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“The dress, we thus see, was calculated to point solely to the existing, or probable circumstances of the country; and kept, even from suspicion, the nature of the disclosure that was intended to Hamlet alone.
“But whatever the sentinels might think of this appearance, no conception of soul play seems to have occurred to them; they referred every thing to the fearful events coming upon their countrymen. The spirit, however, resembled their late sovereign; it seemed to wish communication, but decidedly not to them; they therefore naturally think of making the affair known to his son, which leads to the interview between them, and the unfolding of that awful secret, which had never been anticipated.”
Perhaps, after this, our readers would like to know something of Garrick's stage copy of Hamlet; we shall therefore add what our author says upon that strange and tasteless alteration.
“Having incidentally mentioned Mr. Garrick's strange alteration of the play of Hamlet, it may not here be improper to add some account of it. In my youth I remember to have seen it acted, and for many years afterwards I could not get the smallest information, whether any copy was preserved of this unlucky compliment to Voltaire. A strange story was in circulation formerly, that it had been buried with the great actor: this, however, it was said, was not upon the humane principle, that a man's faults should die with him, but as a sort of consecration of so critical a labour.
“But Mr. Kemble had in his
library what I believe to have been
the very copy of the play, upon which Mr. Garrick's alterations were made. He probably received it as a curiosity from Mrs. Garrick, who, I remember, presented to him the cane with which Mr. Garrick walked abroad, and which, as an accession to his vast collection of reliques of that great actor, Mr. Kemble properly be
stowed upon Charles Mathews. “He cut out the voyage to England, and the execution of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, * who had made love to the employment, and marshalled his way to knavery.' He omitted the funeral of Ophelia, and all the wisdom of the prince, and the rude jocularity of the grave-diggers. Hamlet bursts in upon the king and his court, and Laertes reproaches him with his father's and his sister's deaths. The exasperation of both is at its height, when the king interposes; he had commanded Hamlet to depart for England, and declares that he will no longer bear this rebellious conduct, but that his wrath shall at length fall heavy upon the prince. * First,’ exclaims Hamlet, ‘feel you mine;’ and he instantly stabs him. The queen rushes out imploring the attendants to save her from her son. Laertes seeing treason and murder before him, attacks Hamlet to revenge his father, his sister, and his king. He wounds Hamlet mortally, and Horatio is on the point of making Laertes accompany him to the shades, when the prince commands him to desist, assuring him that it was the hand of Heaven which administered by Laertes “ that precious balm for all his wounds." We then learn that the miserable mother had dropt in a trance ere - she
she could reach her chamber-door, and Hamlet implores for her “an hour of penitence ere madness end her.' He then joins the hands of Laertes and Horatio, and commands them to unite their virtues (as a coalition of ministers) ‘to calm the troubled land.’ The old complet, as to the bodies, concludes the play. “All this is written in a mean and trashy common-place manner, and, in a word, sullied the page of Shakspeare, and disgraced the taste and judgment of Mr. Garrick.” Leaving our great tragedian firmly established in the metropolis, we shall now revert to the more miscellaneous part of the work; and amongst much interesting matter, we find the following account of poor Henderson's death and interment:— “On the 25th of November, I am to record the death of Mr. Henderson, who, after a seeming recovery from a fever, died of some spasmodic action upon the ‘... brain, utterly unapprehended by his medical attendants. He had not completed the 39th year of his age, and yet had long been a perfect master in his art, the range of which he carried to an extent, that seems hopeless to succeeding actors. ‘ I will not,” said Mr. Kemble once to me, “ speak of Henderson's Falstaff; every body can say how rich and voluptuous it was: but I will say, that his Shylock was the greatest effort that I ever witnessed on the stage.’ I remember it in its principal scenes, and I have no doubt whatever that it fully merited so high a praise; but I respectfully insinuate, that Macklin, in the trial scene, was superior to him and all
men. Yet it may be proper here to say, that in many of his characters, Henderson's superiority may be disputed; but that his performance of Falstaff is as much above all competition, as the character itself transends all that was ever thought comic in man. The cause of this pre-eminence was purely mental—he understood it better in its diversity of powers– his imagination was congenial : the images seemed coined in the brain of the actor; they sparkled in his eye, before the tongue supplied them with language. I saw him act the character in the second part of Henry IV., where it is more metaphysical, and consequently less powerful. He could not supply the want of active dilemmas, such as exhilarate the Falstaff of the first part, but it was equally perfect in conception and execution. I have already described his Falstaff at Windsor, which completed this astonishing creation of the poet. I have borne with many invasions on this peculiar domain of Henderson. It has in truth been an ungracious task to most of his successors; they seem all to have doubted their right of possession; to have considered themselves tenants only upon sufferance; and thus it was with King,and Palmer,andStephenKemble, and Ryder, and a whole tedious chapter of fat knights, who have roared and chuckled, at the slightest possible expense of thought; and, laughing much themselves, in their turns, perhaps, ‘set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too.—Peace to all such " It was the strong sense of Henderson's excellence in Falstaff, that made me miserable whenever Mr.
Kemble announced his intention ot
of assuming the character. He was not naturally a comedian, nor a man of wit. He might have given a fine reading of the text, but the soul of the knight would have been wanting. A Falstaff only endured out of respect for the actor's other merits, is, at any period of life, prejudicial to his fame. He could afford to leave the stage without aiming at the praise of universality, and I sincerely rejoice that he did so. “Henderson had died in good circumstances, and it was determined to bury him in the Abbey. Every respect that could be paid to a good man and an excellent artist, was paid on this occasion; his remains were followed to the grave by his nearest friends; and his brother actors, from both theatres, saw the final honour bestowed, (perhaps the greatest he ever received) the placing him between Dr. Johnson and David Garrick. For many years I occasionally enjoyed the sad luxury of musing over his grave, and in my memory reviving the splendid triumphs of his genius. But though he was always presented to my fancy surrounded by a group of characters, the creation of Shakspeare; yet at no great distance were strongly seen the whole family of Shandy, and the mingled sorrows and enjoyments of the Sentimental Journey. I write, with suitable indignation, that now money must be paid for the privilege of approaching his grave, and the Commons of Great Britain doubt whether they have the power to drive the money-changers out of the temple !” We shall now, by way of variety, give a couple of very entertaining anecdotes, strikingly characteristic
of two very different sorts of men, and exhibiting them off the stage in two as opposite situations: we mean the account of Palmer's conduct when summoned before the magistrates for acting the regular drama at the Royalty, and what happened to Kemble on his wedding-day. “ While this business was in discussion, the magistrates had summoned Mr. Palmer before them, with the intention of actually committing him, if he did not produce the authority on which he relied for resisting the patent rights of the western sovereigns. The parties met in an up-stairs room of the tavern, and Palmer's dexterity did not desert him. He assured them, that ‘ the papers were at his lodgings, but a street's length off; and if they would allow him, he would go himself for . them, and be back in two minutes.’ To this there was a ready assent on the part of the magistracy. Palmer treated the party with his usual bow of humility, turned up the whites of his eyes, and bid “God Almighty bless them for their kindness '' He retired in haste, and shut the door after him ; but as the key was outside of it, he very gently turned it in the lock, and, without the slightest noise in withdrawing it, put the key into his pocket. The party waited with growing impatience, and time had elapsed beyond all reasonable limit; the bell was rung, that the waiter who, in course, knew Mr. Palmer's lodgings, might tell him ‘that the magistrates could not sit there much longer, and desired to know what detained him 7” The waiter knocked at the door, and begged to be admitted. My learned friend Const, who was in the room, saw the business in a uninute,
nute, and was, perhaps, not the only man at the table, who laughed heartily at this stage-door interruption. A neighbouring locksmith soon after released the party; but Mr. Palmer was to be caught before he could be locked up, and that danger, for the present, he had effectually averted.
“And such a man was Palmer, bursting, as it happened, into tears or laughter; ready for a supplication or a jest; to use the terms “best friend,' or “scoundrel,' as he stood on one side of a door or the other. Idle and yet energetic, specious and fallacious, a creature of the moment, adopting hurry and pathos as the means of carrying his point; combined with a personal address, sor which I know no name but that of proud humility; and you granted what he asked less from the propriety, perhaps, of the request, than from the sense of slight, compassion that so grand a figure should condescend to supplicate, and the personal complacency that was implied in having a favour to bestow upon him.”
* * * * * *
“On the 8th of December, Mr. Kemble was married to the amiable widow of Mr. Brereton; and never certainly was there an union formed with sounder judgment, as far as permanent happiness was likely to be the result of discretion in the choice. I speak with great tenderness and respect of a lady, from whom I have received so much kindness, when I transiently allude to the nonsense uttered at the time. There were not wanting persons who, as they imagined, found this match inadequate to Mr. Kemble's claims, however it equalled his wishes. There can
be little doubt that, if he had much regarded either birth or fortune, both would have eagerly courted his acceptance: but he knew himself, and his profession, too well, to think that a wife for him, should be of a disproportionate or different rank from his own. As to remain an actor was his settled determination, Mr. Kemble knew, that without a perfect familiarity with theatrical habits, a thousand occasions must arise, in which the wife, taken from another sphere, would feel herself unhappy, from causes quite unintentional, and unavoidable. He, therefore, looked about him for quiet manners, steady principle, and gentle temper; and he found these as they had stood the trial of some distressing circumstances attendant upon a former union. He proposed himself, therefore, to Mrs. Brereton; and I, upon full knowledge, say, it was fortunate for him that he was accepted. But I do not mean to anticipate here my view of Mr.
Kemble in domestic life. “After they were married in the morning, Mrs. Bannister, who accompanied the bride to church, asked where they intended to eat their wedding dinner Z My friend had made no particular arrangement on this important occasion, and said, he did not know—at home he supposed. Mrs. Bannister, upon this information, that they were really disengaged, said if they would honour Mr. Bannister and herself by partaking of their family dinner, in Frith-street, they should feel flattered by such a mark of their regard. Mr. Kemble, who really esteemed Bannister, cheerfully assented. An early dinner was prepared ; for both
“The remainder of the weddingday is soon told. Kemble sat amusing himself till the evening in the drawing-room, occasionally conversing, but commonly playing with the children in their own way; and when it grew late, he ordered a coach to take him to the play-house, from which he brought home his wife, to the house in Caroline-street, Bedfordsquare, which had been prepared for her reception.
“A story of a very different nature, as to this day, having been circulated at one time, and even printed since his death, I obtained the preceding from the accurate recollection of my old
friend, Bannister; and as it is a true, so, perhaps, it may be thought no unamusing sketch of the manners of a man unpretending and plain at most times, and detesting all unnecessary ostentation and importance at any.”
3. – Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, in the years 1821 and 22, including some account of the Countries to the North-East of Persia, &c. &c. By James B. Frazer, Author of a “ Tour in the Hamala Mountains.”
“An incident,” Mr. F. tells us, “occurred during our stay at this place (Ispahan), which proves how lightly these people hold the crime of shedding human blood, compared with the gratification of their ruling passion. One of the servants, an insolent and self-sufficient little person, had wandered to Julfa, probably for the purpose of getting drunk on Armenian brandy; and staggering homewards he met some young girls coming out of a public bath, and most wantonly and unprovokedly he struck his dagger into the body of one of them, who fell apparently dead. The assassin was instantly seized, and dragged away to have summary justice inflicted upon him. In the first place, however, they carried him before the sudr, who learning that he was attached to the British mission, sent him to our quarters, to be held in custody until it should be known whether the wounded person should live or die; adding, that it would be an indelible shame on him, should the servant of his guest be put to death under his roof. I declined receiving charge, observing