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wife's extreme annoyance, to retire to bed in the costume of a monkey. At one time it led him to muse for hours in a churchyard; and, at another, to try a country-life on his estate at Bute, or haunt the “Red Lion” and the “ Coal-IIole.” In England it made him a volunteer jockey at a race; in Italy, a fascinating story-teller and mimic to the monks of road-side convents; and • in America, caused him to be duly inaugurated chief of a tribe of Indians.
There is no actor of whom such instances of arrogance toward the public and individuals are related; but it is to be observed that they generally originated in exasperated feeling, caused by undeserved neglect or gross misappreciation; and charity will ever make allowance for the inevitable results of an incongruous and homeless childhood. Kean's father nearly ruined his son's physique by employing him, at a tender age, to figure in pantomime; timely surgical aid having only saved his limbs from utter deformity. The redeeming influences.of his early years were the benevolent intervention of Dr. Drury, who, recognizing his promise, sent him to Eton; and the patient teachings of Miss Tidswell, an actress of Drury Lane. That he was born with a genius for the stage is evinced by the fact that at the age of thirteen his Cato and Hamlet satisfied provincial audiences; and his recitation of Satan's Address to the Sun, from Paradise Lost, won royal approbation at Windsor. His' talent for feigning served him occasionally more practical benefit than that derived from its entertaining quality; as, when he was released from a rash engagement on board ship as cabin-boy, for pretended deafness, and escaped the indignation of a London audience, he wantonly disappointed, by a well-acted dislocation of the shoulder.
If Kean's early circumstances were adverse to his moral, they were, in many respects, highly favorable to his professional development. The long apprenticeship he served to the stage, embracing every grade of character, and almost all functions of a player, made him thoroughly at home on the boards, and induced much of his case, tact, and facility; his circus experiences and habits of active life gave both vigor and suppleness to his frame; while the vagrant career he led brought him in view of all kinds of character and phases of life, by which he observantly profited to a degree that only those intimate with him fully realized. While in this country his genius excited the intelligent admiration, and his recklessness the benevolent care, of a professional gentleman, Dr. J. W. Francis, who became his constant associate and friend. From him I learn the versatility of Kean's accomplishments was quite as remarkable as the intensity of his acting and the extravagance of his moods. He would often enchain an intellectual circle, at a fashionable party, by his exquisite vocalism,
the effect of which was inexplicable to those who listened to his limited and unmusical voice, — or by the rich anecdotes or shrewd comments of his table-talk; and, when released from this to him intolerable social thraldom, work off the nervous reäction, induced by so many hours of restraint, by throwing half-a-dozen summersets with the celerity and grace of a practised harlequin. He was, indeed, a compact embodiment of muscles and nerves; his agility and strength were such that his frame instantly obeyed his will, from the bound of a gladiator to the expressive restlessness of quivering fingers. His voice ranged through every note and cadence of power and sensibility; now by a whisper of tenderness bringing tears from callous men, and the next moment chilling their very hearts with the fierce tones of an imprecation. But these remarkable physical endowments would have merely subserved the narrow purposes of the athlete or the mimic, had they not been united to a mind of extraordinary sagacity and a face of unequalled expression; by virtue of these he rendered them the instruments of efficient art. The professors at Edinburgh were disappointed, after seeing him perform and hearing hiin converse, to find that he had no original theory of elocution to broach, and no striking principles of oratory to advocate. His touches were a composite and individual result, no more to be formally imparted than the glow of poetry or the zest of wit; they grew out of profound observation fused into a practical issue by the inspiration of genius.
Coleridye said that to see Kean act was like reading Shakspeare by lightning. The spell of liis penetrating eyes and half-Jewish physiognoiny was not more individual than his style of personation; and the attempt to transfer some of his points to another has almost invariably produced an incongruous effect. His excitable temperament was another secret of his magnetism and his foibles. While it enabled him wonderfully to engage the sympathies of an audience, it rendered him liable to be overcome by the least moral or physical excitement, and made him the slave of impulse. Regularly, in New York, every afternoon, he seized the copy of an evening journal inimical to him, with the tongs, rang for a waiter, and sent it away in this manner; while, at the same time, he scrupulously laid aside a guinea a week, during the whole of his sojourn, to reward the faithful services of a poor servant. Often drawn by his kind guardian from a haunt of debauchery, just in time to appear on the stage, he would, at others, attire himself like a finished gentleman, mix in the most refined society, and manifest a noble scorn of money, and an absolute reverence for mental superiority, that excited involuntary respect. Kean, the dissolute man, the inebriated boon companion,
quoting Latin, the generous and loyal friend, the funny mimic, - and the great impersonator of Shakspeare, seemed like so many
different beings, with something identical in the eyes, voice, and stature. And as marvellous a disparity marked his fortunes; it being scarcely credible that the same man, whose appearance brought a solitary sixpence to the Dumfries theatre, is he who, glittering with the ornaments of Garrick, filled Drury Lane to suffocation for entire seasons; or that the luxurious apartments, crowded with men of note, are tenanted by him whose wife for years kept vigils of penury. It is creditable to Kean's magnanimity, under these bewildering transitions, that he never played the tyrant; that he was uniformly kind to poor and inferior actors, and manifested a spirit above envy. After seeing old Garcia perform Othello in New York, he sent him a costly gift in token of his admiration; he candidly acknowledged the superiority of Talma, and labored, with genuine zeal, to commemorate the histrionic fame of Cooke.
It is common to speak of great acting or vocalism as indescribable; and, to a certain extent, this is doubtless true; but distinctness of style is characteristic of genius in all things, and an intellectual observer can adequately report even the evanescent cliarms of dramatic personation when harmoniously conceived and efficiently embodied. Accordingly, we derive, from the criticisms
and reminiscences of Kean's intelligent admirers, a very clear idea of bis general merits. It is obvious that these consisted of simplicity and earnestness; that, endowed with fiery passions and a sagacious intellect, he boldly undertook to represent Shakspeare, not according to any prescriptive model or rules of art, but through his individual reflection and sympathy. Like the
great master of the written drama, he followed closely the intimations of nature; cast, as it were, self-consciousness away, and assimilated the actual elements of human life with his own action and expression. Hence, the truth of his violent contrasts — the light and shade of art. Hence, the frequency and effect of his brief, suggestive, and thrilling exclamations, that made a single word or interjection reveal infinite woe, joy, surprise, or madness. It is for the same reason that, upon refined minds and earnest hearts,
his acting unfolded ever new beauty and truth, as described by • Dana, upon reading whose criticism Kean exclaimed, “This
man understands me." By this firm, and, if we may so say, subtle yet instinctive adherence to nature, a certain grandeur and effect, only yielded her genuine votaries, seemed to invest and glorify the actor, so that his most incidental attitudes and by-play wore a reality undiscoverable in the most elaborate efforts of inferior performers. To the same principle we ascribe his versatility. Each character was a distinct study. Where his consciousness was at fault in suggesting the most authentic manner, tone, or expression, he had recourse to observation; he reflected deeply, and appeared to identify himself, by the process, with the being he was to enact, until his very soul became imbued with the melancholy of Hamlet, the insanity of Lear, and the mental agony of Othello.
THE YOUTHFUL HERO.
On the high road near the village of Wobbelin there stands, beneath an oak, the Iron Monument of Theodore Körner. The material of which it is constructed, the simplicity of its design, the tree which overshadows it, and its isolated yet accessible position, would naturally induce an observant traveller to examine and a contemplative one to muse beside it ; but how infinitely is the casual interest, thus awakened, enhanced when we recall the brief but thrilling history of him in whose remembrance it was erected, and realize how entirely the lineaments of his character accord with the solemn beauty of his grave! There is often as much room for conjecture in regard to the absolute endowments of the hero as of the poet; the fame of both is only settled by time; posterity not unfrequently reverses the original decree; and the frank soldier and candid bard sometimes dispel the charming illusions they have originated, by admitting certain facts of consciousness. Thus courage and inspiration are as fallacious, when judged by mere appearance, as more superficial qualities; accident, luck, animal excitement, vanity, and desperation, may be the only claim of the so-called hero to the title ; and imitation, art, and tact, form the sole attributes of him whom the world of to-day denominates a poet. It is rare, indeed, for these noblest of human distinctions to be thoroughly vindicated by the same individual during his life ; for genuine poetic gifts to be illustrated by their sensible effects upon the popular mind, and