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In the character of Euphrasia, Mrs. BEAUMONT made a more successful appeal to the judgment of her audience than in Isabella, and indeed to their feelings also, deserving, as she received, much more unalloyed applause. There being less whining and more energy in the character, it was in itself more agreeable to the audience, and afforded her fewer occasions of falling into the singsong ditty-drawl speechification that so wofully disfigures modern scenic representation, and is one of the faults which detract from Mrs. Beaumont's general powers of impression. In the Grecian Daughter there was less of overacting; less uncouth motion of the head; less, indeed much less, of objectionable action; and at the same time, a more constant and far more perfect display of powerful natural talent. On the former occasion we hazarded an assertion, that tenderness and pathos constituted Mrs. Beaumont's forte: not meaning to resign that opinion, we must say that they do not exclusively form her excellence. We scarcely know a feature. in the character of Euphrasia which she did not occasionally delineate with success. Her tenderness was mixed with dignity: it was of a higher order, more lovely and more decorous than that of her Isabella. Her grief was more impressive and alarming, while her indignation (the great moving principle upon which the catastrophe of the tragedy turns) was by no means deficient in awfulness. No one can understand the author's design better. Every line, therefore, (with some inconsiderable exceptions) told; and her business, particularly in the scene when she stabs the tyrant, was excellent. In fine, Mrs. Beaumont, in Euphrasia, though not a Barry or a Siddons, is much better than any actress we have a chance of seeing on this side of the Atlantic, unless the example of Cooke shall have infected one or two of the first actresses in England with the itch of migration. The epilogue was delivered with force and spirit; but with a little too much of the latter, and too much action and locomotion. Mrs. Beaumont frequently reminded us, this evening, of Mrs. Whitlock.
In Evander, WARREN was, altogether, respectable: in some passages he displayed considerable pathos. His figure, however, is rather against him for this old Grecian; when he pathetically enough said
Oh! my heart,
we could not help thinking that “he did not quite look the thing."
Philotas is not enough for Wood. But he made the most of it.
For such characters as Dionysius M‘KENZIE seems formed. The merit of understanding his author (and a great and rare one it is) criticism has not often cause to deny to Mr. M.Kenzie. The tyrant of Syracuse he conceives well, and executes as well as he conceives. The terrors of his deep and hollow voice, which, in such characters as this, are peculiarly useful to him, unfit him for the personification of others, for which he has a sufficiency of other requisites.
The Highland Reel followed; in which Jefferson did much more justice to Shelty than in the Sultan he did to Osmyn.
Looking over our journal, we find that the next character in which Mrs. Beaumont offers herself for critical examination, is that of Madam Clermont, in Adrian and Orrilla, or a Mother's Vengeance.
Of Mrs. Beaumont's Madam Clermont we had heard much in praise from persons on whose judgment we placed much reliance; and we confess that we were not disappointed. In one place excepted, we did not remark the least of that extravagant action, to which we so much regret our being obliged to advert. This play has been so often acted, and every line and character of it is by this time so familiar to the public, that it would be a waste of time and print to enter into an analysis of it, or to speak of the actors, of whom we have already said all that it is needful to say. Mrs. Wood lost, in the revolutions of the past recess, nothing of her interest and charms in Orrilla.
To the play succeeded the old afterpiece of the Citizen, written by Arthur Murphy, the author of the Grecian Daughter, &c., and now brought forward to exhibit Mrs. Beaumont in the lively character of Maria; in which she proved that she possesses a rich vein of comic humor, independent of grimace and buffoonery; bad habits, for which our popular comedians, with few exceptions, stand in the heavy censure of criticism. In Maria she was really comical; and in her management of the trick played off on young Philpot, to deter him from marrying her, did her business with skill. Jefferson was as usual extravagantly funny in the young citizen; and Warren, in the old father, by being much more chaste, was more truly comic than either of them.
Indisposition, to our great regret as well as pain, prevented us from seeing Mrs. Beaumont in Letitia Hardy, in the Belle's Stratagem. From several quarters, however, we learned, and it costs us nothing to believe it, that the sprightly Belle was indebted to her for many beauties. In Ella Rosenberg, however, which she played after Letitia, the praise bestowed upon her performance is much more absolute and unmixed. It has been represented as a chefd'æuvre of histrionism. Our informants we know are warm admirers of Mrs. Beaumont's acting: yet we confide in their assertion. Upon the same authority we rely so much, that we venture to affirmn (on sight unseen as they say) that much also may be said in praise of Warren's Hardy.
We must here drop Mrs. Beaumont till our next number, in order to announce that the managers have in rehearsal two new pieces: one a new comedy, called “ The DOUBTFUL Son," the other a tragedy, intitled “ DE MONFORT." As an analysis of a new piece must be more pleasing and useful to readers before than after representation, we employ the first means that present themselves of giving a short account of these two productions, and first of the comedy of
THE DOUBTFUL SON. Mr. Diamond, to whom the public already stand indebted for several dramatic productions, viz. “ The Hero of the North," “ The Hunter of the Alps,” « Adrian and Orrilla,” and “ The Foundling of the Forest,” is the author of this piece, which was, for the first time, performed during the last summer at the Haymarket theatre in London. The plot is briefly as follows.
Alfonso, marquis of Lerida, a high Spanish nobleman, having at à very early age married Victoria, the only child and heiress of an ancient, opulent, and noble family of Spain, had in a short time after their nuptials gone off to South America, to take upon him the office of governor of Mexico, to which he had been then recently appointed, and left his wife, the marchioness, behind him in a state of pregnancy. It appears from circumstances disclosed in the play, that a considerable time antecedent to her union with the marquis, Victoria had been clandestinely married to a young military officer, who resided as a dependent in her father's palace; and who, being ordered with his corps against the Moors, was killed by them in battle. This first marriage of hers remained concealed from the father, till the birth of a son disclosed to him the
secret. The marquis of Lerida having in the mean time fallen in love with Victoria, having no conception of her private connexion, and not at all suspecting her to be a mother or a wife, had demanded her in marriage; to which her father, without consulting her inclinations or asking her acquicscence, had immediately agreed. Upon the discovery of her marriage, the father's anger being appeased by the death of her husband, and the prospect of repairing the injury by joining his widowed daughter to the marquis, he resolved carefully to conceal the secret, took the child from her, sent it to nurse in a peasant's cottage in the Pyrenean mountains, and by violent threats and denunciations, which kept her in apprehension for the safety of her babe's life, induced her to give a reluctant consent to marry the marquis of Lerida, who was all along kept in profound ignorance of her real situation.
No sooner had the marquis departed for Mexico than she, resolving to see her infant, the darling fruit of her first marriage and only love, set out on a visit to the hut in the Pyrenees where it was kept; and during her journey, sinking under the pressure of anxiety and fatigue, fell into premature labour, and was delivered of an infant which immediately died. In the confusion and distress attendant on this accident, she listened to the counsel of her attendant FLORIBEL, whose fidelity she had long proved, and, on her suggestion, substituted Leon, her child by her first husband, in the place of the deceased infant, and thus accomplished the twofold purpose of concealing her untoward accident, and placing the child of her heart not only in her own house but in the ultimate inheritance of a splendid title and an immense estate. In order to give full effect to her plan, and secure it completely from detection, she continued to travel till the disparity of age, between the living infant and the dead one, became wholly imperceptible; and on the marquis's return from South America, she presented Leon to him as his son; in which character the unsuspecting nobleman brought him up and educated him. In the mean time the marquis having, by an illicit connexion with a Mexican lady, had a daughter named Rosaviva, of which he resolved to take care, brought her over to old Spain with him as a child intrusted to his guardianship by a deceased friend, and keeping her in his palace educated her as his ward. Between this young lady and Leon a strong attachment had taken place.
Thus things stand at the palace of Lerida in Madrid when the patron the
play commences; at which crisis the marquis has for some time had information that LEON was not his child. His grief preys upon his health, and his indignation is inflamed to fury by the artifices of a wicked wretch of the name of Malvorli, a Portuguese by birth, whom he entertains about him as a private secretary. This villain, raised from the lowest and most obscure condition by the marquis's bounty, but indued with uncommon subtlety in concealing the worst passions and the most guilty purposes under the plausible appearance of gratitude, zeal, and fidelity, has contrived not only to insinuate himself into the unlimited confidence of his marquis, but to worm himself into the favour and good opinion of the lady, and to manage her with such address as to cajole her out of the great important secret of her life, or in other words to obtain from her a full discovery of her former connexion, and of the real parentage of Leon.
Having armed himself for his mischievous plan of operations in this subtle and treacherous manner, he proceeds with his design; which is to persuade the marquis to give him the hand of Rosaviva, and to settle his estate upon them on the marriage. To this end he at once inflames the jealousy of the marquis, informs Leon privately that Rosaviva is his sister, and terrifies the marchioness from revealing to her husband the whole truth respecting her first connexion and the birth of Leon; and while he thus artfully plays upon the credulity of each, succeeds in his scheme so far that he obtains the marquis's consent to his marriage with Rosaviva, together with an entire surrender of the castle of Lerida and all his estates, to the complete disinherizon of Leon: contracts are even signed to the effect, and anxiety and apprehension are wound up to a painful pitch for the fate of the family, when there appears at the castle a stranger of the most extraordinary dark and terrible character, who all at once discloses that he holds a secret and unaccountable power over the villain Malvogli: some mysterious authority, which he exercises with an effect that cannot be resisted. This fellow, whose name is Borrachio, had been long it appears an associate in guilt and deeds of darkness with Malvogli, whose real name is Ruffaldi; and he developes a whole train of villany in which they were both confederated. In consequence of this discovery the marriage of Rosaviva is prevented; the marchioness is restored to the good opinion, the confidence, and the affection of her husband; and Leon receives the hand of Rosaviva from the marquis.