« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Creswick's Shylock contributes to form an impersonation finished and perfect; his reception and recall were sufficiently enthusiastic to show him how thorough a hold he has taken of the public."
The following critique is extracted from the Melbourne Daily Telegraph of the 24th April, 1880:—“Mr. William Creswick is one of the last living representatives—and in every respect a most worthy one-of a great school of English actors, which includes Garrick, the Kemble family, Macready, Kean, and many a famous name besides. With this gentleman's retirement from the stage, an epoch in the history of the English drama all but closes. He is nearly the ultimus Romanorum, the last of a race of men who, by their extraordinary ability in their difficult profession, gladdened life, enhanced the gaiety of nations, raised the British stage to an unrivalled level of excellence, * above all Greek, all Roman fame,' and quite beyond the reach of French or Spanish emulation."
When at Melbourne, the Bishop (Dr. Moorhouse) invited Mr. Creswick to give a reading in his palace at Bishopscourt. Of course Mr. Creswick complied with the request. On this occasion he delivered the following: "As you Like it," Act 2; "Much Ado about Nothing" (Benedict and Beatrice) Hamlet and the Gravediggers; “Merchant of Venice” (the Trial Scene); the fall of Wolsey (“Henry VIII."). There was a large attendance of the clergy; the room was crowded, and conspicuous among those present were Lady Bowen, Miss Bowen, Lady Verdon, Mrs. Moorhouse, the Dean, the Chief Justice, Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Cairns (now of Edinburgh), &c. For this exhibition, Mr. Creswick was rewarded with a cheque for twenty guineas, which he generously presented to the Famine Fund. Nothing could have been more satisfactory than Mr. Creswick's visit to the Antipodes; it was, in point of fact, one great triumph, exceeding his most sanguine expectations. The impression he created was immense; the critiques we have quoted give the tone of the universal estimate of Mr. Creswick's unrivalled qualities. He not only added new laurels to his brow, but reaped a more substantial harvest of a golden kind. Before his departure his admirers made him many costly presents, among which were a beautiful meerschaum pipe, embossed with the royal arms of England, carved in most artistic style, and a massive gold cigar case, chased in a manner that could not be surpassed even in Bond Street.
After an absence of three years, Mr. Creswick returned to the metropolis, where he was hailed with delight and affectionate regard. His first public appearance was at his old home, the Surrey. The Athenæum gives an appreciative account; the reviewer says: Sheridan Knowles's. drama of Virginius' has been revived at the Surrey, for the re-appearance of Mr. Creswick after his return from Australia. This tragic masterpiece of a man who had a large measure of dramatic fire, provides Mr. Creswick with a character suited to his talents. The exposition of Virginius which is afforded is conventional in style, and is wholly unlike the modern school of tragic acting. It has, however, genuine power, and is in its sustained strength more effective than the spasmodic style which has sprung up of late into public favour. Mr. Creswick's powers have ripened, and his method has been matured during his absence, and his impersonation has variety and significance we failed to note in earlier performances.” He was to have given the frequenters of the Surrey a touch of his quality in “King Lear,” but was prevented through indisposition. After he recovered he fulfilled a short engagement at the Standard, personating, in which he is as youthful as ever, the glass of fashion and the mould of form-Hamlet, the martial Moor, &c. The London, Shakespeare, and Burns Clubs gave Mr. Creswick the heartiest of welcomes. There was a brilliant assemblage on the occasion, consisting of nearly four hundred ladies and gentlemen. As might be expected, many representatives of literature were present, and, as a testimony of Mr. Creswick's high character, also a number of the clergy. Many eloquent speeches were delivered, and a complimentary address was presented to Mr. Creswick. In the course of an apposite panegyric, Mrs. Fairfax expressed admirably the feelings of the meeting as well as of those outside of it. She truly said: “We ought to be particularly glad that Mr. Creswick has returned, because he really stands alone, not only as an actor of distinctive and special qualities, but as the representative of a school-as the younger member of that arch of great artists of which Macready was the central ornament.” A little later she added : “Mr. Creswick is an all round actor. There is no one at present on the British stage that can come anywhere near him. I will only ask where we have an actor who can take the whole range of classical drama, from Hamlet and Othello, to Virginius and Ingomar; who can play King Lear one night, Falstaff another; who, while unrivalled in such divergent parts as Mr. Oakley, Joseph Surface, and Petruchio, has not only played the part of Benedict to the admiration of immense audiences, but has actually doubled the parts of Benedict and Dogberry ?”
Mr. Creswick's professional career has been prolonged to a period of half a century, with considerable success, but not with more than deserved; in truth, we think the measure has been stinted. From the first to the last he has always been an ardent and devoted student. As an actor, he is sound, accomplished, and conscientious. A respecter of tradition, but not a slave, Mr. Creswick has always shown himself a man of thought, not only in original parts but in old ones. He thoroughly understands the value of elocution. Upon this point we reluctantly differ from the critic of the Times, commenting upon the Virginius of Mr. McCullough. The impression of that journal bearing date 27th ult., states that “the art of speaking is a lost one.” We beg to offer our opinion, and to affirm that it is not a "lost art” while William Creswick lives. He invariably appreciated and felt a poetical and picturesque passage, and always delivered it with correct emphasis, discretion, and harmonious intonation. In action he is never anything but plastic and graceful. Such a combination of transcendant endowments are not to be found in any other actor. To the qualities of the actor, we must add those of the man! Mr. Creswick has been twice married, and is a most excellent husband and father, an amiable and refined gentleman, and a staunch-hearted friend. We cannot more appropriately conclude this brief account than by appending the sonnet by the Honourable Mr. Norton, late Advocate-General of Madras, read by Mrs. Fairfax at the literary gathering previously referred to:
“Three times the sun hath coursed the zodiac through,
Since thou to the Antipodes did'st go.
If here the Tragic Muse, when he departs,
THE RIGHT HOXOURABLE WILLIAM COWPER, LORD MOUNT-TEMPLE, is the second son of Francis, Fifth Earl Cowper, by Emily Mary, daughter of the first Lord Melbourne, and uncle of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. His lordship was born on December 13th, 1811.
He was educated at Eton, and when he was sixteen years of age entered the Royal Horse Guards Blue, serving as Cornet and Lieutenant from 1827-32. In 1852, he was promoted to the rank of Brevet-Major. The celebrated poet, William Cowper, was cousin to the noble subject of this sketch, after whom he is named. In 1835 Lord MountTemple contested Hertford in the Liberal interest, commencing his official life as Private Secretary to his uncle, Lord Melbourne. On the Accession of Her Majesty, Lord Mount-Temple formed part of the Queen's Household, and remained as one of the Gentlemen in Waiting until the year 1840. Filling successively the responsible offices of Lord of the Admiralty, President of the Board of Health, and Vice-President of the Board of Trade, Lord MountTemple at a comparatively early age showed that he possessed the elements of a statesman, and he ultimately became the first of the Vice-Presidents of the Education Department; subsequently filling the office of Commissioner of Public Works. As has been well said, "his name will always be memorable as having made a much more enlightened use of the power attached to this office than any former Commissioner had made, for he commenced the cultivation of flowers in Hyde Park and all the parks in London. He transformed them from mere expanses of unadorned grass into scenes of beauty and delight for all classes. His exertions conferred upon the poorest Londoners the enjoyment of flower-gardens equal to those belonging to Her Majesty.” Amongst other Metropolitan improvements Lord Mount-Temple planned and put into execution that gigantic boulevard-the Thames Embankment.
Lord Mount-Temple, being President of the Commons Preservation Society, led the movement in which Professor Fawcett (the Postmaster-General), Sir Charles Dilke, and Mr. Shaw-Lefevre were active, for preserving open spaces and preventing the enclosure of the Royal forests and of those commons and waste lands adapted for the recreation of the public.
Lord Mount-Temple has of late years done much to remove the obstacles which stand in the way of women obtaining licenses to practise medicine. He brought before the House of Commons the injustice of the Law which prevented ladies, however qualified by knowledge and skill, from having a legal qualification to practise. The Bill he proposed for the registration of women who had obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine in Foreign universities induced the heads of the medical profession to agree to the legal registration of women as Licensed Practitioners, instead of M.D.'s-practically the same thing.
Although Lord Mount-Temple is an earnest Liberal, he has never allowed his Liberalism to stultify his theology. In his dealings with National Education he has always been a constant and consistent supporter of religious teaching, both in and out of office (as we have seen, his lordship was Vice-President of the Education Department). His addition to Mr. Forster's Bill for Compulsory Religious Education, known as the “Cowper-Temple Clause," has been more than justified by its results, although, we believe, that some sturdy Liberals were alienated from his lordship at the time in consequence. Without such a clause, the issue put to the ratepayers in electing the School Boards would have been Catechism or no Catechism, and, as we have been told,“ the supporters of unsectarian education would have voted with the anti-religious party against the Catechism ; but when the only issue was for or against the teaching of the Bible, cvery ratepayer who respected the Bible voted on the same side, and the majority in favour of this form of religious teaching became overwhelming, and saved a vast number of towns and parishes from the triumph of Secularism."
As a promoter of religious work, Lord Mount-Temple is