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why should he not be Ranger, and diffuse the same cordial satisfaction among his private circles ? with his temperament, lis animal spirits, his good-nature, his follies perchance, could he do better than identify himself with his impersonation ? Are we to like a pleasant rake or coxcomb on the stage, and give ourselves airs of aversion for the identical character presented to us in actual life? or what would the performer have gained by divesting himself of the impersonation ? Could the man Elliston have been essentially different from his part even if he had avoided to reflect to us studiously, in private circles, the airy briskness, the forwardness, and scape-goat trickeries of his prototype ?
“But there is something not natural in this everlasting acting; we want the real man.”
Are you quite sure that it is not the man himself, whom you cannot, or will not see, under some adventitious trappings, which, nevertheless, sit not at all inconsistently upon him? What if it is the nature of some men to be highly artificial ? The fault is least reprehensible in players. Cibber was his own Foppington, with almost as much wit as Vanburgh could add to it.
“My conceit of his person”-it is Ben Jonson speaking of Lord Bacon—" was never increased towards him by his place or honours. But I have, and do reverence him for the great. ness, that was only proper to himself; in that he seemed to me ever one of the greatest men that had been in many ages. In his adversity I ever prayed that Heaven would give him strength; for
he could not want." The quality here commended was scarcely less conspic. uous in the subject of these idle reminiscences, than in my Lord Verulam. Those who have imagined that an unexpected elevation to the direction of a great London theatre affected the consequence of Elliston, or at all changed his nature, knew not the essential greatness of the man whom they disparage.
It was my fortune to encounter him near St. Dunstan's Church (which, with its punctual giants, is now no more than dust and a shadow) on the morning of his election to that high office. Grasping my hand with a look of significance, he only uttered—“Have you heard the news ?”—then with another look following up the blow, he subjoined, “I am the future manager of Drury Lane Theatre.” Breathless as he saw me, he stayed not for congratulation or reply, but mutely stalked away, leaving me to chew upon his new-blown dignities at leisure. In fact, nothing could be said to it. Expressive silence alone could muse his praise. This was in his great style.
But was he less great, (be witness, oh ye powers of equanimity, that supported in the ruins of Carthage the consular exile, and more recently transmuted for a more illustrious exile the barren constableship of Elba into an image of imperial France,) when, in melancholy after-years, again, much near the same spot, I met him, when that sceptre had been wrested from his hand, and his dominion was curtailed to the petty managership, and part proprietorship, of the small Olympic, his Elba? He still played nightly upon the boards of Drury, but in parts, alas! allotted to him, noi magnificently distributed by him. Waiving his great loss as nothing, and magnificently sinking the sense of fallen material grandeur in the more liberal resentment of depreciations done to his more lofty intellectual pretensions, “ Have you heard”—his customary exordium--" have you heard,” said he, “how they treat me? they put me in comedy." Thought I-- but his finger on his lips forbade any verbal interruption—"Where could they have put you better ?” Then, after a pause—“Where I formerly played Romeo, I now play Mercutio,”—and so again he stalked away, neither staying nor caring for responses.
Oh, it was a rich scene-but Sir A C-, the best of story-tellers and surgeons, who mends a lame narrative almost as well as he sets a fracture, alone could do justice to it-that I was witness to, in the tarnished room (that had once been green) of that same little Olympic. There, after his deposition from imperial Drury, he substituted a throne. Thai Olympic Hill was his “highest heaven;" himself “ Jove in his chair." There he sat in state, while before him, on complaint of prompter, was brought for judgment-how shall I describe her?-one of those little tawdry things that flirt at the tails of chorusesa probationer for the town, in either of its senses-the pertest little drab-a dirty fringe and appendage of the lamps' smoke-who, it seems, on some disapprobation expressed by a "highly respectable” audience -had precipitately quitted her station on the boards and withdrawn her small talents in disgust.
“ And how dare you," said her manager--assuming a censorial severity which would have crushed the confidence of a Vestris, and disarmed that beautiful rebel herself of her professional caprices--I verily believe, he thought her standing before him—.“ how dare you, madam, withdraw yourself, without a notice, from your theatrical duties?"_“I was hissed, sir.”—“And you have the presumption to decide upon the taste of the town?”—I don't know that, sir; but I will never stand to be hissed,” was the subjoinder of young Confidence—when, gathering up his features into one
significant mass of wonder, pity, and expostulatory indignation in a lesson never to have been lost upon a creature less forward than she who stood before him-his words were these : They have hissed me.”
”T'was the identical argument à fortiori, which the son of Peleus uses to Lycaon trembling under his lance, to persuade him to take his destiny with a good grace. -“ I too am mortal." And it is to be believed that in both cases the rhetoric missed of its application for want of a proper understanding with the faculties of the respective recipients.
Quite an opera pit," he said to me, as he was courteously conducting me over the benches of his Surrey Cheatre, the last retreat and recess of his every-day waning grandeur.
Those who knew Elliston will know the manner in which he pronounced the latter sentence of the few words I am about to record. One proud day to me he took his roast multon with us in the Temple, to which I had superadded a preliminary haddock. After a rather plentiful partaking of the meager banquet, not unrefreshed with the humbler sort of liquors, I made a sort of apology for the humility of the fare, observing that for my own part I never ate but one dish at dinner. 61 too never eat but one thing at dinner," was his reply-then, after a pause-"reckoning fish as nothing.” The manner
It was as if by one peremptory sentence he had decreed the annihilation of all the savoury esculents, which the pleasant and nutritious-food-giving ocean pours forth upon poor humans from her watery bosom. This was greatness, tempered with considerate tenderness to the feelings of his scanty but welcoming entertainer.
Great wert thou in thy life, Robert William Elliston! and not lessened in thy death, if report speak truly, which says that thou didst direct that thy mortal remains should repose under no inscription but one of pure Latinity. Classical was thy bringing up! and beautiful was the feeling on thy last bed, which, connecting the man with the boy, took thee back in thy latest exercise of imagination to the days when, undreaming of theatres and managerships, thou wert a scholar, and an early ripe one, under the roofs builded by the munifi cent and pious Colet. For thee the Pauline muses weep In elegies that shall silence this crude prose they shall cele. brate thy praise.
DETACHED THOUGHTS ON BOOKS AND
"To mind the inside of a book is to entertain one's self with the forced product of another man's brain. Now I think a man of quality and breeding may be much amused with the natural sprouts of his own."
Lord Foppington in the Relapse.
An ingenious acquaintance of my own was so much struck with this bright sally of his lordship, that he has left off reading altogether, to the great improvement of his originality. At the hazard of losing some credit on his head, I must confess that I dedicate no inconsiderable portion of my time to other people's thoughts. I dream away my life in others' speculations. I love to lose myself in other men's minds. When I am not walking I am reading ; I cannot sit and think. Books think for me.
I have no repugnances. Shaftesbury is not too genteel for me, nor Jonathan Wild too low. I can read anything which ] call a book. There are things in that shape which I cannot allow for such.
In this catalogue of books which are no books-biblia a-biblia -I reckon court calendars, directories, pocket-books, draughtboards, bound and lettered at the back, scientific treatises, almanacs, statutes at large : the works of Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Beattie, Soame Jenyns, and, generally, all those volumes which “no gentleman's library should be without :” the Histories of Flavius Josephus, (ihat learned Jew,) and Paley's Moral Philosophy. With these exceptions, I can read almost anything. I bless my stars for a taste so catholic, so unexcluding
I confess that it moves my spleen to see these things in dooks' clothing perched upon shelves, like false saints, usurpers of true shrines, intruders into the sanctuary, thrusting out the legitimate occupants. To reach down a well-bound semblance of a volume, and hope it some kind-hearted playbook, then, opening what seem its leaves," to come bolt upon a withering population essay. To expect a Steele or a Farquhar, and find - Adam Smith. To view a well-arranged assortment of blockheaded Encyclopædias (Anglicanas or Metropolitanas) set out in an array of Russia or Morocco, when a tithe of that good leather would comfortably reclothe my shivering folios; would renovate Paracelsus himself, and enable old Raymund Lully to look like himself again in the world. I never see these impostors, but I long to strip them to warm my ragged veterans in their spoils.
To be strong-backed and neat-bound is the desideratum of a volume. Magnificence comes after. This, when it can be afforded, is not to be lavished upon all kinds of books indiscriminately. I would not dress a set of magazines, for instance, in full suit. The dishabille, or half-binding, (with Russia backs ever,) is our costume. A Shakspeare, or a Milton, (unless the first editions,) it were mere foppery to trick out in gay apparel. The possession of them confers no distinction. The exterior of them, (the things themselves being so common,) strange to say, raises no sweet emotions, no tickling sense of property in the owner. Thomson's Seasons, again, looks best (I maintain it) a little torn and dog's-eared. How beautiful to a genuine lover of reading are the sullied leaves and worn-out appearance, nay, the very odour, (beyond Russia,) if we would not forget kind feelings in fastidiousness, of an old " Circulating Library” Tom Jones or Vicar of Wakefield! How they speak of the thousand thumbs that have turned over their pages with delight !-of the lone seamstress whom they may have cheered (milliner, or harder-working mantuamaker) after her long day's needle-toil, running far into midnight, when she has snatched an hour, ill spared from sleep, to steep her cares, as in some Lethean cup, in spelling out their enchanting contents ! Who would have them a whit less soiled ? What better condition could we desire to see them in ?
In some respects, the better a book is, the less it demands from binding. Fielding, Smollet, Sterne, and all that class of perpetually self-reproductive volumes-- great Nature's stereotypes—we see them individually perish with less regret, because we know the copies of them to be “eterne.” But where a book is at once both good and rare—where the indi. vidual is almost the species, and when that perishes,
“ We know not where is that Promethean torch
That can its light relumine"
such a book, for instance, as the Life of the Duke of Newcastle, by his dutchess-no casket is rich enough, no casing sufficiently durable, to honour and keep safe such a jewel.
Not only rare volumes of this description, which seem, hopeless ever to be reprinted, but old editions of writers, such as Sir Philip Sidney, Bishop Taylor, Mil:on in his prose-works, Fuller-of whom we have reprints, yet the books inemselves, though they go about, and are talked of here and