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tegés of the old folks, and the cloaks and butts of the young ones--in opposition to the bold, handsome, enterprising, and successful suitors -the favourites of the fair ; or, lastly, the mild, meek, submissive, milk and water husbands-horned, hen-pecked, and abused by virago wives and intriguing rake-hells.
These are the general lines of characters that Brunet adopts. But many of his principal parts do not rank among any of these; and his most successful ones are perhaps those in which he is made the subject of some ludicrous equivoque, kept up through the whole piece, and the fun of which arises out of his being thrown into circumstances and situations of all others the most unfitted for his mild, simple, and gentle nature. Such, for instance, as Jocrisse chef des Bands Noirs—where, simple country youth as he is, travelling through a forest on his affairs, he is mistaken by a band of robbers for their new chief, who is to meet them there about that time, and who has been elected to the office by another part of the band ; and he is installed into his new honours whether he will nomthey mistaking his reluctance for modesty, and his protestations to the contrary for an innocent deceit put in practice to try them. This piece was got up here; but it did not succeed, even though Liston played the part; for no actor at present living has the slightest pretensions to rival Brunet in his own line.
As I have hinted above, the characteristic qualities of Brunet's acting are its absolute naturalness--its exquisitely unconscious naïveté—its perfect simplicity-and, throughout all these, a mildness and kindliness, both of voice, look, and manner, that amount to the pathetic. In fact, to speak after the fashion of the times, paradoxically, Brunet is the most comic of actors, in consequence of having nothing in the slightest degree comic about him, either natural or acquired-either in his
person, his voice, his manner, or his mode of dressing his characters. His performances are chaste, and true to nature, in a degree that was perhaps never attained by any other actor; or rather, which no other actor ever had the courage or the taste to keep himself within the limits of. He never “exaggerates his voice" beyond the pitch of common speaking; he never makes a movement or a tone of expression that would attract particular attention in the intercourse of common life; and as for a grimace, or any thing approaching to it, I believe it never enters into his thoughts as a means of heightening the effects he aims at; and if it did, his bland and gentle features are incapable of it. If it should be asked, how is it that, under these circumstances, he succeeds in producing comic effects? I believe it must be answered that, in fact, he does not, by his acting, produce any—that all that produces is sensations pleasing and delightful in the highest degree, but not such as can truly be called comic—and that when these latter arise from his performances, as they perpetually do, it is in consequence of the ludicrous contrasts and associations that are made to take place from character, situation, turns of phrase, &c.; and the effects of which do, in fact, greatly depend on this very absence of any thing laughable or ridiculous in the actor. I believe this to be susceptible of a more lengthened and interesting developement and explanation than my limits permit me to attempt; especially when another person, equally gifted with the above, is waiting to be noticed.
Potier is, I should judge, still a young man-his person exceedingly
spare and thin his face long, lean, and cadaverous and bis whole appearance indicative of any thing rather than self-enjoyment, or the faculty of creating it in others. Even his voice is more like the croak of the bird of evil omen, than one that is come to announce glad tidings to all who hear it. And yet, you cannot help feeling, every time you look at and listen to him, that the slightest change in any quality belonging to him must be for the worse-in so extraordinary a manner does he adapt them all to his purposes, and make them work usefully together ; or rather, so completely does he change their nature, by making the rich comedy of his mind shine through and blend with them all. In this respect he performs a miracle similar to that of Cervantes in creating Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. These two persons in name, are in fact but one in the mind of the reader. But for this, they would never produce any thing like the effect they do. The Knight of the Woeful Countenance would be a piece of pure pathos, from beginning to end, if he had not been allied, body and soul, with the Squire of the Comic Countenance. I will venture to say that no reader ever thought of one without the other. It cannot be. And thus it is with the mind and person of Potier. They are Sancho and Quixote joined in one; the qualities of the latter being not merely merged in the former, but their nature changed to a conformity with that. And, as I have said that Brunet is exquisitely comic, precisely on account of there being nothing in the slightest degree comic about him, so it might be added, in the same paradoxical spirit, that Potier produces the most comic effect that any actor ever did, not in spite of, but in consequence of, his personal qualities being emblems of all that is sad and sorrowful. I believe that Potier's style is not to be described—or described in no other way than by saying that it is perfectly original, unique, and nondescript. It has nothing natural about it, except in particular instances; and yet it is not in the least degree artificial or constrained. Every thing flows from him as easily and unconsciously as it does from Brunet; but it seems to pass through a peculiar medium which changes it all, whatever it may have been before, into the most rich and extravagant drollery. It is impossible to conceive of any thing, however serious or however insipid, that would not become droll, in passing through the lips of Potier. And this takes place without any appear ance of effort, without any extravagance or affectation of tone or manner, and without any grimace whatever. You cannot perceive how it is done, or what constitutes the difference between this actor's performance of a particular character and any other's. And yet, there is scarcely a character he performs that would not be intolerable in any other hands afterwards.
I have said that Potier can be as chaste an actor as any, when he pleases, and when the part he has to perform seems to deserve it. His
ci-devant Jeune homme”—a character resembling our Lord Ogleby— is the most purely natural as well as the most exquisitely finished performance of the kind I have ever seen; and I have seen all that England has to shew in the same class. Potier, in fact, can be chaste; but it is very seldom his cue to be so: for rare indeed must be the wit, and rich the character, that should not give way to his own irresistible farcing. Where he is present, nature, wit, character, and every thing else, must yield to nonsense-nonsense the most extravagant and un
definable in its character, and yet the most universal and irresistible in its effects. I never knew even a Frenchman that could give any reasonable account of his liking for Potier, and yet I never knew one that did not secretly like him better than any other actor they bave: I say secretly, for the critical spirit is even more prevalent there than it is here, and I believe very few Frenchmen would dare openly to go so far as I do in my admiration of this actor. His most characteristic and attractive performances are mere nonsense, they say he is a mere “farceur :" as if mere nonsense were not, occasionally, better than mere sense, or mere wisdom, or mere any thing else. The truth is, they cant with their lips about his being inferior to some of their actors of the old school ; but they make amends, both to him and themselves, by going to see him six times where they go once to any of the others : and this is doing him the best kind of justice, and giving him the best of all possible fames. And what fame, after all, is, or can be, like an actor's, as far as regards the personal gratification it brings with it? What effect is the imagination of all the immortality in the world of the Future capable of producing in the human mind, compared with the actual and present enjoyment experienced by a favourite actor before a favouring audience ?' This indeed “comes home to the bosom” in a way that nothing else can--for under no other circumstances is actual, tangible applause offered in so immediate and so unequivocal a manner-with so little delay-with so lavish a hand--and in connexion with such heightening and inspiring associations.
To be a favourite preacher, must be something—to be a favourite author, not a little—to be a favourite speaker in a popular assembly, much; but to be a favourite actor must be-every thing. In proof of this, nobody runs away from home to turn preacher, or writer, or speaker-or to follow any other pursuit-to which his friends may have insurmountable objections. But how many run away from home to turn actors ! The very imagination of the thing (for these clandestine ones seldom reach to more than that) is enough to compensate for all the thousand disadvantages attending such a step. I have often wondered why it is that actors are so very solicitous about what the critics will say of them the next day in the newspapers. What should they, whose ears are ringing with the acclaim of a thousand voluntary voices or the thunder of a thousand hands, care for the scribbling of one paid pen? It is a strange instance of the perversity of poor human nature. It is the “ splendid shilling” that the miser is expectant of possessing, and that, until it becomes his, he looks at with an eye of greater favour, and values more, than all his previous hoard. In fact, what we have, is nothing—what we want, is every thing. Possession had need be " nine points of the law;" for while it almost gives us the right to a thing, it almost takes away the faculty of enjoying it. But, notwithstanding his sensitiveness to criticism, a favourite actor is an enviable person. Whatever we may say or think to the contrary, we would none of us, if we were put to the proof, give up our own identity for that of any other person. But if I were compelled to part with mineto change my humanity" with any one--it should certainly be with either France's Potier, or our own Kean: for I had rather be Potier than Talma, or Kean than either.
THE FIRST-BORN OF EGYPT.
When life is forgot, and night hath power,
And mortals feel no dread;
And dreams are round the head;
Shall enter and choose his dead.
“ And slaughter a sacrifice;
Nor stir till the morn arise,
Where the hope of your household lies.”
Each to his house hath flown;
And sprinkle the lintel-stone;
The judgement to be done.
Along the lone still street ;
No tramp of unearthly feet
'Mid her wan light clear and sweet. Once only, shot like an arrowy ray,
A pale blue Aash was seen,
That such a thing had been :
And back flow'd every vein.
At the view of that awful light,
To shield them from its might :
On Egypt's land that night
In the darkness of the grave,
The first-born of lord and slave :-
At the terrible' death-glare it gave.
Burst forth ’mid the silence dread
Sightless, and dumb, and dead !
She awakens his life hath fled !
And shrieks from the palace chambers break
Their inmates are steep'd in woe,
To arrest the mighty blow:
For thy kingdom's heir laid low.
His shafts through thine empire wide,
No first-born of her's hath died
On the crown of thy purple pride.
LITERATURE AND LAW.
We live in strange times, when narrow prejudice, stale custom, and misty doubt, are arranged in triumphant warfare against the most rational deductions and the clearest decisions of common sense. It is in vain that we are placed on the proud intellectual eminence of modern times, thrown up by the accumulated labours of gifted spirits for so many ages. It is in vain that we glory, and justly glory, in the progressive emancipation of the mind from the trammels of superstition, and the degrading state of a blind submission to spiritual or temporal authority--if we cannot make our advantages available, and, in yielding homage to rule and law, be satisfied that we submit only to what is just and reasonable. When this is not the case, but, on the contrary, the regulations by which we hold liberty or property are capricious, narrow, and revolting to sense and policy, the evil is not less mischievous to the individual than to the entire community, by making contemptible the very laws towards which all should feel respect as well as obedience. No social compact is worth any thing where there is this variance. Man is not in our times, Heaven be praised for it! the passive instrument he once was; he has put on a character more consistent with his grade in the creation, and the knowledge of those inherent rights which Nature informs him are inalienably his own. The mischief, then, of legal decisions not grounded in reason, must be evident, even if based upon precedent; but how much more so when precedent itself is rational and correct, and novelty and absurdity make their appearance hand-in-hand together to overturn it.
It may be easily conjectured that I refer to the late decisions respecting literary property. The two leading Reviews, the Edinburgh and Quarterly, have both agreed in opinion upon the extraordinary doctrine which has emanated from the Court of Chancery on this subject, -a doctrine subversive of the right of property, contrary to former decisions, pernicious in effect, and absurd in practice. After what has been said in these able publications, it might seem almost superfluous to add any thing more; the Edinburgh, in particular, having shewn that former decrees of the Court of Chancery for the last century were diametrically the reverse of those of the present Chancellor, and that works both libellous and immoral, such as no author would now pub