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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 2.
itself was so exorbitant, or of a complexion different from what they themselves would have applauded upon another occasion in a Brutus, or an Appius—­but for want of attending to Antonio’s words, which palpably led to the expectation of no less dire an event, instead of being seduced by his manner, which seemed to promise a sleep of a less alarming nature than it was his cue to inflict upon Elvira, they found themselves betrayed into an accompliceship of murder, a perfect misprision of parricide, while they dreamed of nothing less.  M., I believe, was the only person who suffered acutely from the failure; for G. thenceforward, with a serenity unattainable but by the true philosophy, abandoning a precarious popularity, retired into his fast hold of speculation,—­the drama in which the world was to be his tiring room, and remote posterity his applauding spectators at once, and actors.

ELIA.

THE OLD ACTORS

(London Magazine, October, 1822)

I do not know a more mortifying thing than to be conscious of a foregone delight, with a total oblivion of the person and manner which conveyed it.  In dreams I often stretch and strain after the countenance of Edwin, whom I once saw in Peeping Tom.  I cannot catch a feature of him.  He is no more to me than Nokes or Pinkethman.  Parsons, and still more Dodd, were near being lost to me, till I was refreshed with their portraits (fine treat) the other day at Mr. Mathews’s gallery at Highgate; which, with the exception of the Hogarth pictures, a few years since exhibited in Pall Mall, was the most delightful collection I ever gained admission to.  There hang the players, in their single persons, and in grouped scenes, from the Restoration—­Bettertons, Booths, Garricks, justifying the prejudices which we entertain for them—­the Bracegirdles, the Mountforts, and the Oldfields, fresh as Cibber has described them—­the Woffington (a true Hogarth) upon a couch, dallying and dangerous—­the Screen Scene in Brinsley’s famous comedy, with Smith and Mrs. Abingdon, whom I have not seen, and the rest, whom having seen, I see still there.  There is Henderson, unrivalled in Comus, whom I saw at second hand in the elder Harley—­Harley, the rival of Holman, in Horatio—­Holman, with the bright glittering teeth in Lothario, and the deep paviour’s sighs in Romeo—­the jolliest person ("our son is fat”) of any Hamlet I have yet seen, with the most laudable attempts (for a personable man) at looking melancholy—­and Pope, the abdicated monarch of tragedy and comedy, in Harry the Eighth and Lord Townley.  There hang the two Aickins, brethren in mediocrity—­Wroughton, who in Kitely seemed to have forgotten that in prouder days he had personated Alexander—­the specious form of John Palmer, with the special effrontery of Bobby—­Bensley, with the trumpet-tongue, and little Quick (the retired Dioclesian of Islington) with his squeak like a Bart’lemew fiddle. 

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