Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/114

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54
ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

spiracy, and rebellion in their looks." "And I'll swear it, Brother Castle," says his companion; "let's dash at them." In the third, a cat watches the movements of some unsuspecting mice: "There's a pretty collection of rogues gathered together," observes Grimalkin;, "if there is not a plot among them, burn my tail and whiskers." In the last, we behold a Kite just about to pounce on some chicken: "The world's over-run with iniquity," says the bird of prey; "and these troublesome miscreants will not let honest hawks sleep in security." We shall return to the subject of these Government spies and the troubles of 1817 in the graphic satires of George Cruikshank.

Edmund Kean
and
Booth.
In 1817, the rivalry between the two national theatres ran so high, that the Covent Garden management employed agents to scour the provinces in search of a rival to Edmund Kean at Drury Lane. After a time one was found in the person of Lucius Junius Booth, who in stature, rôle of characters, and (as it was imagined) style of acting, closely resembled, if he did not equal, the great original. He made his début at Covent Garden, in the character of Richard the Third. Whether it was a success or not seems doubtful; for the manager being out of town, those deputed to act as deputies did not care to undertake the responsibility of engaging the new star. In this dilemma, overtures were made to him by the rival house, which he accepted, and made his appearance as "Iago" to Kean's "Othello" to a densely-packed audience at Drury Lane. So great was the likeness between the two actors, that strangers were puzzled to know which was Kean and which was Booth, until the tragedy reached the third act, when the genius of Kean made itself felt, and no doubt remained in the minds of the audience which was master of his art.

Booth, in fact, discovered that he had made a mistake, and the day after his trial at old Drury, signed articles to return to Covent Garden for three years. Here he proved a great attraction; he must have been in truth an actor of no ordinary merit; his rendering of the character of Lear, in particular, met with universal approbation, and in this tragedy he was supported by actors of the ability of Charles Kemble and William Macready, both of whom he threw