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When the high blood ran frolick through thy veins,
In the third act, he applied this silent action, or by-play, with great felicity of effect. While Octavian listens to the goatherd's story of his daughter, which bears a strong resemblance to that of Octavian himself, the horror which he silently expressed at the goatherd's cruelty in opposing his daughter's marriage to the man she loved, made the reason for that torrent of rage and indignation which succeeds, fully apparent to the audience. This method, for the idea of which he no doubt is indebted to Cooke, but which nothing but native genius could instruct him when and where so happily to apply, constitutes one great line of demarcation between great and ordinary acting, and in young performers ought to be especially commended, and held up to others as an example. Any man of ordinary memory may speak what is set down for him with tolerable propriety; but it requires the spirit of a poet to anticipate and extend the conceptions of a poet, and this, when done in perfection, undoubtedly constitutes the supreme perfection of acting: this it was which gave Garrick the vast superiority he maintained over all other actors. Our readers who have seen Cooke perform Sir Pertinax, will readily call to mind an illustration of this truth in his servile air and booing to the great, and his immediately drawing himself up with a supercilious frown when he comes to address his servants.
In the first scene between Octavian and Roque the poet has fallen into a manifest absurdity; we mean in the supposition that the former could scan the face of the latter, so as to say,
“Providence has slubber'd it in haste:
and yet not discover in it, the face of his beloved “Floranthe's folIower,” who had often “lifted up the latch to give him admittance” to her:—and this absurdity we have seen heightened by the performer's glaring for some time at the old man. In his attempt to relieve the scene from this absurdity, Payne showed considerable address, and succeeded so well, that we cannot deny him the justice, nor ourselves the pleasure to describe the manner of his accomplishing it. Roque enters while Octavian is gazing passionately at the picture of Floranthe, his mind absorbed and his heart bursting, with the remembrance of his lost happiness. Roque says Seignior!—Seignior!
Startled from his reverie by the sound of a voice, Octavian hastily conceals the picture in his bosom, and confounded, walks hastily to Roque, casts a transient look at him, then turns away, and relapses again into strong agitation, manifestly occasioned by the recurrence of Floranthe to his reflections. In this state he is, when Roque, after a pause, inquires,
“Do you remember my countenance?”
Payne’s Octavian, as if angered at this second interruption of his dream, impatiently, but without deigning to turn his eye again towards so unwelcome an intruder, replies, unconscious who he is speaking to,
“No!—Providence has slubber'd it in haste:
Then crosses Roque, and without noticing him, walks up the
showed (to borrow the language of Quin to Mrs. Bellamy) that the true spirit was in him—and for his restoration of the following beautiful passage, he merited the thanks as well as applause of his audience. “Tell me, old Roque, tell me, Floranthe's follower, “Shall we not, when the midnight bell has toll'd, “Beguile the drunken sacrist of his key,
“Then steal in secret up the church’s aisle
Payne's gradually drawing himself up from his kneeling posture, by means of Roque’s hand, during the utterance of that speech was not only happily conceived, but happily executed; and his gesture, as if in the act of scattering cypress, though we dislike the practical illustration of any act that is described as done, or to be done, was, considering the state of Octavian's mind, very characteristic. Touching upon this topic, reminds us that we owe it to Mr. Payne, to remark, that of all the actors we have had occasion to criticise, Payne is, with the exception of Hodgkinson, the least self-willed and obstinate in resistance to the well meant hints of criticism, as he has, to his own palpable benefit, evinced.—He has in conformity to the hints in our first critique upon him, corrected most of the exceptionable parts of his acting, and we mean to point out some instances of this when we come to investigate his Douglas: There are many other passages in Mr. Payne's performance, of beauty and ingenuity equal to these, but the limits of this number will not permit us to specify them. He was received with wonderful enthusiasm: although the rags and misery of Octavian naturally tend to excite disgust. We have been thus circumstantial in our remarks on Mr. Payne because his unexpectedly long absence from the stage had given rise to various speculations, all of them founded on a supposition that he retired either on account of some break in his voice, some failure in the promise of his boyish performances, some impairment of his physical powers, or some diminution of his attractiveness; and because the question has been so frequently put to us, whether we thought him improved or not, that we felt it incumbent on us to be explicit. Whether it was from long disuse of the stage or from some mistake, Payne pitched his voice too high, which occasioned at times uneasy sensations among his numerous admirers, and excited apprehensions that he would overstrain his voice. Our observations on his other characters, are reserved for a future occasion.
Supplementary Particulars of the Fire at Richmond.
IN a former part of this number the reader will find an imperfect sketch (made up from various authentic narratives) of the destruction of the Richmond theatre, and a portion of its audience. Mr. Copel AND of Richmond—(whose daughter MARGARET, a lovely and interesting girl, was burnt)—in an irresistibly pathetic letter to Mr. Clay (who also lost a daughter) states—that “after the scenery took fire, it spread rapidly above, ascending in volumes of flame and smoke into the upper part of the building, whence, a moment after, it descended to force a passage through the pit and boxes.” It is only by reflecting on the rapidity of the conflagration, and comparing the vast variety of scenes which were exhibited, with the short time in which they all took place, that we can form the faintest conception of the horror of this event. In a few short minutes from the first alarm, every expiring innocent was at rest: their shrieks and groans subsided: the building, and its recent occupants were one heap of embers.
Every post brings us some new narrative of personal suffering, or miraculous escapes. The preservation of one gentleman and his family, will be looked upon as too extravagant even for the wonders of romance. His wife and a female friend of hers, were in one part of the house;—himself, two little daughters, and a son of twelve years old were in another. The wife leaped from a window and escaped unhurt. Her companion followed, but was killed. The father was in the second boxes; he clasped the two helpless girls, and left the boy, as more capable of exertion, to his fate. The boy was forced by the throng toward a window, he sprang out of it and was saved. The father strained his young daughters to his bosom, darted toward the stairs, and struggled to keep himself erect, but in vain. The pressure from behind, and those leaping over his head, overpowered and bent him down. From that moment he became insensible. Not dropping entirely to the ground he was forced along unconsciously by the mass, and picked up at some distance from the playhouse, whence he was borne to his bed, and he there, some hours afterwards, recovered, to be blest with a sight of the objects of his tender care in perfect safety,
In a superstitious age, or country, it would be thought that this preservation involved some great and mysterious design. But, for whatever purpose they were saved, we trust this favoured family will entertain a proper sense of the distinction which they have enjoyed, and endeavour to mark their future days by such good or noble acts as shall prove that they were not rescued from the grave for nothing. The loss of Miss NANcy GREEN, a blooming, amiable girl-a daughter of one of the managers, has thrown ker parents into the most unutterable anguish Miss Green, we understand, had been residing with Mrs. Gibson. Her father, supposing her at Mrs. Gibson’s, when he beheld the house in flames and the audience perishing, exclaimed, with tears of gratitude, “Thank heaven, My child is safe! Nancy is out of danger!” Is it possible to conceive any thing so agonizing as the father's sensations, who, when he ran (after the fire was over) to embrace his child and thank his Maker for preserving her, learned that Mrs. Gibson and Miss Green had been to the theatre and both were buried in its ruins! Mr. PLAcide, another of the managers, lost every article of his property; even his watch, his boots, and great coat. All his family, excepting a little daughter, whose name is Eliza, were removed from the theatre on the first alarm—but Eliza was no where to be found. The distracted father plunged again into the building; then flew among the crowd, shrieked for his infant-but Eliza was still missing. When the dreadful scene closed, he returned, heart-broken, to his dwelling;-but what scenes of suffering could exceed the rapture with which he saw his little Eliza, spring, as he entered the apartment, into his embrace? She had been rescued in the confusion—how, or in what way, we know In Ot. It is to be feared that many affecting incidents will yet come to light; but as nothing further has been related with unquestionable precision, we shall close this subject with one more, which, considering the characters of the parties and the peculiar circumstances of their situation, may by some be thought to transcend all the rest in horror, and appeal more forcibly to the feelings. We allude to the destruction of Miss SARAH C. ConyERs, and lieut. JAMEs Gibbon, of the navy.