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disposed to endorse the libel. I can remember when the House of Commons would hear with the silence of indifference, if not of acquiescence, the monstrous dogma which the bigot ignorance of members has laid down, that the French and English were natural enemies: an implied arrangement of the Creator, whose attribute is love, at once as impious as it is absurd. Englishmen in visiting France too often neglect the needful study of the language, and in consequence expose themselves to embarrassment and inconvenience, which they resent in their vituperation of a people whose style and address are usually allowed to be most courteous and conciliatory. My own experience of them would justify me in maintaining politeness to be a national characteristic. Nor is kindness of heart a quality less native to them than urbanity of manner: an interesting proof of this was afforded me on the present occasion. The gentleman whom I had noticed, after a few minutes, casting his eyes to my side of the room, started up, and exclaiming "Oh! Monsieur Macready!" rushed over to me and embraced me with the most genuine cordiality. It was Monsieur Guillaume, one of my young French compagnons de voyage, whom I had parted with at Milan in the early summer. He sat at my table while I breakfasted, and not all the resistance and remonstrance I could make availed to prevent him from discharging my account. He insisted that I should be "his guest" whilst in Dijon. His family were still in the country, but he took me to his house, an extremely handsome one, left in the care of a servant, accompanied me to the Museum, entertained me at the principal restaurant with a recherché dinner, and walked or sat with me to the hour of my departure, nine at night, when he shook hands with me as I took my seat in the diligence for Paris. I had given him my address in London, where he promised to see me, and where I had hoped to renew our intimacy; but it was not fated that we should ever meet again. This unexpected rencontre is a very pleasing remembrance, and it is a small return in recording this, among many instances of spontaneous friendliness, to bear testimony to the kindly spirit and amiability of disposition in Frenchmen, of which I have had such large experience.

Arrived at Paris, I took up my quarters at my old hotel,



Rue Ste. Hyacinthe, and at the table d'hôte fell into conversation with an Englishman just come from London, who, in giving me news of the theatres, amused me with what I conceived his blundering statement of having seen Young in Hamlet at Drury Lane. I begged leave to correct him, assuring him it was not possible, and that he must mean Covent Garden. He, however, persisted, and I resolutely in my own mind persuaded myself he was mistaken. There had been for many years an understanding, if not a direct covenant, between the managers, that no performer leaving one theatre should be engaged at the other until after the expiration of a year. The knowledge of this (unjust) compact gave me confidence in my assertion.

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Sylla' was the play at the Théâtre Français, where, of course, I hastened to obtain the best place for seeing the great French actor. The play itself is meagre in incident, deficient in pathos, prosaic in its language, and, indeed, restricted in its apparent aims to the single purpose of developing the character of Sylla. In the success of this attempt the author, Jouy, has been greatly aided by the genius of Talma, the reality of whose impersonation justly entitled him to the grateful acknowledgments of the poet's preface: "Il n'est point acteur: il ne porte ni la pourpre ni le diadême de théâtre: il vit chaque jour pendant deux heures de la vie du personnage qu'il représente. Jamais transformation ne fut plus complète." Having intently watched him throughout his performance, I can readily subscribe to this eulogism. His entry on the stage, in the dignified ease of his deportment, bespoke a consciousness of power that arrested at once the attention and interest of the beholder. In his attitudes and manners there was nothing of the rigidity and visible preparation of Kemble; his address was that of one, to whom the tone of command was too familiar to need strain or effort. His pride, too lofty to be betrayed into violence, displayed itself in his calm disdain of the "Romains dégénérés." To the dependent kings, the mutinous people, or the infuriated Valerie, he preserved the same unperturbed demeanour. The heroic bearing with which he tendered his sword to the conspirator, Claudius, was in the same lofty scorn of death, the same confidence in his destiny. It was only when arraigned at the bar of his own




conscience that he appeared to feel, and confessed the insufficiency of greatness to give peace. In the disturbed sleep, haunted by the vision of his slaughtered victims, which followed his soliloquy, he awed the audience into a death-like stillness. The crowning act of his public life, his abdication, was in accordant tone with the haughty indifference to his servile countrymen that had marked his career of greatness; and his dignified utterance of the line,

"J'ai gouverné sans peur, et j'abdique sans crainte !"

was a fitting climax to the character so nobly and consistently maintained. The toga sat upon him as if it had been his daily costume. His coiffure might have been taken from an antique bust; but was in strict resemblance of Napoleon's. It was reported that several passages had been struck out of the text by the censor, under the apprehension of their application by the Parisians to the exiled emperor, and an order was said to have been sent from the police forbidding Talma to cross his hands behind him, the ordinary habit of Napoleon. Such were the on dits of the day; but they detracted nothing from the consummate skill, displayed by this great actor in his personation of the Roman Dictator. It was the perfection of the art, raising it to an intellectual level with the sculptor's or painter's conceptions, and for current value wanting only a medium more tenacious than memory, whereon to stamp the fidelity of its portraiture.


1822-1823. Commencement of Covent Garden season-Sheil's 'Huguenot '— Wolsey in Henry VIII.'-'King John'-Miss Mitford's 'Julian'Shylock-Secession from Covent Garden-Engagement to marry-Agrees with Elliston to act at Drury Lane-Provincial engagements-Rapid journey from Southampton to Montrose-The story of the child rescued from the fire-Virginius' at Kendal-Tour in the English Lake countryVisit to Wordsworth at Rydal Mount-York-Musical festival-First season at Drury Lane-Meeting of future wife and sister.

My engagements not allowing me to prolong my stay in Paris, I arranged for my departure the next day; but first went to a reading-room in the Rue de la Paix to learn what had been doing in the London theatres during my absence. To my astonishment, indeed it was with dismay, I read in the Courier that Emery was dead, and that Young, Miss Stephens, and Liston, had seceded from Covent Garden and were engaged by Elliston at Drury Lane, where crowded houses were in nightly contrast with the deserted benches of the other theatre. But there my lot was cast, and to join this impoverished company, stripped of so many of its ablest supporters and sunk in public opinion, I was under bond to go. It was with a feeling of extreme dejection, indeed of hopelessness, that I set out on my journey. My anticipations fell short of the actual state in which I found the theatre on my arrival. The incapacity of the Covent Garden Committee, in contrast with the policy of Mr. Harris and the enterprise and tact of Elliston, had irrecoverably developed itself. For an inconsiderable weekly sum, they, the committee, had parted with three of their most popular performers, and enabled the rival house to array against their weakened forces a company




comprising the names of Kean, Young, Munden, Liston, Dowton, Elliston, Terry, Harley, Knight, Miss Stephens, Madame Vestris, Mrs. Orger, Mrs. Davison, &c., &c. The result was what could only be expected. Drury Lane was the fashion, and Covent Garden was literally a desert. A few months' experience was sufficient to convince the committee of their inaptitude for the task they had undertaken, and of the fallacy of Charles Kemble's representations and advice. They accordingly wished Mr. Harris to resume the conduct of the theatre, which he declined on the reasonable plea that they had broken up his powerful company; and holding them to their written undertaking to sign the lease agreed upon, a suit in Chancery was the consequence, which terminated in the bankruptcy of the concern. In the meantime, my engagement held me fast, and my first appearance for the season, with very indifferent support, was made, November 13th, 1822, in ' Othello' which, with the combination of Young and Kean, was acting to a run of overflowing houses at Drury Lane. At this time eldest sister was induced by my pressing representations to take up her abode with me. I had made the same proposal to my younger sister, but incompatibility of temper, which did not prevent us from remaining friends, was a barrier to such a permanent arrangement.


The anxiety of Sheil to bring forward his tragedy of 'The Huguenot' led him to hope that in some rising actress he might find a successor to Miss O'Neill, who could sustain the heroine's part in his play; and with this view he had requested me to give what instruction I could to Miss F. H. Kelly. In consequence I had tutored her in the part of Juliet, which character she successfully repeated several nights to good houses at Covent Garden. But of acting may be said what Scott has said of poetry, it is " the art unteachable, untaught." Her subsequent efforts did not keep pace with the éclat of her début. The Huguenot' was produced with a very feeble cast, and though the part of Polignac was among my most powerful personations, the play sank for want of due support. Abbott was not perfect in the words he had to speak. A character intended for Young was assigned to Bartley, a comic actor, and Yates, in his appearance as the chivalric rival of Polignac, excited a roar of laughter from his resemblance to the Jew, little Isaac Mendoza.

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