« AnteriorContinua »
public thanks given him for his majesty's deliverence out of the hands of E-Goury.
In the fourth act, we behold Perdita verging on the bloom of womanhood, the reputed daughter of an old shepherd, and beloved by Florizel, the son of Polixenes, King of Bohemia. In no part of his writings is Shakspeare more himself than in this exquisite portrait, which is shadowed forth in a few expressive words by the king:
"This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
Ran on the green sward; nothing she does or seems,
Here we are presented with scenes that carry us back to the golden visions of our youth-annihilating the intervening space of care, disappointment, and sorrow-from what we are, to what we were. The witchery of this divine poet is never more powerfully felt, than in these delightful retrospections. Strip life of its romance, and 'tis a dreary void-cold and passionless; for, to youth, 'tis a summer's dream, to age, a winter night's pastime.
Do we require further evidence than these transcendant beauties, of the master hand of Shakspeare? Let us look to Autolicus-that snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, who, as the descendant of Mer. cury, inherits all the thieving propensities of his ancestor; for he bath been an ape-bearer; then a process server; and, having flown over many knavish professions, hath settled only in a rogue. In fashioning this merry varlet, Shakspeare, however, had his model: Autolicus is one of those wandering minstrels and sturdy beggars, against whom Elizabeth and James issued their proclamations, and forbade the exercise of their itinerant calling; and who dreaded the whip and the stocks, as Jack Falstaff did the true prince, by instinct! He is the delight of village lads and lasses, to whom he brings perfumed gloves, ribbons of all the colours i' the rainbow, and ballads of doleful matter merrily set down. He is a welcome guest at the feasting and revelry of ancient halls, and is familiar with every corner of the buttery. He hath a keen nose for a venison pasty, and troweth where the best jolly good ale, and old, is to be found. He is careless of to-morrow, knowing that his good spirits are sufficient to feed him; and, for clothes-there is linen enough on every hedge! The portrait is highly curious, as exhibiting one of a troop of merry vagabonds who were common during Shakspeare's time, and long before it; and who may be considered as the earliest pedlars and ballad-singers in England-though, under favour, the pedlar was generally taken up as a cloak to the mendacious arts or thievery and begging, verifying Hamlet's adage, that to be honest now-a-days is to be one man picked out of ten thousand. Of the ballads, Shakspeare has left us a tolerable specimen; they are sufficiently reasonable and marvellous. There is one of an usurer's wife, with the midwife's name to it, and the undeniable attestation of five or six honest wives that were present; and another of a fish, with five justices' hands at it, and witnesses more than his pack would hold. It would seein that many of these madrigals were not over decent, for Perdita exclaims, "Forewarn him that he use no scurrilous words in his tunes;" and the servant, after enumerating the pediar's various commodities, adds-" He hath the prettiest lovesongs for maids; so without bawdry (which is strange)," &c. &c. The English were, from the earliest times, a masquing and balladsinging people. Their festivals, sacred and profane, were ushered in
with songs and merriments; nor could a man be hanged or burn in those days, without being immortalized in a merry or a doleful ballad-after the manner of Preston's Cambyses, which is styled The "A lamentable tragedy, mixed full of pleasant mirth." character of Autolicus is exquisitely humorous-exhibiting, with great truth and force, one of the many motleys of merry old Eng. land.
The last act of this play is deeply interesting. The penitence, surprise, and joy of Leontes-the statue-scene, the accompanying music, and the re-animation of Hermione, are beautiful and pathetic. The characters of Antigonus, Paulina, and Autolicus, belong not to but to Shakspeare. No quarto edition of this play has hitherto been discovered; its first appearance in print was in the folio of 1623.
We have before
Kemble's Leontes was a fine performance. noticed his peculiar excellence in the passage"Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek," &c. &c.
Mrs. Siddons, in Hermoine, exhibited the firmness and dignity of
"Music, awake her; strike
"Tis time-descend-be stone no more approach
Strike all that look upon with marvel"
in sublime expression and classic grace, were among the noblest efforts of the tragic muse.
The humour of Autolicus was hardly realized in Munden. This admirable comedian, who, in Dogberry, Launcelot, and Polonius, is without a rival, must yield the palm to Fawcett and Bannister in the roguish pedlar. Fawcett is your sec, or dry wine-strong, racy, and of exquisite flavour; Bannister is a bumper of generous Bur gandy-rich, sparkling, and o'erflowing. Fawcett has the quaint dexterity of your practised knave, who is littered under Mercury, and whose bird-lime fingers and lying tongue never knew any other vocation but thievery and gasconading. Bannister is the withered serving-man, whom die and drab have brought to the present pass-who chants his merry trol-my-dames with the after dinner jollity of his better days, and takes up the cutpurse more as an amateur than a professor. If Bannister be extravagantly comic in his mock assumption of the courtier, Fawcett puffs off his counterfeit commo. dities, and vouches for the truth of his lying ballads with a ludicrous effrontery that nothing can surpass. It is a drawn battle between them their styles are essentially different, but their excellences are fairly balanced. The clowns and fools of Shakspeare never met with actors of more congenial humour than Fawcett and Bannister.
MEMOIR OF MRS. BUNN.
MRS. BUNN (formerly Miss Somerville) was born at Lanark, in Scotland, October 26, 1799. An early predilection for the stage, and some promise of ability, induced Mr. George Hayter (son of the celebrated artist of that name), with whose sister she had formed an intimacy while at school, to mention her talents to the Duke of Devonshire, who was at that time trustee to Drury-Lane Theatre. This procured her a rehearsal, in Belvidera, before Mr. Douglas Kinnaird; the result of which was an engagement to make her first appearance in Mr. Maturin's tragedy of Bertram; and, on the 9th May, 1816, she performed Imogine, in that most vapid production, with applause.
Miss Somerville subsequently became the wife of Mr. Bunn, the proprietor of the Birmingham Theatre,
and, for one season, stage-manager of Drury Lane.
LEONTES.-Gold coronet, with purple velvet crown, and white plumes-purple velvet and gold mantle, lined with white satin, and edged with ermine-blue and gold dress-white hose-black sandals -sword-Second dress: black, richly trimmed.
POLIXENES.-Gold coronet, with purple velvet crown and white plumes-purple velvet and gold mantle, lined with scarlet satin, and edged with ermine-buff and gold dress-buff hose, and white sandals-sword.
FLORIZEL.-Turban of green and gold-round black velvet dress, trimmed with buff-buff hose-black sandals.-At court, a mantle of scarlet and gold.
MAMILIUS.-White and gold.
ARCHIDAMUS.-Round black hat, gold band, and white plumes -black velvet and gold mantle-olive brown and gold dress-buff hose and scarlet sandals.
PHOCION.-Scarlet and gold turban and white plumes-scarlet and gold mantle-brown and gold dress-buff hose and scarlet sandals-sword and gauntlets.
CAMILLO AND THASIUS.-Nearly the same.
CLEOMENES AND DION.-Green turbans, gold bands and white plumes-crimson and gold mantles-blue satin and gold dresses -buff hose--scarlet sandals.
SHEPHERD AND CLOWN.-Rustic dresses-Second dresses: purple and gold.
AUTOLYCUS.-Rags of all colours-Second dress: gaudy court
HERMIONE.-Splendid regal robes-Second dress: white
PERDITA.-White muslin, trimmed with wreaths and festoons
PAULINA.-White satin and gold-Second dress: black. EMILIA.-White muslin, trimmed with pink-buff mantle, and gold spangles.
Cast of the Characters,
As performed at the Theatres Royal, London.
Leontes, King of Sicilia Mr. Macready.
Polixenes, K. of Bohemia. Mr. Archer.
Hermione, Qu. of Sicilia Mrs. Bunn.
Miss S Booth.