« הקודםהמשך »
tion that it is not, as some theorists pretend, the mere association of Ideas, but the immediate inspiration of the Deity :
“ Sit, Jessica! Look, how the floor of Heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold;
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it." This drama is bighly diversified ; we have the stern, unbending Shylock-the roman:ic Lorenzo, and Jessica—the eloquent Portiaand the grotesque, good Master Launcelot Gobbo,-a combination of character the most rare and extraordinary. As a work of genius, we contemplate it with wonder; but our wonder ceases, when we contemplate it as the work of Shakspeare.
The character of Portia afforded Mrs. Siddons few opportunities for the display of her matchless powers; but those opportunities she seized with the grasp of genius, and transfused into the language of Sbakspeare a kindred spirit. Her trial-scene was in the grandest style of the art: nor were the lighter parts scarcely less worthy of praise, from their delicacy and gracefulness. If we speak of any other Portia, after Mrs. Siddons, it must be in very qualified terms. We have seen Mrs. Bartley (when Miss Smith) play the character with correctness and energy; but the divine mind was wanting, to conceive, illustrate, and, as it were, grapple with the genius of Shaka speare:
Shylock was, by the bad taste of former times, consigned to a low comedian ; it was not enough that the Jew should be rendered detestable, but ridiculous also. It was the peculiar merit of Macklin to release him from this erroneous misconception; a merit which drew from Pope, who was present at the first representation, bis
celebrated eulogiam. * This circumstance not only had the good effect of placing the Jew in proper hands; it scouted from the stage the spurious trash of Lord Lansdown, and established the genuine play in its stead. How Macklin performed Shylock, is known to every one who is at all conversant with the history of the stage. It was esteemed a mas. ter piece of dramatic excellence; and it was not until Henderson appeared upon the scene, that it was thought possible to equal, much less to improve opon, Macklin's performance. Yet Henderson, in some points, excelled his master; he softened down the coarser parts of the original, and threw into the picture a light in the highest degree chastened and brilliant.
Cooke's Shylock was one of his most perfect performances; it was supported throughout by just conception and powerful execution As was formerly said of Henderson, during the trial-scene, he stood like a tower. No actor knew better than Cooke how to work upon the feelings of an audience; and there are few things in the art that produced a stronger effect, than his savage and determined method of whetting his knife on the floor, and the fiend-like look that accom panied it, when he makes this reply to the question of Bassanio:-
“ To cut the forfeit from that bankrupt there." It is with a feeling of regret that we see a large proportion oí Shakspeare's characters lost to the stage ; Shylock, fortunately, is not
• “ This is the Jew
That Shakspeare drew,"
one of them, so long, at least, as the good taste of the public justly appreciates the talents of Mr. Kean. No living actor can touch him in Shylock ; it was in this character that he made his first impres. bion, and he plays no other with equal force and discrimination. His delineation of the furious passions are powerful in the extreme; he is, as the late Mr. Kemble said of him, terribly in earnest. Yet he throws in such natural bursts of feeling in the midst of bis most passionate denunciations,—which Cooke did not, for he was malignant ihroughout,—that all the peculiarities of this wonderful character are faithfully preserved; and Shylock, in the hands of Mr. Kean, is not the monster that the superstitious colouring of ancient times has depicted him, but the persecuted, avaricious, and revengeful Jew, as represented by Shakspeare. The finest part of Mr. Kean's acting is his reasoning
as to the feelings and propensities of a Jew, compared with those of a Christian-" Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands?" and the incomparable scene with Tubal. His manner of uttering, “I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear! Would she were hears'd at my foot, and the ducats in her coffin !" was never surpassed by any actor. In the trial-scene he wanted dignity,—not the dignity of mind, but of figure; but he amply atoned for it by higher qualities
“ Whene'er he fails, 'tis nature's fault alone,
Where he succeeds, the merit's all his owa!”
Mrs. W. West (formerly Miss Cooke) is a native of Bath. The eminent success of her relation, the late George Frederick Cooke, was sufficient to awaken the dormant energies which might have existed in any of his family, and to stimulate them to the exercise of their peculiar powers. Her father was also a great admirer of the bistrionic art, and had been a performer in Bath. Under these circumstances it was not surprising that Miss Cooke should have imbibed a passion for the stage.
Her first public appearance was in ber native city, in the character of Miss Hardcastle. Her success was flattering. She next visited Cheltenham Theatre, where she sustained the characters of the Widow Cheerly, Lady Teazle, Lady Townly, &c., with applause. Her talents were considered to be decidedly comic; but, on her performing a tragic part, it was regarded as much superior to her comic efforts. Mrs. C. Kemble, being at that time at Cheltenham, was so satisfied with Miss Cooke's rising genius, that she procured her an engagement at Covent-Garden Theatre, where she appeared on the 28th of September, 1812, in the character of Desdemona. At the expiration of her engagement, Miss Cooke went to Edinburgh, where she made her debut in the character of Juliet, which she performed ten nights in succession. During her residence at Edinburgh, she was married to Mr. W. West, the comedian. In 1818, Mr. Stephen Kemble sent an offer to Mrs. West to sustain the leading characters in tragedy at Drury Lane, which she accepted, and she still continues the principal tragic heroine of that theatre.
DUKE.-Crimson velvet jacket and breeches-spotted velvet robe -ermine cape-white shoes, and crimson roses.
ANTONIO.-Black velvet Venetian dress-black shoes, and roses. BASSANI0.-First dress : Grey and 'pink, russet boots, and white gloves. Second dress : White tunic, trimmed with silverblue satin waistcoat, embroidered - blue sash belt--white silk stocking pantaloons—white shoes and roses. /
SHYLOCK.-Black cloth gaberdine-scarlet'sash—blue stockings -black shoes, and buckles.
SALANIO.-Gray Spanish dress, trimmed with silver-panta. loons-russet boots.
GRATIANO.-Green velvet coat--white waistcoat-worsted pantaloons-russet boots.
SOLARINO.- Scarlet Spanish coat-white) waistcoat -white worsted pantaloons, trimmed with scarlet-rasset boots.
LORENZO.-Green and buff Spanish dress-russet boots. TUBAL.- Black stuff gaberdine, trimmed with gray-hat-shoes and buckles.
LAUNCELOT.-First dress : Plain black shape -long red stock. ings-russet shoes. Second dress: Brown and red-shoes, and red
GOBBO.Plain brown shape leathern belt-blue stockingsrusset shoes.
BALTHASAR.-Green and orange livery.
PORTIA.-First dress : Salmon-coloured gown, trimmed with silver. Second dress: Black silk stockings--black tunic-lawyer's gown. Third dress : White Spanish pelisse—white satin hat, and feathers.
JESSICA.-White and spangles.
NERISSA.–First dress : White and spangles, with coloured body. Second dress : As Portia's second dress, but no gown.
Cast of the Characters,
Drury Lane, Covent Garden,
1828. Duke of Venice
Mr. Powell. Mr. Evang. Antonio
Mr. Egerton. Bassanio
Mr. Wallack. Mr. C. Kemble. Solunio
Mr. Younge. Mr. Horrebow. Salarino •
Mr. Mercer. Mr. Raymond. Gratiano
Mr. Browne. Mr. Farley Lorenzo
Mr. Horn. Mr. Duruset. Shylock
Mr. Kean. Mr. Kean. Tubal
Mr. Webster. Mr. Atkins, Launcelot
Mr. Liston. Mr. Meadows. Gobbo
Mr. Gattie. Mr. Blanchard. Balthasar .
Mr. E. Bartly. Mr. Henry. Portia
Mrs, W. West. Miss Jarman. Nerissa
Miss Goward. Jessica