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audience, and express only so much dissatis-
faction and peevishness as is consistent with
the pleasure of comedy. In other words,
his perplexity must seenio 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 nnist necessarily provoke a
duel; his real-lifo manner will destroy the



40 ©he 'gm (^^m^ of ®lia.



whimsical and jjurely dramatic existence of
the other cliaracter (whicli to render it comic
demands an antagonist comicality on the
part of the character opposed to it), and con-
vert \vhi),t was meant for mirth, rather than,
belief, into a downright piece of impertinence
indeed, which would raise no diA-ersion 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 JMr. Wrench in the farce of
Free and Easy.

Many instances would be tedious ; these
may suffice to show that comic acting at
least does not always demand from the per-
former that strict abstraction from all refer-
ence to an audience wdiich is exacted of it ;
but that in some cases a sort of compro-
mise may take place, and all the purposes of
dramatic delight be attained by a judicious
understanding, not too openly announced,
between the ladies and gentleinen — ou both
sides of the curtaan.



m^ fasit (f^^aijis of mm, 41



To the Shade of Elliston.

JoYOusEST of once embodied spirits,
whither at lengtli hast tliou flown ? to what
genial region are we permitted to conjecture
that thou hast flitted ?

Art tliou sowing- tliy 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 giadlier 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 Pla-
tonist dreams of this bodi/ to be no better
than a county jail, forsooth, or some house
of durance vile, whereof the live senses are
the fetters. Thou knewest better than to
be in a hurry to cast off those gyves ; and
had notice to quit, I fear, before thou werfc
quite ready to abandon this fleslily tenement.
It was thy Pleasure House, thy Palace of
Dainty Devices ; thy Louvre, or thy AVhite-
hall.

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



42 ©he ^asit (g,s.$'aysi of (^Ua.



Tartarus we know, and we have read of
the Blessed Shades ; now can not I intelli-
gibly fancy thee in either.

It is 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 Mil-
ton saw in vision — a Luruo somewhere for
Playees ? and that

Up thither like aerial vapors fly

Both all Stage things, and all that in Stage things

Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame ?

All the unaccomplished works of Authors' hands,

Aboil ire, monstrous, or unkindly mixed,

Damn'd mon earth, fleet tliither —

Play, Opera, Farce, ■\vitli all their trumpery.

There, by the neig-hboring moon (by some
not improperly supposed thylleg-ent Planet
upon earth), mayst thou not still be acting-
thy managerial pranks, great disembodied
Lessee '? but Lessee still, and still a manager.

In Greenrooms, impervious to mortal
eye, the muse beholds thee wielding post-
humous empire.

Thin ghosts of Figurantes (never plump on
earth) circle thee in endlessly, and still their
song is I-'te on sinful Fantasy !

3Iagnificent were thy capriccios on this
globe of earth, lioBERT William Ellistox!
for as yet we know not thy new name in
heaven.

It irks me to think, that, stript of thy



m\t ^n^i (^^mp ot mvA, 4S



I'egalities, thoii shouldst ferry over, a poor
ibrked shade, in crazy Stygian wherry. Me-
thmks I hear the old boatman, padcUing by
the weedy wharf, with raucid voice, bawl-
ing " Sculls, Sculls ; " to which, with
waving hand, and majestic action, tliou
(leignest no reply, other than in two curt
monosyllables, " No ; Oars."

But the laws of Pluto's kingdom know
small difference between king and cobbler,
manager and callboy ; and, if haply your
dates of life were conterminant, you are


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Online LibraryCharles LambThe last essays of Elia → online text (page 3 of 15)