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he, equally with themselves, was a diligent reader. And if any efforts of imagination are worthy of being assimilated to those which created a Lear or a Falstaff, surely none approach so near, both in kind and in degree, as those by which an actor is enabled to take from the volume of 'thoughts that breathe and words that burn,' an idea of character, and so imbue and possess himself therewith, as to walk forth before the assembled multitude the very creature of the poet's conception, confessed by all that have the ordinary instinct of men and the ordinary knowledge of the great original. And if Terry stood not among the very first of the arch-evocators of the bold and the ambitious, the heroically daring, the supremely miserable, the greatly good, and the desperately bad,—which people the pages of a drama rich beyond that of all nations in every variety of character of which humanity is capable, — it was not that he wanted either an adequate grasp of intellect, force of imagination, intensity of feeling, downright rough energy and vigour, but that nature had not cast him in the mould of a Kemble, with form, action, and gait to do justice to the loftiness of his conceptions; or given him the supple limbs and countenance of Garrick, to blaze out on the audience in their full force, precision, and vitality. That Terry's ambition ever meditated the loftiest heights of his arduous profession, may be an assertion marvellous in the ears of those who knew this most accommodating of actors only on the London boards, where he lent himself to whatever part suited the general convenience, or which the inordinate and exclusive ambition of vulgar stars permitted him to take; nevertheless, that he not only meditated, but with daring foot actually scaled those heights, is on record in. the words of an able critique, in which we have authority for saying, and in which internal evidence would in the absence of such authority entitle us to say, the hand of Sir Walter Scott may be descried. It is with pleasure that we put once again in circulation this clever piece of dramatic criticism, both on the ground of its own merits, and that there is a certain melancholy fitness in the idea of celebrating the sun long obscured, and now unhappily set in clouds and darkness, with the praises which announced its rising splendour, and augured for it a brighter career * than the ignorance or insensibility of the public vouchsafed.
"' At the head of the performers who appeared on our stage for the first time must undoubtedly be placed Mr. Terry, an actor of very comprehensive and very eminent talents. He has successfully exhibited his powers in tragedy, comedy, pantomime, and farce; and, with the exception of lovers, fine gentlemen, and vocal heroes, there is scarcely a class of characters in the range of the drama, some one of which he does not fill with excellence. His figure is not striking, though muscular and active; but he has a powerful voice, an expressive countenance, and an intellect eminently clear, vigorous, and discriminating. In tragedy, his merit is alike in those characters which exhibit the strong workings of a powerful mind, and the deepest tortures of an agonised heart. But his grief is best when it is required to be vehement: the tone of his feelings is ardent and impassioned; and we do not see the full effect of his powers, unless when his grief is exasperated to frenzy, or combined with the darker shades of guilt, remorse, or despair. In the display of tender emotion, we should think he would fail; but he carefully abstains from those characters in which it is required. He has performed King John, Lear, and Macbeth, all of them with approbation, the two first with distinguished applause. In the celebrated scene with Hubert, he excited a sensation of horror which thrilled the whole audience; and in Lear he marked with equal power the shades of incipient insanity creeping over the mind, and obscuring ere they altogether eclipsed the light of reason. In comedy he excels chiefly in old men; equally in those of natural every-day life, as in the tottering caricatures of Centlivre, Vanburgh, and Gibber. His Sir Peter Teazle, Sir Bashful Constant, and Sir Anthony Absolute, are extremely good; and in Lord Ogleby we are inclined to
• The reader is referred to the Edinburgh Annual Register of 1809, Vol. II. Part II. p. 387., &c.
think he has no rival on the stage. He has also essayed the arduous character of Falstaff; and, notwithstanding the disadvantages of a thin face and figure, he has, by the power of his penetrating and accurate intellect, raised it to an equality with any one he performs. In characters of amorous dotage and fretful peevishness he is not less successful; of which his Sir Francis Gripe, Don Manuel, and Sir Adam Contest, are excellent instances.
"' The chief fault of this excellent actor is want of ease. In tragedy, he is often impressive, affecting, and even sublime; in comedy, humorous, satirical, and droll: in both he is classically correct; but he is never simple or flowing. His conceptions are just and original; but we sometimes perceive the working of the springs, when we should only be impressed by the felicity of the effect. There are certain characters in which this exhibition of the machinery does well; but it ought in general to be avoided. This error in Mr. Terry we hold to have had its origin in the peculiar distinctness of his perceptions, the accuracy with which he is accustomed to analyse his characters, and a laudable anxiety to present them to his audience with unerring clearness and effect. This has imparted to liis delivery an air of weighty precision and oracular strength, which, though always vigorous and effective, is not always pleasing or appropriate. It has led also to a violence and frequency of emphasis, that aggravates the defects of a voice at all times rather powerful than melodious, and demands, for strong passion, an exaggeration and vehemence of tone and action, which not only injures the expression, but exhausts the performer. Yet Mr. Terry never rants; he sometimes gives needless or hurtful force to a just feeling, but he never exhibits a false one. Were this fault corrected — and, being still in the early vigour of life, there is nothing to prevent him from correcting it — we scarcely see an eminence to which Mr. Terry may not hope one day to attain. We entertain this expectation with the more confidence, because the rank which he has already reached depends, as we have sa less upon mere personal qualifications than on the constant and uniform exertions of a mind acute, intelligent, well-informed, and, we believe, decidedly bent upon the attainment of professional excellence; His soul appears to us to be devoted to his profession, and that with an enlarged and comprehensive view of his object. The exertions of each evening seem a part of one general system. We never observe those starts of caprice or negligence, too often indulged by performers, who, having acquired the public favour, they themselves know not why, endanger the loss of it they know not wherefore. It is a corresponding part of Mr. Terry's merit, that on the stage he is uniformly attentive to the general business of the drama, and to the support of his dramatic character. He never marks by his manner of playing that he is addressing an audience, or even that he is conscious of their presence. And as he is attentive to the maintenance of his own character, he aids, as far as possible, the scenic illusion, by acting as if those on the stage along with him were actually the persons they represent. This is a point much neglected by some performers, who, conscious of real merit themselves, conceive it gives them a right to despise their inferior brethren, forgetting, that if Hamlet marks by his contemptuous conduct
that his bosom confidant, Horatio, is only Mr. , lie
inevitably forces upon the audience the conviction, that the Prince of Denmark is himself but a shadow. To receive as genuine the base coin which a manager must occasionally put into circulation, may sometimes be a trial of patience; but the more a performer of merit aids the theatrical delusion, by appearing to act with real persons, and under the influence of real motives, the more he will frame the audience to that state of mind on which his higher and solitary efforts are calculated to produce the most favourable effect. It is upon our conviction that Mr. Terry acts from a happy mixture of genius, good taste, and mature reflection, that we venture to augur boldly of his future fortunes, though not to presage the extent of his success. The extent of the triumph of personal qualifications, even the most brilliant, can be readily estimated; but there is no placing bounds to the march of mental energy, where there are no physical obstructions to its career.'
"The towering elevation to which this competent critic conceived it in the power and in the destiny of Terry to attain, it is well known he never reached. But this single-minded actor of a school that closes with him knew and practised none but the old and meritorious way to eminence; and seeking it by desert, found not what the ignorant mob which now fills our Dorn-daniels of vice and ennui awards only to clinquant and vulgarity. Terry disdained the artifices on which alone now is a theatrical reputation to be built; and could not believe that the great art of Garrick and Kemble was comprised in a growl or a grimace — a quaint gesture, a laugh, or sneer — a new reading — a pause — a trick, — as empty-pated as PufTs Lord Burleigh's oracular shake of the head, and as deserving of laughter from all beings pretending to intellect.
"Terry had another peculiarity, consistent with the simple and primitive turn of his genius, but which mainly contributed to keep the big London pit in partial ignorance of the merits of the performer: he never affected the honours of a 'star,' twinkling through clouds in solitary brilliancy, and coveting a stage everywhere else black and dark whereon to manifest his splendour. He was well known to managers as a something more extraordinary even than a great actor — who, in proportion to his presumed greatness, is generally a petted one ; — Terry was a manageable actor; the 'most useful actor,' in the words of the present proprietor and manager of one of the summer theatres, 'that ever trod the boards — who never refused a part, never objected to a part as beneath him — gave himself no airs — did his best for the most insignificant, and did every thing well.' In the eyes, therefore, of the well-judging pit, he could not possibly be a great performer, who has haply condescended ere now to be the Horatio or the Polonius of another's Hamlet. But Terry, besides his noble spirit of accommodation, looked on