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this very part of Pierre, who has form'd the true rule by which to proportion the due ftrength of voice to every part of that noble character, fo as not to let us perceive a want of force any where, and yet to keep a referve to fupport himself in the most violent fcenes, with a power and energy, that the rest of the great performers of the time must allow us to fay, no body ever did, or perhaps ever will, come up to. |
How exquifite is the management of this player, in giving a ftrength that scarce any body befides himself ever gave to any thing, to that fcene where he braves the reft of the confpirators, and in the midst of all their threatnings against Jaffeir asks them,
Who talks of killing?Who's he'll shed the blood
That's dear to me? is't you? or you? or you, fir? What not one speak? how you ftand gaping all! On your grave oracle, your wooden god there.
One fuch word more, by heavens I'll to the fenate,
We remember Walker's ftraining till he was quite hoarfe at this scene, and incapacitating himself for any thing of confequence that was to follow, and we have feen fomething not unlike it in fome later players of very great merit; but how are we furpriz'd to find in Mr. Quin, that all the
fire he throws into this part of his character, is but of a fubordinate kind, when we fee him under greater provocations, and before a greater affembly, rifing upon us to a much nobler height; and telling the trembling fenate of Venice, with a majefty, that it is easy to admire, impoffible to imitate,
You my lords and fathers
(As you are pleas'd to call your felves) of Venice, If you fit here to guide the course of justice, Why thefe difgraceful chains upon the limbs That have so often labour'd in your service? Are these the wreaths of triumph you bestow. On those, who bring you conquest home and honours?
Are these the trophies I've deferv'd for fighting
When your great Duke shrunk trembling in your palace,
And faw your wife, the Adriatick plow'd
Shew me the wretch that's bafe enough,
After admiring the fuperior force and dignity with which this inimitable player has rais'd the vchemence of this part of his character fo highly
beyond every thing we had before admir'd; how are we at length, on the appearance of Jaffeir, and his fuing to him for a reconciliation, aftonifh'd to find that even this alfo was but a force of a fubordinate kind, and to fee that he has yet reserved an infinitely greater store of it, for that keenest of all refentments which is due to a violated friendship. Even the vehemence of that execration with which he leaves the fenate,
Curs'd be your fenate! curs'd your conftitution,
Is nothing when compar'd to that with which he tells the friend who had betray'd him,
Haft thou not wrong'd me? dar'ft thou call thyself
Whence this vile death that I may meet this
Whence this dishonour, but from thee, thou
-And wou'dft thou have me live on terms like thine,
Bafe as thou'rt falfe?
Leave me-Nay then thus, thus I throw thee
And curfes great as is thy falfehood catch thee.
Whoever has heard thefe and the rest of the keen and disdainful reproaches which Pierre justly throws on his friend, utter'd from the mouth of Mr. Quin, will agree with us, that the whole compafs of the English ftage affords nothing greater; and yet thefe in this judicious performer, are but the fequel of a whole part, and that a long one, kept up throughout with due dignity and fpirit.
Whether it wou'd be to the Advantage of all Players to be of a diftinguished Figure?
HERE are a great many people that frequent the playhouses, who are lefs apt to be affected with those objects which are form'd to entertain the understanding, than with those deftin'd to act principally on the fenfes. These gentlemen are oftener drawn to the theatres by the names of the actreffes, than by thofe of the characters which they are there to perform; and as they are capable of judging of no perfections but those of figure and perfon, they are always difpofed to take an amiable face for a very great talent in a performer; and wou'd have even a Miftrefs Amlet or a Lady Bountiful, have a regular fet of features, a fnowy neck, or an elegant perfon.
Tell these people that there is a new actress to appear upon the ftage fuch a night, the first queftion they afk is, Is fhe handfome? And 'tis ten to one, but they forget to enquire at all whether the has any merit in the profeffion.
The women pretend indeed that the figure of a performer of the other fex, is the article they leaft of all regard in him as an actor; but the player who has not fome perfonal charms about him, will always find it extremely difficult to get their good opinion. The criticisms that one hears among this part of an audience, always run more upon the imperfections or blemishes in the face or figure of the actor, than on those of his performance; and almoft on every occafion of this kind, we fhall find that the elegant or difagreeable mien of the player is what has moft taken up their attention.
Whoever therefore wou'd propofe to himself to acquire fame on the ftage, in the eye of the polite world, and to become the favourite of a numerous party, muft remember that a graceful figure and an engaging afpect are almoft abfolutely neceffiry to it. We have had very few inftances in England, in which an actor has been able to make his way to applaufe in the higher characters without perfonal charms; and in France it is an allow'd truth, that no man ever did or ever will be a favourite in this capacity without them,
'Tis only the herd of an audience however that fall into this fort of abfurdity in their opinions; the better judges defpife fuch prejudices. They agree, that there are indeed fome charac ters, in which we find, by the conduct of the fcene, that the actor is out of nature if he have not something amiable about him. They do not deny that even in most other parts a good perfon in the actor, is far from being indifferent; but they affert with great truth and juftice, that our nicety in requiring a good face and well proportion'd.