of his fellow-creatures, to see Mr. Richings make his entry on the stage in a character which requires that he should be arrayed in goodly apparel. How happy, how exuberantly happy he is! Joy sparkles in his eyes, and his physiognomy is radiant with smiles! Perhaps the individual in the play whom he undertakes to represent, is some poor unfortunate, afflicted with, debt or other dire distress. But what of that? Is any person so unreasonable as to expect Mr. Richings will for that hang his nether lip, and look dolorously at the audience? No-his face is an index of his mindgladness reigns there, and the sorrows of the personage whose name and situation he assumes, are far too remote and abstracted to counterbalance the inspiriting feelings produced by a well-fitting fashionable coat and an unimpeachable pair of inexpressibles. And who will say that this is copying nature abominably? Copying nature! why it is nature itself, as may be seen exemplified in a hundred instances, with a few slight modifications, any fine day on the shady side of Broadway.-Yet, for all this, the stage-manager at the Park will sometimes set this gentleman-this very Mr. Richings, to play tragedy. Misjudging Mr. Barry! Search for some lean bilious wretch, to speak blank verse and administer arsenic. Is this a man to "move 18


"flashes and outbreakings of genius." To me, gross and habitual exaggeration seems to pervade nearly all the tragic exhibitions on the stage; and if this be so, it is sufficient evidence of the absence of feeling. Genuine feeling never exaggerates. Those who are really touched by the parts they assume, may, from that very cause, be so little master of themselves as to fail in giving a finished portrait of the character they have undertaken to represent; but they never, by any chance, fall into the opposite fault of "o'erstepping the modesty of nature," and becoming more violent than the hero or heroine of the scene would have been in reality. There is generally, however, an instinctive propriety about true passion, which leads those under its influence to do neither more nor less than they ought to do; whilst the less easily excited feelings of others wait upon the judgment, and it becomes a matter of calculation how much grief or energy must be used on certain occasions. But it is invariably your hacknied, cold-blooded actors, without either passion or judgment, and who off the stage laugh at any thing like enthusiasm in their art as ridiculous, that "out-herod Herod," and affect a superabundance of feeling to conceal their utter want of it; just as ladies of questionable character make an over parade of delicacy; or, indeed, as preten

ties, the greatest of which is an over-abundance of facetiousness, which finds vent in the shape of manufactured pieces of pleasantry that are ever and anon thrown in the face of the audience; some of those extempore coruscations at times elicit a laugh from a few choice spirits, who are particularly quick at catching any thing that sounds like a joke, though the majority are generally at a loss to discover in what the jest consists; and this practice has the unfortunate tendency of occasionally leading to the belief that Mr. Richings, like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, has, at times, "no more wit than a christian or an ordinary man." Like that immortal knight too, he looks as if he were a great eater of beef," and perchance that "does harm to his wit."

[ocr errors]

Altogether, however, Mr. R. is a useful performer, and evidently strives to please. From a very miserable actor he has already become quite a respectable one, and in some parts has really evinced considerable comic talents. Besides, he has been a long time at the Park theatre, and all who have been there for any considerable period, even the worst (amongst whom we are far from classing Mr. R.) acquire from the good company that surrounds them and the audience before which they appear, a certain look and manner of conducting

themselves, that give them the appearance of gentlemen, at least comparatively speaking. When Mr. Richings transported himself to the regions of the La Fayette, he actually moved like a demi-god among the scum and refuse that latterly congregated there. It is to be hoped he will not again migrate from his present quarters. We should be sorry to miss his good-humoured, good-looking face, and his unique manner of doing some things. Besides, he is an improving actor, and may he long continue so.


THE clever and facetious author of "Sayings and Doings," in one of his admirable tales, makes a country manager remark, that "in the theatrical profession heroines and sentimental young ladies are as plentiful as blackberries, but that a good old woman is invaluable; and all who are tolerably conversant with the affairs of the stage, very well know, that in one respect, at least, the order of nature is reversed, and that a fine old woman is more desirable than a young one. It is not difficult to account for this. We think the observation may be hazarded that females, generally speaking, prefer dimples to wrinkles; and so the young ladies very naturally refuse to anticipate the time when nature will compel them to appear as old ones, and the old ladies, whose ideas and reminiscences are juvenile, as pertinaciously object to personate any thing but young ones, thinking, doubtless, it would be folly

« ElőzőTovább »