Page images
PDF
EPUB

MADAME VESTRIS.

ARCH, easy, impudent, pert, sprightly, and agreeable, with a handsome face, a delicious person, a rich, musical voice, and an inexhaustible fund of selfpossession, this vivacious lady has pleased, and continues to please on every stage, and in every department of the drama in which she

She suits all tastes. It is impossible for any one to dislike her; and just as impossible, I should think, for any to become enthusiastically fond of her acting. There is no depth, nor power, nor sensibility about her. Neither is there the aping or affectation of these things. She is, emphatically, a clever actress, which stands in about the same relation to a great actress as an epigrammatist to a poet; or a shrewd, worldly man to a wise one; and her being a more universal favorite than others of a higher order of merit, is only another proof of what has been proved some thousand times since the world began--that success is a very fallacious test of ability, for the simple reason, that the more the kind of merit is upon a level with the intellects of the majority of the judges, the more likely it is to be appreciated. The lady's talent is purely executional, and has nothing to do with the higher province of conception-indeed the characters in which she generally appears are not conceptions but copies, or copies of copies of the ephemeral whims and vagaries of the passing hour -trifling and agreeable, and well suited to the prevailing light and superficial taste in theatrical matters; for, without cant, it is light and superficial. I have been told that she plays Rosalind. I should like to see her do so for curiosity's sake; for I cannot imagine a more pleasant and amusing performance, and at the same time more decidedly different from what it ought to be, than Madame Vestris's Rosalind. She will be the arch, lively, free-spoken, wellbred lady of the French court to the life ; but any thing rather than the wild, daring, susceptible, romantic Rosalind.

appears.

Two-thirds of Madame Vestris's notoriety has arisen from the facility with which she can un-sex herself, and the confident boldness with which she makes her bow to the audience in breeches. It is all very

well that she does so half measures are very perplexing and disagreeable; and if a lady

[graphic]

makes up her mind to wear this article of apparel, either in public or private, the more decidedly and gracefully she does it the better ; but still there must be some affectation in the raptures of the town at witnessing the same. To be sure, no one buttons a coat, adjusts a cravat, wears a hat, handles a cane, or draws a pair of gloves on in the true spirit of knowing and irresistible coxcombry equal to Madame Vestris; and it is really pleasant to sit and see those manly airs and graces played of by a woman, affording, as it does, conclusive evidence that such deep-laid schemes to ensnare the admiration of the fair sex do not always escape detection ; yet still the skill and observation requisite to do this may be rated too highly. But Madame Vestris has better, though perhaps weaker claims than this, on the public favor. She has the ability to make wearisome common-place passable, frivolity agreeable, and sprightliness fascinating-a never-flagging joyousness of spirit, and an almost promethean power of imparting a portion of her exuberance of life and animation to the walking, talking, mechanical blocks by which she is occasionally surrounded. To use a striking, technical phrase, she "keeps the stage alive." Her motions are graceful in the extreme, and like a greyhound or a thorough-bred racer,

she

cannot put herself in an awkward attitude. Her chambermaids have an archness inexpressible; and, if it be a merit, (a stage one it certainly is,) no one equals her in a certain quiet and unutterable mode of giving a double entendre. As a singer, Madame Vestris is deservedly admired. There is a hearty, sensible, straight-forwardness in her manner, and an absence of quackery and pretension in her style that is extremely agreeable. She is a good enough tactician to know exactly what she can do, and though a spoiled favorite, discreet enough seldom to attempt more than she can, with credit and safety go through with-a rare merit. Her voice is none of your common, thin, clear, unsubstantial organs, but of a full, round, rich, satisfying quality ; her manner of giving the arch, and what may be called dashing songs, she is in the habit of singing, is charming, and the effect of the whole-voice, look, and action-delightful.

There is another particular in which Vestris is unrivalled, though, from the extraordinary notions of delicacy prevalent in the western hemisphere, wherein you are located, I almost despair of making myself understood. I mean as regards the symetry of those portions of the human frame which are situated between the knees and ankles, but which it is the custom of the country never to name by

[graphic]

the right name, except when attached to the bodies of inferior animals, such as dogs and horses ; though wherein consists the harm, even when speaking of a lady, of plainly using the monosyllable beginning with an l and ending with a g, with an intermediate vowel, I cannot say, but leave it to people much better acquainted with delicacy and metaphysics, than I pretend to be, to determine. But this I can say, that after having repeatedly looked upon those two unmentionable pieces of humanity belonging to Madame Vestris in the most critical manner, I think them, as far as my judgment goes, perfect in every point. Madame Vestris is also highly accomplished in other matters, being mistress of both French and Italian, it!

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »