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tomb, to wreathe his own brow-this actor had arrived in America. The public taste, yet versatile and feeble, was to be fixed and formed. Ideas of dramatic excellence, which had soared into pomp, or grovelled in buffoonery, were to be chastened. Feeling, which had panted for a proper object, was to be directed to its legitimate end. Imagination, which had run wild after something above or below humanity, was now to behold "the mirror, held to nature." Expectation, thus upon tiptoe, scarcely able to contain its eccentric thoughts, and perfectly incapable of delineating the phantoms which flitted before its view, must of necessity have sustained a fall. It is the nature of man to expect more than can be realized; and in proportion to his ignorance or inexperience will his anticipation be wild, inconsistent and extravagant. Let an unlettered and tasteless peasant, be told of a figure all perfection, let his fancy run riot in framing to itself an object of human symmetry and grace, and then conduct him to the marble animated by the chissel of Phids or Praxiteles. The nice and intricate and harmonious juncture of the parts, the graceful combination of strength and beauty, the magic mystery of sculpture 'escape his eye, and he pronounces a judgment of dissatisfaction. So with the drama: and so it was with Mr. Cooke. It is scarcely questionable that every one who saw him for the first time was disappointed, but this very disappointment (paradoxical as it may appear) is the strongest evidence of his surpassing merit.

At the first view of this great actor, when the clamorous applause, and anxious delight of gaping crowds, had permitted reflection to visit the mind, we looked in vain for the magestic mien, the towering form, which inseparably connect themselves with the idea of greatness. But when he began to speak, a loud, harsh voice, unmelodious and inflexible, not altogether free from provincialism, and monotony, went like electricity to every nerve, and filled the house for a moment with disappointment and surprise-with surprisc, for no one seemed to comprehend exactly what he saw and heard, and doubted the evidences of his eyes and ears: with lisappointment, which rendered the first words uttered by duke Richard almost ominous, and produced indeed "the winter of our discontent." Scarcely

half a dozen lines were spoken, however, when the mind beamed forth such resplendent rays as dazzled-charmed-delighted; and soon eclipsed the apparent defects which at first, had attracted notice. Line rose on line, and every succeeding scene opening new beauties to the eye, the play, almost ceased to be a play, and the last expiring look given, or rather darted upon Richmond, left nothing for imagination to crave or criticism to condemn; an analysis of Mr. Cooke's performances is not intended here: the object aimed at in this article is to greet the stranger with a hearty honest welcome, and to take a rapid view of his merits and (the sun has spots,) defects. We cannot, however, avoid the enquiry, why he plays Richard freed from his deformities. Supposing for a moment that history had represented the tyrant comely in his person, and not odious and disgusting as the world has been accustomed to consider him, it should be recollected, that it is the dramatic not the real Richard which should be exhibited that the part which Shakspeare struck from his inventive brain, was created full of mental and corporeal imperfections, and, of consequence, that in delineating the character on the stage, the fable, and not the history should be pursued: else, many of the expressions are senseless; nay, the hinge on which the whole drama turns, becomes loose and inexplicable-the first soliloquy, stamps the character:

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But I that am not shap'd for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
I-that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty,
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I-that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature, by dissembling Nature,
Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing worid, scarce half made up,
And that, so lamely and unfashionable,

That dogs bark at me as I halt by them, &c.

After this description of himself, which is continually repeated and referred to, throughout the piece, can a doubt exist of the author's intention? The conduct of lady Anne would not have appeared half so extraordinary had her lover's suit been backed by grace and beauty, but that she should abase her eyes

વ on me, that halt and am misshapen thus"-was extraordinary indeed-wherefore the taunts of little York unless in derision of his uncle's mountain shoulder? But Shakspeare apart: history does not warrant the belief that Gloster was other than such as the poet paints him, and in this, as in almost every other part, his strict adherence to the fact is strikingly conspicuous. We have heard of apologists for Richard. His murders numberless: his perfidious friendship; cruel tyranny, and unrelenting thirst for human gore, flowing from hearts of innocence, even when allied to him by the ties of kindred and affection, have by a singular transubstantiation, been refined and sublimated into bold ambition, and aspiring love of fame. Whereas the fact appears to be, that of all the monsters who have been born to curse and scourge a guilty world, not one has been so heedless of the means he took to gain the crown, nor how deeply it was stained with human blood-to wield the sceptre was the never ceasing desire of his daring soul; all ponderous as it was with the accumulated load of guilt. And as hell had thus "made crooked the mind," heaven shaped the body no less detestably "to answer it." One or two quotations from the historians will perhaps put this question to rest.

"To be an apologist for Richard, is to show favour to vice; all agree that he was ready to commit the most horrid crimes, which appeared necessary for his purposes; and it is certain, that all his courage and capacity, qualities in which he really seems not to have been deficient, would never have made compensation to the people for the danger of the precedent, and for the contagious example of vice and murder, exalted upon the throne. In regard to his person, he was of small stature, hump-backed, and had a harsh disagreeable countenance; so that his body was in every particular no less deformed than his mind."

"The historians who favour Richard," says the elegant Hume, ("for even this tyrant has met with partisans among the late writers,) maintained that he was well qualified for government, had he legally obtained it; and that he committed no crimes but such as were necessary to procure him possession of

* Universal History.

the crown: but this is a poor apology, when it is confessed, that he was ready to commit the most horrid crimes which appeared necessary for that purpose; and it is certain, that all his courage and capacity, qualities in which he really seems not to have been deficient, would never have made compensation for the danger of the precedent, and for the contagious example of vice and murder, exalted upon the throne. This prince was of a small stature, hump-backed, and had a harsh disagreeable countenance; so that his body was in every particular no less deformed that his mind."

So much for Richard. If in this respect Mr. Cooke departed from historical and dramatic truth, it was his only error, for in the general design and execution of the character, particularly on the last night of its performance, we suspect the annals of the stage record no competitor.

A transient view of this wonderful performer off the stage, would impress an observer with the idea that he could not be an actor. A frame neither lofty nor graceful, neither strong nor symmetrical; a face not peculiarly flexible, although irradiated by an eye of piercing brightness; a manner rather inelegant, and so peculiar that it appears incapable of change or adaptation to variety of character, and the absolute destitution of voice, (for all his conversation is in a kind of whisper,) are circumstances which would seem incompatible with the versatility of dramatic exhibition. These all strike at first and excite disappointment; but when we can be made to forget these imperfections or rather to consider them as beauties, is it not a proof of merit beyond belief, since it is devested of imposing grace, and shines in its original greatness? We have therefore said that the very disappointment which is felt at first, is the strongest proof of his ability, as it is excited for the purpose of displaying with what facility he can subdue it, and thus render his triumph over our judgment, and our feelings the more complete. In putting on his stage dress, Mr. Cooke seems to put on his character and voice. From the first moment, he is embodied as it were into the part, and if he participates in the sensations of his audience, he exchanges his name, his passions, feelings, body and sou! for those of the character he assumes. It is not necessary for

him, therefore, to inform us of the nature of his part-a look suffices; and we almost question, were he to play the lion in Pyramus and Thisbé, whether the audience would credit his assurances, were he to inform them, that he was no wild beast, but honest Nick Bottom the weaver. When Fielding illustrated the merit of Mr. Garrick by the anecdote of Partridge, who said that any man would have behaved just like him had he beheld a ghost, the allusion was deemed far-fetched and extravagant. But the justness of the illustration has been literally verified, in a variety of instances, since this modern Garrick has been in Philadelphia. Persons who never could have read or heard of Tom Jones in their lives, have pronounced Mr. Cooke's representations, not to be acting, but merely the repetitions of what any body, and every body has done and would do, under similar circumstances. And a proof of unequalled powers may be derived from the unwearied attendance of a very respectable mechanic, almost without the sense of hearing, whom we rightly observed watching the wonder-working countenance of our dramatic hero.

We had understood, before the arrival of Mr. Cooke in America, that he was restricted to a narrow range of character, and that although the infelicities of nature had calculated him for a few parts, yet his abilities were confined and peculiar. This is not the fact. The man who can descend from the pride of Glenalvon to the sycophancy of sir Pertinax, who can assume the gentlemanly part, with the unmanly conduct of Stukely, and abandon it for the imposing boldness of Pierre; who can display the violent transitions of Richard, or the unwilling gradations of Macbeth, must possess a range of talent as extensive as its power is eminent. The secret of his performance, is the delineation of nature as it is. And, as he is equally natural in every part, although some passions may be more congenial with his temper than others, he is, though not equally, yet highly interesting in all.

Looking at an actor thus constituted, when the outline is so bold and so perfect, we forget to notice the little drapery of the portrait, and disregard its want of minute completion. We become lovers, and submit to the blindness of love. When, therefore, Mr. Cooke's pronunciation, in some instances, violates the

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