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Love raging in her breast, but banish'd from her
cheek. He who would read her thoughts must mark un
seen Her eye's full undisguised expression ; trace (If trace he could wbile distance stretch'd be
The feelings, blushing, quivering on her face:
AUTO-BIOGRAPHY OF EDMUND KEAN.
SHERWOOD & Co. have been se- and must not be bullied down without
duced into the rash act of publish- reason. Our own jolly old friend, Eling a collection of nonsensical Memiors liston, who, by the by, will not be a of the eminent Men, Women, and bit obliged to us for calling him old, Children, who perform plays, now-a- may safely despise these little buze days for us, under the title of Biogra- zings, and empty his magnum of claphy of the British Stage.* We cannot ret, or knock down his man, both of compliment the author on the execu- which things the ancient of Drury well tion of his work. It is only a series of knows how to do, unaffected by daubing puffery upon almost every the uproar of the Dii minorum genname mentioned, and that laid on tium of the stage, or their bottlethick.
holders. It is evidently the composition of As for us, who never go to a play somebody intimate with the worthies now-a-days, we should not have thought whom he commemorates; as he is of noticing this pen-dribble at all, but manifestly afraid to say a word against that we wished to expose before the any of then. But a still more decisive eyes of our readers Mr. Kean's autoproof exists in the inuignation occa- biography. From p. 104 to p. 144, şionally expressed against the manage- an eighth part of the volume, is occument of the theatres. From time im- pied with the memoirs of this gentlememorial, players, particularly the man, written by himself. We speak underlings, have been thoroughly con- merely from internal evidence, for not vinced that nothing can be more par- even a pot-house Plutarch could think tial, villainous, and unjust, than the of wasting forty pages upon such a manner in which managers overlook hero. None but himself could think their immense merits, so particularly of such an enormity; and as we have visible to themselves. Hence, they lately been pleasantly amusing the readare always ready to exclaim, that there ing public by the discussion of the meis something rotten in the theatrical moirs of our worthy Shepherd, and cabinet—and their biographers, as in other stars of the age, as a pendant the present instance, find it conven we shall give them Kean's opinion on ient to adopt their tone. We hear ac- bimself and things in general. cordingly of the “ infamous partiali It begins well --Plutarch had just ty,” or the consummate imbecility” given the life of Richard Jones, the of the managers, from such people. It most perfect gentleman of the stage, is true, that we do not look upon R. on or off it. We shall not stop to puff W. Elliston or C. Kemble, to be ac- Jones—for every body knows his merits tually a pair of wise men on the plan in public; and as to his private life, of Solon or Lycurgus, and we doubt we shall only say this of him, that he is not that they occasionally commit as one of the few actors whom we have much absurdity as can reasonably be ever met who can put the actor off, expected; but, nevertheless, they in and take his place in society as a gengeneral know what they are about, tleman—and, of that few, the man who
can do it most completely and most * The Biography of the British Stage ; easily. Now, how do you think, being correcto Narratives of the Lives of all reader of ours, that the life following the Actors, &c. 12mo. Sherwood and Co. his is introduced? Why, then, by this London, 1824.
“As one who, long in thickets and in brakes manner which he did. But it appears Entangled, winds now this way and now that,
also that he had a bandy-legged uncle His devious course uncertain, seeking home,
in the same employment, from whom Or, having long in miry ways been foiled And sore discomfited, from slough to slough
we opine he borrowed his novel and Plunging, and half-despairing of escape ;
original method of treading the stage. If chance at length he finds a greensward smooth, Under these auspices, he was introAnd faithful to the foot bis spirits rise,
duced to the stage almost in childhood, He chirrups brisk his ear-erecting steed,
and put under the tuition of a posture[Qu. ass.]
master. To him Kean slily attributes And winds his way with pleasure and with ease.”
the distortion of his legs, wbich everySo that having been entangled in body who reads the memoir must see the thickets and brakes of Richard was solely owing to the Persian fashion Jones, foiled and discomfited in his of sitting, which has been the custom miry way, and plunging from slough to of the sartorial tribe from time immeslough, in narrating the adventures of morial. The honest posture-master his life, the biographer finds green- did his best to correct his tailorly apsward smooth in ambling his dookey pearance, by putting him in irons, but over the res gestæ of Mr. Kean! the only thanks he receives from his
We go on just as well. “ This Ex- grateful patient is to be accused of havTRAORDINARY individual, whose name ing been the occasion of the defect heads this memoir, and which name which he endeavoured to remedy, will be imperishable in dramatic an The next great action of Kean's life, nals, was born, &c. &c. Bravo! according to himself, is thus narrated Kean! Extraordinary, however, you in this veridical tone. It is one of the are, beyond all question; for never immense and thriving family of “the before, in the annals of a civilized lie with circumstance;”-yiz. country, was it heard of, that a man, who could not act, was puffed off as the opening of the new house, in March 1794,
“ In the performance of Macbeth, at the prince of actors, by people who could Mr. John Kemble, who was at that time not write, and the audacious lump of manager, imagined that he could increase pomatum swallowed, even by the ca the effect of the incantation scene, and
therefore resolved that the black spirits pacious gullet of the long-eared mon
and white, blue spirits and grey,' should be ster who acts audience at our play- brought before the audience in propria houses.
persona, and a number of children were acHis sire, it appears, was a tailor.- cordingly appointed to personate a party This is no disparagement to any man.
of goblins and other fantastical creations,
who were to dance in a circle, while the There is Place of Charing Cross is a witches were moving rouod in a cauldron, tailor-a ninth-part fraction of human- winding up the charm that was afterwards ity,—and yet he writes articles which to deceive the usurper of Donald Bain's Jerry Bentham swears are as clever as
throne. Among those selected for this pur
pose, young Kean of course was employed, his own : and he talks in the most
as being accustomed to the stage ; but his valorously of altering all the old habits appearance on that occasion was as little of the country—of mending Parlia- advantageous to himself as his employer. ment, as if it were a pair of corduroys into the cavern, the boy made an unlucky
Just at the pioment of Macbeth's entrance and of changing state-measures, as if step, from which, owing to the irons about they were no more than the graduated his limbs, he could not recover; he fell slip which he rolls over bis finger while against the child next to him, who rolled taking the nether circumference of a
upon his neighbour, who, in turn, jostled
upon the next, and the inpulse thus comWhitechapel victualler. If tailors are municated, like an electric shock, went such great fellows as this comes to, we round the circle, till the whole party topcannot see why Kean's father should pled down headlong,' and was laid prosnot have been a tailor. In truth, we
trate on the floor. The comedy of this never looked at him performing Ro- the tragic-sublime of the scene, and the
event mingled not very harmoniously with meo, that that trutb did not immedi- laughter of the audience, was, if possible, ately flash across our mental optics. still less in unison with the feelings of Mr. None but the offspring of the shop- possession, could not fail to be disconcerted
Kemble, who, however remarkable for selfboard could have acted the part in the by an accident so ludicrous. He was a de
cided enemy to everything that in the slight up by a Mrs. Tidswell, an actress, est way infringed upon the decorum of the who behaved kindly to him, and put scene; of course, then, he looked upon this him in the line of characters for which accident as a serious evil, and in consequence determined to dismiss the goblin nature and education had designed him. troop from Macbeth, observing, these She made him a tumbling boy, and things must not be done after these ways, showed him about the streets. This else they will make us mad.' The cause of this confusion, however,
is an unpalatable part of the story,
and therefore the auto-biographer gets "Smiled in the storm,
over it, by assuring us that, in the and very pliilosophically replied to all reproaches, that he had never before acted meantime, he was taking lessons from in tragedy,' a reply which by no ineans als his uncle Moses, the tailor, in tragedy, tered the manager's resolution; he was dis- to whom, it appears, the world is inmissed from Macbeth and the theatre. debted for Mr. K.'s conceptions of This anecdote, if true, is certainly most Lear and Richard the Third, (p. 111.) curious. Little could the
manager have thought, that the mischief-making goblin We always suspected something of the who had thus spoiled his beantiful inven- kind. But these lectures were merely tion, would one day become the rival of his in private; in public he shone in the fame !"
characters of Monkey and Serpent-a Oh! Jupiter Gammon! there's a pair of characters which have been, bouncer ! —What a picture !-a brat indeed, at all times very prominent in making a philosophical reply to Kem- his acting through life. However, he ble ! and the future rival of his fame! tells us that “ it is said” he was at But the thing never happened—no,
Eton School for three years, where he nor anything bearing the slightest re- read Virgil
, Cicero, and Sallust-rasemblance to it.
ther an odd course of reading—and In the theatre, he remarks, he had called forth much applause by the the benefit of a total want of educa
manner in which he recited a Latin tion-a very gratuitous piece of news;
ode. This intelligence strikes us as beand he congratulates himself that the ing rather apocryphal.-By whom is it energies of his mind were not enfee
" said” that Kean was at Eton? We bled or destroyed by the contamination are most incredulous, for we think the of school. His mother thought differ- thing next to an impossibility. ently, and sent him to the celebrated Under the name of Carey, he comAcademy of Orange-Court, from which, menced soon a strolling life, the parhowever, he ran away, and went on- ticulars of which are dexterously veilboard a vessel bound to Madeira as ed in oblivion. Many idle stories, we cabin-boy. Here the engraver, with a are told, are in circulation concerning propriety of judgment that cannot be the events of this period of his life ; too much commended, gives us a vig- but it is insinuated that they are not nette of a little naked cherub, or se- deserving of credit. Id populus curat raph, sitting aft in a yawl, with a skull scilicet, we can scarcely help laughin his left hand, and a church and ing at the idea of people putting stosteeple on the palm of his right, scud- ries 66 in circulation” about Kean. ding before the wind with a full fore- No doubt there are public-house anecsail-typical, no doubt, of Kean. But dotes enough, which might be gleaned
our" cherubical cabin-boy got tired of among the elegant circles which make this life, and, according to the truth- up the company at such places of retelling history before us, practised the sort, and two or three of them, deingenious trick of shamming deafness serving of credit, have casually come and lameness. For his great ingenuity to our ears, which the biographer in doing this, he receives much laud; knows as well as we do. He supbut there is not a word of truth in the presses them, because he cares for his story. The captain was glad enough hero—we suppress them, from the very to get rid of his bargain, and there re- opposite reason, because we do not quired no trick whatever to induce him care a farthing about him, and thereto turn the youth adrift.
fore we do not think them worth wastArrived in London, he was taken ing paper about. Among other ram
bles, he went to Guernsey, where it of impressing terror by a tone which seems appears he met with a judicious critic. to proceed from a charnel-house." We shall give the passage which con This article, it appears, produced a tains the account of his row with the sensation. Guernsey audience, and the reason of it, p. 114.
" When he first appeared in Richard, he
was greeted with laughter and hisses, even “ Here," quoth the auto-biographer, in the first scene ; for some time his pa. we meet with the following curious tience was proof against the worst efforts of and authentic document, [what does malignity, til! at last
, irritated by the conhe mean by authentic ?] which deserves tinued opposition, he applied the words of to be recorded, as a warning to all the scene to his auditors, and boldly ad
dressing the pit, with ignorant and malicious critics on the one hand, and to a too credulous public
Unmanner'd dogs, stand ye when I command.' on the other."
The clamour of course increased, and only We leave it to our readers to decide paused a moment in expectation of an apol.
ogy. In this, however, they were deceived ; whether the criticism displays igno- so far from attempting to soothe their rance.--Abating a little spooniness wounded pride, Kean came forward and about respect due to the audience, told them, that the only proof of underwhich, however, is quite natural in so
standing they had ever given, was the pro
per application of the few words he bad very provincial a writer, it appears to just uttered.' The manager now thought us to be a most sensible piece of critic proper to interfere, and the part of Richard cism, and one fully justified by the re was given to a man of less ability, but in sult,
higher favour with the brutal audience." "Last night, a young man, whose name Spoiled actors, we see, treat audi. the bills said was Kean, made his first ap
ences as Whigs do juries. The specpearance in Hamlet, and truly his perfor. mance of that character made us wish that tators are discerning, and perspicacious, we had been indulged with the country and everything that is delectable, as system of excluding it, and playing all the long as they applaud; but when they other characters. This person had, we discover incompetence, or scout down understand, a high character in several parts of England, and his vanity has re
impertinence, they are malignant and peatedly prompted him to endeavour to
“brutal.” Had Kean behaved as he procure an engagement at one of the thea- says he did, a kicking would have tres in the metropolis ; the difficulties he been too good for him; but, as usual, has met with have, however, proved insur- there is no foundation whatever for mountable, and the theatres of Drury-Lane and Covent-Garden have spared themselves the story, farther than that he was the disgrace to which they would be sub- hissed by the men of Guernsey. ject, by countepancing such impudence Governor Doyle took his part with and incompetency, Even his performance his usual kindness-paid his debts, of the inferior characters would be objectionable, if there was nothing and offered to take charge of his child, to render bim ridiculous but one of the whom Kean had the inhumanity to vilest figures that has been seen either on bring forward on the stage at the age of or off the stage ; and if his mind was half so
two. There is an immensity of silly well qualified for the conception of Richard III
. which he is shortly to appear in, as his yapouring in this part of the book ; person is suited to the deformities with
how he wanted to go into the army as which the tyrant is said to have been distin- an officer--bis sole claim to such honguished from his brothers, his success our being neither more nor less than would have been most unequivocal. As to his Hamlet, it was one of the most terrible
that he was a hooted player-how he misrepresentations to which Shakspeare
spouted before Governor Doyle; and has ever been subject. Without grace or how he made fine speeches about his dignity he comes forward ; he shows an wife and children. All stuff. The unconsciousness that anybody is before him, and is often so forgetful of the respect only piece of truth about his affairs in due to an audience, that he turns his back Guernsey is the story of a trick which upon them in some of those scenes where he resorted to, to draw company. At contemplation is to be indulged, as if for this time poor Lady Douglas had been the purpose of showing his abstractedness clamoured down for telling what now from all ordinary objects. His voice is harsh and monotonous, but as it is deep, we all know to have been the truth, answers well enough the idea he entertains about the late unfortunate Queen, and
she was obliged to retire from England. In a word, he was the passion of the Kean privately circulated a report that day. Novelty will always command she was to appear at his benefit, and notice in London, and Kean's acting, thereby gathered a large audience- happily, was a novelty on the Engit was a respectable way of doing busi- lish stage. His croaking tones-his
Though it is out of our way to one-two-three-hop step to the right, and make any political remarks while go- his equally brusque motions to the left ing over the memoirs of a stroller, -his retching at the back of the scene yet we cannot refrain from observing whenever he wanted to express passion on the consistent conduct of the Whigs, -his dead stops in the middle of senand the blackguards with whom they tences-his hurre hurre hurre, hop hop linked themselves, on the Queen's bu- hop! over all passages where sense siness. Nobody with more brains was to be expressed, took amazingly. than a turnip doubts the guilt of the His very defects told in his favour. Queen now; and yet if we venture to Don't you think, a doubting critic say a word about it, we are told of our would say, Kean is rather low ?barbarity in attacking a woman, and Yes, quoth a critic of the mob, rather she, too, in her grave.—God bless the low, I confess; but you see how well Whigs, they are a darling set of fel- he acts, in spite of his wretched appearlows! but we must go back to Kean. ance-Garrick was low.-I am of
He continued to act in the obscurity opinion, said another hesitator, that his which he deigns not to enlighten until voice is bad. Oh yes, retorted the somebody pointed him out in 1813, critic, rather hoarse, I confess; but while playing at Exeter, to the notice you see how well he acts, in spite of of Mr. Pascoe Grenfell, a wise member his wretched voice. --But, persevered of Parliament, and one of that egregi- the first interlocutor, I do not think he ous body, the Managing Committee understands his author.-—Why, entre of Drury Lane. Pascoe sent down nous, was the reply of the critic, I can't Arnold, the stage-dianager, to report exactly say; but you see how well he on Kean's abilities, and the report was acts, though he does not understand favourable. Kean came up, and acted his author.What could a man say at Drury Lane. There is an attempt
after that? to vilify Elliston, for endeavouring to But the real secret of this ultra-popukeep Kean to his word, made in this larity was what Cobbett calls the BASE authentic biography ; but it only Press. At that time, gentle reader, plunges the hero into farther dirt. The there flourished a knot of numskulls, speculation was a good one for the absolute over the dramatic world. house, which was at that time sinking Flourished, we say, for now it is laid under the mismanagement of Whit- prostrate. There will be a sighing bread, Douglas Kinnaird, and other among the Strephons, and a wailing great men, who were equally great in among the Wiolars, when we name the theatre as in the state. Shylock, the Cockney School! Dead they are he says, he played with an originality now-down, down, among the dead of style, and a vigour of genius ; but he men do they lie. But away with ban. informs us that it was reserved for the ter! At that time the most conceited, performance of his Richard III. to insolent, filthy, and ignorant dominion place him at once on the highest pinna- was exercised over all dramatic concle of dramatic glory. In Hamlet, he cerns by the Examiner. Its writers assures us, the force of his genius broke are now sunk, and we have no wish to through the disadvantages of his figure, trample on their misfortunes; but it and the brilliant points which illumi- must have cost the principal libellers nated his delineation of the character of that set many and bitter pangs, if were so numerous, as entirely to cast they were possessed of any feeling his defects into the shade. Othello ac- whatever, to be conscious in their own tually electrified the audience-Luke, day of suffering, when Z. was gibbetin Riches, commanded universal ap- ting them as objects for the slow-movplause; and so on through all his roles. ing finger of scorn to point at, how