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the different sort of truth which we expect when a
man tells us a mournful or a merry story. If we
suspect the former of falsehood in any one tittle, we
reject it altogether. Our tears refuse to flow at a
suspected imposition. But the teller of a mirthful
tale has latitude allowed him. We are content with
less than absolute truth. 'Tis the same with dra-
matic illusion. We confess we love in comedy to
see an audience naturalised behind the scenes, taken
in into the interest of the drama, welcomed as by-



24 STAGE ILLUSION.

standers however. There is something ungracious
in a comic actor holding himself aloof from all par-
ticipation or concern with those who are come to be
diverted by him. Macbeth must see the dagger,
and no ear but his own be told of it ; but an old
fool in farce may think he sees something, and by
conscious words and looks express it, as plainly as
he can speak, to pit, box, and gallery. When an
impertinent in tragedy, an Osric, for instance, breaks
in upon the serious passions of the scene, we approve
of the contempt with which he is treated. But when
the pleasant impertinent of comedy, in a piece purely
meant to give delight, and raise mirth out of whim-
sical perplexities, worries the studious man with tak-
ing up his leisure, or making his house his home,
the same sort of contempt expressed (however
natural} would destroy the balance of delight in
the spectators. To make the intrusion comic, the
actor who plays the annoyed man must a little desert
nature ; he must, in short, be thinking of the audi-
ence, and express only so much dissatisfaction and
peevishness as is consistent with the pleasure of
comedy. In other words, his perplexity must seem
half put on. If he repel the intruder with the sober
set face of a man in earnest, and more especially if
he deliver his expostulations in a tone which in the
world must necessarily provoke a duel ; his real-life
manner will destroy the whimsical and purely dra-



STAGE ILLUSION. 25

matic existence of the other character (which to
render it comic demands an antagonist comicality
on the part of the character opposed to it), and
convert what was meant for mirth, rather than be-
lief, into a downright piece of impertinence indeed,
which would raise no diversion in us, but rather stir
pain, to see inflicted in earnest upon any unworthy
person. A very judicious actor (in most of his
parts) seems to have fallen into an error of this
sort in his playing with Mr. Wrench in the farce of
Free and Easy.

Many instances would be tedious ; these may suf-
fice to show that comic acting at least does not
always demand from the performer that strict ab-
straction from all reference to an audience, which
is exacted of it ; but that in some cases a sort of
compromise may take place, and all the purposes
of dramatic delight be attained by a judicious under-
standing, not too openly announced, between the
ladies and gentlemen on both sides of the curtain.



TO THE SHADE OF ELLISTON.



JOYOUSEST of once embodied spirits, whither at
length hast thou flown? to what genial region are
we permitted to conjecture that thou hast flitted.

Art thou sowing thy WILD OATS yet (the harvest
time was still to come with thee) upon casual sands
of Avernus? or art thou enacting ROVER (as we
would gladlier think) by wandering Elysian streams ?

This mortal frame, while thou didst play thy brief
antics amongst us, was in truth any thing but a
prison to thee, as the vain Platonist dreams of this
body to be no better than a county gaol, forsooth,
or some house of durance vile, whereof the five
senses are the fetters. Thou knewest better than to
be in a hurry to cast off those gyves ; and had no-
tice to quit, I fear, before thou wert quite ready to
abandon this fleshy tenement. It was thy Pleasure
House, thy Palace of Dainty Devices ; thy Louvre,
or thy White Hall.

What new mysterious lodgings dost thou tenant
now? or when may we expect thy aerial house-
warming ?



TO THE SHADE OF ELLISTON. 27

Tartarus we know, and we have read of the Blessed
Shades; now cannot I intelligibly fancy thee in
either.

Is it too much to hazard a conjecture, that (as the
schoolmen admitted a receptacle apart for Patriarchs
and un-chrisom Babes) there may exist not far
perchance from that storehouse of all vanities, which
Milton saw in visions a LIMBO somewhere for
PLAYERS? and that

Up thither like aerial vapours fly

Both all Stage things, and all that in Stage things

Built their fond hopes of glory, or lasting fame ?

All the unaccomplish'd works of Authors' hands,

Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix'd,

Damn'd upon earth, fleet thither

Play, Opera, Farce, with all their trumpery

There, by the neighbouring moon (by some not
improperly supposed thy Regent Planet upon earth)
mayst thou not still be acting thy managerial pranks,
great disembodied Lessee? but Lessee still, and still
a Manager.

In Green Rooms, impervious to mortal eye, the
muse beholds the wielding posthumous empire.

Thin ghosts of Figurantes (never plump on earth)
circle thee in endlessly, and still their song is Fye on
sinful Phantasy.

Magnificent were thy capriccios on this globe of
earth, ROBERT WILLIAM ELLISTON ! for as yet we
know not thy new name in heaven.



28 TO THE SHADE OF ELLISTON.

It irks me to think, that, stript of thy regalities,
thou shouldst ferry over, a poor forked shade, in
crazy Stygian wherry. Methinks I hear the old boat-
man, paddling by the weedy wharf, with raucid voice,
bawling " SCULLS, SCULLS : " to which, with waving
hand, and majestic action, thou deignest no reply,
other than in two curt monosyllables, " No : OARS."

But the laws of Pluto's kingdom know small differ-
ence between king, and cobbler ; manager, and call-
boy ; and, if haply your dates of life were contermi-
nant, you are quietly taking your passage, cheek by
cheek (O ignoble levelling of Death) with the shade
of some recently departed candle-snuffer.

But mercy ! what stripping s, what tearing off of
histrionic robes, and private vanities ! what denuda-
tions to the bone, before the surly Ferryman will
admit you to set a foot within his battered lighter !

Crowns, sceptres ; shield, sword, and truncheon ;
thy own coronation robes (for thou hast brought the
whole property man's wardrobe with thee, enough
to sink a navy) ; the judge's ermine ; the coxcomb's
wig ; the snuff-box a la Foppington all must over-
board, he positively swears and that ancient mar-
iner brooks no denial; for, since the tiresome
monodrame of the old Thracian Harper, Charon,
it is to be believed, hath shown small taste for
theatricals.

Aye, now 'tis done. You are just boat weight;
pura et puta anima.



TO THE SHADE OF ELLISTON. 29

But bless me, how little you look !

So shall we all look kings, and keysars stript
for the last voyage.

But the murky rogue pushes off. Adieu, pleasant,
and thrice pleasant shade ! with my parting thanks
for many a heavy hour of life lightened by thy harm-
less extravaganzas, public or domestic.

Rhadamanthus, who tries the lighter causes below,
leaving to his two brethren the heavy calendars
honest Rhadamanth, always partial to players, weigh-
ing their parti-coloured existence here upon earth,
making account of the few foibles, that may have
shaded thy real life, as we call it, (though, substan-
tially, scarcely less a vapour than thy idlest vagaries
upon the boards of Drury,) as but of so many
echoes, natural re-percussions, and results to be ex-
pected from the assumed extravagancies of thy sec-
ondary or mock life , nightly upon a stage after a
lenient castigation, with rods lighter than of those
Medusean ringlets, but just enough to "whip the
offending Adam out of thee " shall courteously
dismiss thee at the right hand gate the o. P. side
of Hades that conducts to masques, and merry-
makings, in the Theatre Royal of Proserpine.

PLAUDITO, ET VALETO.



ELLISTONIANA.



MY acquaintance with the pleasant creature, whose
loss we all deplore, was but slight.

My first introduction to E., which afterwards
ripened into an acquaintance a little on this side of
intimacy, was over a counter of the Leamington Spa
Library, then newly entered upon by a branch of
his family. E., whom nothing misbecame to aus-
picate, I suppose, the filial concern, and set it a
going with a lustre was serving in person two
damsels fair, who had come into the shop ostensibly
to inquire for some new publication, but in reality
to have a sight of the illustrious shopman, hoping
some conference. With what an air did he reach
down the volume, dispassionately giving his opinion
upon the worth of the work in question, and launch-
ing out into a dissertation on its comparative merits
with those of certain publications of a similar stamp,
its rivals ! his enchanted customers fairly hanging on
his lips, subdued to their authoritative sentence. So
have I seen a gentleman in comedy acting the shop-



ELLISTONIANA. 31

man. So Lovelace sold his gloves in King Street.
I admired the histrionic art, by which he contrived
to carry clean away every notion of disgrace, from
the occupation he had so generously submitted to;
and from that hour I judged him, with no after re-
pentance, to be a person, with whom it would be a
felicity to be more acquainted.

To descant upon his merits as a Comedian would
be superfluous. With his blended private and pro-
fessional habits alone I have to do ; that harmonious
fusion of the manners of the player into those of
every day life, which brought the stage boards into
streets, and dining-parlours, and kept up the play
when the play was ended. "I like Wrench," a
friend was saying to him one day, "because he is
the same natural, easy creature, on the stage, that he
is off" "My case exactly," retorted Elliston with
a charming forgetfulness, that the converse of a
proposition does not always lead to the same con-
clusion " I am the same person off the stage that
I am on." The inference, at first sight, seems iden-
tical ; but examine it a little, and it confesses only,
that the one performer was never, and the other
always, acting.

And in truth this was the charm of Elliston's pri-
vate deportment. You had a spirited performance
always going on before your eyes, with nothing to
pay. As where a monarch takes up his casual abode



32 ELLISTONIANA.

for a night, the poorest hovel which he honours by
his sleeping in it, becomes ipso facto for that time
a palace ; so wherever Elliston walked, sate, or stood
still, there was the theatre. He carried about with
him his pit, boxes, and galleries, and set up his port-
able playhouse at corners of streets, and in the
market-places. Upon flintiest pavements he trod the
boards still; and if his theme chanced to be pas-
sionate, the green baize carpet of tragedy spontane-
ously rose beneath his feet. Now this was hearty,
and showed a love for his art. So Apelles always
painted in thought. So G. D. always poetises.
I hate a lukewarm artist. I have known actors
and some of them of Elliston's own stamp who
shall have agreeably been amusing you in the part
of a rake or a coxcomb, through the two or three
hours of their dramatic existence; but no sooner
does the curtain fall with its leaden clatter, but a
spirit of lead seems to seize on all their faculties.
They emerge sour, morose persons, intolerable to
their families, servants, &c. Another shall have been
expanding your heart with generous deeds and sen-
timents, till it even beats with yearnings of universal
sympathy ; you absolutely long to go home, and do
some good action. The play seems tedious, till you
can get fairly out of the house, and realize your
laudable intentions. At length the final bell rings,
and this cordial representative of all that is amiable



ELLISTONIANA. 33

in human breasts steps forth a miser. Elliston
was more of a piece. Did he play Ranger? and
did Ranger fill the general bosom of the town with
satisfaction? why should he not be Ranger, and dif-
fuse the same cordial satisfaction among his private
circles? with his temperament, his animal spirits, his
good-nature, his follies perchance, could he do better
than identify himself with his impersonation? Are
we to like a pleasant rake, or coxcomb, on the stage,
and give ourselves airs of aversion for the identical
character presented to us in actual life? or what
would the performer have gained by divesting him-
self of the impersonation? Could the man Elliston
have been essentially different from his part, even if
he had avoided to reflect to us studiously, in private
circles, the airy briskness, the forwardness, and 'scape
goat trickeries of his prototype ?

" But there is something not natural in this ever-
lasting acting ; we want the real man."

Are you quite sure that it is not the man himself,
whom you cannot, or will not see, under some adven-
titious trappings, which, nevertheless, sit not at all
inconsistently upon him ? What if it is the nature of
some men to be highly artificial? The fault is least
reprehensible in players. Gibber was his own Fop-
pington, with almost as much wit as Vanburgh could
add to it.

" My conceit of his person," it is Ben Jonson
3



34 ELLISTONIANA.

speaking of Lord Bacon, " was never increased
towards him by his place or honours. But I have,
and do reverence him for the greatness, that was
only proper to himself; in that he seemed to me
ever one of the greatest men, that had been in many
ages. In his adversity I ever prayed that heaven
would give him strength ; for greatness he could not
want."

The quality here commended was scarcely less con-
spicuous in the subject of these idle reminiscences,
than in my Lord Verulam. Those who have imag-
ined that an unexpected elevation to the direction
of a great London Theatre, affected the consequence
of Elliston, or at all changed his nature, knew not
the essential greatness of the man whom they dis-
parage. It was my fortune to encounter him near
St. Dunstan's Church (which, with its punctual giants,
is now no more than dust and a shadow) , on the
morning of his election to that high office. Grasping
my hand with a look of significance, he only uttered,
" Have you heard the news? " then with another
look following up the blow, he subjoined, " I am the
future Manager of Drury Lane Theatre." Breath-
less as he saw me, he stayed not for congratulation
or reply, but mutely stalked away, leaving me to
chew upon his new-blown dignities at leisure. In fact,
nothing could be said to it. Expressive silence alone
could muse his praise. This was in his great style.



ELLISTONIANA. 35

But was he less great, (be witness, O ye Powers of
Equanimity, that supported in the ruins of Carthage
the consular exile, and more recently transmuted for
a more illustrious exile, the barren constableship of
Elba into an image of Imperial France), when, in
melancholy after-years, again, much near the same
spot, I met him, when that sceptre had been wrested
from his hand, and his dominion was curtailed to
the petty managership, and part proprietorship, of
the small Olympic, his Elba ? He still played nightly
upon the boards of Drury, but in parts alas ! allotted
to him, not magnificently distributed by him. Waiv-
ing his great loss as nothing, and magnificently sink-
ing the sense of fallen material grandeur in the more
liberal resentment of depreciations done to his more
lofty intellectual pretensions, "Have you heard" (his
customary exordium) "have you heard," said he,
"how they treat me? they put me in comedy"
Thought I but his finger on his lips forbade any
verbal interruption " where could they have put
you better?" Then, after a pause "Where I
formerly played Romeo, I now play Mercutio,"
and so again he stalked away, neither staying, nor
caring for, responses.

O, it was a rich scene, but Sir A C ,

the best of story-tellers and surgeons, who mends a
lame narrative almost as well as he sets a fracture,
alone could do justice to it that I was witness to,



36 ELLISTONIANA.

in the tarnished room (that had once been green)
of that same little Olympic. There, after his depo-
sition from Imperial Drury, he substituted a throne.
That Olympic Hill was his " highest heaven j " him-
self "Jove in his chair." There he sat in state,
while before him, on complaint of prompter, was
brought for judgment how shall I describe her?
one of those little tawdry things that flirt at the tails
of choruses a probationer for the town, in either
of its senses the pertest little drab a dirty fringe
and appendage of the lamps' smoke who, it seems,
on some disapprobation expressed by a " highly re^
spectable " audience, had precipitately quitted her
station on the boards, and withdrawn her small
talents in disgust.

"And how dare you," said her Manager assure
ing a censorial severity which would have crushed
the confidence of a Vestris, and disarmed that beau-
tiful Rebel herself of her professional caprices I
verily believe, he thought her standing before him
" how dare you, Madam, withdraw yourself, without
a notice, from your theatrical duties?" "I was
hissed, Sir." " And you have the presumption to
decide upon the taste of the town? " " I don't know
that, Sir, but I will never stand to be hissed," was
the subjoinder of young Confidence when gather-
ing up his features into one significant mass of
wonder, pity, and expostulatory indignation in a



ELLISTONIANA. 37

lesson never to have been lost upon a creature less
forward than she who stood before him his words
were these : " They have hissed me"

'Twas the identical argument a fortiori, which the
son of Peleus uses to Lycaon trembling under his
lance, to persuade him to take his destiny with a
good grace. " I too am mortal." And it is to be
believed that in both cases the rhetoric missed of
its application, for want of a proper understanding
with the faculties of the respective recipients.

"Quite an Opera pit/' he said to me, as he was
courteously conducting me over the benches of his
Surrey Theatre, the last retreat, and recess, of his
every-day waning grandeur.

Those who knew Elliston, will know the manner
in which he pronounced the latter sentence of the
few words I am about to record. One proud day to
me he took his roast mutton with us in the Temple,
to which I had superadded a preliminary haddock.
After a rather plentiful partaking of the meagre ban-
quet, not unrefreshed with the humbler sort of liquors,
I made a sort of apology for the humility of the
fare, observing that for my own part I never ate but
of one dish at dinner. " I too never eat but one
thing at dinner" was his reply then after a
pause "reckoning fish as nothing." The manner
was all. It was as if by one . peremptory sentence
he had decreed the annihilation of all the savory



38 ELLISTONIANA.

esculents, which the pleasant and nutritious- food-
giving Ocean pours forth upon poor humans from
her watery bosom. This was greatness, tempered
with considerate tenderness to the feelings of his
scanty but welcoming entertainer.

Great wert thou in thy life, Robert William
Elliston ! and not lessened in thy death, if report
speak truly, which says that thou didst direct that
thy mortal remains should repose under no inscrip-
tion but one of pure Latinity. Classical was thy
bringing up ! and beautiful was the feeling on thy
last bed, which, connecting the man with the boy,
took thee back in thy latest exercise of imagination,
to the days when, undreaming of Theatres and
Managerships, thou wert a scholar, and an early ripe
one, under the roofs builded by the munificent and
pious Colet. For thee the Pauline Muses weep.
In elegies, that shall silence this crude prose, they
shall celebrate thy praise.



DETACHED THOUGHTS ON BOOKS
AND READING.



To mind the inside of a book is to entertain one's self with
the forced product of another man's brain. Now I think a
man of quality and breeding may be much amused with the
natural sprouts of his own.

4 , Lord Foppington in the Relapse.



AN ingenious acquaintance of my own was so
much struck with this bright sally of his Lordship,
that he has left off reading altogether, to the great
improvement of his originality. At the hazard of
losing some credit on this head, I must confess that
I dedicate no inconsiderable portion of my time to
other people's thoughts. I dream away my life in
others' speculations. I love to lose myself in other
men's minds. When I am not walking, I am read-
ing ; I cannot sit and think. Books think for me.

I have no repugnances. Shaftesbury is not too
genteel for me, nor Jonathan Wild too low. I can
read any thing which I call a book. There are
things in that shape which I cannot allow for such.



4O DETACHED THOUGHTS

In this catalogue of books which are no books
biblia a-biblia I reckon Court Calendars, Direc-
tories, Pocket Books, Draught Boards bound and
lettered at the back, Scientific Treatises, Almanacks,
Statutes at Large ; the works of Hume, Gibbon,
Robertson, Beattie, Soame Jenyns, and, generally,
all those volumes which " no gentleman's library
should be without : " the Histories of Flavius Jose-
phus (that learned Jew), and Paley's Moral Philos-
ophy. With these exceptions, I can read almost
any thing. 1 bless my stars for a taste so catholic, so
unexcluding. 4^*4

I confess that it moves my spleen to see these
things in books' clothing perched upon shelves, like
false saints, usurpers of true shrines, intruders into
the sanctuary, thrusting out the legitimate occupants.
To reach down a well-bound semblance of a volume,
and hope it some kind-hearted play-book, then,
opening what " seem its leaves," to come bolt upon
a withering Population Essay. To expect a Steele,
or a Farquhar, and find Adam Smith. To view
a well-arranged assortment of blockheaded Encyclo-
paedias (Anglicanas or Metropolitanas) set out in
an array of Russia, or Morocco, when a tithe of that
good leather would comfortably re-clothe my shiver-
ing folios ; would renovate Paracelsus himself, and
enable old Raymund Lully to look like himself again
in the world. I never see these impostors, but I



ON BOOKS AND READING. 41

long to strip them, to warm my ragged veterans in
their spoils.

To be strong-backed and neat-bound is the de-
sideratum of a volume. Magnificence comes after.
This, when it can be afforded, is not to be lavished
upon all kinds of books indiscriminately. I would
not dress a set of Magazines, for instance, in full
suit. The dishabille, or half-binding (with Russia
backs ever) is our costume. A Shakspeare, or a
Milton (unless the first editions), it were mere fop-
pery to trick out in gay apparel. The possession of
them confers no distinction. The exterior of them
(the things themselves being so common), strange
to say, raises no sweet emotions, no tickling sense of
property in the owner. Thomson's Seasons, again,
looks best (I maintain it) a little torn, and dog's-
eared. How beautiful to a genuine lover of reading
are the sullied leaves, and worn out appearance, nay
the very odour (beyond Russia,) if we would not for-
get kind feelings in fastidiousness, of an old " Circu-
lating Library " Tom Jones, or Vicar of Wakefield !
How they speak of the thousand thumbs, that have
turned over their pages with delight ! of the lone
sempstress, whom they may have cheered (milliner,
or harder-working mantua-maker) after her long
day's needle-toil, running far into midnight, when
she has snatched an hour, ill spared from sleep, to
steep her cares, as in some Lethean cup, in spelling



42 DETACHED THOUGHTS

out their enchanting contents ! Who would have
them a whit less soiled? What better condition
could we desire to see them in?

In some respects the better a book is, the less it
demands from binding. Fielding, Smollet, Sterne,
and all that class of perpetually self- reproductive
volumes Great Nature's Stereotypes we see them
individually perish with less regret, because we know
the copies of them to be "eterne." But where a
book is at once both good and rare where the
individual is almost the species, and when that
perishes,

" We know not where is that Promethean torch
That can its light relumine "

such a book, for instance, as the Life of the Duke
of Newcastle, by his Duchess no casket is rich
enough, no casing sufficiently durable, to honour
and keep safe such a jewel.

Not only rare volumes of this description, which
seem hopeless ever to be reprinted ; but old editions
of writers, such as Sir Philip Sydney, Bishop Taylor,
Milton in his prose -works, Fuller of whom we



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