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quisite picture of one who seems to have been the most exquisite of actresses:
"Mrs. Monfort, whose second marriage gave her the name of Verbruggen, was mistress of more variety of humour, than I ever knew in any one actress. This variety, too, was attended with an equal vivacity, which made her excellent in characters extremely different. As she was naturally a pleasant mimic, she had the skill to make that talent useful on the stage, a talent which may be surprising in a conversation, and yet be lost when brought to the theatre, which was the case of Estcourt already mentioned: but where the elocution is round, distinct, voluble, and various, as Mrs. Monfort's was, the mimic, there, is a great assistant to the actor. Nothing, though ever so barren, if within the bounds of nature, could be flat in her hands. She gave many heightening touches to characters but coldly written, and often made an author vain of his work, that in itself had but little merit. She was so fond of humour, in what low part soever to be found, that she would make no scruple of defacing her fair form, to come heartily into it; for when she was eminent in several desirable characters of wit and humour, in higher life, she would be in as much fancy, when descending into the antiquated Abigail, of Fletcher, as when triumphing in all the airs, and vain graces of a fine lady; a merit, that few actresses care for. In a play of D'Urfey's, now forgotten, called The Western Lass, which part she acted, she transformed her whole being, body, shape, voice, language, look, and features, into almost another animal; with a strong Devonshire dialect, a broad laughing voice, a poking head, round shoulders, an unconceiving eye, and the most bedizening, dowdy dress, that ever covered the untrained limbs of a Joan Trot . To have seen her here, you would have thought it impossible the same creature could ever have been recovered, to what was as easy to her, the gay, the lively, and the desirable. Nor was her humour limited to her sex; for, while her shape permitted, she was a more adroit pretty fellow, than is usually seen upon the stage: her easy air, action, mien, and gesture, quite changed from the quoif, to the cocked 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, coxcombry 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 MarriageAlamode. Melantha is as finished an impertinent, as ever fluttered in a drawing-room, and seems to contain the most complete 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 fantastic impression is still so strong in my memory, that I cannot help saying something, though 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 show a little of the sex's decent reserve, though 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 complete 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 yore—and 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 dibber's Apology, we rejoice to believe that their high and joyous art is not declining. Kemtie, 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 lonely 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 honourable of human emotions.
Still, in Macready, 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,
in Kean, 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 twentysecond century!
REVIEW OF JOHN DENNIS'S WORKS.
[Retrospective Review, No. 2.]
John Dennis, the terror or the scorn of that age, which is sometimes honoured with the title of Augustan, has attained a lasting notoriety, to which the reviewers of our times can scarcely aspire. His name is immortalized in the Dunciad; his best essay is preserved in Johnson's Lives of the Poets; and his works yet keep their state in two substantial volumes, which are now before us. But the interest of the most poignant abuse and the severest criticism quickly perishes. We contemplate the sarcasms and the invectives which once stung into rage the irritable generation of poets, with as cold a curiosity as we look on the rusty javelins or stuffed reptiles in the glass cases of the curious. The works of Dennis will, however, assist us in forming a judgment of the criticism of his age, as compared with that of our own, and will afford us an opportunity of investigating the influences of that popular art, on literature and on manners.
But we must not forget, that Mr. Dennis laid claims to public esteem, not only as a critic, but as a wit, a politician, and a poet. In the first and the last of these characters, he can receive but little praise. His attempts at gaiety and humour are weighty and awkward, almost without example. His poetry can only be described by negatives; it is not inharmonious, nor irregular, nor often turgid—for the author, too nice to sink into the mean, and too timid to rise into the bombastic, dw.ells in elaborate "decencies for ever." The climax of his admiration for Queen Mary—" Mankind extols the king—the king admires the queen "—will give a fair specimen of his architectural eulogies. He is entitied to more respect as an honest patriot . He was, indeed, a true