Imatges de pÓgina

treating them. But still, Garrick himself was a gentleman, and the view he had from his drawing-room window across the dwarf wall upon the Thames was in capital taste. Garrick shewed them how a gentleman could act, and he was determined to do the same."

“ Now heavily in clouds came on the day" when Thackeray, as the Prince of Denmark, was to slouch the accustomed left stocking upon the boards of Covent-garden Theatre. All his friends were mustered upon the occasion : but what are all any man's friends in a Winter Theatre ? According to the calculation of Socrates, they might be stuffed into one box, without incommoding each other. In the stage box, on the Prince's side, sat Lord Robert Ranter with his cousin Sir Hans Dabs Oliphant, a great admirer of Shakspeare, every line of whose works he professes thoroughly to understand in spite of his commentators. Sir Hans Dabs brought with him a printed copy of the Hamlet of the immortal bard (upon whom he is himself a commentator in manuscript) bound up with other plays. It is his invariable custom thus to check the actors : and woe be to the wight who misplaces a syllable! Sir Hans has his eye on his book and invariably sets the offender down for a ninny. Should any thing happen to the prompter, there is no baronet in all Marybone parish so well fitted to supply his place. But to return to the hero of the night. The first discovery of him was greeted by the audience with a round of applause. This compliment the Danish Youth returned with a bow, as Princes are accustomed to do. I omitted to mention in its proper place, that Thackeray, while dressing for the part, drew on his jacket rather too hastily, so as to cause a slight starting of the seam under his left arm. This in any other drama would, perhaps, not have been very material : but when the indignant youth in the first scene exclaimed, “I know not seems," he happened to raise bis left hand to a height rather above the level of his head. This exhibited a white fissure, which contrasted strongly with the black velvet and bugles around it, and raised such a ludicrous paronomasial association in the minds of some of the audience, that a pretty general titter ensued. The court of Denmark now broke up, and left the son of the late monarch to tell the pit how shamefully he had been used. “O! that this too too solid flesh would melt!" groaned Thackeray, and again raised his left arm. His too solid flesh had by this time, and by this action, increased the aperture. The former titter threatened to mount into a horse-laugh. “It will never do,” whispered Sir Hans Dabs Oliphant to Lord Robert. "O! yes, it will,” answered his lordship, the house tailor will set all

“ that to rights in the twinkling of a needle.” “My dear Lord Robert," rejoined the critical baronet, you mistake the matter : they are not laughing at that.” “No! at what then?” “Why at the misapprehension of the actor. He has left out three 'ands' and one' or.' Then, too, when he said

Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His canon 'gainst self-slaughter,' he raised his arm as if it were charged with a nine-pounder in front of the Woolwich barracks. I don't blame the young man for this : every one according to his own trade : but the true reading is not cannon, a great gun, but canon with a single N, quasi canonical law; that is to




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say, spiritual law. Hamlet means to express his regret that religion should stand in the way of his meditated suicide.” “Oh, I understand you," said the other," was certainly wrong : in uttering the word . canon' he should merely have pointed towards Doctors Commons.” “ Exactly so,” said the commentator.

Things now went on pretty tolerably until the closet-scene between Hamlet and his mother. “Now for the tug of war,” said Lord Robert to his companion. “ This is my great scene.

At Richmond I always get three rounds of applause in it. I admit, my cloak is made of real Genoa velvet: there was a great deal in that: but still in justice to myself I must confess, that my Hamlet is as fine a piece of acting as has been seen since John Kemble

: I speak out: egad! I give it to my mother in the true Nero style !" Whether the audience objected to such treatment of a mother, or whether the elevated elbow once more gave tokens of the separation of sleeve and body, I know not. Certain, however, it is, that coughing now became the order of the night. "I never knew colds more general,” said the unconscious amateur as he quitted the stage.

“ Lord love you, Sir!" said Billy Bawl (who was now reinstated in his proper station behind the regular scenes), they have no more colds than that kettle-drum: it is you they are coughing at.” “ Me!" exclaimed Thackeray, “ if I thought the public meant to affront me, damme, if I would not pull its nose."

* The public has no nose,” said a little dapper farce-writer at his elbow. do you know that, Sir?” fiercely demanded the captain. “ Because,” answered the author, “I have found by experience, that it has no bowels : I therefore infer by parity of anatomy that it has no nose."

“ The beautified Ophelia,” as Shakspeare, foreseeing that Miss Foote would play the character, has aptly denominated her, was by this time dead and buried. Laertes had attended the funeral, and had jumped upon the coffin. " That is an act which I could never reconcile with decorum,” said Lord Robert to the critical Baronet. customary in Denmark to jump upon the coffin of the defunct ?” “ Yes, when a brother attends a funeral,” valiantly rejoined Sir Hans Dabs Oliphant. Critics do not stand upon trifles. Lord Robert was silenced.

The spectacle of " a great man struggling with the storms of fate" was a most agreeable pastime to the gods of Greece. It still continues so to those of the upper gallery of our winter theatres. Thackeray was quizzed and tormented by those avenging deities, until the green curtain dropped upon the fifth act. “ There is a very noisy fellow in the upper gallery,” said the amateur, as he rose from his fall, aided by two scene-shifters. “ There is," answered the same little dapper damned author; " and he is like the late French Republic, the whole bouse-one and indivisible.”

The friends of the new actor, in front, behaved as new actors' friends usually do. Old Culpepper heartily wished the young man had turned his hand to some other trade. Lady Newbiggin and her plump daughter ascribed it all to those horrid radicals in the galleries : they knew who set them on : there was a man in a red night-cap, very like

- that was particularly noisy: for their parts, they never could see the use of the water tank upon the roof, if was not opened to duck discontent: but, upon the whole, they must say that they thought the performance but so so.

Is it

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This, too, was the opinion of Thackeray's bosom friend, Captain Ironsides, who pronounced it a decided Daggerwood affair ; adding that Romeo Coates was a fool to him. Lord Robert Ranter and Sir Hans Dabs Oliphant slunk from their box as though they had been detected in probing the pockets of their neighbours. They made their exit through the Bow-street door, but were stopped on the upper step by a sudden shower. “ This is an elegant façade,” cried Lord Robert, stepping back to avoid the wet. · Very," answered Sir Hans, imitating the process.

“ It is modelled from a temple at Athens," continued Lord Robert, with his back by this time in contact with the outward wall of the building. “ So they say,” resumed the Baronet, clinging to the stucco as perpendicularly as a recruit at the word “ Attention.” It was all to no purpose : the shower still pattered on their shoes : Scamander did not cling closer to Achilles. pity,” said Lord Robert, " that the architect in conveying over the model, forgot to bring the climate with him." “ A great pity," echoed Sir Hans ; " but there is a capital fruit-shed in Broad-court, over the way. I always run thither when it rains—that shed and this portico constantly remind me of my wife's drawing-room grate. The polished bars, outside, serve for show, but the black ones, inside, prop the hot coals." “ That blockhead George has, no doubt, driven round to the Piazza door,” said Lord Robert: “ any thing is better than wet feet-lead on to the fruit-shed.” When the two friends were sate under deal-board shelter, and both were comfortably seated upon inverted baskets, with a large assortment of pea-shells crackling beneath their feet, like autumnal leaves, they resumed their conversation

upon the subject of the recent representation. notion,” said Lord Robert, “ that poor Thackeray would have turned out such a decided stick : at one moment I had some hopes of him. Did you observe his · Frailty, thy name is woman'?” “No, I was busy turning over my

leaf.” “ Well, then, you must have noticed his • Be buried quick with her'?" · No," answered Sir Hans,“ at that time I had lost my place.” “ Lost your place? Why you never stirred from the box." “No, I mean the place in my book : my Hamlet is bound up with four other plays; and I got smack into the middle of the Recruiting Officer, before I knew where I was.'

The subject of all this criticism, in the mean time, had retreated to his lodgings in Hart-street, Bloomsbury, where he slept soundly, unconscious of his failure. It is the case in all the arts: there is not a humpbacked man, in all London and Westminster, who does not fancy himself an Adonis. Not that Thackeray was unaware of the discord in the house, but he ascribed it to every cause but the true one. Colds and hoarseness were never more common. Besides, there was evidently a party sent in : probably by Young or Macready: jealousy is proverbially a green-room failing : for his part, he thought the proper reading was not “ Beware of jealousy, it is a green-eyed monster.' No! Shakspeare evidently wrote it “Green-room monster!" and so be would deliver it, when he should be put up for Iago. With this valiant determination, out sallied Thackeray, and in passing through Newportmarket, saw, skewered upon the back of a dead sheep, a large playbill, upon which “ Theatre Royal Covent-garden-Macbeth," was imprinted in legible characters. The poor animal, even in death, seemed

“ I had no



conscious of “the bloody business" of which it was the herald, its nose having marked the pavement below with a sympathetic crimson tint. “Oh! Macbeth!” ejaculated Thackeray, “ that is my next part, is it? Well, I have no objection: it is not a bad part; but I wish they would not expect me to play upon opera-nights. Macbeth was a thorough gentleman; it is true, he killed his friend Banquo, and did not behave quite hospitably to King Duncan; but still, he was a thorough gentleman: John Kemble was always too frigid in it, and Garrick wanted height: yes, Garrick was a punchy little fellow, and dressed the character in scarlet breeches : Macbeth is nothing without figure." By this time, the Thespian Captain had entered Portugal-street, where an old mirror, suspended in a broker's shop, " reflected him back to the skies," as the Reverend Bate Dudley has it. Thackeray was well pleased with the exhibition, and walked on, repeating “ Macbeth is nothing without figure.” On his return home, he found that the messenger, whose duty it is to distribute the parts of the play next in representation, had been at his residence, and had left a manuscript for his perusal. It lay upon his breakfast-table, and the word “Macbeth" was written in a fair legible hand upon the outside cover. "Oh, here it is," cried he, carelessly.

“ A happy prologue to the swelling act

Of this imperial theme.” So saying, he opened the fly leaf, and read “ Mr. Thackeray-Macbeth—the Bleeding Captain.“What !” exclaimed the astonished débutant, when he was able to resume his breath. “Me-expect me to act the bleeding Captain ? expect a perfect gentleman to stagger on with two cuts on his forehead, and one on his cheek, to tell that stupid old fool Duncan what a number of men his two generals had knocked on the head? I won't do it—there must be some mistake.” -“Drive to Soho-square," cried the new actor, jumping into a hackney cabriolet. The manager received him suaviter modo : but, as touching the bleeding Captain, fortiter in re:

he was cast for the part and mast perform it. “Never," ejaculated Thackeray : " when I engaged as an actor, it was under an idea that I should act what I pleased and when I pleased.” “ Add thereto, and at what salary you pleased," said the manager, " and you would make our profession a bed of

a roses. As affairs now stand, however, I am afraid that you are under articles to play what and when the proprietors please, under a penalty of thirty pounds." This reminiscence staggered the tragedian. “ Have you any objection to give me up my articles,” inquired he. “ None, whatever," answered the other, delivering them up to him. “ Cancel and tear in pieces this great bond,” continued Thackeray, scattering the fragments of the document to the winds ;-"and as for you, Sir," turning to the proprietor of the mansion, “allow me to say, that if I ever act again upon your boards, and you don't keep your audience in better order, damme if I don't call them out.”—“ Do but contrive to call them in," answered the manager, "and I will undertake to re-engage you, for three years, at a rising salary."

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Lausanne. To visit Lausanne was one of my oldest and most cherished daydreams. To see Rome, or Italy, indeed, was a wish too lofty, too impracticable for my youthful thoughts; but Lausanne, thought I, ten years since, on first perusing Gibbon's Memoirs, might be managed, if but some kind hand would put an end to that fellow Bonaparte. The pleasures which I deemed nearest my grasp at that early period, have ever and for ever irrecoverably Aed, while those which seemed beyond my wildest wishes I have enjoyed even to satiety. I have swam and. floated on the lovely Leman, climbed over the snowy Alps, and threaded their defiles — shot in a gondola beneath the Rialto, and wandered through the empty palace of the Doges—the galleries of Florence have satiated my curious eyes-my step has a thousand and a thousand times overrun the Capitol, and sunk through the begilt and mouldering vaults of the Palatine Hill-Naples has spread forth before me her bay and shores, unrivalled in the interest of name and scenic beauty;—but associations southward, and northward of the Alps, are somehow or other very different sentiments. In Italy or Greece, such sympathy for the by-gone is aggregate, universal—it is for nations, for ages——it is inspired by the memory of a people, and, as it were, by the sum of their greatness. North of the Alps, the associations which pilgrims seek and sing of are individual, excited by a single name, independent of nation or country,--they are warm, domestic feelings, and come more home to our egotistic bosoms, than the high-wrought and often factitious sympathies with Roman or with Grecian greatness.

Englishmen, if they have more sentiment in love and private affection than other nations, have undoubtedly much less in politics. The romance of public affairs we do not understand. And after the classic essence, with which we become impregnated at college, evaporates, we generally sink into very matter-of-fact honest politicians. It is owing to this, perhaps, that we seem such Goths in Italy. At Clarens, or Ferney, our countrymen are to be seen sentimental; but I never once met an Englishman at Rome with an air or consciousness at all different from that with which he trod Pall Mall or the Strand. Now the French grow heroic in the immortal city, and the Germans mad. But your Englishman is the same stiff, impassive, well-dressed gentleman on Primrose Hill, or the Capitol. At Tasso's dungeon, 'tis true, he looks with interest and indignation ; but chains and prisons would move him any where. And such, as a spot of personal and individual association south of the Alps, forms an exception to our division—'tis, however, but an exception, it is Morat, north of the boundary, where the pilgrim views, with a national and patriotic feeling, the bones of the Burgundian invaders.

Once upon the Italian soil, for any one personage, poet, or hero, to claim our undivided interest is impertinence. I remember, the first sight of a helmet on an Italian, or rather an Austrian soldier, at Milan, striking me with more melancholy than would the tombs of an hundred Etruscan bards. I cannot, with Childe Harold, forget the Latin in the Lombard glories--mourn over Venice and Ferrara, and approach


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