Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII-XX Centuries

By A. C. Ward | Go to book overview

THOMAS BETTERTON

BETTERTON was an Actor, as Shakespear was an Author, both without Competitors! form'd for the mutual Assistance, and Illustration of each other's Genius! How Shakespear wrote, all Men who have a Taste for Nature may read, and know--but with what higher Rapture would he still be read, could they conceive how Betterton play'd him! Then might they know, the one was born alone to speak what the other only knew, to write! Pity it is, that the momentary Beauties flowing from an harmonious Elocution, cannot like those of Poetry, be their own Record! That the animated Graces of the Player can live no longer than the instant Breath and Motion that presents them; or at best can but faintly glimmer through the Memory, or imperfect Attestation of a few surviving Spectators. Could how Betterton spoke be as easily known as what he spoke; then might you see the Muse of Shakespear in her Triumph, with all her Beauties in their best Array, rising into real Life, and charming her Beholders. But alas! since all this is so far out of the reach of Description, how shall I shew you Betterton? Should I therefore tell you, that all the Othellos, Hamlets, Hotspurs, Mackbeths, and Brutus's, whom you may have seen since his Time, have fallen far short of him; this still would give you no Idea of his particular Excellence. Let us see then what a particular Comparison may do! whether that may yet draw him nearer to you?

You have seen a Hamlet perhaps, who, on the first Appearance of his Father's Spirit, has thrown himself into all the straining Vociferation requisite to

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Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII-XX Centuries
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • London Theatres in the 1660s 21
  • Betterton's Benefit 44
  • Thomas Betterton 46
  • Garrick's First Performance in London 60
  • Mr. Partridge Sees Garrick 63
  • 'the Beggar's Opera': 18th Century 69
  • Mrs. Siddons 84
  • Others--And Mrs. Siddons 89
  • 'the Beggar's Opera': 19th Century 93
  • Kean as Richard the Third 96
  • On Actors and Acting 101
  • On the Artificial Comedy of The Last Century 112
  • Phelps at Sadler's Wells 123
  • At the Pantomime 130
  • 'Caste' 132
  • On Natural Acting 142
  • Ellen Terry 154
  • Ellen Terry 159
  • Irving in Shakespeare 162
  • 'Ghosts' 182
  • 'Arms and the Man' 190
  • 'trilby' 198
  • Donkey Races 203
  • Forbes Robertson's Hamlet 208
  • 'trelawny of the "Wells"' 218
  • F. R. Benson's Richard II 222
  • Dan Leno 231
  • The Wild Duck' 237
  • 'the Playboy of the Western World'1 248
  • P. D. Kenny 254
  • Granville Barker's Production Of 'twelfth Night' 260
  • 'the Pretenders' 264
  • 'A Bill of Divorcement' 282
  • The Search for the Masterpiece 290
  • 'Peer Gynt' at the Old Vic 294
  • Marie Lloyd 297
  • 'the Way of the World' 302
  • 'Hamlet' in Modern Dress 307
  • A Creator 312
  • Biblical 'tobias and the Angel' 316
  • 'twelfth Night' at the Old Vic 321
  • 'Murder in the Cathedral' 326
  • 'As You like It' at the Old Vic 329
  • Editor's Note 331
  • Descriptive Index 333
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