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characters, and the imitation would not be recognized unless the audience had seen him in the part imitated. Not so with many-Barnes, for instance. Let a good imitation of him be given in any character, and though nine-tenths of the audience have never seen him in that peculiar character, the general resemblance will be instantly appreciated.
In articles like the present, which must of necessity be brief, it would be impossible to enter into a minute examination of the various excellencies of Mr. Placide, in the wide range of parts in which he appears. There are three distinct classes in which he is without an equal, namely, old men, or rather middle-aged gentlemen, drunken servants, and kindhearted, simple country lads. As a sample of the three we would instance the Marquis in the Cabinet, Antonio in the Marriage of Figaro, and Zekiel Homespun in the Heir at Law. In the last he would probably be successful either at Drury Lane or Covent Garden. Upon the whole, he is a fine -almost a faultless actor, with a rich natural vein of humor, free from the alloy of buffoonery.
Ir will not be easy for us to forget the first time we saw this actor. Going into the Park theatre one evening after the performance had commenced, we perceived a person on the boards conducting himself in what appeared to us a very extraordinary manner; though it is not easy to find words clearly to explain what that manner was. He was moving his body across the boards in a most eccentric fashion, throwing his limbs into all sorts of unimaginable positions, ogling, squinting, puffing out his cheeks, and alternately elongating and contracting the muscles of the thin and narrow face of which he was the owner, with the most ridiculous and ludicrous rapidity. The business of the stage was at a stand, and the other actors appeared to wait with exemplary patience for the termination of those curious proceedings; and then they, and this person in particular, played out the rest of the scene in a 16
discreet and proper manner. The people around seemed to take all in good part; while we were lost in astonishment, and knew not which to wonder at most, the impudence of the actor, or the passiveness of the audience. Hinting as much to a gentleman in the vicinity, he smilingly replied that "it was Barnes;" the announcement of which piece of information he seemed to consider as a perfectly satisfactory explanation of what had taken place or of whatever might take place.
Verily, there is much truth in the saying, that "custom is second nature." When Clara Fisher first appeared in this country, every one noticed and talked about the slight lisp which it was then averred she had, though now, nine-tenths of her admirers will deny that any such peculiarity does, or ever did exist. So, though in a greater degree, with Barnes. Custom has so reconciled us to his ways, that we can at present sit and see the manoeuvres with which he intersperses his part, played off, scarcely conscious that they are the same which formerly excited our unmingled astonishment; and if asked to speak of him as we now see him, we should say, that he is one of the most amusing, extravagant, and extraordinary actors we have ever beheld. In the main, he is undoubtedly a
man possessed of real sterling comic talent, though not of the most polished kind. He has all the spirit, drollery, and coarseness of one of Cruickshank's caricatures. His buffooneries (if for the lack of another term, so harsh a word may be applied,) are the best species of that bad genus, inimitable of their kind, and less offensive than those of any other actor; and he has so intermixed them with every thing he does, that there is no separating the good from the bad, the wheat from the tares, so that his best efforts are sprinkled with defects, and his worst marked with many redeeming qualities. No man takes a liberty with his audience so frequently as Barnes, and no man does it so well. Others stop half way, as if conscious that they were doing wrong, and fail; Barnes, on the contrary, treats the audience like an old friend-places unlimited confidence in their good nature, and succeeds; for they seem to feel that it would be unkind to repay this confidence with any thing else than a laugh at his good, bad, or indifferent jokes.
It would be folly to say that Mr. Barnes was any thing like a faultless performer, but he is a great deal better than many who approach nearer that character. He is an original, and one whom you like sometimes, even in spite of your judgment:
accounted crazy, and whose last will and testament stands good in law.
There has been much said about the ugliness of Liston's physiognomy. I do not think it such as can be fairly termed ugly; yet it is a face that a sensitive sculptor would faint to look upon—a large mass of inanimate flesh, with only an every-day mouth, a most insignificant nose, both as to size and shape, and a pair of lack-lustre eyes to diversify the blank and extensive prospect, but the word "ugly" gives no more definite idea of it than the word "beauty." It is a paradoxical face, most expressive in expressing the absence of all expression; yet at times combining the expression of the most inveterate stupidity with concentrated conceit and supreme self-satisfaction, in a way that has never been equalled. There are many who, by the common play of the muscles or contortion of the features, can counterfeit stupidity and conceit, in a greater or less degree, at separate times; but not one who, like Liston, can at the same time make you feel perfectly assured not only that the personage he is representing has not an idea, but also, that all attempts to make him sensible of that fact, or to inoculate him with one, would be altogether hopeless. His voice is as unique as his face; and the deep sepulchral croak, in which he narrates