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of its influence and effects, which the reader will meet with in the perusal of these volumes. It is not, therefore, to be wondered that the Drama should possess a paramount interest, and excite so considerable a degree of curiosity with respect to its history, and that of celebrated characters who have been connected with it, whether as authors or actors.
To supply this gratification, many historical and biographical works have been written, which have always been eagerly perused; but although their pages possess many interesting facts, together with anecdotes curious and rare, yet most of them are encumbered with a prolixity of matter, and dryness of detail, inseparable from the nature of their plans, which, however much it may charm the Antiquary and patient inquirer, is ill suited to the tasteful reader, who requires that information and amusement should go hand in hand.
To accomplish a design of this varied and desirable nature, and produce a work replete with anecdote and with historic fact, combining, in each page, research and gaiety,-has been the object of the Editor;how far he has fulfilled his own intention must be left to the judgment of the reader, which will, of course, be decided rather by his performance than by his professions in a Preface.
BY M. TALMA.
I have no pretension to be an author: all my studies have been directed towards my profession; the object of which is, to offer, at the same time, pleasure and instruction. Tragedy and comedy, by painting virtue and crime, vice and folly, interest us or make us laugh, at the same time that they correct and instruct. Associated with great authors, actors are to them more than translators : a translator adds nothing to the ideas of the author he translates; while the comedian, putting himself faithfully in the place of the personage he represents, ought to perfect the idea of the author of whom he is the interpreter. One of the greatest misfortunes of our art is, that it dies, as it were, with us; while all other artists leave behind them monuments of their works :
the talent of the actor, when he has quitted the stage, no longer exists, save in the recollection of those who have seen and heard him. This consideration ought to give a greater weight to the writings, the reflections, and the lessons, that great actors have left; and these writings may become still more useful, if they are commented on and discussed by actors, who have acquired some celebrity in our days.
This has induced me to throw together a few ideas on LEKAIN, and the art he carried to such perfection.*
Lekain had no master. Every actor ought to be his own tutor: if he has not in himself the necessary faculties for expressing the passions, and painting characters, all the lessons in the world cannot give them to him.
Genius is not ac
* Lekain was the contemporary of Garrick, and, like him, the greatest actor of bis day; they were excellent friends, and each fancied the other his superior. One day, Garrick and Lekain amused themselves in the Champs Elysées, at Paris, by counterfeiting drunkenness, to the great amusement of a crowd of bystanders : Lekain, at length, said, Well, my friend, do I perform it well?”—“Yes,” replied Garrick, hiccuping, very well; you are drunk all over, except your left leg."