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The Dramatic Observer.
and those two lines had an electric effect:
And can I-oh! my heart abhors the thought-
At the conclusion of this scene, when Gloster pronounces sentence on her, her look-her manner-her voice-uone of which partook of what is termed stage trick, were eminently natural; and here we had to regret the violation of taste and nature which so frequently occurs in the early dramatic poets, and which was adopted by Roe, Lee, and others-we mean the jingling of rhyme at the end of a scene, as if the measure borrowed feeling, or expression, or even harmony from it. Is it probable that after being condemned to the hardest of fatesturned out a vagrant, to wander comfortless, and houseless-reduced to the extremities of want and misery-is it probable she would express herself in such lines as these:
Oh! thou most righteous judge-
As well might we suppose that a man would sit down the moment his wife dies, and write a poem on her. Her concluding scene gave us a better idea of her powers than any we had witnessed her in. Belvidera was her next attempt;-we would sincerely recommend her to cease the performance of this character until she has a longer experience of the stage; it is only adapted to those who can draw the heart of the spectator at will within the compass of their spells, and Miss Kelly is too unexperienced to give a being to Otway's heroine.
Mrs. Vaughan has improved in our estimation. Her Alicia was an animated, and wonderfully effective performance; indeed this lady always puts forth strong claims to public support, and we have to regret that we do not see her oftener in those highly-wrought characters which have seldom had a finer representative.
Don Giovanni in London appears to be a character to which Mrs. Humby asserts an exclusive title-and although we cannot but admire her personification of it, we would never wish to see it brought forward. Who that has any sense of religious or moral rectitude would calmly sit and listen to speakers who introduce, with all the mockery and contempt of common ridicule, the names of the devilhell- the infernal regions-the furies, &c.? who would calmly look at a scene that is an imitation of the tortures inflicted on suffering souls? who would not recoil at the thought of an earthly creature making love to a female fury, amidst the flames and agonies of punish
The Dramatic Observer.
ment? Mr. Moncrieffe, the author of this piece, possesses considerable comic talent, and we would remark, that if he devoted it to expose the follies of the day, it would add much more to his reputation.
We would ask, why are the female furies in this farce drest in the habiliments of nuns ?
We have seen Mr. Warde in Romeo, Lord Hastings, and Jaffier. Of the first we have but to observe, that, however he might have looked and acted, his voice was not at all suited to the character; it has a deep, sepulchral tone that is quite inconsistent with the gentle lover, and although we admired his general appearance, we are of opinion Romeo is a part in which he is not likely to succeed. Lord Hastings was an animated delineation, and we should be glad to see him perform it again. In Jaffier, that inflexibility of voice-that monotonous hollowness that too often breaks from him-appeared less to dis advantage, and assisted rather than injured his performance. This gentleman is, deservedly, a favorite.
We noticed last month a fault which Mr. Cobham has not yet amended a method of strutting-a tragic walk-which is used on all occasions-like him who
in the same strains,
Loves, hates, and rages, triumphs, and complains.
We remarked in his performance of Dumont what we had hitherto avoided noticing-a faulty pronunciation which marred the poetry and destroyed the effect of the delivery-we instance the following:And blot a long illusthrious line of ancestrythis Mr. Cobham will at once perceive the necessity of correcting.
He received loud and merited applause as Dumont and Pierre. In the latter character however, we thought he fell too much into melodramatic acting.
Of Mr. Pearman's singing we will briefly observe, that there is a monotony of tone and manner about it which is not altogether pleasing. He seldom favors us with any graces and particularly the shake seems either to be beyond his capability, or, at least, not to rank among his favorite ornaments. His high notes are singularly weak, but there is a sweetness in his lower tones. Perhaps there is a simplicity in his songs which some may admire-his Captain Macheath was a failurehis song "how happy could I be with either" was given with more comic effect than we think a good singer ought to cultivate.
On the 29th January, Shakespeare's play of "Twelfth Night" was revived. We will notice the alterations which have been made in it next month, as we are now too limited in room. Mr. Frederick Jones, son of the late patentee, is going to embrace the profession of the stage, and appears in a few evenings as lago.
Mr. Farren deserves distinguished notice for the arrangements of the theatre, his unwearied attention to public convenience and enterfainment call forth the warmest approbation, and we congratulate Mr. Harris on the accession of his talents.
PRIVATE MEMOIRS OF THE EARL OF LEICESTER,
Illustrative of the Romance of KENILWORTH.
ROBERT DUDLEY was a younger son of John, the ambitious duke of Northumberland, whose intrigues form so large a portion of the English history, during the reign of Edward VI. As it entered into the policy of the nobility of the time to procure an early establishment for their younger children, Robert, while yet very youthful, was married to Amie, daughter of Sir John Robsart, a gentleman of noble family and independent fortune, who resided at Sheen in Surry. Edward honored the nuptials by his presence, and during the short remainder of his life bestowed many marks of favor on the young courtier. Northumberland's attempt, after Edward's death, to place the crown on the head of his son, Lord Guilford Dudley, and the melancholy consequences of his ambition are well known. Northumberland's family and adherents atoned for his criminal designs by the loss of titles and estates; Lord Guilford and his wife, Lady Jane Grey, lost their lives, and Robert was saved only through the most powerful intercession. But Robert's insinuating manners soon procured for him the favor of his sovereign Mary, and, at Elizabeth's succession to the throne, he was already ranked among the rising courtiers. Elizabeth immediately, but unaccountably, distinguished him with peculiar favor; created him her master of the horse; gave him the title of Lord Robert Dudley; and invested him with the order of the
VOL. I.-No. III.
Private Memoirs of the Earl Leicester.
garter. Each day added to his influence-all his requests were complied with-and so great was his magnificence and so powerful his sway, that he obtained the flattering appellation of "the Heart of the Court.”
But unsatisfied with mere favoritism, he was determined to become Elizabeth's principal minister, and pursued his father's unsound policy by means still more unwarrantable. The Archduke Charles of Austria transmitted proposals of marriage to the queen, and his interests were strongly promoted by Thomas Ratcliffe, Earl of Sussex; while Dudley suggested the greater expediency of her marriage to some English nobleman, and reminded her of the slights which her sister had experienced from her Spanish husband. The disputes of these noblemen, between whom a rivalry ever after subsisted, arose to a great height, and their armed retainers fought almost within the precincts of the court; but Elizabeth reconciled them, and their quarrel apparently subsided.
It was about this time that Dudley began to find his wife an obstacle to his ambitious views. There were two unmarried queens in the island, both handsome and both young; and it was thought, that had he been a bachelor, he might have attained the summit of his hopes, and raised himself from the rank of a subject to that of a sovereign. Prospects, so alluring, should not be broken by the impertinent suggestions of conscience; in order, therefore, to disencumber himself from Amie, with fair entreaties he prevailed on her to repose at Cumnor, in the house of Anthony Foster, one of his dependents; and then through the agency of Varney, his devoted creature, he attempted to poison her. Foster and Varney perceived that the Countess was very much depressed in spirits, as if she foreknew her fate from their present mysterious treatment; they counselled her to take some potion to remove her melancholy, and applied for it to Dr. Walter Bayley, fellow of New College, Oxford, and professor of physic to the university; but he suspected them, and as he saw the Countess did not want the medicine, refused to send it, fearing that they intended to add poison to it, and then to attribute her death to him. Frustrated in this attempt, they sent all her servants to Abingdon fair, and having obliged her to sleep in a room better suited to their purpose than that she usually occupied, they strangled her in the night, and then flung her down a flight of stairs, that her death might appear the result of accident.
Private Memoirs of the Earl of Leicester.
Of these circumstances many proofs have been adduced. The attempt to poison her rests on the authority of Doctor Bayley, whom Leicester endeavored to displace for his refusal one of the confederates in this villainy was afterwards apprehended in Wales on a charge of felony, and having expressed a wish to save his life by inculpating the queen's favorite, was taken off privately in his prison-Varney is also said to have died in the most horrible agonies of remorseFoster, whose habits had till then been of the most dissipated character, suddenly neglected all company, and died in a state of melancholy madness-an inquiry was instituted at the time by some neighboring gentlemen, but Dudley put a stop to it and as a still further proof, Dudley's chaplain has been said, when preaching her funeral sermon, to have inadvertently made some strong allusions to her unhappy fate. She died on the 8th September, 1560, and her father's estate was awarded to John Walpole, esq. as the nearest heir.
This melancholy story gained no belief at the court of Elizabeth; and, shortly after, he was proposed as a suitable husband for Mary the celebrated queen of Scots. But, in defiance of Elizabeth's wish, she refused him, and married Lord Darnley. In the year 1562 he obtained a grant of Kenilworth castle, with many other valuable possessions; and in 1564 he was created Earl of Leicester; but it was not till fifteen years after Amie's death that he enjoyed the honor of entertaining his sovereign at Kenilworth. The remaining events of his life are much more interesting to the political historian than any we have mentioned, but they are of little utility to our present purpose, except as they unfold his private character. He encouraged the Duke of Norfolk in his pretensions to the hand of Mary of Scotland; and afterwards, in 1572, took his seat among the peers who condemned him to the death of a traitor for this very attempt. He privately married Douglas, Baroness dowager of Sheffield, who bore him a son; but afterwards, when he aspired to the hand of Elizabeth, he forced the baroness, through fear of his poisonous drugs, from whose effects she recovered only with the loss of her hair and nails, to ratify the concealment of their union by accepting the nuptial offers of Sir Edward Stafford. Not receiving from the queen a favorable answer to his proposals, he completed by a secret marriage with the Countess of Essex an union which had already commenced before the death of her husband; and on good