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admire how he sidled along, keeping clear of secular contacts. An illiterate encounter with a porter's knot, or a bread basket, would have quickly put to fight all the theology I am master of, and have left me worse than indifferent to the five points.
[I was once amused – there is a pleasure in affecting affectation — at the indignation of a crowd that was jostling in with me at the pitdoor of Covent Garden Theatre, to have a sight of Master Betty-then at once in his dawn and his meridian - in Hamlet. I had been invited, quite unexpectedly, to join a party, whom I met near the door of the playhouse, and I happened to have in my hand a large octavo of Johnson and Steevens's Shakspeare, which, the time not admitting of my carrying it home, of course went with me to the theatre. Just in the very heat and pressure of the doors opening, the rush, as they term it-I deliberately held the volume over my head, open at the scene in which the young Roscius had been most cried up, and quietly read by the lamplight. The clamour became universal. "The affectation of the fellow,” cried one. “Look at that gentleman reading, papa,” squeaked a young lady, who, in her admiration of the novelty, almost forgot her fears. I read on. “He ought to have his book knocked out of his hand,” exclaimed a pursy cit, whose arms were too fast pinioned to his side to suffer him to execute his kind intention. Still I read on-and, till the time came to pay my money, kept as unmoved as Saint Anthony at his holy offices, with the satyrs, apes, and hobgoblins, mopping, and making mouths at him, in the picture, while the good man sits as undisturbed at the sight as if he were the sole tenant of the desert.The individual rabble (I recognized more than one
of their ugly faces) had damned a slight piece of mine a few nights before, and I was determined the culprits should not a second time put me out of countenance.]
There is a class of street readers, whom I can never contemplate without affection, the poor gentry, who, not having wherewithal to buy or hire a book, filch a little learning at the open stalls-the owner, with his hard eye, casting envious looks at them all the while, and thinking when they will have done. Venturing tenderly, page after page, expecting every moment when he shall interpose his interdict, and yet unable to deny themselves the gratification, they'“ snatch a fearful joy.” Martin B- , in this way, by daily fragments, got through two volumes of Clarissa, when the stall-keeper damped his laudable ambition, by asking him (it was in his younger days) whether he meant to purchase the work. M. declares, that under no circumstances in his life did he ever peruse a book with half the satisfaction which he took in those uneasy snatches. A quaint poetess of our day has moralized upon this subject in two very touching but homely stanzas :
I saw a boy with eager eye
Of sufferings the poor have many
Food, for that day at least-enjoy
Toe PLAY is said to be well or ill acted, in CSGASY proportion to the scenical illusion pro
K duced. Whether such illusion can in
any case be perfect, is not the question. The nearest approach to it, we are told, is when the actor appears wholly unconscious of the presence of spectators. In tragedy-in all which is to affect the feelings — this undivided attention to his stage business seems indispensable. Yet it is, in fact, dispensed with every day by our cleverest tragedians; and while these references to an audience, in the shape of rant or sentiment, are not too frequent or palpable, a sufficient quantity of illusion for the purposes of dramatic interest may be said to be produced in spite of them. But, tragedy apart, it may be inquired whether, in certain characters in comedy, especially those which are a little extravagant, or which involve some notion repugnant to the moral sense, it is not a proof of the highest skill in the comedian when, without absolutely appealing to an audience, he keeps up a tacit understanding with them ; and makes them, unconsciously to themselves, a party in the scene. The utmost nicety is required in the mode of doing this ; but we speak only of the great artists in the profession.
The most mortifying infirmity in human nature, to feel in ourselves, or to contemplate in another, is, perhaps, cowardice. To see a coward done to the life upon a stage would produce anything but mirth. . Yet we most of us remember Jack Bannister's cowards. Could anything be more agreeable, more pleasant ? We loved the rogues. How was this effected but by the exquisite art of the actor in a perpetual sub-insinuation to us, the spectators, even in the extremity of the shaking fit, that he was not half such a coward as we took him for? We saw all the common symptoms of the malady upon him ; the quivering lip, the cowering knees, the teeth chattering ; and could have sworn “that man was frightened.” But we forgot all the while-or kept it almost a secret to ourselves—that he never once lost his self-possession; that he let out, by a thousand droll looks and gestures-meant at us, and not at all supposed to be visible to his fellows in the scene, that his confidence in his own resources had never once deserted him. Was this a genuine picture of a coward ; or not rather a likeness, which the clever artist contrived to palm upon us instead of an original ; while we secretly connived at the delusion for the purpose of greater pleasure, than a more genuine counterfeiting of the imbecility, helplessness, and utter self-desertion, which we know to be concomitants of cowardice in real life. could have given us ?
Why are misers so hateful in the world, and so endurable on the stage, but because the skilful actor, by a sort of sub-reference, rather than direct appeal to us, disarms the character of a great deal of its odiousness, by seeming to engage our com: passion for the insecure tenure by which he holds his money-bags and parchments? By this subtle