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ought not to be allowed to militate against plain common sense, which dictates that Gloster should speak those words so as not to be heard by the court. We remember to have seen it ordered differently.--Throughout the whole scene, however, as well as in that which followed it, Cooke was as very a Gloster as Shakspeare could have wished an actor to be, for the illustration of his writings. One part was singularly great: we mean his by-play, while Buckingham relates what passed between him and the citizens on the subject of raising Gloster to the throne and putting aside the children. But that which deserves most praise was the soliloquy that concludes the second act. We cannot refrain from again adverting to the peculiar excellence of this great performer in soliloquies. By most other actors they seem to be addressed to the audience, like a prologue or epilogue. Cooke's are perfectly and evidently self-conferences; the private effusion in words of his internal thoughts and emotions. That to which we now allude is one of the most difficult in the world.
Let me see-
Ay-the tower. Nothing could be more perfect than his management of these lines. He was in every thing alone. He deliberated;~the pauses between the broken sentences were filled up by the eloquence of his looks. After putting to himself the questions, “ where shall he keep his court?—the tower?” his face exhibited a visible debate; and again seemed to settle the matter definitively when he said
Ay-the tower;" during which whole time not so much as a side glance at the audience escaped him.
Proceeding forward with Mr. Cooke in the character of Gloster, the most striking scene that calls for notice is that with the mayor and citizens, in which the deep dissimulation of the character was so happily hit off, that the spectators could not at all wonder at the mayor's being imposed upon. To speak less generally,—in his feigned apprehension that the city magistrate has come to rebuke him for some supposed offence,
Now do I fear I've done some strange offence,
the apparent sincerity expressed in his tone and humble looks was highly characteristic of the crookback; and again, when they urge him to take upon himself the sceptred office, not as protector, but as king, and he affects to rebuke them:
I cannot tell, if to depart in silence,
Fits best with my degree, or your condition, there was an apparent earnestness approaching to that lofty severity with which it was really his duty to have treated their proposal. Thiş was masterly: this showed the actor of genius who had investigated his character with the eye of a philosopher. But no sooner has he impressed the magistrates with the persuasion that he condemns their conduct, and has thereby a little alarmed them, than Cooke changes his key, softens the tone of his voice, and relieves them by clothing his seeming refusal in expressions of kindness and good will.
Therefore, to speak in just refusal of your suit,
Definitively thus I answer you. There was in all this a lucid, delicate discrimination, which, in a long life of theatrical pursuit, we cannot remember to have, in a single instance, seen equalled. More striking passages, unquestionably, there were even in this scene, but not one of such exquisite delicacy and taste. More striking, for instance,ếindeed much more striking,—was his transition from pious humility when, as the mayor and citizens are leaving him, he says
My loving friends farewel;
I must unto my HOLY WORK again, to the exultation and hellish transport that swelled his bosom when they had gone. His whole frame seemed to swell as if to bursting; his utterance seemed to be smothered with joy; his face was a living picture of damned ambition wild with gratification: and when, at length, after a pause in which his soul seemed to be convulsed with internal enjoyment, he dashed the prayer book from his hand, and exclaimed
Why now my golden dream is out! the power of the superior actor was felt and loudly acknowledged; nor was there ever unanimity more perfect than in the applause lavished upon him in this part:
By a gradation conformable to nature, Richard, being king, becomes if possible more wicked, and is much less circumspect or cautious than when duke of Gloster. He now lays aside his hypocritical sanctity and his feigned deference and respect for his agents, and he soon makes even Buckingham feel how completely he had cajoled him. He proposes at the last to murder the two young princes, his nephews, and on Buckingham's hesitating, throws off all disguise, and resolves to hold no measures with him. Here the actor illustrated the author with astonishing effect. Even those who were least disposed to do justice to Mr. Cooke (and some such there were) were constrained to speak in raptures of his performance of that part of the second scene and fourth act, in which he breaks definitively with Buckingham. The look of satanic malice and derision which in turning from Catesby he cast at Buckingham, and the discriminating tones in which he uttered his last words to him, were astonishingly great. Yielding to the impetuosity of his furious temper, he burst out like a volcano in the words
I'm busy-thou troublest me! and then resuming his temper, as though he reflected how much more poignantly afflictive to the human heart contempt is than anger, and thought Buckingham beneath his indignation, Cooke sunk his voice, and changing his features from a look of furious passion, which would not discredit Moloch himself, to one of those malignant sneers which, when he chooses to assume them, distinguish his physiognomy from all others existing, he said in a low cutting voice, “ I'm not in the vein.”—This passage deserves praise beyond all the efforts of panegyric.
We are now to view Gloster's character in a new aspect, and to consider how Cooke supported him in it. Having given his signet to Tirrell with instructions to murder the children in the tower, we find him waiting impatiently for the return of his bloody agent, and, for the first time, reflecting with strong symptoms of conscientious anguish on his enormities and on the consequences likely to follow them.
Would it were done!
As if she knew me womanish and weak,
Tugs at my heartstrings with complaining cries,
Nor human stopt my way? If Mr. Cooke displayed unequalled powers of expressing the more malignant feelings, derision, sarcasm, sneering and contempt, in the former parts, he showed himself in this, a powerful agitator of the heart in the softer feelings, and evinced masterly skill and force of expression in the pathetic. They who, after hearing these lines thrilled through the heart by Cooke, can persist in denying the excellence of his voice, must have made up their doctrine of voices upon models so very rare that we know not where to look for them. In these lines his undertones were beautiful and penetrating, and the whole an inimitable specimen of the pathetic: nor did it lose any thing by his transition to a higher key, when shaking off his conscientious feelings at the words
That to possess the crown, nor laws divine
Nor human stopt my way, he triumphantly exclaimed
Why let them say it!
I was not Fool as well as VILLAIN. Through all the hurried business of the last part of the fourth act, Mr. Cooke bustled away pretty much as other great actors do. Here and there were brilliant scintillations; but nothing, nor does the character afford any, worthy of particular observation.
In the fifth act his mistrust of lord Stanley's fidelity, and his consequent indignation, half smothered and mixed up with irony, was happily expressed: nor ever did an actor give greater force to so many words than he to “ Well, as you guess?”—This act is so stuffed up with military bustle, which to the judicious eye more
often appears ludicrous than pleasing on the stage, that we should, think it a waste of words to go through it in detail. Speaking generally, Cooke's worst parts of Richard are in this act, and so we think are some of his best. Admiring him much more than any living actor, we think he falls short in picturing the hero, and gives rather an inadequate idea of military force and grandeur. Since we first saw him (several years ago) his voice has been a little shaken, and the roaring of Richard we never liked even from Mossop. Yet in several parts of that very roaring, Cooke showed his usual powers of discrimination. In the lines
Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head,
which other actors address to the same quarter as if it were all directed to the archers, Cooke addressed, the first line to one siden the second, to the other, to show that he spoke to two separate bodies--the archers and the cavalry. And again in that speech
What ho! young Richmond, ho! 'tis Richard calls!
Richard is hoarse with daring thee to armshis separation (contrary to the practice of other Richards) of the last line from the rest of the speech, and his, after a short pause, uttering it in a lowered tone, evinced the supremacy of his discriminating judgment, even in minor passages, and produced a beautiful effect.
The scene in which Mr. Cooke drops farthest behind his great rivals in Richard, is the tent scene, when, terrified by the ghosts, he springs up from the couch. We have thought it rather short of that of Mr. Kemble, and many degrees inferior to Henderson's, who in this part was as much greater, as Cooke is greater than all others in the meditation scene the night before the battle;-a scene, in which this wonderful actor has established his claim to the character of The Richard far, far beyond the rivalship of any performer living. Doubt--confidence-apprehension-disregard defiance and yet misgiving of the event of the next day, are successively dis.. played and sent home to every eye and heart by his restlessness, and