tenderness was her brow bent over her pretty Arthur at one moment, and in the next how nobly drawn back, in a look at her enemies that dignified her vituperation. When she patted Lewis on the breast, with the words “ Thine honour!-oh, thine honour!” there was a sublimity in the laugh of her sarcasm. I could point out the passages where her vicissitudes of hurried and deliberate gesture would have made you imagine that her very body seemed to think. Her elocution varied its tones from the height of vehemence to the lowest despondency, with an eagle-like power of stooping and soaring, and with the rapidity of thought. But there is a drawback in the pleasure of these recollections, from their being so little communicable to others; and, besides, in attempting to do them justice, I am detaining the reader from more interesting matter which Mrs. Siddon's has left me in her Memoranda, namely, her own remarks on the character of Constance.

-"My idea of Constance,she says, “is that of a lofty and proud spirit

, associated with the most exquisite feelings of maternal tenderness, which' is, in truth, the predominant feature of this interesting personage. The sentiments which she expresses, in the dialogue between herself, the King of France, and the Duke of Austria, at the commencement of the second act of this tragedy, very strongly evince the amiable traits of a humane disposition, and of a grateful heart.

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Oh! take his mother's thanks a widow's tbanks!
Till your strong hand shall help to give him strength.
To make a more requital to your love.'

• Again, in reply to the King's bloody determination of subjugating the city of Angiers to the sovereignty of her son, she says,

"Stay for an answer to your embassy,
Lest, unadvis'd, you stain your swords with blood.
My Lord Chatillon may from England bring
That right in peace which here we urge in war;
And then we shall regret each drop of blood
That hot rash haste so indiscreetly shed.'

“ The idea one naturally adopts of her qualities and appearance are, that she is noble in mind, and commanding in person and demeanour; that her countenance was capable of all whe varieties of grand and tender expression, often agonized, though never distorted by the vehemence of her agitations. Her voice, too, must have been ó propertied like the tuned spheres,' obedient to all the softest inflections of maternal love, to all the pathos of the most exquisite sensibility, to the sudden burst of heart-rending sorrow, and to the terrifying imprecations of indignant majesty, when writhing under the miseries inflicted on her by her dastardly oppressors and treacherous allies. The actress whose lot it is to personate this great character should be richly endowed by nature for its various requirements ; yet, even when thus fortunately gifted, much, very much remains to be effected by herself; for in the performance of the part of Constance great difficulties, both mental and physical, present themselves. And perhaps the greatest of the former class is that of imperiously holding the mind reined-in to the immediate perception of those calamitous circumstances which take place during the course of her sadly eventful history. The necessity for this severe abstraction will sufficiently appear, when we remember that all those calamitous events occur while she herself is absent from the stage ; so that this power is indispensable for that reason alone, were there no other to be assigned for it. Because, if the representative of Constance shall ever forget, even behind the scenes, those disastrous events which impel her to break forth into the overwhelming effusions of wounded friendship, disappointed ambition, and

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