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too, if the Amlethus of Saxo Grammaticus, should have worn a bear skin instead of his inky suit; and whatever Macbeth's garb - should have been, of course a philabeg could have formed no part thereof. But as the poet, carrying back his scene into remote days, retains still to a certain extent the manners and sentiments of his own period, so it is sufficient for the purpose of costume if every thing be avoided which can recall modern associations, and as much of the antique be assumed as will at once harmonize with the purpose of the exhibition and in so far awaken recollections of the days of yore as to give an air of truth to the scene. . Every theatrical reader must recollect the additional force which Macklin gave to the Jew at his first appearance in that character, when he came on the stage dressed with his red hat, piqued beard, and loose black gown, a dress which excited Pope's curiosity, who desired to know in particular why he wore a red hat. Macklin replied modestly, because he had read that the Jews in Venice were obliged to wear hats of that colour. * And pray, Mr. Macklin,' said Pope,“ do players in general take such pains ? I do not know, Sir,' replied Macklin, that they do, but as I had staked my reputation on the character, I was determined to spare no trouble in getting at the best information.' Pope expressed himself much pleased.
During his whole life Kemble was intent on improving, by all means which occurred,
of the dresses which he wore while in character. Macbeth was one of the first plays in which the better system of costume was adopted, and he wore the highland dress, as old Macklin had done before him. Many years afterwards he was delighted when, with our own critical hands, which have plucked many a plume besides, we divested his bonnet of sundry huge bunches of black feathers which made it look like an undertaker's cushion, and replaced them with the single broad quill feather of an eagle sloping across his noble brow; he told us afterwards that, the change was worth to him three distinct rounds of applause as he came forwards in this improved and more genuine head-gear.
With the subject of dress, modes of disposing and managing the scenes are naturally connected; and here also, Kemble, jealous of the dignity of his art, called in the assistance of able artists, and improved in a most wonderful degree the appearance of the stage and the general effect of the piece in representation. Yet, in our opinion, the Muse of Painting should be on the stage the handmaid not the rival of her sisters of the drama. Each art should retain its due predominance within its own proper region. Let the scenery be as well painted and made as impressive as a moderate sized stage will afford; but when the roof is raised to
give the scene-painter room to pile Pelion upon Ossa; when the stage is widened that his forests may be extended, or deepened that his oceans may flow in space apparently interminable, the manager who commands these decorations is leaving his proper duty, and altering entirely the purpose of the stage. Meantime, as the dresses ought to be suited to the time and country, the landscape and architecture should be equally coherent. Means may, besides, be discovered from time to time tending to render the scenic deception more effective, and the introduction of such must be advantageous, provided always that this part of theatrical business be kept in due subordination to that which is strictly dramatic.
Processions and decorations belong to the same province as scenes and dresses, and should be heedfully attended to, but at the same time kept under, that they may relieve the action of the scene instead of shouldering aside the dramatic interest. Kemble carried his love of splendour rather to the extreme, though what he introduced was generally tasteful and splendid. He sacrificed perhaps his own opinion to the humour of the audience, and to the tempting facilities which the size of the modern theatres afford for what is called spectacle.
Macbeth was, as has been hinted, one of the first of the old stock plays which he brought forward in this splendid manner, and in many respects it was admirably suited for such a purpose. The distant approach of Macbeth's army, as well as the apparitions of the cavern, were very well managed. By causing the descendants of the murdered thane to pass behind a screen of black crape, he diminished their corporeal appearance, and emulated the noble lines of Collins :
From thence he sung how, inid his bold design,
Before the Scot afficted and aghast,
Through the dark cave in gleamy pageant passed.' Things occurred, however, even in this tine spectacle, which show that matters of show and pageantry have their own peculiar risques. At first Kemble had introduced four bands of children, who rushed on the stage at the invocation of the witches, to represent the
Black spirits and white,
Blue spirits and grey.' There was perhaps little taste in rendering these aërial beings visible to the bodily eye, especially when the same manager had made an attempt to banish" even the spectre of Banquo. But he was obliged to discard his imps for an especial reason. Mr. Kelly informs us that, egged on, and encouraged by one of their
number, a blackeyed urchin, yeleped Edmund Kean, they made such confusion on the stage that Kemble was sain lo dismiss them to the elements. Another failure we ourselves witnesseda whimsical failure—in this piece, which we may mention as a warning to those managers who put too much faith in such mechanical aids. It occurred when the armed head ought to have arisen, but when, though the trap-door gaped, no apparition arose. The galleries began to hiss; whereupon the scene-shifters in the cellarage, redoubling their exertions, and overcoming, perforce, the obstinacy of the screw which was to raise the trap, fairly, out of too great and urgent zeal, overdid their business, and produced before the audience, at full length, the apparition of a stout man, his head and shoulders arrayed in antique helmet and plate, while the rest of his person was humbly attired after the manner of a fifth-rate. performer of these degenerate days,that is to say, in a dimity waistcoat, nankeen breeches, and a very dirty pair of cotton stockings. To complete the absurdity, the poor man had been so hastily proinoted that he could not keep his feet, but prostrated himself on his nose before the audience, to whom he was so unexpectedly introduced.
The effect of this accident was not recovered during the whole evening, though the play was performed with transcendant ability.
Kemble, though, from a natural turn for magnificence, he was somewhat too apt to indulge this love of show, often contrived to cater at the same time for those who admired in preference the legitimate scenes of the drama, Henry VIII. was produced chiefly on account of the processions; but who would not forgive any motive, which could contribute to bring forward such complete personifications as Mrs. Siddons and her brother presented in Cardinal Wolsey and Queen Catherine? The trial scene and dying scene of the immortal actress were among the most splendid displays of her unrivalled excellence, and for Kemble's Wolsey, it was reality itself; you saw the full-blown dignity of the ambitious statesman sink at once before the regal frown, and you felt at the same moment that he had received the death wound. He seemed to totter and grow less before the eyes of the „spectator; you saw that the spear he had leaned upon had pierced his side. Unhappily, although they were thus frequently combined, the taste for show prevailed over that for the legitimate drama. A display of splendour in the one theatre provoked rival magnificence in the other, and the example entailed ruinous expense on both. While Drury and Covent Garden merely contended for the superiority in theatrical talent, their expenses were within limit; but when the outlay was extended to splendour of procession and complication of artillery, there could be no end to
the conflict but ruin; and all that is gained by such extravagance is to pervert the taste of the public. The burning of towers, and charging with cavalry, and the introduction of elephants, lions, and other inhabitants of the menagerie ought to be confined to pantomime. We have heard that, in Schiller's Robbers, as acted on a certain German stage, the hero rushed in at the head of thirty horse; but we would only ask how an actor so situated is to be seen or heard? Let any one observe how difficult it is to distinguish the captain when at the head of a real troop of dragoons, and he will see at once how completely the presence of numbers destroys the idea of that personal importance which is so necessary to the effect of an 'actor. What then is to be done when an arny or any other large assembly must be addressed? The common resource is to draw
half dozen men along the flat scene, who stand there with pale countenances, as stiff as upon the parade, till the speech is finished, and then-right about-forward-and off they stalk as if to relieve guard. We have been tempted to think something better than this might be contrived. Suppose two or three armed figures were exhibited as seen partially betwixt the side scenes, with lances and banners projecting over their heads, so as to suggest to the imagination of the audience the leaders of columns stationed in readiness to advance, and give some idea of numbers attendant on their chieftain. But it is our business—a mischievous one, if you will—to criticise existing imperfections rather than submit expe dients to the critical powers of others.
In the business of the green-room, Kemble, as manager, was gentlemanlike, accurate, and regular, but somewhat strict; for, as be had in his private capacity as actor taken contentedly whichever parts were assigned him, he conceived himself entitled to expect the same compliance with his own arrangements; and, with these, amidst the little contentions and jealousies which must creep into what may be called a band of intellectual gladiators, - who contend with each other to win the popular suffrage of crowded audiences, human passions not seldom interfered. We once had a long conversation with him on this subject, in which he complained, that there was not the same classification of performers in England that had been formed on the continent. Our theatres were, said John, like eastern regions, where all must be half-deified sultans, viziers, and bashaws, or depressed and sulten slaves. In England, the actor who represents Laertes or Horatio is considering himself all the while as a degraded man, because he is not the Hamlet of the evening. In France, on the other hand, 'there is a race of actors who either never aspire to more than secondary parts, or, if they have any hope of so aspiring, endea
vour to recommend themselves by the superior manner in which they discharge the subordinate characters meanwhile entrusted to them: whereas the English performer too often acts careJessly, and sometimes malignantly neglects to support by due exertion the interest of the scene, with a rival whom he thinks unjustly preferred to himself. Kemble mentioned on this occasion, that, being behind the scenes at the Comédie Françoise along with Talma, he observed an individual conning his part with great attention, rehearsing it with different tones and actions, and, in short, so sedulous in his rehearsal, that it seemed he had some most important part to perform. Being greatly struck with the actor's assiduity, he inquired what weighty character this hard student was to represent? Talma informed him that he had only to say five words, ' Madam, the coach is ready; and that, notwithstanding the brevity and seeming unimportance of his part, whatever it might be, this man uniformly spent much time in studying and adjusting the action, tone, and manner of delivering himself. In short, the English actor thinks himself positively sunk and injured when obliged to perform a part of little consequence; the Frenchman, with happier vanity, considers that he may exalt any part by his mode of playing it, and obtain at least such share of applause as may show that he too is a painter, though exercising his
powers for the nonce on a limited scale. It is needless to say which system gives most effect to the scene: for, if it may be questioned whether the French or English stage has afforded the greatest actors taken individually, there can be no doubt that your Parisian theatre presents a company so completely drilled to work together, each doing his best to support the rest, that the whole entertainment is more illusive, and more captivating, than if one or two stars, as they are called, had shown themselves amidst a general darkness of ignorance, carelessness, and ill humour. There is also this convenience in the French mode-concordiâ res parva crescunt-by uniform and habitual co-operation, a company of even ordinary powers may at any time make a better amusement out of a well cast comedy suited to their different talents, than when a single part is performed with excellence, and the rest walked through or hurried over.
But Kemble's anxiety as a manager made him sometimes too busy; he was apt to be drilling the performers even during the time of the performance; a mode of mixing the duties of actor and manager which ought never to be suffered, as it checks the spirit of the superior performer's own part, while it sadly deranges the inexperienced actor, terrifies the modest, and doubly confuses the dull or negligent. Who can forget how Mrs. Siddons in her noviçiate was appalled, almost annihilated, by the aside frown