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in fact, during this long period of time, to have received no improvement whatever, if we except that of which the testy critic, John Dennis, claimed the invention. We are, unfortunately, ignorant in what this invention consisted; but so jealous was Dennis of the honour which this famous invention could not fail to confer upon the happy wit from whose brain it emanated, that we are informed by Pope, (whose testimony however, in a matter in which Dennis is concerned, should be received cum grano salis,) that the critic, happening to be present at the representation of a tragedy, in which the audience were treated with an unusually loud clap of thunder, exclaimed, with a vehemence proportioned to the importance of the subject, “ By God, that's my thunder.”
When the fashion of representing heavy showers of rain, by rattling a vast quantity of peas together in rollers, first came into use, is also a point that remains to be settled by the stage-historian of future times. Perhaps we are indebted for this ingenious contrivance, to that same profound critic, whose thunder was so pe. culiarly his own.
ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE MISS KELLY. On Saturday night, January 17, 1816, while Miss Kelly was performing the part of Nan, in ** Modern Antiques," at Drury Lane Theatre, a ruffian, sitting in the centre of the pit, took a pistol from his pocket, and discharged it at her. The. greatest alarm and confusion was excited: the audience cried out—“ Seize the villain-take him out!”—The police officers attending the house secured, and, after a violent resistance, dragged him out of the house.
It was with some difficulty that Miss Kelly finished acting her character in the farce. On her being informed of the young man's name, she recollected that it was the same name she had received several letters by, in the form of love-letters; some of them amounted to threatening letters if she did not accept his offers, &c. She, not knowing the person, treated the whole as a matter of indifference.
At the conclusion of the Farce, several voices called for Mr. Rae, when that gentleman appeared and said
« Ladies and Gentlemen,-The young man who fired the pistol has been taken to the Public-office, Bow-street, and
interrogated by Mr. Bimie, the Magistrate ; and from the wild and incoherent manner in which he conducted himself, there is very little doubt of his being insane.”
The scenes that were on at the time the pistol was fired, were then put up again and examined, when it was ascertained, that several shots had perforated through the left back scene, &c., and some had struck the back of the orchestra.
His name was Barnett, and he was tried for the offence at the Old Bailey, but it being proved on the trial that he was insane, he was doomed according to the law, in such cases, to be confined for life in New Bethlem.
PERFORMERS TURNING PALE.
“ I have lately been told, (says the author of the · Lick at the Laureat,' a virulent invective against Colley Cibber, published in the year 1730) by a gentleman, who has seen Betterton perform Hanılet, that he observed his countenance, which was naturally ruddy and sanguine, in the scene of the third act where his father's ghost appears, through the violent and sudden emotion of amazement and horror, turn instantly, on the sight of his father's spirit, as pale as his
Deckcloth; when his whole body seemed to be affected with a tremor inexpressible; so that, had his father's ghost actually risen before him, he could not have been seized with more real agonies. And this was so strongly felt by the audience, that the blood seemed toʻshudder in their veins likewise ; and they, in some measure, partook of the astonishment and horror with which they saw this excellent actor affected.”
A similar trait'is recorded of Baron, the contemporary Roscius of the French Theatre; but whether the expression of the English or French tragedian was most consonant to nature, and appropriate to the circumstances of the scene, must be left to the judgment of the critics. That of Baron appears, at least, the most difficult of execution, but it does not follow that what is most difficult is the most deserving of applause. It is related in the “ Anecdotes Dramatiques," that when this celebrated actor, after a secession of almost thirty years, returned to the stage, he made his first re-appearance, in the character of Cinna, in Corneille's tragedy of that name. His manner was so different from that to which the audiences of those days had been accustomed, that he was at first coldly received, until he repeated the following lines, which present a lively portrait of the conspirators in that tragedy:
Vous eussiez vu leurs yeux s'enflammer de fureur ; Et dans le même instant, par un effet contraire, Leurs fronts palir d'horreur, et rougir de colère, It is said, that when he pronounced the last line, Baron's paleness of countenance was visible, and was rapidly succeeded by a Aush of red ; and that this extraordinary effort convinced the spectators, that the actor entered, by a kind of magic power, into the very spirit of the character.
Other players have been known to exhibit similar instances of this wonderful power of expression, but those two are fully sufficient to refute the assertion which Steevens has ventured to make, in a note to a passage in“Hamlet,” “that no performer was ever yet found, whose feelings were of such exquisite sensibility, as to produce paleness in any situation in which the drama could place him.”
GARRICK AND RICH. Soon after the appearance of Garrick, at Drury Lane Theatre, to which he, by his astonishing powers, brought all the world, while Rich was playing his pantomimes at Covent