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laugh more than a closer mimic. He was a coarse actor, yet he played the parts in his own plays, better than any who have appeared in them since his death; for instance, Major Sturgeon, Aircastle, Cadwallader, &c.
He had a flat vulgar face, without expression; but when a part was strongly ridiculous, he succeeded, for he always ran into farce; so that I have been often surfeited with him on the stage, and never wished to see him twice, in the same character. Though he wanted simplicity in his acting, yet he was a very good judge of the stage; but so unfair, and so disposed to criticise, that you could not depend on his opinion.
As a writer he certainly had merit, and afforded great entertainment to the town for many years: If he had taken more pains in finishing his pieces, they would have been equal to most of our comedies; but he was too indolent, and too idle, to carry them to perfection.
Upon the whole, his life and character would furnish a subject for a good farce, with an instructive moral. It would show that parts alone are of littlę use, without prudence or virtue: and that flashes of wit and humor, give only a momentary pleasure; but no solid entertainment.
For January, 1811. 1 Tuesday 1st, Columbus, with the Prisoner at Large. 2 Wednesday 2d, Cure for the Heart Ache, and Raising of the Wind;
(for the benefit of the sufferers at Charleston.) 3 Friday 4th, Stranger, and Tom Thumb. 4 Saturday 5th, Columbus, and Deaf Lover. 5 Monday 7th, School for Scandal, and the Prize. 6 Wednesday 9th, Julia, or the Italian Lover, and Hit or Miss. 7 Friday 11th, Hamlet, and the Ghost. 8 Saturday 12th, Columbus, and Who's the Dupe? 9 Monday 14th, Venice Preserved, with Catharine and Petruchio. 10 Wednesday 16th, Roman Father, with Ways and Means. 11 Friday 18th, The Revenge, and the Blind Boy. 12 Saturday 19th, Foundling of the Forest, with My Grandmother. 13 Monday 21st, King Lear, and Catch him Who Can. 14 Wednesday 23d, Douglas, with Sylvester Daggerwood and Hunter of
the Alps. 15 Friday 25th, Provoked Husband, and Love laughs at Locksmiths. 16 Saturday 26th, Columbus, and the Weathercock. 17 Monday 28th, Macbeth, and the Spoil'd Child. 18 Wednesday 30th, Pizarro, and Budget of Blunders.
MRS. BEAUMONT'S PERFORMANCE CONTINUED.
THE GRECIAN DAUGHTER.
*THE tragedy of the Grecian Daughter has, from its first appearance on the stage, had more success, and received stronger marks of public approbation than some plays which better deserve them. Closet criticism, however, has treated it with more rigid justice than the auditors at the playhouse, and made the author refund a part of the surplus of credit which his play received on the stage. That, in common with all Mr. Murphy's dramatic pieces, it has weighty, sterling merit; that it is replete with poetical beauties, couched in language bold, animated, and energetic, yet suffi
ciently smooth and mellifluous; and that the pathetic, the martial, and the heroic are skilfully blended in the general texture of the action, cannot be denied. But in the appropriation of their several qualities to the leading characters of the piece, there is a transposition contrary to the usual course of nature, for which it is difficult to account, when we consider that Mr. Murphy was no less remarkable for a refined taste and a severe judgment, than for the comprehensive power and versatility of his genius. If it was his object to evince his skill in executing difficulties, to show how far genius could reconcile incongruities, and to give an imposing air of probability to incidents, which, though they should have happened, are so much out of the course of human things, that they must be considered as exceptions to nature's general march, Mr. Murphy has certainly succeeded to admiration.
For our own parts, we are free to avow, that the tragedy of the Grecian Daughter never had charms for us: for even when it was supported by the matchless excellence of the celebrated BARRY in Evander; in which character he was, as Murphy says, « the finest feeble venerable old man that imagination can figure to itself,” and of Mrs. Barry, in Euphrasia, there was something in it with which we could not bring our feelings to correspond. Nor was this repugnance the result of critical judgment (for it was in our boyish days) but of natural feeling, which, in such cases, generally precedes the decisions of the understanding, and very much exceeds them in value. In the present instance, we have found the sentence of our youthful feelings confirmed by the decision of our maturer judgment, which, at the same time, enables us to account for opinions we were then not capable nor indeed desirous to analyze.
The fact is, that the tale, upon which the Grecian Daughter is founded, though it be popular, and, in its proper place, sufficiently affecting, and though it were even true in point of fact, has so much the air of those ancient cock-and-a-bull stories, with which old women relieve the tedium of long winter evenings, or amuse children, that we could not help revolting from it as a subject for tragedy. A nursery tale is but a sorry subject for heroics; and that may surely be called a nursery business of which the principal male character is placed, even in the important and pathetic circumstance on which the plot hinges, in the state of a newly born infant; while on the other hand the heroine, to whom all the timid delicacies, all the winning softness of the sex," and all the feminine ten
dernesses should belong, is made to usurp the man's office, and to do an act which the boldest ruffian ought to shudder but to think of.
But while natural sentiment revolts from these two incidents, critical judgment confesses its astonishment at the conduct and general execution of the whole drama; for assuredly nothing but the most masterly execution could, on such a fable, have raised a fabric to the high rank which this tragedy holds as an acting play. The filial piety of Euphrasia is emphatically marked through every line of her character. In her refusing to accompany a beloved husband, (“ her brave and generous Phocion”) and lier blooming boy, in their flight, and staying behind them at Syracuse to attend her father,
“ To watch his fate, to visit his affliction,
Of filial virtue bid e'en bondage smile." In her tending that father; in her struggles to beguile the rage of Dionysius, by “casting o'er her sorrows a dawn of gladness," and in her hazardous enterprises to save her parent and destroy the tyrant, the author has exerted himself with such force and skill, that it would seem as if he was aware of the ticklish nature of the story he had adopted, and had resolved to bring the character of Euphrasia home to the heart with such an abundance of loftiness, and such a multiplicity of splendid and dignified circumstances, as could not fail to blend down, and secure from too curious and undivided attention, the littleness of the main incident. Mr. Murphy well knew that the world held in the very first rank of approbation the charms of filial piety, and judiciously trusted to it for the success of his work. How irresistibly has he made Euphrasia lay claim to admiration and sympathy in the following lines.
• Till that sad close of all, the task be mine
Catch his last breath, and close his eyes in peace.” So intent is the author upon making a deep impression of his heroine's filial piety, that in almost every speech she utters, re
currence is made to her father as the leading, if not exclusive object of her thoughts. Even to the tyrant she says,
"O let me then, in mercy, let me seek
I die content, if in his arms I perish.”
“ Oh while yet he lives, Indulge a daughter's love; worn out with age, Soon must he seal his eyes in endless night,
And with his converse charm my ear no more.” On the other hand, the general merit of the poetry is here and there lessened by bloated speeches “ full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," and by declamation, pompous enough to excite a smile. Euphrasia's frequent addresses to her VIRGINS too, we remember to have originally occasioned a titter among the gods in Dublin, even when the words were uttered by Mrs. Barry; for - whose performance of the character, Garrick made her a present of a farce he had just then written, called “ The Irish Widow.” Mr. Murphy records this in his life of Garrick, and says that Mrs. Barry “ towered above herself in Euphrasia," then candidly ascribes the uncommon success of the play to the performance of her and her husband, and adds, “ It is owing to Mrs. SIDDONS that the Grecian Daughter has not sunk into oblivion: she restored it to the stage, in nothing inferior to Mrs. BARRY, and in some scenes superior.”
Though Mr. Murphy has pretty generally sacrificed the other characters to the glories of Euphrasia, they are not all without some valuable speeches. The description given by Dionysius of the miseries attendant upon sovereignty is alike forcible and true; and enough to deter any, but the devoted of God, from the thorny paths of ambition and tyranny.
And round my laurels the fell serpent twines.