23 OCTOBER 1841, Page 10


WHAT a mistake is the attempt to revive popular pieces that delighted the last generation of playgoers! The great bulk of dramatic enter- tainments owe their temporary prosperity to the author's success in ap- pealing to the sympathies or prejudices of the audiences of the day, and in fitting the peculiarities of a particular set of performers : thus the very elements of their passing popularity are fatal to their perma- nent interest. It is only the few masterpieces of art in comedy, and those exalted forms of tragedy wherein the dramatist embodies the passions of human nature—creations which "belong not to an age but to all time "—that are calculated to live beyond the moment That the players should overlook these obvious conditions of the drama, is natural ; for they view it on the wrong side, and study it by the lights of the green-room. Its characters exist only in their associations with the great artists who stamped the individuality of each ; and they fondly think that an imitation of what was done before will give substance and life to the flitting s'hapes. But to fill out the shadowy outline cast .on the memory by gigantic powers, demands a genius of commensurate stature. Those characters that are created by the actor should die with him : the best memorial of his fame would be the number of parts that ceased to be a hen be left the stage. The player Ai ho comes after him only provokes a disadvantageous comparison : it may be better or worse, but it is not the same thing ; and not only those who know the original, but such as have beard or read of it, form an idea of their own, that no excellence, however rare, can come up to. To succeed in a part under these circumstances, a new actor must be greater than his predecessor; in which case, it is hardly worth while to take the pains to eclipse a star that has set. SHAKSPERE'S characters are exceptions ; for they have an universal existence not subject to time—" age cannot wither them, nor custom stale their infinite variety." The greatest praise of a player is to say that he animated the part by his talents : the merit of an actor who plays SHAESPERE well, consists in his being ani- mated with the soul of the poet : in the one case he bestows a factitious life, in the other he receives a divine inspiration. There may be more recipients than we know of, but the difficulty is to show it.

We would fain have been spared the necessity of making these re-

marks, for the occasion that immediately suggested them is past ; but they are of too frequent application to be needless. MORTON'S senti- mental comedy The School rf Reform was performed—we cannot say revived—at the Haymarket on Tuesday, by particular request of some one who had heard of, but could hardly have seen, EMERY'S _Robert Tyne. Mr. WEBSTER essayed his best to recal the memory of that terrible picture of a rustic horror-struck at his own guilt, and seeking oblivion in the depths of depravity and the recklessness of despair : but his effort merely showed the impossibility of imitative skill to realize a spontaa neons conception.

SHERIDAN KNOWLES'S comedy has been improved by judicious cur- tailments; and the Old Maids having such arch representatives, and power of fine clothes, find admiring listeners to their tete-k-tite dis- courses. The indisposition of Miss Bemasi caused the new ballet, Bans of Iceland, to be kept back a few nights : on which occasions the vocal corps had an opportunity of displaying their capabilities in Fra Diavolo and O'KEEFE'S musical afterpieee The Poor Soldier. Of Miss KAINFORTH and Mr. HARRISON we need not speak at all ; and of the new vocalists, Mr. G. HORNCASTLE and Mr. CLEMENT WHITE, we wish to say as little as possible. Mr. HORNCASTLE'S performance of Lord Allcash is admirable as a piece of acting : the ease and self- possession of his manner bespoke the gentleman, and he made himself ludicrous without becoming vulgar; but neither he nor Mr. WHITE have as yet shown any qualifications for grand opera. Who is to support Miss ADELAIDE KEMBLE in .Norma, we have yet to see : she makes her debilt at Covent Garden on Monday week. Report speaks very highly of her powers—and of her acting even more than her singing : however this may be, her advent will make a sensation in the theatrical world. Mks HELEN EAUCIT'S benefit, at the Haymarket, and the first performance of 1Vina Sforza, are announced for the same night : but that arrangement will surely be altered.