Manners and customs of ye Englyshe/A Theatre, Showynge ye Hovse Amvsed by ye Comycke Actor.

Illustrated by Richard Doyle

Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849. No. 34.

A Theatre, Showynge ye Hovse Amvsed by ye Comycke Actor.


A Theatre, Showynge ye Hovse Amvsed by ye Comycke Actor.

[Friday, October 26, 1849.]

TO the old Houſe in the Market, where I would fain have ſeen Macbeth, for the Acting as well as the Divertiſement; but this not the Night, ſo went Half-Price, and did ſee the Unpoliſhed Gem inſtead. Touchstone did play Brother Dick, a Country Clown, and his Figure, in a Coat ſhort in the Waiſt, a huge ſtriped Waiſtcoat, Trouſers too big for him tucked up at the Ankles, Hob-Nail Boots, and a great ill-maped Hat, mighty droll, and did move the People to clap their Hands and laugh the Moment he come on the Stage. Then did he take off his Hat, and ſhow a red-cropped Head, and ſmooth down his Hair, and make a Face upon the Audience, whereat they did laugh again, and then turning round mow them a Back View of himſelf, which made them laugh the more. Still greater Laughter the Moment he opened his Mouth, and I did laugh too, as much as any, though I heard not what he ſaid; but only for the Oddneſs of his Voice, which is ſuch that methinks I could not keep my Countenance to hear him, even if he were ſpeaking Hamlet. Mighty droll to fee him in a fine Houſe make himſelf at Home after the Faſhion of a Bumpkin, and hear him in his ruſtical Drawl and Twang relate all the News and Tattle of his Village. What with his clodhopping Gait, and Awkwardneſs, and Independence, and Impudence, he did make, methinks, the verieſt Lout I did ever ſee, even in Hampſhire. His politeneſs even droller than his Rudeneſs, and his Ploughboy Courteſy of kiſſing his Hand as comical as could be. But I know not well whether I do more prefer his Cocknies or his Clowns; for methinks I have ſeen him do a Snob as well as a Clodpole, and he is very good in both, whether a ruftical Booby or a Whipperſnapper Spark; and do uſe V for W, and miſuſe or drop his H, and talk the Flam and Cant of the Town mighty natural. But to think how we Engliſh People do take Delight in everything that is ridiculous; and how I have ſeen a Theatre ringing with Merriment at the Sight of Touchstone in a Paper Cap and Apron, with a Baker's Tray, and a Bell, crying "Muffins!" or eating with his Mouth full; or even putting his Arms a-Kimbo, or pulling his Hat over his Eyes, and ſome of the Audience, and myſelf too, in Fits almoſt with Laughter. Methinks that Foreigners are wrong to ſuppoſe that we are a melancholy People, and would give up this Notion if they could ſee us at a broad Farce, and how eaſily we are pleaſed, and what Straws will tickle us almoſt to Death. Home, my Sides aching by Reaſon of Touchstone's Drolleries, and truly he do make a mighty excellent roguiſh Buffoon. So to Bed mimicking Touchstone his Voice to my Wife, which did divert her mightily.