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hat, and cavalier in fashion. People were so fond of seeing her a man, that when the part of Bays in The Rehearsal, had, for some time, lain dormant, she was desired to take it up, which I have seen her act with all the true, coxcombly spirit and humour that the sufficiency of the character required.

But what found most employment for her whole various excellence at once, was the part of Melantha, in Marriage-Alamode. Melantha is as finished an impertinent, as ever Auttered in a drawing-room, and seems to contain the most compleat system of female foppery, that could possibly be crowded into the tortured form of a fine lady. Her language, dress, motion, manners, soul, and body, are in a continual hurry to be something more than is necessary or commendable. And though I doubt it will be a vain labour, to offer you a just likeness of Mrs. Monfort's action, yet the fantastick impression is still so strong in my memory, that I cannot help saying something, tho' fantastically, about it. The first ridiculous airs that break from her, are, upon a gallant, never seen before, who delivers her a letter from her father, recommending him to her good graces, as an honourable lover. Here now, one would think she might naturally shew a little of the sex's decent reserve, tho' never so slightly covered! No, sir; not a tittle of it; modesty is the virtue of a poor-souled country gentlewoman; she is too much a court lady, to be under so vulgar a confusion! she reads the letter, therefore, with a careless, dropping lip, and an erected brow, humming it hastily over, as if she were impatient to outgo her father's commands, by making a compleat conquest of him at once; and that the letter might not embarrass her attack, crack! she crumbles it at once, into her palm, and pours upon him her whole artillery of airs, eyes, and motion; down goes her dainty, diving body, to the ground, as if she were sinking under the conscious load of her own attractions; then launches into a flood of fine language, and compliment, still playing her chest forward in fifty falls and risings, like a swan upon waving water; and, to complete her impertinence, she is so rapidly fond of her own wit, that she will not give her lover leave to praise it: silent assenting bows, and vain endeavours to speak, are all the share of the conversation he is admitted to, which, at last, he is relieved from, by her engagement to half a score visits, which she swims from him to make, with a promise to return in a twinkling."

In this work, also, the reader may become acquainted, on familiar terms, with Wilkes and Dogget, and Booth-fall in love with Mrs. Bracegirdle, as half the town did in days of yoreand sit amidst applauding whigs and tories on the first representation of Cato. He may follow the actors from the gorgeous scene of their exploits to their private enjoyments, share in their jealousies, laugh with them at their own ludicrous distresses, and join in their happy social hours. Yet with all our admiration for the theatrical artists, who yet live in Cibber's Apology, we rejoice to believe that their high and joyous art is not declining. Kemble, indeed, and Mrs. Siddons, have forsaken

that stateliest region of tragedy which they first opened to our gaze. But the latter could not be regarded as belonging to any age; her path was lone as it was exalted, and she appeared, not as highest of a class which existed before her, but as a being of: another order, destined to leave the world no copy,” but to enrich its imaginations for ever. Yet have we, in the youngest of the Kemble line, at once an artist of antique grace in comedy, and a tragedian of look the most chivalrous and heroic-of“ form :and moving most express and admirable”-of enthusiasm to give vivid expression to the highest and the most honorable of human emotions.- Still can we boast of one, whose rich and noble voice is adapted to all the most exquisite varieties of tenderness and passion-one, whose genius leads him to embody characters the most imaginative and romantic-and who throws over his grandest pictures, tints so mellow and so nicely blended, that, with all their inimitable variety, they sink in perfect harmony into the soul.- Still have we a performer of intensity never equalled-of pathos the sweetest and the most profound -whose bursts of passion almost transport us into another order of being, and whose flashes of genius cast a new light on the darkest caverns of the soul. If we have few names to boast in elegant comedy, we enjoy a crowd of the richest and most original humourists, with Munden—that actor of a myriad unforgotten faces-at their head. But our theme has enticed us beyond our proper domain of the past; and we must retire. Let us hope for some Cibber, to catch the graces of our living actors before they perish, that our successors may fix on them their retrospective eyes unblamed, and enrich with a review of their merits some number of our work, which will appear, in due course, in the twenty-second century.

Arr. II. The Works of Ben Jonson, folio, 1616.

The reader, who may compare the length of this article with the dignity and importance of its title, may justly consider us no unworthy disciples of Procrustes. To remove his scruples, and to explain our plans, we shall state, that in the subsequent article, two only of his plays are minutely considered, which we have selected for their similarity of construction, and as forming a class of themselves among the dramas of Jonson. They are the most careful and high-wrought of his works. Trusting that the elucidation of so great a master may prove a subject well worthy the attention of our readers, we shall not confine ourselves to the present attempt, but probably, in future numbers

of our work, pursue the course of his genius through all its varieties, and endeavour to accompany him in his loftier and more poetical flights.

The object, at least, of our aim we feel to be just. To restore the taste for antient simplicity of style for wit, whose zest is moral, and for humour, whose foundation is truth, can be no unbecoming trial. To shew, that the noblest exertions of imagination, and the most interesting pictures of passion, may be found amid the severest morals and the chastest methods of writing, will, at least, be an effort towards reclaiming the luxuriant romance of the age, and engaging the judgment in the assistance of the fancy. We cannot, perhaps, expect that the novel-reading lady should prefer Ben Jonson to her piquante food, but we will, at least, do her and her sentimental male gossips the service to shew them, that the solid fare which honest Ben has prepared for their palates is of a description which will not disgust by its homeliness, nor pall by its false relish. Mr. Gifford's admirable edition, at all events, is within their reach, and may, by its more modern type, if not by its excellent explanations, afford some excuse to a fashionable friend for its lying on a reading desk. We shall prefix to our present offering at the altar of immortal greatness, the names of two of its noblest supports.

« Every Man in his Humour.”_" Every Man out of his

Humour."

Next Jonson came, instructed from the school,
To please by method and invent by rule:
His studious patience and laborious art,
With regular approach essay'd the heart;
Cold approbation gave the lingering bays,

And they, who durst not censure, scarce could praise.

So says Samuel Johnson of his more illustrious namesake, in a prologue, which has been celebrated beyond any attempt of its kind for the mathematical justice of its criticism : so says the oracle of his day, of one of our greatest dramatists. These six lines are a curious specimen of how far a position, delivered with an air of certainty under the sanction of an authoritative name, will pass for years as a current truth, and become a test for the examination of the very powers which it misconstrues and belies. In a sense, however, evidently unmeant by the author, the last line, to which we in particular allude, is probably a historical fact. It has been the misfortune of Jonson's fame, that in order to be praised he must be understood; and that to be understood he must be studied. The “ coldness of men's

approbation” arose from their incapacity of understanding the justice of cause and effect, the nice link of character and action which Jonson, above any other even of his age of intellectual giants, comprehended and depicted. Jonson was no merétricious dramatist; with him, the pedigree of a jest is carefully inspected before it is installed in his house of fame; and his adoption of the ideas of others, or the use he makes of his own, is the badge and coat armour of their merit. His endeavour, from the beginning, was not so much to gain applause, as to shew that, if he failed, he deserved it. His plays possess not only their own intrinsic interest, but he has endeavoured to throw around them a new one-the justice of his own plea of encouragement from his auditors. In Every Man out of his Humour, in particular, our constant feeling is of a trial and proof of dramatic skill; and we feel no less pleasure in the author's success in his undertaking, than in the perfect and artful catastrophe of his subject. It is from this cause that, though much talked of, he is little read. He speaks to us with the gravity and command of an instrućtor, and the age is too weak and petulant to bear with his severities. He is of all authors the most perfect writer, because he is an exemplification throughout of his own precepts. His works are a grammar of classical sentiment and dramatic propriety. But let it not be supposed, that we mean to degrade him to the mere rank of a critic: to shew that he is fit to become the instructor' of others, we shall prove not only that his rules are true, and his precepts golden, but that he affords proofs of a mighty poetical genius, which his art frequently rather prevented from making use of unworthy means, than fettered from the attempt and attainment of its legitimate objects. There is another cause for his present neglected state ;-his characters, although far from being in his best comedies individual satires, are the representatives of the embodied follies of his times; not mere abstract passions with voices, but individual enough in their respective humours, though in their excellencies, vices, or absurdities, they include the major part of mankind. With Jonson, the improvement of the times was the first object; the reprehension of their follies was the proper end of his comedies; while with Beaumont and Fletcher, and Shakspeare, they are only introduced occasionally; and these last rather attack the constant source of frivolity, and engage the passion of vanity in itself, than occupy themselves, like Jonson, with turning its outward form into ridicule. With Master Stephen, we debate the merits of a silk or a woollen stocking; in Master Slender, we behold the vanity of a man endeavouring to recommend himself to his mistress, by his valour in a bear-fight : in the former we see the bare instance, in the latter the humour is incidental, and heightened by the

VOL. I. PART II.

interest of its purpose. Still, Jonson must not be considered as the mere satirist of his age. If the gallants of this time delight not in flame-coloured stockings, their pleasures of dress are not unworthy of their critical progenitors. The breed is not lost, though its motley is composed of different patches. The affectation of a Puntarvolo may be obsolete in the generality of travel to which easier communications have given birth; but a Sordido and a Fungoso are “ weeds of every soil,” they will endure as long as avarice holds its iron reign in man's heart, and the respect paid to externals induces the weak to consider them the objects of highest attainment. In proportion, however, as Jonson becomes less interesting to the common-place reader, does he rise in utility to the historian of manners : in proportion as he is less understood by the crowd, is he valuable as a record of the habits of his time; and hence, though a first reading may be almost unprofitable, upon a second we begin to feel his spirit, and on the third become actual existents of the reign of Elizabeth, roving over Moorfields to Hoxton, through meadows and rustic avenues; or“ drinking grist at the Windmill,” in all the delight of antiquated jollity. If the fire of his genius were allayed by his learning, it was not in his comedy: under the name of comedy, he prodụced not only scenes of pure wit and humour, refined from the dross of nature in which he found them; but tragic passions and reflections, sublime elucidations of truth, which bestow on him a lustre of transcendent brightness when he wields the bolt and hurls the lightnings of anger, or wears the steady grandeur of undeviating rectitude. The name of tragedy, indeed, was a spell of dark and unwholesome magic upon the powers of Jonson: he deemed it necessary to withdraw from the contemplation of those living models, which were the evident originals of his comedy; and which, when produced, seem ennobled by a reciprocity of nature and art: he found that men were no longer heroes, and, without examining the present beauties of the world, he endeavoured to cast his statues in the immense moulds of antique Rome.

But the composition of those mighty forms was lost, and the fragile materials yet left were unable to bear the cumbrous adornments which he selected from the pages of history. To compare his Volpone with his Sejanus or Catiline, we shall have ample proof that, had he been content with the passions which he beheld, and spoken with the voice of that nature which he heard, we should have had, in spite of the want of romantic interest in the subjects, the noble and soul-rending summer storm of tragedy, instead of cold dramatic editions of Tacitus, Pliny, and Suetonius, embellished with the beauties of Latin

literature, breaking, like spring flowers, through a frosty earth. " Yet all that could be done, under this error of judgment, was

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