THE reception which Mr. EDWIN Foitnasa, the American tragedian, met with at Drury Lane on Monday, must have convinced him of the hearty good.will with which an English audience is accustomed to welcome a stranger with the reputation of talent to recommend him. So far, therefore, that experiment has proved successful, which (as Mr. FORREST told his countrymen) his visit to us ivas to test,—namely, whether an American actor would be received in England as well as English actors commonly are in America. 1Ve pass over, as Mr. FORREST seems to have done, the favour shown to his countrymen Air. HACKETT and Mr. GEORGE JONES, who, though not eminently suc- cessful, were at least kindly treated. Mr. FORREST is considered, we believe, the greatest actor—or rather, the first great actor—that America has produced : and we have thaught it worth while thus par- ticularly to allude to the warmth of his reception, because we mama, we regret to say, assign to him that exalted station in the drama which he seems ambitious to fill ; and we are anxious to prove to him MU: our Transatlantic brethren, (who, we believe, are a little touchy on this point,) that his beieg an American citizen has rather operated lit his favour than against him.
Mr. Fortaasr has many personal requisites for the stage. Ile is rather above the ordinary stature, with a strongly-knit and extremely muscular frame, finely formed, especially the upper part, but of pro- portions inclining to those of the Hercules rather than the Apollo. His face is well. featured, mid may be termed handsome, though it is not susceptible of delicate inflexions of expression ; tied his eye is bright mid piercing. His voice is sonorous and pow Cl ; but not being skilfully managed, it is uneven, abrupt in its transitions, and at times harsh and unpleasieg. His action is bold and energetic, rather than graceful or commanding.
Mr. FORREST'S style of acting is artificial and declamatory. ills delivery is painfully slow ; his manlier studiously elaborate ; he wants passion and tire, as well as dignity and grandeur. His velle. mace is premeditated ; his eatotiAls are superficial and got up—he gives warning before be snikes. Ile vents his rage in harsh guttural sounds, and his tenderness and pathos in muffled tones; the only va- riety of physiognomical expression being a smiling look, which a fine set of teeth makes very agreeable, and a grim scowl, rendered more ferocious by the meetiug of his eyebrows. The cletracter of Spur- laces is peculiarly well adapted to display Mr. FoaltasT's powers to advantage; for they are wholly of the physical order. His form and action realize the beau ideal of a gladiator ; and his combat is one of the finest exhibitions of the kind ever seen on the stage. In one re- spect, however, he dues not do full justice to this character. Sparta- cm was a Thracian shepherd, taken captive by the Romans, and made a gladiator against his will, on account of his athletic form. Instead of the free and rugged vigour of the untamed barbarian, reluctantly bending his Herculean strength to the revolting task, we see the prac- tised athlete, with sleek form and well-braced sinews, proud of his strength and skill, though with a sullen impatience of the degradation of fighting for a show, and a uatural aversion to murder an antagonist in cold blood.
The story of' Spartacus is familiar to most of our readers. II: Dr. BIRD'S tragedy, lie is represented as consenting to light in the arena only upon condition that his wife and child, who also had been made slaves, should be purchased by his own master; and the revolt of the gladiators is brought about by the Prtetor trying to compel Spartucus to .fight with his own brother. Spartacus heads an army of* revolted slaves, and is at first victorious; but divisions amongst the leaders cause the defeat of his troops; and finding his wife and child are slain, he rushes into the thick of the fight, and falls covered with wounds.
Of the merits of' the tragedy, the less said the better. The interest centres wholly in Spartacus, who is almost constantly before the audi- ence; yet it affords the actor but small scope; nod by its want of con- nexion, progression, and interest, does little towards exciting an interest in the fate and fortunes of the hero. These are drawbacks which Mr. FORREST should have the full benefit of; but even with this allowance we think Le is entitled to very moderate praise ; judging from what be made of the few opportunities he had for the display of fine acting. His yearnings for his native country—his unexpected meeting with his wife and child, whom he had given up as dead—the discovery of his brother in the person of his intended antagonist in the arena—the part- ing from his family, and his hearing the tidings of their death from the lips of his dying brother—all these are situations which, however feebly wrought up by the dramatist, give occasion for the manifestation of such deep and strong feeling, that, if the actor possessed an ordinary share of sensibility and pathos, would be sure to carry the sympathy of the audience with him. Iti each and all of these scenes, Mr. FORREST evinced a want of spontaneous heart-felt emotion, which was poorly substituted by violent efforts to depict agony of soul by choking utterance, gasping breath, and contortions of feature and limb. His ex- pression of endearment is more like canting or coaxing: in slit:at, his simulation of feeling and passion is merely mechanical. His hands and his whole frame shake with seeming agitation, and he gives vehe- ment utterance to words of violent meaning ; but he never lures his self-possession, and the next moment he appears cool and collected as if nothing had happened. Occasionally he imitates the compressed energy and fixed determination of KEAN'S manner, particularly in the delivery of points of sarcasm ; but without its force and withering effect. Animal strength and physical power are his sole characteristics. It is needless to add, that in refinement and elevation of sentiment, Mr. FORREST is utterly deficient. In a word, he is a vigorous melodramatic actor. We should rank him with HENRY WA LLACK, whom he often reminded us of; though we think WALLACK would play the part of Spartacus with more earnestness and less appearance of effort. Mr. FO BREST, however, should appear in a better drama, and a character frumhtu' to the English public and suitable to his powers— William Tell, for instance. His range is evidently limited ; and we fear there are but few principal characters in SIIAKSPE A RE that he wuuld essay with much chance of success.
Mr. FORREST was well supported by COOPER, who played Phase.. rius, the brother of Spartaeus, with energy arid feeling. WARM per- sonated the Prtetor Crassus with propriety. Still higher praise is due to Miss Hummel' and Mrs. HOOPER ; who, though they mid only to be plaintive, performed that little they had to do with a delicacy and ten- derness that was quite touching. We welcome these ladies back to the London stage, and hope soon to see their powers developed to better advantage. Miss Ilennaufs merits have not been generally appreci. ated ; but she has now a &is opportunity of displaying her talents.