« ElőzőTovább »
trical matters, through the medium of the Parisian Gazette of Galignani, and only for the last twelve months. Let me, then, deprecate all offence to tragic or comic writers, to whom I wish well, and of whom I know nothing. The long complaints of the critical state of the drama arise, however, from no fault of the performers.
“ I can conceive nothing better than Kemble, Cooke, and Kean, in their very different manners; or than Elliston, in gentleman's comedy, and in some parts of tragedy. Miss O‘Neil I never saw ; having made and kept a declaration to see nothing which should divide or disturb my recollection of Siddons. Siddons and Kemble were the ideal of tragic action. I never saw any thing at all resembling them, even in
person : : for this reason, we shall never see again Coriolanus, or Macbeth. When Kean is blamed for want of dignity, we should remember that it is a grace, and not an art; and not to be attained by study. In all not super-natural, he is perfect : even his very defects belong, or seem to belong, to the parts themselves, and appear true to nature. But of Mr. Kemble, we may say, with reference to his acting, what the Cardinal de Retz said of the Marquis of Montrose, that he was the only man he ever saw, who reminded him of the heroes of Plutarch.”
This actor, who enjoyed so much celebrity in his day, fell, in the thirty-third year of his age, by the hand of an assassin, who cowardly murdered him, and fled from justice. As we imagine it will not be unpleasing to the reader, to be made acquainted with the 'most material circumstances relating to that affair, we shall here insert them, as they appeared on the trial of Lord Mohun, who was arraigned for the murder, and acquitted by his peers.
Lord Mohun was a man of loose mórals, a rancorous spirit, and, in short, reflected no honour on his titles. He had contracted a great intimacy with one Captain Hill, a man of scandalous morals, and despicable life; and was so fond of this fellow, that he entered into his schemes, and became a party in promoting his most criminal pleasures. This man had long entertained a passion for Mrs. Bracegirdle, the celebrated actress. His passion was rejected with disdain by Mrs. Bracegirdle, and the contempt with which she treated Captain Hill, fired his resentment. He prided himself on being a gentleman, and an officer in the army; and thought he had a right, at the first onset, to triumph over the heart of an actress; but in this he found himself mistaken. Hill, who could not bear the dislike shewn by Mrs. Bracegirdle, conceived that her aversion must proceed from having previously engaged her heart to some more favoured lover ; and though Mr. Mountford was a married man, he became jealous of him, probably from no other reason, than the respect with which he observed Mr. Mountford invariably treated her, and their frequently playing together in the same scene.
Confirmed in this suspicion, he resolved to be revenged on Mr. Mountford; and, as he could not possess Mrs. Bracegirdle by gentle means, he determined to have recourse to violence, and hired some ruffians to assist him in carrying her off. His chief accomplice in this scheme was Lord Mohun, to whom he communicated his intention, and who concurred with him in it. They appointed an evening for that purpose, hired a number of soldiers and a coach, and went to the playhouse in order to find Mrs. Bracegirdle ; but she, taking no part in the play that night, did not come to the house. They then got intelligence that she was gone with her mother, to sup at one Mrs. Page's, in Drury Lane; thither they went, and took their stations in expectation of Mrs. Bracegirdle's coming out.
She at last made her appearance, accompanied by her mother and Mr. Page. The two ruffians made a sign to their hired brayos, who laid their hands on Mrs. Bracegirdle : but her mother, who threw her arms round her waist, preventing them from thrusting her immediately into the coach, and Mr. Page gaining time to call assistance, their attempt was frustrated, and Mrs. Bracegirdle, her mother, and Mr. Page, were safely conveyed to her own house in Howard Street, in the Strand. Lord Mohun, and Hill, enraged at this disappointment, resolved, since they were unsuccessful in one part of their design, they would yet attempt another; and that night vowed revenge against Mr. Mountford. They went to the street where Mr. Mountford lived, and there lay in wait for him. Old Mrs. Bracegirdle and another gentlewoman who had heard them vow revenge against Mr. Mountford, sent to his house to desire his wife to let him know his
danger, and to warn him not to come home that night; but, unluckily, no messenger Mrs. Mountford sent was able to find him. Captain Hill and Lord Mohun paraded the streets with their swords drawn; and when the watch made inquiry into the cause of this, Lord Mohun answered, that he was a Peer of the Realm, and dared them to touch him at their peril. The night-officers, being intimidated at this threat, left them unmolested, and went their rounds.
Towards midnight, Mr. Mountford, going home to his own house, was saluted, in a very friendly manner, by Lord Mohun; and, as his Lordship seemed to carry no marks of resentment in his behaviour, he made free to ask him how he came there at that time of night? To which his lordship replied, by asking if he had not heard the affair of the woman ? Mountford asked, what woman? to which he answered, Mrs. Bracegirdle. “I hope," says he, “my Lord, you do not encourage Mr. Hill, in his attempt upon Mrs. Bracegirdle ; which, however, is no concern of mine.” When he uttered these words, Hill came behind his back, gave him some desperate blows on his head ; and, before Mr. Mountford had time to draw his sword, and stand un his de