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Himcocid Tablets

Related article: profession been so honoured, or indeed more deserving of honour, and it is now almost taking rank as a recognised opening in life for any young man or woman of good family with intelligence and educa- tion. The emoluments of its leading members are very great, the life is not extremely trying and certainly its social position is above reproach when it can lead to the accolade of knighthood. But the actors of to-day are the legitimate descendants of a crowd of predecessors, who in an equal, perhaps in some cases a gTeater, degree, have given unmixed delight to earlier generations. The names of these predecessors were in their time household words, but the memory of even the most dis- tinguished among them is growing dim and it is with gratitude that we now receive from Mr. Wliytc the sumptuous volume just pub- lished by him on the " Actors of the Century."* * " Actors of the CcntuTy." by Frederk Whjte. (Geo. Bell & Sons.) i«99.] THE SPORTSMAN S LIBRARY. 121 The author has every possible qualification for the work that he has undertaken, for he is among the most experienced of our young dramatic critics, he has carefully studied the very voluminous and scattered theatrical literature, which we possess in *' biographies, histories, reminiscences, memoirs, miscellanies," and in his methods he has enrolled himself in the school of the kindly Charles Lamb, most appreciative of playgoers, most genial of essayists. We have all heard of the Kembles, of Mrs. Siddons who ** was tragedy personified," of her brother John Philip Kemble, of Charles and Stephen Kemble and some are old enough alas ! to re- member the Shakesperian readings of Fanny Kemble, last of a gifted family, but till now few of us had an opportunity of knowing their real history, the kind of charm that they exercised and their vicissi- tudes as public favourites. So now, for the first time, we learn much about Mrs. Jordan, the Keans, Macready and the con- temporaries of these traditional stars, and are brought down to the times when men, now old, were young and laughed with Robson, Jefferson, and Sot hern or have had their deepest feelings stirred by Fechter, Boucicault and Ristori. Mr. Whyte very reasonably divides his history into periods and thus groups the biographies and surroundings of the men and women about whom he tells into pictures that are remarkable for their clearness and careful colour- ing. He takes in detail the *' Days of the Kembles," " Kean and Booth," " Macready," " Mac- ready's Contemporaries," " The Stage in the Fifties," ** The Stage in the Sixties," finishing with our present time which he appro- priately styles "The Era of Irving." It is difficult to say in whicli period he is most at home and which he makes the most interesting, but undoubtedly we feel more of a personal sympathy with the later records, the sketches of the delightful artists, the oppor- tunity of seeing whom has been to many of us the head and front of so many bygone little social merrymakings. An early dinner and seats at the play! How many hours of unalloyed happiness do the words recall, and what pleasant reminis- cences cling about all London, and we may add many provincial, theatres ! And these happy hours are recalled vividly to our minds as we turn over the leaves of Mr. Whyte*s book. His pen has the* knack of. bringing before our mind*s eye the mise en scene which most impressed us ; once more we are sitting in the stalls, either bursting with laughter or, with a knot in the throat, struggling to repress an audible sob. And, good and sparkling as it is, the interest of Mr. Whyte's book does not depend on his writing alone. He has called in all the resources of art to assist him. Never have we seen a book more appropriately and charmingly illustrated. The stage heroes and stage beauties of to-day are often photo- graphed in their leading parts, wearing the most picturesque cos- tumes, in the most telling attitudes and we see their portraits in every shop window. But even thirty or forty years ago this custom did not generally exist and, unless the portrait of an actor or actress became a special study for an artist, scanty records of personal appearance were handed down to posterity. Mr. Whyte has been fortunate enough however to light upon Himcocid Tablets a ** veritable treasure trove " in a series of early photographs by M. Adolph Beau, which has 122 BAILY S MAGAZINE. [Febequt been hidden for many years and has now come to light, comprising Toole, Lady Bancroh, Robson, Fechter, Sothern, and making them show themselves to us again in the old guise that once they wore. On revient toujours a ses premiers amours, and good as the ladies and gentlemen may be who now tread the boards, what would we not give to see again as once we saw them the creators of the «* Boots at the Swan," of the personages in the Robertson comedies at the old Prince of Wales', of Robert Macaire or Lord Dundreary ! Of coarse most of the well known and a few hitherto little known portraits of the great actors and actresses, who served the public in the now distant past, are given to us, with some of the most graceful and artistic among the crowds of modern pictures — Imogen, Princess Flavia, Rosa- lind, Juliet, Babbie ; all bring us again under their spell. We will bless the happy day when we shall see their representatives again in new parts; perhaps we should bless the occasions still more that would revive these now well-known visions of grace and beauty. Mr. Whyte's book is unique in its conception and execution. There is no room for a rival to it in its own subject and it is not likely that we can ever see its superior.