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Napoleon in Egypt, Byron in Greece, Kean in Canada, --each at the head of his wild and half-savage tribe,-present analogies which the shades of the sceptered soldier and the laurelled lord must not take fright at. They were each, on their several stages, acting the self-same part-straining for the world's applause, not labouring for their own delight; and though there was more greatness in the one instance, and more glory in the other, the inspiration was, perhaps, precisely similar in all. The grand distinction in favour of Napoleon was, all through, not that he was an emperor, but that he was an original. Byron was an extravagant copy; Kean an absurd one.
But if we take the closing scenes of the three-St. Helena, Missolonghi, Richmond; and it requires no overstretch of fancy to trace the parallel, - Kean had the great advantage, in the assuaging farewell of an only ehild, and the embraces of an injured but relenting wife, from which latter the premature death of his had debarred Napoleon, and which distance alone (let us hope) denied to Byron.
Even though Kean, in the early summer of his celebrity, rejected with violent (and also, be it allowed, with vulgar) scorn the proffered society of the great, he might wisely, at this epoch, have retired into the simple range of the middle classes, with the respectable reserve of a Kemble, a Young, or a Macready. He might, like them, have been an honour to his profession, the founder of his family's fortune; and today, and for many days to come, alive, and well, and happy. But he had been inoculated with the rage for notoriety; and that he was resolved to obtain, even at the price of ruin--and to seek, even in the depths of disrepute. - What were the particulars of his conduct at this time I had no opportunities of learning, and no desire to learn. I was sorry to see him so evidently drop off from his more respectable connexions. The “ evil days” on which he fell I was soon out of the way of knowing the details of; but I heard much of his extravagance,-his feats of horsemanship and boatmanship--wouderful journeys and rowing-matches-- freaks of unseemly presumption with regard to authors--affairs of gallantryThames prize-wherries- & tame lion-and a secretary. By the aid of many a foolish accessory, poor Kean was gaining his object and wasting his means ; filling the penny trumpet of an ignoble fame; squandering the fine revenue arising from his professional receipts; and losing, one by one, his grieved supporters, who clung to him long, in spite of the frantic obstinacy with which he tore himself away. And all this I maintain to have been foreign from the ruling tendencies of his mind. Early impressions may perhaps have deceived me; but I can never forget the modest, unassuming demeanour, and the respectable and industrious conduct of Kean, when I first knew him, before false taste and a bad example taught him an unreal estimate of renown.
And now the public began to grow discontented with the notoriously libertine life which Kean Ied. He had never, I believe, yet disappointed a London audience, but on one occasion. The circumstances of this one he often related to me. He had gone to dine somewhere about ten miles from town with some old friends of early days, players, of course, fully intending to be at the theatre in time for the evening's performance. But temptation and the bottle were too strong for him; he out. stayed his time, got drunk, and lost all recollection of Shakspeare, Shylock, Drury Lane, and the duties they entailed on him. His friends, frightened at the indiscretion they had caused, despatched Kean's servant, with his empty chariot, and a well-framed story, that the horses had been frightened, near the village where Kean had dined, at a flock of geese by the road-side ; that the carriage was upset, and the unfortunate tragedian's shoulder dislocated. This story was repeated from the stage by the manager ; and the rising indignation of the audience (who had suffered the entertainments to be commenced by the farce) was instantly calmed down into commiseration and regret.
The following morning Kean was shocked and bewildered at discovering the truth of his situation. But how must his embarrassment have been increased on learning that several gentlemen had already arrived from town to make anxious inquiries for him ? He jumped out of bed, and, to his infinite affright, he saw, amongst the carriages, those of Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Whitbread, and others of his leading friends, whose regard for him brought them to see into his situation in person. Luckily for him, his old associates, the actors, had, with great presence of mind and practised effrontery, carried on the deception of the preceding night. The village apothecary lent himself to it, and, with a grave countenance, confirmed the report; and Kean himself was obliged to become a party, nolens volens, in the hoax. His chamber was accordingly darkened, his face whitened, his arm bandaged. A few of the most distinguished inquirers were admitted to his bed-side: no one discovered the cheat; and, to crown it completely, he appeared, in an incredibly short time, on the boards of old Drury again, the public being carefully informed that his respect and gratitude towards them urged him to risk the exertion, notwithstanding his imperfect convalescence, and to go through the arduous parts of Richard, Macbeth, and Othello, on three successive nights, with his arm in a sling!
This circumstance occurred before I renewed my acquaintance with Kean in London, in 1817; but he could not so successfully conceal the open irregularities of his life. His professional reputation remained long at its great elevation; but his moral fame was fast sinking. He, by degrees, disgusted those who had been his firmest upholders; he dropped, little by little, out of the best society; and I believe it was only at his own house, where several persons of great respectability continued to visit, that he saw any company but the dissipated dregs of Life in London.”
(To be concluded in our next.)
iis THE FACTORY.
Voice of humanity' whose stirring cry
Long hast thou echoed from the distant wave
How much of slavery is in the name !
Waits without hope the morning's tardy ray,
The day is done—the weary sun hath set-
C. E. N.
Sept.-VOL. IXXIX. NO. CLII.
A SKETCH FROM NATURE.
It was to the late Captain Chronic, R.N., I am indebted for the pleasure of being but very slightly acquainted with Richard Doleful, Esquire. The father of Dick had, during the Captain's long and frequent absences on service, acted as his agent and factotum: receiving his pay and his prize-money, managing his disbursements, and investing the annual surplus to the best advantage; and I incline to attribute to old Chronic's kindly and grateful remembrance of the father, rather than to any personal regard for the son, his tolerance of the latter as the almost daily visiter at his house. Dick's “ good friends” are “sorry to admit” that there are many bad points about him; his “ best friends” compassionate him into the possession of ten times more: hence it may be inferred that Dick, upon the whole, is a much better person than the best of his friends. Yet even I, who do not presume to be his friend, consequently have no motive for speaking in his disparagement, must allow him to be a very unpleasant fellow. Now, as the term unpleasant fellow” may be variously interpreted, I would have it distinctly understood that I do not mean to accuse him of ever having thrashed his grandmother, or kicked his father down stairs, or poisoned a child, or set fire to a barn, or burked a female young, beautiful, and virtuous, or encouraged an organ-grinder or a Scotch bagpiper to make a hideous noise under his window, or, in short, of any enormous wickedness; I mean—and whether his case may be rendered better or worse by the explanation, must depend upon individual taste-I mean only that he is a bore.
For the last three years of his life, the Captain, whose health was gradually declining under the effects of an uncured and incurable wound in the side, had scarcely ever quitted his house; and for a considerable portion of that period he was unable, without assistance, to move from his sofa. In addition to his sufferings from his glorious wound, he was subject to the occasional attacks of inglorious gout, and of three visits a day from Dick Doleful. Under such a complication of ailments, his case, both by his friends and his physicians, had long been considered hopeless. Indeed the Captain himself seemed aware of the fatal character of the last-named malady; and more than once expressed an opinion, that if he could be relieved from that, he had strength and stamina sufficient to conquer the others. I paid him a visit one day, and entered his room just as Mr. Doleful was leaving it. Doleful sighed audibly, shook his head, muttered “
Our poor dear friend !” and withdrew. This, from other person,
I should have construed into a hint that our poor dear friend” was at his last gasp; but being acquainted with Mr. Doleful's ways, I approached the Captain as usual, shook his hand cordially, and, in a cheerful tone, inquired how he was getting on.
“Ah, my dear fellow,” said he, at the same time slowly lifting his head from the sofa-cushion, “ I'm glad to see you ; it does me good; you ask me how I do, and you look, and you speak as if you thought there was some life in me. But that Mr. Doleful-! Here he comes, Sir, three times a day; walks ivto the room on tiptoe, as if he thought I hadn't nerve to bear the creaking of a shoe; touches the tip of one of
my fingers as if a cordial grasp would shatter me to atoms; and says, 'Well, how d’ye do now, Captain ?' with such a look, and in such a tone-! it always sounds to my ears, "What! ar'n't you dead yet, Captain ?' Then he sits down in that chair; speaks three words in two hours, and that in a whisper; pulls a long face; squeezes out a tear-his dismal undertaker-countenance lowering over me all the while! I'm not a nervous man, but—"; and here he rose from his sofa, struck a blow on a table which made every article upon it spin, and roared out in a voice loud enough to be heard from stem to stern of his old seventyfour, the Thunderer:-" I'm not a nervous man; but d-n me if he doesn't sometimes make me fancy I'm riding in a hearse to my own funeral, with him following as chief mourner. I shall die of him one of these days," added he emphatically, “ I know I shall."
“ He is not exactly the companion for an invalid,” said I : “the cheerful address of a friend, and his assuring smile, are important auxiliaries to the labours of the physician; whilst, on the contrary, the "
Aye, aye; the bore of such visits as his! They would make a sound man sick, and hasten a sick man to the grave. And, then, that face of his! I couldn't help saying to him the other day, that when I shot away the figure-head of the French frigate, La Larmoyeuse, I should have liked to have his to stick up in its place.
" It is evident his visits are irksome and injurious to you. Why, then, do you encourage them ?”
“ I don't encourage them, and if he had any feeling he would perceive I don't; but bores have no feeling. Besides, I can't altogether help myself. His father was useful to me, he managed my money-matters at home when I was afloat - a kind of work I never could have done for myself—and so well, too, that I consider my present independence as of his creating. Remembering this, I could not decently toss the son out of window, do you think I could? Eh?”
My honest opinion upon the matter being one which might have put the Captain to some trouble at his next interview with the gentlemau in question, I suppressed it, and merely observed, “ Mr. Doletul has told me how useful his father was to you.
Aye, and so he tells everybody, and so he reminds me as often as I see him, and that's a bore. Now, I am not an ungrateful man, and am as litile likely as any one to forget a friend, or a friend's son; but every time this king of the Dismals reminds me of my obligation, I consider the debt of gratitude as somewhat diminished : so that if I live much Jonger, the score will be entirely rubbed out, and then, d-n me, but I will toss him out of window.”
After a momentary pause the Captain resumed :
“ Then, there's another bore of his. We take physic because we are obliged to take it; it isn't that we like it, you know, nobody does, that ever I heard of. Now, he fancies that I can't relish my medicine from any hands but his, and he will stand by whilst I take my pills, and my draughts, and my powders. Ipecacuanha and Dick Doletul! Faugh! two doses at once! Will you believe it, my dear fellow? the two ideas are 20 connected in my mind that I never see physic without thinking of Dick Doleful, nor Dick Doleful without thinking of physic. I must own I don't like him the better for it, and that he might perceive. But, as I said before, bores have no feeling--they have no perceptions--they