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free breath on his own deck. Down he dived into his cabin, got rid of his shore-traps, and at his usual hour was demurely pacing the deck, and giving his accustomed orders. The doctor, who had got safe on board the preceding evening, and he, exchanged glances, but nothing
A good breakfast, at which neither of their appetites seemed to fail them, succeeded; and immediately afterwards the usual signal announced the captain's boat. As he passed along the deck he beckoned to his conscious chief, and they went together into his cabin.
“ Were you at Longwood yesterday ?”
And then came a little explosion on the part of the captain, concluding with—" And the worst of it is, I have been declaring all the morning that you never left the ship the whole day, and that therefore it could not have been you. What's to be done?”—A pause. —“I must get an order from our commodore to be off instantly with my consort, or they'll nab you to a certainty.”
Away went the captain and got the desired order. The China fleet, when they leave St. Helena, always proceed home in pairs, not in a body, By the time the captain returned on board all was ready to weigh; and by noon they and their consort were gliding swiftly away from the spellbound isie of St. Helena, in which as many strange spirits seemed to have been suddenly conjured up as ever gambolled in the “ vexed Bermoothes.”
The story began to be buzzed about the ship in all shapes, and with many curious and valuable additions, until it settled down into a regular and well-spun yarn. " I say,” said Bill, the St. Helena fisherman, with a sly leer to his messmate, in reference to their former conversation; 66 what do
scheme now,-10 such difficult job, hey ?when people can walk like spirits up to Longwood, and down from Longwood, and among the stables, and through the house, and then stand talking at their ease, as though they were bullet-proof, on an open ter
I say, what became that day of all the eyes and ears on the island ?"
But after this time new and stricter regulations were enforced. The affair was not a little enjoyed when properly understood by the exile and his court; but we believe it was the first and last amusement of the kind which was afforded them.
RECOLLECTIONS OF KEAN.
HIS APPEARANCE IN LONDON (1814), AND ANECDOTES OF THE
ACTOR AND THE MAN FROM THAT PERIOD TO HIS DEATH,
KEAN's appearance in the metropolis, though generally attributed to Dr. Drury, was, in fact, only indirectly effected by him. The tragedian was in early life a strange mixture of perseverance and carelessness. In 1804 or 1805, when he was strolling under the banners of Lavarock, and acted at Weedon, he announced himself in his benefit bills — “ Valcour, Mr. Kean, his first appearance since his severe indisposition." pears, therefore, that at the early age of seventeen, he knew and practised all the little arts that in such a life create a temporary distinction. In the latter year, he was stage-manager for old Simpson (a strolling manager,
of as much notoriety in his sphere, as even Tate Wilkinson was in his); and bills, still extant, show that Kean neglected nothing that could give weight to his exertions, or draw attention to his efforts. He applied continually to the London theatres; but his letters were, as unsupported applications generally are, answered by a polite negative. Dr. Drury mentioned Kean's talent to Pascoe Grenfell, M.P., then one of the committee of Drury-lane theatre, and to the latter gentleman's perseverance, it is that the London public are indebted for the delight Kean's genius so long afforded them. Mr. Grenfell, however, only went as far as getting a competent judge appointed to witness the actor's efforts at Dorchester : still his influence must have been powerfully used, for those who know the routine of our national theatres are aware that it is extremely rare that any manager can be induced to send 120 miles for the purpose of seeing one actor only. I would instance even the case of Miss E. Tree, who had the recommendation of Mr. Harley, and, of course, her sister Maria : it was known that a delay occurred in any definite arrangement, until the late Mr. Calcraft could kill two birds with one stone, and by going to B- witness at one journey the performances of the lady in question, her sister Anne, and a Mr. Š who was then in treaty for tragedy at Drury-lane. Kean, in applying for situations in London, referred to many persons besides Dr. Drury; and at the period in question, the close of 1813, had written to Elliston* (Olympic theatre); Carruthers (Royalty); and Branscomb (Surrey). Thus, then, stands the account :-to the fortunate circumstance of Dr. Drury being acquainted with Mr. Grenfell much was owing; but to the sound judgment of Mr. Arnold, Keau's success was attributable: for so anxious was he to appear, and so confident of his powers, that he would have played Richard and Harlequin the first night, if such an absurdity had been proposed to him. Among the persons to whom Kean had referred in many of his applications for engagement, may
be mentioned the late General Sir James Doyle, Mr. A. Cherry, Mr. and his relatives, a family then of much importance at Clonmel, and who were themselves engaged in the private theatricals at that time peculiar to the sister kingdom; Ann of Swansea, whose judgment, being herself of the Kemble family, might have been considered valuable, and, lastly, to Mrs. Jordan*
* The time that had elapsed between his last application to Drury-lane and his appearance was many months, for he "wrote in," as it is termed, from Exeter about the early part of the summer of 1813, acted first in London, January 26th, 1814. His engagement at the Olympic was so nearly settled, that Elliston threat ened him with an action for breach.
The state of the theatre was such that' anything promising a chance of even temporary or moderate attraction would have been caught at with eagerness. "Comedy they found would not draw,-though they boasted that season of the names of Elliston, Munden, Bannister, Dowton, Oxberry, Knight, Lovegrove, Irish Johnstone, Wrench, Decamp, Wallack, and Wewitzer; Miss Kelly, Mrs. Davison, Mrs. Edwin, Mrs. Glover, Mrs. Sparks, Mrs. Orger, Miss Mellon, and Mrs. Horn, (with many
others ;) - a phalanx of talent, that, though no Croaker, I fear our two theatres can never again hope to rival. With this comedy company Drury's benches were unfilled. Braham, T. Phillips, Bellamy, Smith, Master Barnett, Mrs. Dickons, and Mrs. Bland, could not attract them to an opera; nor Mrs. Bartley, Rae, Raymond, Pope, Wroughton, and Sowerby, to a tragedy-though one from the pen of Coleridge had been produced, with every aid that the theatre could afford it. Their greatest reliance immediately before Kean's appearance was on Lodoiska"t and their Christmas pantomime.
Under these circumstances, it is hard to conceive why Kean should, after once having been engaged, have been treated in the manner generally supposed. The fact of his having acted with some duplicity as regarded his treaty with Elliston may have done somewhat, and certainly his own shrinking manner more: he loitered about the doors of the theatre or waited in the passage or ante-room, like one who had no right there; and though he endured many a heart pang, yet he was not purposely neglected. In this world, the powerful in any class do not (perhaps they cannot) walk out of the rail-road of custom to bring patient merit from the shade.
A stranger in the porter's-room of a theatre royal, gentle reader, is generally looked upon as a “suspicious person,” and soon becomes subject of general inquiry amongst the gossips of the theatre; but Kean was not unknown, though his purpose was; he was known to Mrs. Bartley, for he had played Glenalvon to her Lady Randolph, &c.; he was known to Rae, to Elliston, to T. Dibdin—to Hughes and Oxberry, intimately: the two latter actors knew his powers well, but Hughes, who had had the latest evidence of them, was himself but a novice in the theatre, having only appeared two months before Kean. Several illnatured stories have been currently repeated respecting the insults Kean received, but his sensitiveness made him misconstrue much, and, humble as his manner was, it was truly a proud humility. It has been said that he had no dressing-room assigned him : this is untrue; he did not choose to dress in the place allotted him by Mr. Wroughton (then the stage
* I believe it is true that Mrs. Jordan was exceedingly dissatisfied when she found that he (Kean) was cast as her Don Felix in a provincial theatre ; but she afterwards spoke very flatteringly of his talents, and told him he might mention her name. Poor Kean, in telling this, said, with more vanity than good taste, “She did it because she hated the Kembles :" it does not appear, however, that any body ever took the trouble to ask her any questions.
† I have no record to refer to as to the number of nights; but this melodrama was repeated ad nauseam; and to the remonstrances of those who held free admis. sions, the reply was, it was the only thing that brought money.
manager), and in dudgeon went to the supernumeraries'-room and dressed there, but though, only the day previous to his appearance, he had received a letter from his theatrical friends advising him against his rash attempt-though Mr. Knight had volunteered his opinion that “Mr. Kean had better pass his evenings in the front, trying to improve himself by witnessing the performance of good actors”—though Mr. Rae had passed him in the hall without recognising him-though the committee had said " he could not do "—though a certain set of underlings had christened him, in their jocularity, "Mr. Arnold's hard-bargain,” Kean was not actually dispirited: stung in heart and mind * he certainly was; but the night before his appearance
he said, once set my foot before the float (i. e. the stage-lights), and I'll let them see what I am.” In fact, he had one great attribute of genius - its irrepressibility : all real and all imagined slights (and he was always too apt to imagine the existence of neglect towards him) only confirmed his resolution; he did not come there merely to appear, he came there to succeed; he relied on his own powers and on the public judgment, and the little, submissive, meek, and frightened man that had rehearsed Shylock was wholly lost when he assumed the gaberdine and beard. Very little interest appeared to be excited in the theatre; at the call of
last music,” i. e. the commencement of the overture, the first peeper through the curtain announced the fact of its being a “shy domus," which was replied to by “What did you expect? there'll be nothing till half-price;” intimating that the pantomime might attract, but the new tragedian would not. On went Rae as Bassanio, in an especial ill-humour, and the early scenes of the play were altogether enacted with a listless and careless spirit. At last, the prompter gave the word “ No. 3” to the call-boy, and he went to the green-room to call Shylock to his duty; but Shylock was not in the green-room, and hadn't been there : the boy went up to the dressing-room that had been allotted to the “
new gentleman”—he was not there. Somewhat alarmed at this irregularity, the call-boy was hurrying back to report the fact, when he saw Shylock standing ready at the place at which he was to make his entrance; as in duty hound, the young functionary said “You're called, Sir.” “Thank you," was the reply; and those were the only words (save those of Shakspeare) that Kean uttered that pight, until the end of the fourth act, Shylock's last scene. Stage-fright (which has been compared to sea-sickness) he certainly did not suffer from ; he dreaded the greenroom more than a thousand audiences; the pent-up hopes of years were now too near fulfilment for him to know the “ taste of fear.” Scene 3rd, Act 1.—Shylock and Bassanio entered; his reception was cordial, not rapturous; he acknowledged it rather slightly, and began: the wings (i. e. stage entrances) were not over-crowded, though it is common for the actors to come to see a new one's first scene; however, come one, come all,”—it mattered little then; “ he had got his foot to the float.”
* If it was worth while to name individuals who, as Irish Johnstone said, are darkling in their refulgent obscurity, what an odd list of ladies and gentlemen could be given who did not remember him, and wondered where he came from up to the 26th January, 1814; but who in the months of March amused their friends by the anecdotes of where they had first met Mr. Kean, and to whom they had first addressed the advice under which he was ultimately engaged.
Kean began to bestir himself the instant Bassanio left the stage; he was warmly applauded at the lines
“ If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.” When he replied to Antonio's sneer,
“ Is your gold and silver ewes and rams?"
“ I cannot tell—I make it breed as fast,"'there was laughter and applause; the scene went well, and as the act fell, a comedian who had been looking on went into the green-rooma comedian who is himself, in his peculiar walk, an admirable actor-and addressing some one who had just entered, said," I say! he's got a black wig and beard; did you ever see Shylock in a black wig?” This is not quoted as an instance of ill-nature, for it was not said in that spirit, but as a proof of what a slight impression had been made on the mind of the actor in question by the new tragedian. Shylock does not reappear until Scene 4 in the second act; and, of course, it was expected Kean would have gone into the green-room. Hollow as the professions might have been, had he done so he would there have been congratulated on his success; for badly as the actors of the theatre royal, Drury-lane, might be suspected of wishing towards the interloper, they would not have been wanting in such an outward mark of decency; but Kean prowled about behind the scenes, didn't require the attention of the call-boy, but was at his post when wanted. In his speech to Jessica (Mrs. Bland) he was much applauded, and the audience had become extremely attentive*, which was particularly shown by their approbation at his exit in this scene, when their plaudits must be considered rather as a sign of their general satisfaction than as extorted by his delivery of
“ Safe bind, safe find,
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind." Act 3 commenced, Bassanio, Antonio, and Gratiano, and, in fact, all the characters save Shylock, Tubal, Salarino, and Salanio, were quietly seated in the green-room, when the dread rumble of reiterated plaudits burst on their ears
Again! again!! What could it be?” not “ Who could it be ?" for of that there was now no doubt. The green-room was cleared in an instant, and every character was at the wing to look at“ the little man in the black wig,” who was raging like a lion in the great scene with Tubal : the applause was, considering the scanty number of the audience, prodigious; as Oxberry very drolly said, “ How the devil so few of them kicked
up such a row was marvellous !” At the end of this scene Kean ran up stairs to the room where he had dressed to avoid his congratulators, and in the deep recesses of his own proud heart bury his joys. It appeared to those who were unused to Kean's enunciation, that he had become hoarse from exertion, but in fact he was never in better voice. However, after him went Messrs. Raymond and Arnold, one bearing negus and the other oranges; and believe me, my pensive public," the fact of those great functionaries having done this proves that the impression
* It was a bitterly cold night, the house not half full, and the galleries, which were almost empty until half-past eight, had been, as twenty years ago they generally were, rather noisy.