Elia and The Last Essays of Elia / Charles Lamb, by Charles Lamb

Appendix

Lamb’s essays on “The Old Actors” as originally printed in the London Magazine. (See note on page 444.)

On Some of the Old Actors

Of all the actors who flourished in my time — a melancholy phrase if taken aright, reader — Bensley had most of the swell of soul, was greatest in the delivery of heroic conceptions, the emotions consequent upon the presentment of a great idea to the fancy. He had the true poetical enthusiasm — the rarest faculty among players. None that I remember possessed even a portion of that fine madness which he threw out in Hotspur’s famous rant about glory, or the transports of the Venetian incendiary at the vision of the fired city.23 His voice had the dissonance, and at times the inspiriting effect of the trumpet. His gait was uncouth and stiff, but no way embarrassed by affectation; and the thorough-bred gentleman was uppermost in every movement. He seized the moment of passion with the greatest truth; like a faithful clock never striking before the time; never anticipating or leading you to anticipate. He was totally destitute of trick and artifice. He seemed come upon the stage to do the poet’s message simply, and he did it with as genuine fidelity as the nuncios in Homer deliver the errands of the gods. He let the passion or the sentiment do its own work without prop or bolstering. He would have scorned to mountebank it; and betrayed none of that cleverness which is the bane of serious acting. For this reason, his Iago was the only endurable one which I remember to have seen. No spectator from his action could divine more of his artifice than Othello was supposed to do. His confessions in soliloquy alone put you in possession of the mystery. There were no bye-intimations to make the audience fancy their own discernment so much greater than that of the Moor — who commonly stands like a great helpless mark set up for mine Ancient, and a quantity of barren spectators, to shoot their bolts at. The Iago of Bensley did not go to work so grossly. There was a triumphant tone about the character, natural to a general consciousness of power; but none of that petty vanity which chuckles and cannot contain itself upon any little successful stroke of its knavery — which is common with your small villains, and green probationers in mischief. It did not clap or crow before its time. It was not a man setting his wits at a child, and winking all the while at other children who are mightily pleased at being let into the secret; but a consummate villain entrapping a noble nature into toils, against which no discernment was available, where the manner was as fathomless as the purpose seemed dark, and without motive. The part of Malvolio, in the Twelfth Night, was performed by Bensley, with a richness and a dignity of which (to judge from some recent castings of that character) the very tradition must be worn out from the stage. No manager in those days would have dreamed of giving it to Mr. Baddeley, or Mr. Parsons: when Bensley was occasionally absent from the theatre, John Kemble thought it no derogation to succeed to the part. Malvolio is not essentially ludicrous. He becomes comic but by accident. He is cold, austere, repelling; but dignified, consistent, and, for what appears, rather of an over-stretched morality. Maria describes him as a sort of Puritan; and he might have worn his gold chain with honour in one of our old round-head families, in the service of a Lambert, or a Lady Fairfax. But his morality and his manners are misplaced in Illyria. He is opposed to the proper levities of the piece, and falls in the unequal contest. Still his pride, or his gravity, (call it which you will) is inherent, and native to the man, not mock or affected, which latter only are the fit objects to excite laughter. His quality is at the best unlovely, but neither buffoon nor contemptible. His bearing is lofty, a little above his station, but probably not much above his deserts. We see no reason why he should not have been brave, honourable, accomplished. His careless committal of the ring to the ground (which he was commissioned to restore to Cesario), bespeaks a generosity of birth and feeling.24 His dialect on all occasions is that of a gentleman, and a man of education. We must not confound him with the eternal low steward of comedy. He is master of the household to a great Princess, a dignity probably conferred upon him for other respects than age or length of service.25 Olivia, at the first indication of his supposed madness, declares that she “would not have him miscarry for half of her dowry.” Does this look as if the character was meant to appear little or insignificant? Once, indeed, she accuses him to his face — of what? — of being “sick of self-love,”— but with a gentleness and considerateness which could not have been, if she had not thought that this particular infirmity shaded some virtues. His rebuke to the knight, and his sottish revellers, is sensible and spirited; and when we take into consideration the unprotected condition of his mistress, and the strict regard with which her state of real or dissembled mourning would draw the eyes of the world upon her house-affairs, Malvolio might feel the honour of the family in some sort in his keeping, as it appears not that Olivia had any more brothers, or kinsmen, to look to it — for Sir Toby had dropped all such nice respects at the buttery hatch. That Malvolio was meant to be represented as possessing some estimable qualities, the expression of the Duke in his anxiety to have him reconciled, almost infers: “Pursue him, and intreat him to a peace.” Even in his abused state of chains and darkness, a sort of greatness seems never to desert him. He argues highly and well with the supposed Sir Topas,26 and philosophizes gallantly upon his straw. There must have been some shadow of worth about the man; he must have been something more than a mere vapour — a thing of straw, or Jack in office — before Fabian and Maria could have ventured sending him upon a courting errand to Olivia. There was some consonancy (as he would say) in the undertaking, or the jest would have been too bold even for that house of misrule. There was “example for it,” said Malvolio; “the lady of the Strachy married the yeoman of the wardrobe.” Possibly too he might remember — for it must have happened about his time — an instance of a Duchess of Malfy (a countrywoman of Olivia’s, and her equal at least) descending from her state to court her steward —

The misery of them that are born great!

They are forced to woo, because none dare woo them.

To be sure the lady was not very tenderly handled for it by her brothers in the sequel, but their vengeance appears to have been whetted rather by her presumption in remarrying at all, (when they had meditated the keeping of her fortune in their family) than by her choice of an inferior, of Antonio’s noble merits especially, for her husband; and, besides, Olivia’s brother was just dead. Malvolio was a man of reading, and possibly reflected upon these lines, or something like them in his own country poetry —

— Ceremony has made many fools.

It is as easy way unto a duchess

As to a hatted dame, if her love answer:

But that by timorous honours, pale respects,

Idle degrees of fear, men make their ways

Hard of themselves.

“’Tis but fortune, all is fortune. Maria once told me, she did affect me; and I have heard herself come thus near, that, should she fancy, it should be one of my complexion.” If here was no encouragement, the devil is in it. I wish we could get at the private history of all this. Between the Countess herself, serious or dissembling — for one hardly knows how to apprehend this fantastical great lady — and the practices of that delicious little piece of mischief, Maria —

The lime twigs laid

By Machiavel the waiting maid —

the man might well be rapt into a fool’s paradise.

Bensley threw over the part an air of Spanish loftiness. He looked, spake, and moved like an old Castilian. He was starch, spruce, opinionated, but his superstructure of pride seemed bottomed upon a sense of worth. There was something in it beyond the coxcomb. It was big and swelling, but you could not be sure that it was hollow. You might wish to see it taken down, but you felt that it was upon an elevation. He was magnificent from the outset; but when the decent sobrieties of the character began to give way, and the poison of self-love in his conceit of the Countess’s affection gradually to work, you would have thought that the hero of La Mancha in person stood before you. How he went smiling to himself! with what ineffable carelessness would he twirl his gold chain! what a dream it was! you were infected with the illusion, and did not wish that it should be removed! you had no room for laughter! if an unseasonable reflection of morality obtruded itself, it was a deep sense of the pitiable infirmity of man’s nature, that can lay him open to such frenzies — but in truth you rather admired than pitied the lunacy while it lasted — you felt that an hour of such mistake was worth an age with the eyes open. Who would not wish to live but for a day in the conceit of such a lady’s love as Olivia? Why, the Duke would have given his principality but for a quarter of a minute, sleeping or waking, to have been so deluded. The man seemed to tread upon air, to taste manna, to walk with his head in the clouds, to mate Hyperion. O! shake not the castles of his pride — endure yet for a season, bright moments of confidence —“stand still ye watches of the element,” that Malvolio may be still in fancy fair Olivia’s lord — but fate and retribution say no — I hear the mischievous titter of Maria — the witty taunts of Sir Toby — the still more insupportable triumph of the foolish knight — the counterfeit Sir Topas is unmasked — and “thus the whirligig of time,” as the true clown hath it, “brings in his revenges.” I confess that I never saw the catastrophe of this character while Bensley played it without a kind of tragic interest. There was good foolery too. Few now remember Dodd. What an Aguecheek the stage lost in him! Lovegrove, who came nearest to the old actors, revived the character some few seasons ago, and made it sufficiently grotesque; but Dodd was it, as it came out of nature’s hands. It might be said to remain in puris naturalibus. In expressing slowness of apprehension this actor surpassed all others. You could see the first dawn of an idea stealing slowly over his countenance, climbing up by little and little, with a painful process, till it cleared up at last to the fulness of a twilight conception — its highest meridian. He seemed to keep back his intellect, as some have had the power to retard their pulsation. The balloon takes less time in filling, than it took to cover the expansion of his broad moony face over all its quarters with expression. A glimmer of understanding would appear in a corner of his eye, and for lack of fuel go out again. A part of his forehead would catch a little intelligence, and be a long time in communicating it to the remainder.

I am ill at dates, but I think it is now better than five and twenty years ago that walking in the gardens of Gray’s Inn — they were then far finer than they are now — the accursed Verulam Buildings had not encroached upon all the east side of them, cutting out delicate green crankles, and shouldering away one of two of the stately alcoves of the terrace — the survivor stands gaping and relationless as if it remembered its brother — they are still the best gardens of any of the Inns of Court, my beloved Temple not forgotten — have the gravest character, their aspect being altogether reverend and law-breathing — Bacon has left the impress of his foot upon their gravel walks — taking my afternoon solace on a summer day upon the aforesaid terrace, a comely sad personage came towards me, whom from his grave air and deportment I judged to be one of the old Benchers of the Inn. He had a serious thoughtful forehead, and seemed to be in meditations of mortality. As I have an instinctive awe of old Benchers, I was passing him with that sort of subindicative token of respect which one is apt to demonstrate towards a venerable stranger, and which rather denotes an inclination to greet him than any positive motion of the body to that effect — a species of humility and will-worship which I observe nine times out of ten rather puzzles than pleases the person it is offered to — when the face turning full upon me strangely identified itself with that of Dodd. Upon close inspection I was not mistaken. But could this sad thoughtful countenance be the same vacant face of folly which I had hailed so often under circumstances of gaiety; which I had never seen without a smile, or recognized but as the usher of mirth; that looked out so formally flat in Foppington, so frothily pert in Tattle, so impotently busy in Backbite; so blankly divested of all meaning, or resolutely expressive of none, in Acres, in Fribble, and a thousand agreeable impertinences? Was this the face — full of thought and carefulness — that had so often divested itself at will of every trace of either to give me diversion, to clear my cloudy face for two or three hours at least of its furrows? Was this the face — manly, sober, intelligent — which I had so often despised, made mocks at, made merry with? The remembrance of the freedoms which I had taken with it came upon me with a reproach of insult. I could have asked it pardon. I thought it looked upon me with a sense of injury. There is something strange as well as sad in seeing actors — your pleasant fellows particularly — subjected to and suffering the common lot — their fortunes, their casualties, their deaths, seem to belong to the scene, their actions to be amenable to poetic justice only. We can hardly connect them with more awful responsibilities. The death of this fine actor took place shortly after this meeting. He had quitted the stage some months; and, as I learned afterwards, had been in the habit of resorting daily to these gardens almost to the day of his decease. In these serious walks probably he was divesting himself of many scenic and some real vanities — weaning himself from the frivolities of the lesser and the greater theatre — doing gentle penance for a life of no very reprehensible fooleries — taking off by degrees the buffoon mask which he might feel he had worn too long — and rehearsing for a more solemn cast of part. Dying he “put on the weeds of Dominic.”27

The elder Palmer (of stage-treading celebrity) commonly played Sir Toby in those days; but there is a solidity of wit in the jests of that half-Falstaff which he did not quite fill out. He was as much too showy as Moody (who sometimes took the part) was dry and sottish. In sock or buskin there was an air of swaggering gentility about Jack Palmer. He was a gentleman with a slight infusion of the footman. His brother Bob (of recenter memory) who was his shadow in every thing while he lived, and dwindled into less than a shadow afterwards — was a gentleman with a little stronger infusion of the latter ingredient; that was all. It is amazing how a little of the more or less makes a difference in these things. When you saw Bobby in the Duke’s Servant,28 you said, what a pity such a pretty fellow was only a servant. When you saw Jack figuring in Captain Absolute, you thought you could trace his promotion to some lady of quality who fancied the handsome fellow in his top-knot, and had bought him a commission. Therefore Jack in Dick Amlet was insuperable.

Jack had two voices — both plausible, hypocritical, and insinuating; but his secondary or supplemental voice still more decisively histrionic than his common one. It was reserved for the spectator; and the dramatis personæ were supposed to know nothing at all about it. The lies of young Wilding, and the sentiments in Joseph Surface, were thus marked out in a sort of italics to the audience. This secret correspondence with the company before the curtain (which is the bane and death of tragedy) has an extremely happy effect in some kinds of comedy, in the more highly artificial comedy of Congreve or of Sheridan especially, where the absolute sense of reality (so indispensable to scenes of interest) is not required, or would rather interfere to diminish your pleasure. The fact is, you do not believe in such characters as Surface — the villain of artificial comedy — even while you read or see them. If you did, they would shock and not divert you. When Ben, in Love for Love, returns from sea, the following exquisite dialogue occurs at his first meeting with his father —

Sir Sampson. Thou hast been many a weary league, Ben, since I saw thee.

Ben. Ey, ey, been! Been far enough, an that be all — Well father, and how do all at home? how does brother Dick, and brother Val?

Sir Sampson. Dick! body o’ me, Dick has been dead these two years. I writ you word when you were at Leghorn.

Ben. Mess, that’s true; Marry, I had forgot. Dick’s dead, as you say — Well, and how? — I have a many questions to ask you —

Here is an instance of insensibility which in real life would be revolting, or rather in real life could not have coexisted with the warm-hearted temperament of the character. But when you read it in the spirit with which such playful selections and specious combinations rather than strict metaphrases of nature should be taken, or when you saw Bannister play it, it neither did, nor does wound the moral sense at all. For what is Ben — the pleasant sailor which Bannister gave us — but a piece of a satire — a creation of Congreve’s fancy — a dreamy combination of all the accidents of a sailor’s character — his contempt of money — his credulity to women — with that necessary estrangement from home which it is just within the verge of credibility to suppose might produce such an hallucination as is here described. We never think the worse of Ben for it, or feel it as a stain upon his character. But when an actor comes, and instead of the delightful phantom — the creature dear to half-belief — which Bannister exhibited — displays before our eyes a downright concretion of a Wapping sailor — a jolly warm-hearted Jack Tar — and nothing else — when instead of investing it with a delicious confusedness of the head, and a veering undirected goodness of purpose — he gives to it a downright daylight understanding, and a full consciousness of its actions; thrusting forward the sensibilities of the character with a pretence as if it stood upon nothing else, and was to be judged by them alone — we feel the discord of the thing; the scene is disturbed; a real man has got in among the dramatis personæ, and puts them out. We want the sailor turned out. We feel that his true place is not behind the curtain, but in the first or second gallery.

(To be resumed occasionally.)

Elia.

23

How lovelily the Adriatic whore

Dress’d in her flames will shine — devouring flames —

Such as will burn her to her wat’ry bottom,

And hiss in her foundation.

Pierre, in Venice Preserved.

24 Viola. She took the ring from me; I’ll none of it.

Mal. Come, Sir, you peevishly threw it to her; and her will is, it should be so returned. If it be worth stooping for, there it lies in your eye; if not, be it his that finds it.

25 Mrs. Inchbald seems to have fallen into the common mistake of the character in some sensible observations, otherwise, upon this Comedy. “It might be asked,” she says, “whether this credulous steward was much deceived in imputing a degraded taste, in the sentiments of love, to his fair lady Olivia, as she actually did fall in love with a domestic; and one, who from his extreme youth, was perhaps a greater reproach to her discretion, than had she cast a tender regard upon her old and faithful servant.” But where does she gather the fact of his age? Neither Maria nor Fabian ever cast that reproach upon him.

26 Clown. What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning wild fowl?

Mal. That the soul of our grandam might haply inhabit a bird.

Clown. What thinkest thou of his opinion?

Mal. I think nobly of the soul, and no way approve of his opinion.

27 Dodd was a man of reading, and left at his death a choice collection of old English literature. I should judge him to have been a man of wit. I know one instance of an impromptu which no length of study could have bettered. My merry friend, Jem White, had seen him one evening in Aguecheek, and recognizing Dodd the next day in Fleet Street, was irresistibly impelled to take off his hat and salute him as the identical Knight of the preceding evening with a “Save you, Sir Andrew.” Dodd, not at all disconcerted at this unusual address from a stranger, with a courteous half-rebuking wave of the hand, put him off with an “Away, Fool.”

28 High Life Below Stairs.

The Old Actors

The artificial Comedy, or Comedy of manners, is quite extinct on our stage. Congreve and Farquhar show their heads once in seven years only to be exploded and put down instantly. The times cannot bear them. Is it for a few wild speeches, an occasional licence of dialogue? I think not altogether. The business of their dramatic characters will not stand the moral test. We screw every thing up to that. Idle gallantry in a fiction, a dream, the passing pageant of an evening, startles us in the same way as the alarming indications of profligacy in a son or ward in real life should startle a parent or guardian. We have no such middle emotions as dramatic interests left. We see a stage libertine playing his loose pranks of two hours’ duration, and of no after consequence, with the severe eyes which inspect real vices with their bearings upon two worlds. We are spectators to a plot or intrigue (not reducible in life to the point of strict morality) and take it all for truth. We substitute a real for a dramatic person, and judge him accordingly. We try him in our courts, from which there is no appeal to the dramatis personæ, his peers. We have been spoiled with — not sentimental comedy — but a tyrant far more pernicious to our pleasures which has succeeded to it, the exclusive and all-devouring drama of common life; where the moral point is everything; where, instead of the fictitious half-believed personages of the stage (the phantoms of old comedy) we recognise ourselves, our brothers, aunts, kinsfolk, allies, patrons, enemies — the same as in life — with an interest in what is going on so hearty and substantial, that we cannot afford our moral judgment, in its deepest and most vital results, to compromise or slumber for a moment. What is there transacting, by no modification is made to affect us in any other manner than the same events or characters would do in our relationships of life. We carry our fire-side concerns to the theatre with us. We do not go thither, like our ancestors, to escape from the pressure of reality, so much as to confirm our experience of it; to make assurance double, and take a bond of fate. We must live our toilsome lives twice over, as it was the mournful privilege of Ulysses to descend twice to the shades. All that neutral ground of character which stood between vice and virtue; or which, in fact, was indifferent to neither, where neither properly was called in question — that happy breathing-place from the burden of a perpetual moral questioning — the sanctuary and quiet Alsatia of hunted casuistry — is broken up and disfranchised as injurious to the interests of society. The privileges of the place are taken away by law. We dare not dally with images or names of wrong. We bark like foolish dogs at shadows. We dread infection from the scenic representation of disorder; and fear a painted pustule. In our anxiety that our morality should not take cold, we wrap it up in a great blanket surtout of precaution against the breeze and sunshine.

I confess for myself that (with no great delinquencies to answer for) I am glad for a season to take an airing beyond the diocese of the strict conscience — not to live always in the precincts of the law courts — but now and then, for a dream-while or so, to imagine a world with no meddling restrictions — to get into recesses, whither the hunter cannot follow me —

— Secret shades

Of woody Ida’s inmost grove,

While yet there was no fear of Jove —

I come back to my cage and my restraint the fresher and more healthy for it. I wear my shackles more contentedly for having respired the breath of an imaginary freedom. I do not know how it is with others, but I feel the better always for the perusal of one of Congreve’s — nay, why should I not add even of Wycherley’s — comedies. I am the gayer at least for it; and I could never connect those sports of a witty fancy in any shape with any result to be drawn from them to imitation in real life. They are a world of themselves almost as much as a fairyland. Take one of their characters, male or female (with few exceptions they are alike), and place it in a modern play, and my virtuous indignation shall rise against the profligate wretch as warmly as the Catos of the pit could desire; because in a modern play I am to judge of right and wrong, and the standard of police is the measure of poetical justice. The atmosphere will blight it. It cannot thrive here. It is got into a moral world where it has no business; from which it must needs fall head-long; as dizzy and incapable of keeping its stand, as a Swedenborgian bad spirit that has wandered unawares within the sphere of one of his good men or angels. But in its own world do we feel the creature is so very bad?

The Fainalls and the Mirabels, the Dorimants, and Lady Touchwoods, in their own sphere do not offend my moral sense — or, in fact, appeal to it at all. They seem engaged in their proper element. They break through no laws, or conscientious restraints. They know of none. They have got out of Christendom into the land — what shall I call it? — of cuckoldry — the Utopia of gallantry, where pleasure is duty, and the manners perfect freedom. It is altogether a speculative scene of things, which has no reference whatever to the world that is. No good person can be justly offended as a spectator, because no good person suffers on the stage. Judged morally, every character in these plays — the few exceptions only are mistakes— is alike essentially vain and worthless. The great art of Congreve is especially shown in this, that he has entirely excluded from his scenes — some little generosities in the part of Angelica perhaps excepted — not only any thing like a faultless character, but any pretensions to goodness or good feelings whatsoever. Whether he did this designedly, or instinctively, the effect is as happy, as the design (if design) was bold. I used to wonder at the strange power which his Way of the World in particular possesses of interesting you all along in the pursuits of characters, for whom you absolutely care nothing — for you neither hate nor love his personages — and I think it is owing to this very indifference for any, that you endure the whole. He has spread a privation of moral light, I will call it, rather than by the ugly name of palpable darkness, over his creations; and his shadows flit before you without distinction or preference. Had he introduced a good character, a single gush of moral feeling, a revulsion of the judgment to actual life and actual duties, the impertinent Goshen would have only lighted to the discovery of deformities, which now are none, because we think them none.

Translated into real life, the characters of his, and his friend Wycherley’s dramas, are profligates and strumpets — the business of their brief existence, the undivided pursuit of lawless gallantry. No other spring of action, or possible motive of conduct, is recognised; principles which universally acted upon must reduce this frame of things to a chaos. But we do them wrong in so translating them. No such effects are produced in their world. When we are among them, we are amongst a chaotic people. We are not to judge them by our usages. No reverend institutions are insulted by their proceedings — for they have none among them. No peace of families is violated — for no family ties exist among them. No purity of the marriage bed is stained — for none is supposed to have a being. No deep affections are disquieted — no holy wedlock bands are snapped asunder — for affection’s depth and wedded faith are not of the growth of that soil. There is neither right nor wrong — gratitude or its opposite — claim or duty — paternity or sonship. Of what consequence is it to virtue, or how is she at all concerned about it, whether Sir Simon, or Dapperwit, steal away Miss Martha; or who is the father of Lord Froth’s, or Sir Paul Pliant’s children?

The whole is a passing pageant, where we should sit as unconcerned at the issues, for life or death, as at a battle of the frogs and mice. But like Don Quixote, we take part against the puppets, and quite as impertinently. We dare not contemplate an Atlantis, a scheme, out of which our coxcombical moral sense is for a little transitory ease excluded. We have not the courage to imagine a state of things for which there is neither reward nor punishment. We cling to the painful necessities of shame and blame. We would indict our very dreams.

Amidst the mortifying circumstances attendant upon growing old, it is something to have seen the School for Scandal in its glory. This comedy grew out of Congreve and Wycherley, but gathered some allays of the sentimental comedy which followed theirs. It is impossible that it should be now acted, though it continues, at long intervals, to be announced in the bills. Its hero, when Palmer played it at least, was Joseph Surface. When I remember the gay boldness, the graceful solemn plausibility, the measured step, the insinuating voice — to express it in a word — the downright acted villany of the part, so different from the pressure of conscious actual wickedness — the hypocritical assumption of hypocrisy — which made Jack so deservedly a favourite in that character, I must needs conclude the present generation of playgoers more virtuous than myself, or more dense. I freely confess that he divided the palm with me with his better brother; that, in fact, I liked him quite as well. Not but there are passages — like that, for instance, where Joseph is made to refuse a pittance to a poor relation — incongruities which Sheridan was forced upon by the attempt to join the artificial with the sentimental comedy, either of which must destroy the other — but over these obstructions Jack’s manner floated him so lightly, that a refusal from him no more shocked you, than the easy compliance of Charles gave you in reality any pleasure; you got over the paltry question as quickly as you could, to get back into the regions of pure comedy, where no cold moral reigns. The highly artificial manner of Palmer in this character counteracted every disagreeable impression which you might have received from the contrast, supposing them real, between the two brothers. You did not believe in Joseph with the same faith with which you believed in Charles. The latter was a pleasant reality, the former a no less pleasant poetical foil to it. The comedy, I have said, is incongruous; a mixture of Congreve with sentimental incompatibilities; the gaity upon the whole is buoyant; but it required the consummate art of Palmer to reconcile the discordant elements.

A player with Jack’s talents, if we had one now, would not dare to do the part in the same manner. He would instinctively avoid every turn which might tend to unrealize, and so to make the character fascinating. He must take his cue from his spectators, who would expect a bad man and a good man as rigidly opposed to each other, as the death-beds of those geniuses are contrasted in the prints, which I am sorry to see have disappeared from the windows of my old friend Carrington Bowles, of St. Paul’s Churchyard memory —(an exhibition as venerable as the adjacent cathedral, and almost coeval) of the bad and good man at the hour of death; where the ghastly apprehensions of the former — and truly the grim phantom with his reality of a toasting fork is not to be despised — so finely contrast with the meek complacent kissing of the rod — taking it in like honey and butter — with which the latter submits to the scythe of the gentle bleeder, Time, who wields his lancet with the apprehensive finger of a popular young ladies’ surgeon. What flesh, like loving grass, would not covet to meet half-way the stroke of such a delicate mower? — John Palmer was twice an actor in this exquisite part. He was playing to you all the while that he was playing upon Sir Peter and his lady. You had the first intimation of a sentiment before it was on his lips. His altered voice was meant to you, and you were to suppose that his fictitious coflutterers on the stage perceived nothing at all of it. What was it to you if that half-reality, the husband, was over-reached by the puppetry — or the thin thing (Lady Teazle’s reputation) was persuaded it was dying of a plethory? The fortunes of Othello and Desdemona were not concerned in it. Poor Jack has passed from the stage — in good time, that he did not live to this our age of seriousness. The fidgety pleasant old Teazle King too is gone in good time. His manner would scarce have passed current in our day. We must love or hate — acquit or condemn — censure or pity — exert our detestable coxcombry of moral judgment upon every thing. Joseph Surface, to go down now, must be a downright revolting villain — no compromise — his first appearance must shock and give horror — his specious plausibilities, which the pleasurable faculties of our fathers welcomed with such hearty greetings, knowing that no harm (dramatic harm even) could come, or was meant to come of them, must inspire a cold and killing aversion. Charles (the real canting person of the scene — for the hypocrisy of Joseph has its ulterior legitimate ends, but his brother’s professions of a good heart centre in down-right self-satisfaction) must be loved, and Joseph hated. To balance one disagreeable reality with another, Sir Peter Teazle must be no longer the comic idea of a fretful old bachelor bridegroom, whose teazings (while King acted it) were evidently as much played off at you, as they were meant to concern any body on the stage — he must be a real person, capable in law of sustaining an injury — a person towards whom duties are to be acknowledged — the genuine crim-con antagonist of the villainous seducer, Joseph. To realize him more, his sufferings under his unfortunate match must have the downright pungency of life — must (or should) make you not mirthful but uncomfortable, just as the same predicament would move you in a neighbour or old friend. The delicious scenes which give the play its name and zest, must affect you in the same serious manner as if you heard the reputation of a dear female friend attacked in your real presence. Crabtree, and Sir Benjamin — those poor snakes that lived but in the sunshine of your mirth — must be ripened by this hot-bed process of realization into asps or amphisbænas; and Mrs. Candour — O frightful! become a hooded serpent. Oh who that remembers Parsons and Dodd — the wasp and butterfly of the School for Scandal — in those two characters; and charming natural Miss Pope, the perfect gentlewoman as distinguished from the fine lady of comedy, in this latter part — would forego the true scenic delight — the escape from life — the oblivion of consequences — the holiday barring out of the pedant Reflection — those Saturnalia of two or three brief hours, well won from the world — to sit instead at one of our modern plays — to have his coward conscience (that forsooth must not be left for a moment) stimulated with perpetual appeals — dulled rather, and blunted, as a faculty without repose must be-and his moral vanity pampered with images of notional justice, notional beneficence, lives saved without the spectators’ risk, and fortunes given away that cost the author nothing?

No piece was, perhaps, ever so completely cast in all its parts as this manager’s comedy. Miss Farren had succeeded to Mrs. Abingdon in Lady Teazle; and Smith, the original Charles, had retired, when I first saw it. The rest of the characters, with very slight exceptions, remained. I remember it was then the fashion to cry down John Kemble, who took the part of Charles after Smith; but, I thought, very unjustly. Smith, I fancy, was more airy, and took the eye with a certain gaiety of person. He brought with him no sombre recollections of tragedy. He had not to expiate the fault of having pleased beforehand in lofty declamation. He had no sins of Hamlet or of Richard to atone for. His failure in these parts was a passport to success in one of so opposite a tendency. But as far as I could judge, the weighty sense of Kemble made up for more personal incapacity than he had to answer for. His harshest tones in this part came steeped and dulcified in good humour. He made his defects a grace. His exact declamatory manner, as he managed it, only served to convey the points of his dialogue with more precision. It seemed to head the shafts to carry them deeper. Not one of his sparkling sentences was lost. I remember minutely how he delivered each in succession, and cannot by any effort imagine how any of them could be altered for the better. No man could deliver brilliant dialogue — the dialogue of Congreve or of Wycherley — because none understood it — half so well as John Kemble. His Valentine, in Love for Love, was, to my recollection, faultless. He flagged sometimes in the intervals of tragic passion. He would slumber over the level parts of an heroic character. His Macbeth has been known to nod. But he always seemed to me to be particularly alive to pointed and witty dialogue. The relaxing levities of tragedy have not been touched by any since him — the playful court-bred spirit in which he condescended to the players in Hamlet — the sportive relief, which he threw into the darker shades of Richard — disappeared with him. Tragedy is become a uniform dead weight. They have fastened lead to her buskins. She never pulls them off for the ease of a moment. To invert a commonplace from Niobe, she never forgets herself to liquefaction. John had his sluggish moods, his torpors — but they were the halting stones and resting places of his tragedy — politic savings, and fetches of the breath — husbandry of the lungs, where nature pointed him to be an economist — rather, I think, than errors of the judgment. They were, at worst, less painful than the eternal tormenting unappeasable vigilance, the “lidless dragon eyes,” of present fashionable tragedy. The story of his swallowing opium pills to keep him lively upon the first night of a certain tragedy, we may presume to be a piece of retaliatory pleasantry on the part of the suffering author. But, indeed, John had the art of diffusing a complacent equable dulness (which you knew not where to quarrel with) over a piece which he did not like, beyond any of his contemporaries. John Kemble had made up his mind early, that all the good tragedies, which could be written, had been written; and he resented any new attempt. His shelves were full. The old standards were scope enough for his ambition. He ranged in them absolute — and “fair in Otway, full in Shakspeare shone.” He succeeded to the old lawful thrones, and did not care to adventure bottomry with a Sir Edward Mortimer, or any casual speculator that offered. I remember, too acutely for my peace, the deadly extinguisher which he put upon my friend G.‘s “Antonio.” G., satiate with visions of political justice (possibly not to be realized in our time), or willing to let the sceptical worldlings see, that his anticipations of the future did not preclude a warm sympathy for men as they are and have been — wrote a tragedy. He chose a story, affecting, romantic, Spanish — the plot simple, without being naked — the incidents uncommon, without being overstrained. Antonio, who gives the name to the piece, is a sensitive young Castilian, who, in a fit of his country honour, immolates his sister —

But I must not anticipate the catastrophe — the play, reader, is extant in choice English — and you will employ a spare half crown not injudiciously in the quest of it.

The conception was bold, and the dénouement — the time and place in which the hero of it existed, considered — not much out of keeping; yet it must be confessed, that it required a delicacy of handling both from the author and the performer, so as not much to shock the prejudices of a modern English audience. G., in my opinion, had done his part.

John, who was in familiar habits with the philosopher, had undertaken to play Antonio. Great expectations were formed. A philosopher’s first play was a new era. The night arrived. I was favoured with a seat in an advantageous box, between the author and his friend M——. G. sate cheerful and confident. In his friend M.‘s looks, who had perused the manuscript, I read some terror. Antonio in the person of John Philip Kemble at length appeared, starched out in a ruff which no one could dispute, and in most irreproachable mustachios. John always dressed most provokingly correct on these occasions. The first act swept by, solemn and silent. It went off, as G. assured M., exactly as the opening act of a piece — the protasis — should do. The cue of the spectators was to be mute. The characters were but in their introduction. The passions and the incidents would be developed hereafter. Applause hitherto would be impertinent. Silent attention was the effect all-desirable. Poor M. acquiesced — but in his honest friendly face I could discern a working which told how much more acceptable the plaudit of a single hand (however misplaced) would have been than all this reasoning. The second act (as in duty bound) rose a little in interest; but still John kept his forces under — in policy, as G. would have it — and the audience were most complacently attentive. The protasis, in fact, was scarcely unfolded. The interest would warm in the next act, against which a special incident was provided. M. wiped his cheek, flushed with a friendly perspiration —’tis M.‘s way of showing his zeal —“from every pore of him a perfume falls —.” I honour it above Alexander’s. He had once or twice during this act joined his palms in a feeble endeavour to elicit a sound — they emitted a solitary noise without an echo — there was no deep to answer to his deep. G. repeatedly begged him to be quiet. The third act at length brought on the scene which was to warm the piece progressively to the final flaming forth of the catastrophe. A philosophic calm settled upon the clear brow of G. as it approached. The lips of M. quivered. A challenge was held forth upon the stage, and there was promise of a fight. The pit roused themselves on this extraordinary occasion, and, as their manner is, seemed disposed to make a ring — when suddenly Antonio, who was the challenged, turning the tables upon the hot challenger, Don Gusman (who by the way should have had his sister) baulks his humour, and the pit’s reasonable expectation at the same time, with some speeches out of the new philosophy against duelling. The audience were here fairly caught — their courage was up, and on the alert — a few blows, ding dong, as R——s the dramatist afterwards expressed it to me, might have done the business — when their most exquisite moral sense was suddenly called in to assist in the mortifying negation of their own pleasure. They could not applaud, for disappointment; they would not condemn, for morality’s sake. The interest stood stone still; and John’s manner was not at all calculated to unpetrify it. It was Christmas time, and the atmosphere furnished some pretext for asthmatic affections. One began to cough — his neighbour sympathised with him — till a cough became epidemical. But when, from being half-artificial in the pit, the cough got frightfully naturalised among the fictitious persons of the drama; and Antonio himself (albeit it was not set down in the stage directions) seemed more intent upon relieving his own lungs than the distresses of the author and his friends — then G. “first knew fear;” and mildly turning to M., intimated that he had not been aware that Mr. K. laboured under a cold; and that the performance might possibly have been postponed with advantage for some nights further — still keeping the same serene countenance, while M. sweat like a bull. It would be invidious to pursue the fates of this ill-starred evening. In vain did the plot thicken in the scenes that followed, in vain the dialogue wax more passionate and stirring, and the progress of the sentiment point more and more clearly to the arduous developement which impended. In vain the action was accelerated, while the acting stood still. From the beginning, John had taken his stand; had wound himself up to an even tenor of stately declamation, from which no exigence of dialogue or person could make him swerve for an instant. To dream of his rising with the scene (the common trick of tragedians) was preposterous; for from the onset he had planted himself, as upon a terrace, on an eminence vastly above the audience, and he kept that sublime level to the end. He looked from his throne of elevated sentiment upon the under-world of spectators with a most sovran and becoming contempt. There was excellent pathos delivered out to them: an they would receive it, so; an they would not receive it, so. There was no offence against decorum in all this; nothing to condemn, to damn. Not an irreverent symptom of a sound was to be heard. The procession of verbiage stalked on through four and five acts, no one venturing to predict what would come of it, when towards the winding up of the latter, Antonio, with an irrelevancy that seemed to stagger Elvira herself — for she had been coolly arguing the point of honour with him — suddenly whips out a poniard, and stabs his sister to the heart. The effect was, as if a murder had been committed in cold blood. The whole house rose up in clamorous indignation demanding justice. The feeling rose far above hisses. I believe at that instant, if they could have got him, they would have torn the unfortunate author to pieces. Not that the act itself was so exorbitant, or of a complexion different from what they themselves would have applauded upon another occasion in a Brutus, or an Appius — but for want of attending to Antonio’s words, which palpably led to the expectation of no less dire an event, instead of being seduced by his manner, which seemed to promise a sleep of a less alarming nature than it was his cue to inflict upon Elvira, they found themselves betrayed into an accompliceship of murder, a perfect misprision of parricide, while they dreamed of nothing less. M., I believe, was the only person who suffered acutely from the failure; for G. thenceforward, with a serenity unattainable but by the true philosophy, abandoning a precarious popularity, retired into his fast hold of speculation — the drama in which the world was to be his tiring room, and remote posterity his applauding spectators at once, and actors.

The Old Actors

I do not know a more mortifying thing than to be conscious of a foregone delight, with a total oblivion of the person and manner which conveyed it. In dreams I often stretch and strain after the countenance of Edwin, whom I once saw in Peeping Tom. I cannot catch a feature of him. He is no more to me than Nokes or Pinkethman. Parsons, and still more Dodd, were near being lost to me, till I was refreshed with their portraits (fine treat) the other day at Mr. Mathews’s gallery at Highgate; which, with the exception of the Hogarth pictures, a few years since exhibited in Pall Mall, was the most delightful collection I ever gained admission to. There hang the players, in their single persons, and in grouped scenes, from the Restoration — Bettertons, Booths, Garricks, justifying the prejudices which we entertain for them — the Bracegirdles, the Mountforts, and the Oldfields, fresh as Cibber has described them — the Woffington (a true Hogarth) upon a couch, dallying and dangerous — the Screen Scene in Brinsley’s famous comedy, with Smith and Mrs. Abingdon, whom I have not seen, and the rest, whom having seen, I see still there. There is Henderson, unrivalled in Comus, whom I saw at second hand in the elder Harley — Harley, the rival of Holman, in Horatio — Holman, with the bright glittering teeth in Lothario, and the deep paviour’s sighs in Romeo — the jolliest person (“our son is fat”) of any Hamlet I have yet seen, with the most laudable attempts (for a personable man) at looking melancholy — and Pope, the abdicated monarch of tragedy and comedy, in Harry the Eighth and Lord Townley. There hang the two Aickins, brethren in mediocrity — Wroughton, who in Kitely seemed to have forgotten that in prouder days he had personated Alexander — the specious form of John Palmer, with the special effrontery of Bobby — Bensley, with the trumpet-tongue, and little Quick (the retired Dioclesian of Islington) with his squeak like a Bart’lemew fiddle. There are fixed, cold as in life, the immovable features of Moody, who, afraid of o’erstepping nature, sometimes stopped short of her — and the restless fidgetiness of Lewis, who, with no such fears, not seldom leaped o’ the other side. There hang Farren and Whitfield, and Burton and Phillimore, names of small account in those times, but which, remembered now, or casually recalled by the sight of an old play-bill, with their associated recordations, can “drown an eye unused to flow.” There too hangs (not far removed from them in death) the graceful plainness of the first Mrs. Pope, with a voice unstrung by age, but which, in her better days, must have competed with the silver tones of Barry himself, so enchanting in decay do I remember it — of all her lady parts exceeding herself in the Lady Quakeress (there earth touched heaven!) of O’Keefe, when she played it to the “merry cousin” of Lewis — and Mrs. Mattocks, the sensiblest of viragos — and Miss Pope, a gentlewoman ever, to the verge of ungentility, with Churchill’s compliment still burnishing upon her gay Honeycomb lips. There are the two Bannisters, and Sedgwick, and Kelly, and Dignum (Diggy), and the bygone features of Mrs. Ward, matchless in Lady Loverule; and the collective majesty of the whole Kemble family, and (Shakspeare’s woman) Dora Jordan; and, by her, two Antics, who in former and in latter days have chiefly beguiled us of our griefs; whose portraits we shall strive to recall, for the sympathy of those who may not have had the benefit of viewing the matchless Highgate Collection.

Mr. Suett

O for a “slip-shod muse,” to celebrate in numbers, loose and shambling as himself, the merits and the person of Mr. Richard Suett, comedian!

Richard, or rather Dicky Suett — for so in his lifetime he was best pleased to be called, and time hath ratified the appellation — lieth buried on the north side of the cemetery of Holy Paul, to whose service his nonage and tender years were set apart and dedicated. There are who do yet remember him at that period — his pipe clear and harmonious. He would often speak of his chorister days, when he was “cherub Dicky.”

What clipped his wings, or made it expedient that he should exchange the holy for the profane state; whether he had lost his good voice (his best recommendation to that office), like Sir John, “with hallooing and singing of anthems;” or whether he was adjudged to lack something, even in those early years, of the gravity indispensable to an occupation which professeth to “commerce with the skies”— I could never rightly learn; but we find him, after the probation of a twelvemonth or so, reverting to a secular condition, and become one of us.

I think he was not altogether of that timber, out of which cathedral seats and sounding boards are hewed. But if a glad heart — kind and therefore glad — be any part of sanctity, then might the robe of Motley, with which he invested himself with so much humility after his deprivation, and which he wore so long with so much blameless satisfaction to himself and to the public, be accepted for a surplice — his white stole, and albe.

The first fruits of his secularization was an engagement upon the boards of Old Drury, at which theatre he commenced, as I have been told, with adopting the manner of Parsons in old men’s characters. At the period in which most of us knew him, he was no more an imitator than he was in any true sense himself imitable.

He was the Robin Good–Fellow of the stage. He came in to trouble all things with a welcome perplexity, himself no whit troubled for the matter. He was known, like Puck, by his note —Ha! Ha! Ha!— sometimes deepening to Ho! Ho! Ho! with an irresistible accession, derived perhaps remotely from his ecclesiastical education, foreign to his prototype, of —O La! Thousands of hearts yet respond to the chuckling O La! of Dicky Suett, brought back to their remembrance by the faithful transcript of his friend Mathews’s mimicry. The “force of nature could no further go.” He drolled upon the stock of these two syllables richer than the cuckoo.

Care, that troubles all the world, was forgotten in his composition. Had he had but two grains (nay, half a grain) of it, he could never have supported himself upon those two spider’s strings, which served him (in the latter part of his unmixed existence) as legs. A doubt or a scruple must have made him totter, a sigh have puffed him down; the weight of a frown had staggered him, a wrinkle made him lose his balance. But on he went, scrambling upon those airy stilts of his, with Robin Good–Fellow, “thorough brake, thorough briar,” reckless of a scratched face or a torn doublet.

Shakspeare foresaw him, when he framed his fools and jesters. They have all the true Suett stamp, a loose gait, a slippery tongue, this last the ready midwife to a without-pain-delivered jest; in words light as air, venting truths deep as the centre; with idlest rhymes tagging conceit when busiest, singing with Lear in the tempest, or Sir Toby at the buttery hatch.

Jack Bannister and he had the fortune to be more of personal favourites with the town than any actors before or after. The difference, I take it, was this:— Jack was more beloved for his sweet, good-natured, moral, pretensions. Dicky was more liked for his sweet, good-natured, no pretensions at all. Your whole conscience stirred with Bannister’s performance of Walter in the Children in the Wood — how dearly beautiful it was! — but Dicky seemed like a thing, as Shakspeare says of Love, too young to know what conscience is. He put us into Vesta’s days. Evil fled before him — not as from Jack, as from an antagonist — but because it could not touch him, any more than a cannon-ball a fly. He was delivered from the burthen of that death; and, when Death came himself, not in metaphor, to fetch Dicky, it is recorded of him by Robert Palmer, who kindly watched his exit, that he received the last stroke, neither varying his accustomed tranquillity, nor tune, with the simple exclamation, worthy to have been recorded in his epitaph —O La! — O La! Bobby!

Mr. Munden

Not many nights ago we had come home from seeing this extraordinary performer in Cockletop; and when we retired to our pillow, his whimsical image still stuck by us, in a manner as to threaten sleep. In vain we tried to divest ourselves of it by conjuring up the most opposite associations. We resolved to be serious. We raised up the gravest topics of life; private misery, public calamity. All would not do.

— There the antic sate

Mocking our state —

his queer visnomy — his bewildering costume — all the strange things which he had raked together — his serpentine rod swagging about in his pocket — Cleopatra’s tear, and the rest of his relics — O’Keefe’s wild farce, and his wilder commentary — till the passion of laughter, like grief in excess, relieved itself by its own weight, inviting the sleep which in the first instance it had driven away.

But we were not to escape so easily. No sooner did we fall into slumbers, than the same image, only more perplexing, assailed us in the shape of dreams. Not one Munden, but five hundred, were dancing before us, like the faces which, whether you will or no, come when you have been taking opium — all the strange combinations, which this strangest of all strange mortals ever shot his proper countenance into, from the day he came commissioned to dry up the tears of the town for the loss of the now almost forgotten Edwin. O for the power of the pencil to have fixed them when we awoke! A season or two since there was exhibited a Hogarth gallery. We do not see why there should not be a Munden gallery. In richness and variety the latter would not fall far short of the former.

There is one face of Farley, one face of Knight, one face (but what a one it is!) of Liston; but Munden has none that you can properly pin down, and call his. When you think he has exhausted his battery of looks, in unaccountable warfare with your gravity, suddenly he sprouts out an entirely new set of features, like Hydra. He is not one, but legion. Not so much a comedian, as a company. If his name could be multiplied like his countenance, it might fill a play-bill. He, and he alone, literally makes faces: applied to any other person, the phrase is a mere figure, denoting certain modifications of the human countenance. Out of some invisible wardrobe he dips for faces, as his friend Suett used for wigs, and fetches them out as easily. We should not be surprised to see him some day put out the head of a river horse; or come forth a pewit, or lapwing, some feathered metamorphosis.

We have seen this gifted actor in Sir Christopher Curry — in Old Dornton — diffuse a glow of sentiment which has made the pulse of a crowded theatre beat like that of one man; when he has come in aid of the pulpit, doing good to the moral heart of a people. We have seen some faint approaches to this sort of excellence in other players. But in what has been truly denominated “the sublime of farce,” Munden stands out as single and unaccompanied as Hogarth. Hogarth, strange to tell, had no followers. The school of Munden began, and must end, with himself.

Can any man wonder, like him? can any man see ghosts, like him? or fight with his own shadow— sessa — as he does in that strangely-neglected thing, the Cobler of Preston — where his alternations from the Cobler to the Magnifico, and from the Magnifico to the Cobler, keep the brain of the spectator in as wild a ferment, as if some Arabian Night were being acted before him, or as if Thalaba were no tale! Who like him can throw, or ever attempted to throw, a supernatural interest over the commonest daily-life objects? A table, or a joint stool, in his conception, rises into a dignity equivalent to Cassiopeia’s chair. It is invested with constellatory importance. You could not speak of it with more deference, if it were mounted into the firmament. A beggar in the hands of Michael Angelo, says Fuseli, rose the Patriarch of Poverty. So the gusto of Munden antiquates and ennobles what it touches. His pots and his ladles are as grand and primal as the seething-pots and hooks seen in old prophetic vision. A tub of butter, contemplated by him, amounts to a Platonic idea. He understands a leg of mutton in its quiddity. He stands wondering, amid the commonplace materials of life, like primæval man, with the sun and stars about him.

Notes

Page 315. ON SOME OF THE OLD ACTORS, ETC.

See notes to the essays “On Some of the Old Actors,” “The Artificial Comedy” and “The Acting of Munden.” Two portions of these essays, not reprinted by Lamb, call for comment: the story of the first night of “Antonio,” and the account of Charles Mathews’ collection of pictures.

Page 328, line 14 from foot. My friend G.‘s “Antonio.“ William Godwin’s tragedy, produced on December 13, 1800, at Drury Lane. Lamb had written the epilogue (see Vol. IV.). Compare the letter to Manning of December 16, 1800.

Page 329, line 28. M. wiped his cheek. Writing to Godwin after the failure Lamb says: “The breast of Hecuba, where she did suckle Hector, looked not to be more lovely than Marshal’s forehead when it spit forth sweat, at Critic-swords contending. I remember two honest lines by Marvel . . .

“‘Where every Mower’s wholesome heat

Smells like an Alexander’s sweat.’”

And again, to Manning: “His [Marshal’s] face was lengthened, and all over perspiration; I never saw such a care-fraught visage; I could have hugged him, I loved him so intensely. ‘From every pore of him a perfume fell.’”

Page 329, foot. R——s the dramatist. I imagine this to be Frederic Reynolds (1764–1841), author of “The Dramatist” and many other plays. We know Lamb to have known him later, from a mention in a letter to J.B. Dibdin.

Page 330, foot, Brutus . . . Appius. Brutus in “Julius Cæsar,” or possibly in the play called “Brutus,” by John Howard Payne, Lamb’s friend (produced December 3, 1818), in which Brutus kills his son — a closer parallel. Appius was probably a slip of the pen for Virginius, who in Sheridan Knowles’ drama that bears his name kills his daughter to protect her from Appius.

Page 331, line 7. G. thenceforward. Godwin did, however, write another play, “Faulkener,” for which Lamb wrote the prologue. It was moderately successful.

Page 331, 1st line of essay. I do not know, etc. The paragraph beginning with these words is often printed by editors of Lamb as a separate article entitled “The Old Actors.” Charles Mathews’ collection of theatrical portraits is now in the Garrick Club. In his lifetime it occupied the gallery at Ivy Lodge, Highgate (or more properly Kentish Town). A year or so before Mathews’ death in 1835, his pictures were exhibited at the Queen’s Bazaar in Oxford Street, Lamb’s remarks being printed in the catalogue raisonné.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/lamb/charles/elia/appendix1.html

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