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interrogated by Mr. Birnie, the Magistrate ; and from the wild and incoherent manner in which he conducted himself, there is very little doubt of his being insane."
The scenes that were on at the time the pistol was fired, were then put up again and examined, when it was ascertained, that several shots had perforated through the left back scene, &c., and some had struck the back of the orchestra.
His name was Barnett, and he was tried for the offence at the Old Bailey, but it being proved on the trial that he was insane, he was doomed according to the law, in such cases, to be confined for life in New Bethlem.
PERFORMERS TURNING PALE.
“I have lately been told, (says the author of the Lick at the Laureat, a virulent invective against Colley Cibber, published in the year 1730) by a gentleman, who has seen Betterton perform Hamlet, that he observed his countenance, which was naturally ruddy and sanguine, in the scene of the third act where his father's ghost appears, through the violent and sudden emotion of amazement and horror, turn instantly, on the sight of his father's spirit, as pale as his
Deckcloth; when his whole body seemed to be affected with a tremor inexpressible; so that, had his father's ghost actually risen before him, he could not have been seized with more real agonies. And this was so strongly felt by the audience, that the blood seemed to shudder in their veins likewise ; and they, in some measure, partook of the astonishment and horror with which they saw this excellent actor affected.”
A similar trait is recorded of Baron, the contemporary Roscius of the French Theatre; but whether the expression of the English or French tragedian was most consonant to nature, and appropriate to the circumstances of the scene, must be left to the judgment of the critics. That of Baron appears, at least, the most difficult of execution, but it does not follow that what is most difficult is the most deserving of applause. It is related in the “ Anecdotes Dramatiques," that when this celebrated actor, after a secession of almost thirty years, returned to the stage, he made his first re-appearance, in the character of Cinna, in Corneille's tragedy of that name. His manner was só different from that to which the audiences of those days had been accustomed, that he was at first coldly received, until he re
peated the following lines, which present a lively portrait of the conspirators in that tragedy :
Vous eussiez vu leurs yeux s'enflammer de fureur ;
Leurs fronts palir d'horreur, et rougir de çolère, It is said, that when he pronounced the last line, Baron's paleness of countenance was visible, and was rapidly succeeded by a flush of red; and that this extraordinary effort convinced the spectators, that the actor entered, by a kind of magic power, into the very spirit of the character.
Other players have been known to exhibit similar instances of this wonderful power of expression, but those two are fully sufficient to refute the assertion which Steevens has ventured to make, in a note to a passage in“Hamlet,” “that no performer was ever yet found, whose feelings were of such exquisite sensibility, as to produce paleness in any situation in which the drama could place him.”
GARRICK AND RICH. Soon after the appearance of Garrick, at Drury Lane Theatre, to which he, by his astonishing powers, brought all the world, while Rich was playing his pantomimes at Covent
Garden, to empty benches, he met Garrick, one morning, at the Bedford Coffee House. Haying fallen into conversation, Garrick asked the Covent Garden manager, how much his house would hold, when crowded with company. master,” said Rich, “ I cannot well tell; but if you will come and play Richard, for one night, I shall be able to give an accurate account."
FOOTE, AND JUDGE ROBINSON. When Foote was tried in Dublin, for the libel upon George Faulkner, the printer, (whom he dramatised as Peter Paragraph,) the late Judge Robinson was one of the bench. This was an old, crabbed, peevish gentleman, who wore a wig of a singular shape, with his forehead very much disfigured with blotches, which, when in an ill temper, he was in the habit of picking off and throwing down upon the clerks, attornies, &c., beneath the bench. Shortly after his trial, Foote appeared upon the stage as Justice Midas, with a costume, wig, and countenance, so exactly like that of the judge, and with the blotches which he picked and distributed, with gestures so perfectly according with the model, that the whole audience, by most of whom he was known (especially in the gallery), were convulsed with laughter, and many cried out Robinson! Robinson !
NORRIS Was a man that seemed to derive the chief of his fame from the oddity of his little formal figure, and his singular squeaking tone of voice, which were so remarkable, that his entrance into a coffee house, and calling to the waiter to bring a dish of coffee, in his soberest strain, always raised a smile on the face of the gravest man present. When Farquhar brought out his “ Constant Couple," Norris was so universally admired in the part of Dicky, that, to the time of his death, he retained the name of Jubilee Dicky.
Quite worn out with age, as he lay bed-ridden, his relations would send for a physician, although contrary to his positive order: when the doctor came to his bed-side, he asked the patient the usual questions, to which Norris returned no answer; but, being pressed to speak, he turned his head, and significantly said, in his intuitively comic squeaking tone of voice,“ Doctor, pray can you tell how to make an old clock
go, when all the wheels are worn out?”
MARGARET, DUTCHESS OF NEWCASTLE. This lady, who wrote an abundance of plays and poems, philosophical discourses, &c. &c.,