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affection for the name of Shakespeare, and bullies the courtiers ; yet, by Mr Siddons at once gratified his own the force of vigorous conception taste, and paid the most acceptable and true discrimination, aided by very compliment to that of the public, by strong feeling, she gave an energy and bringing forward, in the most tasteful pathos to this rash and fiery but geand appropriate style, the plays of nerous and amiable champion of doour national bard. Accordingly, mestic virtue, that equally surprised upon the Winter's Tale, and, short and delighted us. ly after, upon the Tempest, were The hall of trial and the bower of bestowed all the advantages which Perdita were from the pencil of Mr scenery, dress, and decoration could Nasmyth, and did credit to his taimpart. Every thing was executed lents and his taste, with the exception with full attention to characteristic of an absurd endeavour to carry on propriety, and with a correctness, the appearance of a crowd by means beauty, and magnificence, which could of painted groups of figures in the not be exceeded in any theatre of galleries of the trial scene. The il equal capacity. Nor was the acting lusory effect, if any, can be but for unworthy of the ornamental depart. the duration of an instant; and the ment. The peculiar abilities of each deception, once observed, is an object performer were generally well con- of perpetual dissatisfaction. sidered and judiciously applied; a În the Tempest, the scenery minute attention was every where (throughout entirely new) was the paid to the necessary business of work of Mr Williams, * an artist hithe scene ; and a most laudable ac. therto unknown to fame, but giving curacy of study exhibited through- good promise of deserving it. The out all the characters. In the Win- landscapes were wild and picturesque, ter's Tale, Leontes was played by Mr the bold fantastic forms of uncultiSiddons, Camillo by Mr Archer, vated nature were well imagined, and Antigonus by Mr Terry, Florizel by the character of mysterious solitude Mr Putnam, and Autolycus by Mr well expressed. Mr Williams's deficiBerry. Mrs Young was the repre. ency seems chiefly to be in his execusentative of Hermione, Mrs Siddons tion. There is a coarse and hasty of Paulina, and Mrs Vining of Per. daubing (too coarse even for scenedita. From the general praise which painting) frequently observable in his is justly due to the correct and im- work, that looksmore like the perplexpressive exertions of all, it is unne. ed and clumsy scrambling of ignorance cessary to select any one as the mark to conceal its deficiencies, than the of particular commendation, with the indolence of a scientific and dexteexception, perhaps, of Mrs H. Sid. rous artist, willing to spare his ladons, who, for the first time, under- bour. He is evidently wanting, too, took the character of Paulina. The in the principles of his art, as well delicacy of her figure and habitual as in the finer dexterities of execuprettiness of manners did not exact- tion; and perspective and architecsy assimilate with our notions of the ture should be the objects of his sedauntless virago, who scolds the king rious study. The Tempest was thus
* Not Mr Hugh William Williams, an eminent water-colour artist of this city, but Mr J. F. Williams, whose talents are devoted chiefly, if not exclusively, to the decorations of the theatre.
east :-Prospero, Mr Terry ; Hip- theatre. A drama may (and many polyto, Mrs Young; Ferdinand, Mr of Shakespeare's do) contain proPutnam ; Trinculo, Mr Mason ; Ste. found knowledge of nature, great phano, Mr Kelly; Caliban, Mr Berry; truth of character, unbounded luxuMiranda, Mrs Vining ; Dorindů, riance of imagination, the highest ori. Mrs H. Siddons ; and Ariel, Mrs ginality of poetic invention and Penson.
harmony of composition, and yet not It should perhaps be noticed, that, possess that inferior, perhaps, but nenotwithstanding all this anxious at- cessary, quality which is requisite to tention and costly preparation which make them, in representation, the Mr Siddons thus lavished upon the idols of popular admiration. It may productions of Shakespeare, these be easily conceived, we think, that a iwo plays met with a reception and play combining all the above excelencouragement rather cold and doubt. lencies, may be so addressed to cerful when compared to that which tain remote and considerative facul. was given to the Foundling of the ties of the mind, abstruse and reflec. Forest, and other pieces of a similar tive perceptions of the intellect, as to or inferior worth." The first sensa- require the familiarity of private metion of our minds on such an occa- ditation before they produce that efsion, fond of and familiar as they are fect, which, to ensure them success with the unparalleled excellence of in public, they must create instantaShakespeare's compositions, is asto. neously; that is, before they are canishment, mixed with an inclination pable of exciting emotion, of comto censure the taste of the age which manding our sympathies, and of bevan reject such rare and powerfu! coming the inmates of our hearts. writings for the efforts of Dimond A composition may also call for some or Reynolds. Mr Siddons has done factitious character of taste, some suhis duty; he has made trial of our perinduced state of the feelings, found. taste, and he is henceforth justified ed on peculiar modes of education, in yielding to its current ;
or particular and favourite pursuits “ The drama's laws the drama's patrons perceived and relished ; and thus con
of study, before its worth can be give."
tract the circle of its popular infiuand the public must not blame a ma. ence, and elude those more universal nager who only obeys the necessity and superficial feelings, those more which themselves impose, when he natural and immediate operations of produces the ephemeral and high-sea- the mind, on which theatrical success soned exhibitions which excite curio- is strongly founded; and which, if sity by their novelty, and attract the well addressed, will ensure popularigreatest numbers of spectators by the ty to a very moderate production ; glitter of decoration, by pomp, and when, if neglected, the finest poetry noise, and nonsense.
will be in danger of public disregard, Something, however, may be said Again-characters, their situations, in defence of the public. There is their sentiments and feelings, though a great degree of error in our censure drawn with the best powers of geni, of it, which arises from confound. us, may, by the romance of poetical ing the intellect of the closet with imagination, be removed from the the mental perceptions exercised in a touch of human sympathy, and car,
ried out of the boundaries of human which all the subsequent interest of interest ; or, if they still should be of the piece depends, and by the loves of this world, they may be of features Florizel and Perdita (though exquiso delicate in themselves, or so ex- sitely beautiful and true) being too quisitely refined in their portraiture, fine in nature, and too softly poetical or so careless in their arrangement, in execution, to be allied to general or inconsistent in their combination, feeling, or tangible by common symas to become, in spite of poetry, pathies ; to this may be added 'the tedious, and ineffective. Of the numerous variety of characters, quite first class, we consider “ The Tem. unnecessary and unrelated to the propest" to be an example, and of the se- gress of the play, which confuse the cond, “ The Winter's Tale.” It was mind, and impertinently distract its well said of the former, by a critic of attention still further from the main the day, when it was first represent. business and the principal persons: ed here this season, “ that though
These are a few of the causes exquisitely poetical, and abounding
in which may serve to account for the the finest and loveliest images, it is ill success of these two plays ; and, not an interesting play in action ; for "if we are right in our theory, it will Prospero is a grand and elevated per- help to explain, to what those plays sonage, removed from the intercourse of Shakespeare, which still keep the of humanity, and sublimely familiar stage, owe their undiminished attracwith the visionary existencies of ano. tion. Macbeth, Lear, Othello, &c. ther world, delivering the most wonde- &c., to equal excellence of every highrous sentiments that ever were concei- er denomination, add those qualities ved in the loftiest language that ever which go directly to the excitement was uttered; but he is so high a. of popular approbation. They seize bove all his co-agents as to speak al. the perceptions of the heart and most in soliloquies; and while his fel- mind, without the necessity of any low-mortals are the mere creatures of reflex operations; and they possess his will, the supernatural agents are the rarer merits of holding them still unfortunately brought so constantly faster after such operations have conbefore the spectators, as entirely to firmed our first sensations of delight. lose that shadow and mystery neces.
To Mr Siddons, however, it is our sary to the interest and credibility of wish to pay every acknowledgement such airy beings.”
for his laudable and liberal efforts to In the Winter's Tale, the excel. extend and improve our state of dra. lence with which the jealousy of Le- matic entertainment. ontes is drawn, the truth and force of On Monday, January 29th, 1810, delineation shewn in the character of was produced the Family Legend, Paulina, and the impressive and dra- the avowed production of Miss Joanmatic nature of many detached per. na Baillie. Since the appearance of sons, situations, and incidents, are Douglas, the enthusiasm of the Scotoverwhelmed by the gross and total tish audience had not been awakened violation of dramatic probability in by a story of their native land from the structure of the fable, the incom- the pen of a native poet, and they prehensible causelessness of the jea- came prepared to receive and support, lousy of the principal character, on with generous and kindred cordiality,
the efforts of genius, and to place gillian, with an intent to confirm or to disupon its brows the wreath of fame. pel certain doubts of her connubial bap
The fable on which this tragedy is piness,, which they entertained. De founded, is the same which forms the Grey keeps at a respectful distance, subject of Campbell's beautiful poem presence of his sister, finds" all is
but Lorne, admitted by stealth to the of Glenara, a highland legend long not well.” Helen, however, with praisepreserved in the family of the Hon. worthy constancy, determines to adMrs Damer's maternal ancestors, and here to her conjugal duties, and, in an, by that lady presented to Miss Bail. swer to his affectionate and solicitous lie, as well calculated to produce inquiries, asserts, that “ Clangillian's strong effect upon the stage. The wife has no grievances to tell the Lord outline of the play constructed from of Lorne.” Thus confirmed in their susit is as follows:
picions, but baffled in their hopes of re
lieving her by her own virtue, the brother Helen, daughter of Argyll, has been and lover reluctantly leave the castle. given by her father to Duart, the chief At this period the machinations of the of Clangillian, in order to cement a peace conspirators are completed ; and the which had lately taken place between weak-minded Duart, harassed by their these two powerful clans, who had hither- clamorous expostulations, alarmed by to long nourished against each other a their threats, and terrified by supernatudeadly feud. The lurking feelings of hos- ral prodigies, yields, after some faint tility, however, still rankled in the breasts struggles, to the furious demand of his of many of the leaders of Clangillian, clan, to have Helen resigned to their upon whose stern and ferocious souls the hands. He still makes some feeble inmild virtues and gentle mediations of the tercession for her life, and receives from fair bride could work no change. Her them the dark and equivocal promise that husband, unfortunately “ of a soft, un- they “ will not shed her blood.” Helen steady, yielding temper,” is little able to is accordingly forced away by the unreexert his authority as chieftain, to influ- lenting vassals, regardless of her cries ence the determinations of his fierce and and lamentations, and exposed upon a rugged vassals. Benlora, a powerful lead- barren rock, which at high water is coer, and“ a savage, gloomy man,” had vered by the sea, and left to await the been taken in ambush, and, “ the peace- terrific and inevitable approach of death. ful treaty of the clans unheeded."' kept In this situation she is accidentally disin durance vile by a Campbell for two covered and rescued by De Grey and a long years. On his release, he finds the party of fishermen, and is borne home te marriage of his own chief with the de- the castle of Argyll. Duart shortly aftested Helen of Argyll had bound his terwards follows, accompanied by Benlora hands, and removed from him all hope of and the other conspirators, to pay a visit honourable vengeance for his wrongs. of condolence to his father-in-law upon Vengeance, however, he is resolved to her pretended death, of which and of her have, per fas aut nefas, and, along with burial he has previously sent a fabricated Lochtarish and Glenfadden, two subor. account. The old earl receives him with dinate villains, he contrives to work upon ceremonious observance; and Lorne, the inferior and irresolute Duart, 'till he with characteristic vehemence of concomplies with their revengeful and savage tempt. Persisting in his falsehood that purpose of exposing Helen to destruc- Helen died in his arms, he and his vastion. While these machinations are yet sals are introduced to a splendid feast, unaccomplished, John of Lorne the bro- where Helen is suddenly brought before ther, and De Grey, the former lover of them. Confoundedandconscience-struck, Helen (whose hopes had been sacrificed he has no defence or palliation, and, beby the cruel policy of the present match,) taking himself to the last resort of dearrive, in disguise, at the castle of Clan- tected guilt, is killed in single combat by
John of Lorne. The other conspirators what she would term her miscella. are carried off to punishment, and the neous plays, it is relieved from dispiece concludes with the triumph of the advantages to which those are inevi. union between De Grey and llelen, tó tably liable, which proceed on a syswhose gratitude he had endeared him- tematic determination to illustrate a self
, by preserving her own life and that single passion. In exhibiting the of her infant son, which, likewise, was birth and pourtraying the progress threatened by the feudal hatred of the of any individual passion, intended Clangillian party.
to absorb all the other component Such is the outline of the plot of feelings of the human breast, and this tragedy. Simple in its construc- stamp the ruling character of the pertion and uninterrupted in its pro- son, nature will frequently be sacrigress by the intervention of any epi. ficed to theory, and the part become sodical characters or counteracting more like a metaphysical analysis than incidents, the catastrophe is carly fore a dramatic specification of characseen, or, more strictly speaking, is ter ; and the poetry will be rather an very early completed; for the pre- ingenious display of the poet's own servation of Helen, which certainly knowledge of the human heart and forms the main interest of the piece, mind, than the exemplification of takes place at the end of the third it by the natural language of pas. act ; and the fourth and fifth are em. sion from the character itself: we shall ployed in the visit of the husband to ® rather be apt to feel as if we were the castle of Argyle, and the detec. receiving instruction from the author, tion and punishment of his guilt.- than as being left to instruct ourselves This we conceive to be a fault ; the by the observation and study of the mind, relieved from its principal anxi- dramatic personages. That Miss ety, attends, notwithstanding a great Baillie has been thus prevented from deal of exquisite poetry, with lan. drawing character with the genuine guor to a sequel which is necessarily power of dramatic reality, we are and confidently expected, and which, afraid may be deduced from the faithough requisite to be exhibited, is too lure which attends her pieces when insufficient and subordinate to occu. put into representation. Great atpy so great a proportion of the play. tention is paid to, and great intel. Many schemes might have been sug- lectual delight received from, the langested to have prolonged the inte. guage, the poetry, and sentiments, by rest; and the rescue of the heroine, those minds which are capable of atwith the doom of her persecutors, tending ; but little general sympathy might both have been contained in the is excited in the feelings of an au. last act.
dience, and that concentrated atten- . On the nature and extent of Miss tion necessary to the success of a Baillie's poetical talent it is unneces- drama soon wearies and languishes. sary for us to enlarge, after the am. If, however, we may find it diffi. ple notice which it has received in cult to discover many examples of our last year's Review of Literature. the language of immediate and chaThe present production exhibits the racteristic passion in her plays, they same excellencies and the same de- certainly abound in the most fetifects which charactérise her other citous and exquisite descriptions of tragedies ; and, by ranking among it. To her belongs the praise of