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ADAM and Eve in Paradise. Eve, seduced by the serpent, who, in this and most other ancient representations of the subject, is depicted with a human face, appears to have just tasted of the forbidden fruit, which she holds up to Adam, and prevails on him to gather another apple from the tree. In representing this subject, it is very seldom that artists have been correct.
(To be Resumed.)
MEMOIRS OF MR. KEAN.
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KEAN was now upon his forlorn journey towards Seven-oaks, in Kent, with little money in his pocket, and less in expectation; when, towards night, he reached a little publicNo. V.]
house by the road-side. The small accommodations of this place were pre-occupied by three Isishmen and their wives, who were returning to Waterford, which city they had left for this country, to labour at the harvest. With the usual hospitality of Irishmen, they agreed to give Kean a share in one of their beds, and after supper they proceeded to settle with whom the stranger was to lodge. This was done by playing at “ Hide the Halfperiny ;" but the women seemed little satisfied with the result, and one of them declared that the men ought to herd together, as it was not the custom of their country to admit a stranger into the bed of married people. This proposition gave much offence to the woman's husband : he considered this as a design against his honour, for during supper-lime he had observed her looking very earnestly at the stranger; he therefore concluded that all the women were united in the plot, and communicated his fears to bis companions, who instantly began to be infected with similar apprehensions for their own honour. As, however, Kean had joined them at their own invitation, they could not now reject him, consistently with their Irish notions of hospitality. They therefore agreed that the loser in the game of “ Hide the Halfpenny" should divide his bed with the object of the general jealousy, and if any thing happened to confirm their suspicions, the other two were to alarm the house. The lot sell upon the very man who had first conceived a prejudice against the stranger.
It may be easily supposed that Kean was not an uninterested observer of what was passing; he soon found out that the husbands were jealous of him, and this very jealousy made him believe himself an object of regard to the women. He accordingly determined to try how far he was beloved, and took his place in the first bed, but was not a little surprised to see the wives dress themselves in the breeches which a moment before had been put off by their husbands: to his greater astonishment, they actually went to bed in this strange sort of night-attire.
An hour had scarcely passed, when, by the general snoring around him, Kean fancied every one was asleep, except himself and his female bed-fellow. He first endeavoured to excite her attention by sighs and groans, but she, mistaking the cause of these complaints, imagined that he was really ill, and was so far affected by his supposed illnéss, that she proffered the loan of her flannel petticoat, to wrap up the part affected. Instead of receiving the kindness as it was intended, he seized the woman's hand, and pressed it fervently to his lips. But the object of this termagant affection continuing insensible of his purpose, he was obliged to be more explicit. In reply to his soft declaration, the woman yery politely bade him go to the devil, and turned again to sleep. Their conversation, however, had been overheard by all but the lady's husband, and according to their compact, the parties awoke the sleeper. A general tumult immediately took place ; lights were called for, and a few moments only stood between Kean and the punishment he certainly had merited. In this dilemma he fortunately recollected that the women had gone to bed in breeches, and immediately put on his own as the best method of disguise. The stratagem succeeded; for no light was at hand, and the men agreed to let all the women pass out of the room, that they might more easily fasten on the delinquent. One of them accordingly stood at the door to examine the emigrants, the breeches being held a sufficient passport. Kean was the second that left the room, and, having escaped up stairs, he took refuge with the landlord. In the mean time, three people liaving left the room, the Irishmen seized upon the fourth, and beat the supposed culprit, till she proved herself to be a woman.
Kean, now in his nineteenth year, appeared successively at Seven-oaks, Tunbridge, Swansea, and Waterford; but, with all his genius, was reduced to extremities. Still, however, the love of intrigue did not leave him, though his passion on the present occasion was more delicate in its object, and less vicious in its result. With all this, there was more active good in his character than would have been found in a man of less conspicuous failings; he was never insensible to the misfortunes of those about him, of which a striking instance occurred while he was at Waterford. One of the company to which he belonged, and who had a large family, was arrested and thrown into prison. The man's wife and children, deprived of his exertions, were in danger of starving, when Kean took the case into his own hands, and knowing how little was to be expected from a benefit in the theatre, determined to try the pulpit. He well knew that Waterford abounded in Methodists, from whose brutal enthusiasm much
might be hoped, though nothing was to be expected from their charity. By what extravagance he gained their favour, I know not, but his plan was eminently successful, and, in the end, was an advantage : the family of the lady already mentioned, could no longer resist the claims of a mind so benevolent, and the lovers were accordingly united.
This marriage, however gratifying in other respects, brought with it no increase of fortune, and Kean was still obliged to earn his dinner before it could be eaten. For two years he remained in Cherry's company, which he then left for Weymouth; and Weymouth he again deserted for Exeter. In this latter city he was an universal favourite, but some dispute with the manager drove him from this retreat to seek his fortune on the Guernsey stage. From a strange perversion of taste, the Guernsey auditors not only did not admire, but actually despised Kean's talent. One of their critics was even impudent and ignorant enough to fulminate his decrees against him in print; it is a curious document when coupled with the present high reputation of the modern Roscius, and ought to be recorded; it was as follows:
“ Last night a young man, whose name the bills said was Kean, made his first appearance in Hamlet, and truly his performance of that character made us wish that we had been indulged with the country system of excluding it, and playing all the other characters. This person had, we understand, a high character in several parts of England, and his vanity has repeatedly prompted him to endeavour to procure an engagement at one of the theatres in the metropolis : the difficulties he has met with have, however, proved insurmountable, and the theatres of Drury-lane and Covent-garden have spared themselves the disgrace to which they would be subject by countenancing such impudence and incompetency. Even his performance of the inferior characters of the drama would be objectionable, if there was nothing to render him ridiculous, but one of the vilest figures that has been seen either on or off the stage ; and if his mind was half so well qualified for the conception of Richard the Third, which he is shortly to appear in, as his person is suited to the deformities with which the tyrant is said to have been distinguished from his brothers, his success would be most unequivocal. As to his Hamlet, it was one of the most terrible misrepresentations to which Shakspeare has ever been subject. Without grace or dignity he comes forward; he shews an unconsciousness that any body is before him, and is often so forgetful of the respect due to an audience, that he turns his back upon thein in some of those scenes where contemplation is to be indulged, as if, for the purpose of shewing his abstractedness from all ordinary objects. His voice is harsh and monotonous, but as it is deep, answers well enough the idea he entertains, of impressing terror by a tone which seems to proceed from a charnel-house.”
They who are accustomed to the London Newspapers, and know what influence they possess over the minds of a cultivated public, will easily understand that such criticism was enough to ruin the youthful candidate. It was moreover addressed to those who were willing to be convinced ; and Kean had too little prudence, as well as too much spirit, to bow to the coming tempest ; accordingly, when he first appeared in Richard, he was greeted with laughter and hisses, even in the first scene; for some time his patience was proof against the worst efforts of malignity, till at last, irritated by continued opposition, he applied the words of the scene to his auditors, and boldly addressed the pit with, “ Unmannered dogs, stand ye when I command !” The clamour of course encreased, and only paused a moment in expectation of an apology. In this, however, they were deceived; so far from attempting to soothe their wounded pride, Kean came forward, and told them “ that the only proof of understanding they had ever given, was their pruper application of the few words he had just uttered.” The manager now thought proper to interfere, and the part of Richard was given to a man of less ability but higher favour with the brutal audience.
Not satisfied with having driven him from the stage, and thereby reduced him and his family to a state near starving, the Guernsey editors persisted in their attacks till they had compelled him to quit the town for a dwelling in the outskirts. Every hour encreased his distresses, and the pride of his enemies, who were determined to bring him to unconditional submission. But here again they were deceived; some strangers, who had seen and admired Kean at Weymouth, now happened to be upon the island, and hearing of his situation, successfully endeavoured to interest Governor Doyle in his behalf. To this powerful patron, Kean owned his distress; and the Governor, warmly embracing his cause, immediately offered to become responsible for his debts in Guernsey, which debts were indeed trifling, for they did not exceed twenty pounds. Still this kindness was not without its eyils; while it satisfied his creditors for debts already incurred, it made them cautious not to give future trust to a man who seemed lost in his profession; the landlord, the butcher, and the baker, hinted to him the propriety of removing to the neighbourhood of his benefactor, a hint that