7 June 1834 the trip was concluded by the marriage of Miss Kemble in Philadelphia to Mr. Pierce Butler.
In 1835 Kemble was again at the Haymarket, and on 23 Dec. 1836, as Benedick, he made a nominal retirement from the stage. He was then living in Park Place, St. James's. In obedience to a royal command he returned to the stage of Covent Garden in the early spring of 1840, and gave twelve performances. His last appearance was on 10 April 1840, it is said for the benefit of his daughter. Fanny Kemble was, however, at that date in America. On 17 Oct. 1836 Kemble was gazetted examiner of plays. He performed the duties by proxy, and on 22 Feb. 1840 formally resigned them to his son, John Mitchell Kemble [q. v.] On 13 May 1844 he gave at Willis's Rooms a series of readings from Shakespeare, which were repeated the following year. Deafness had been growing upon him, and became in his later years almost total. He died on Sunday, 12 Nov. 1854. His son, John Mitchell Kemble [q. v.], and his younger daughter, Adelaide [q. v.], who married Mr. Sartoris, are separately noticed. The second daughter Frances Anne, better known as Fanny Kemble, an authoress of repute, is still alive.
Kemble played a greater range of parts than any actor except Garrick, and in his later years occupied a foremost position. Tall, and with a full share of the Kemble beauty, he was eminently picturesque in tragic characters. Leigh Hunt declares him equally happy in the tender lover, such as Romeo, in which line, according to Hunt, he was ‘certainly the first performer on the stage;’ in the spirited gentlemen of tragedy, Laertes, Falconbridge, and in a ‘very happy mixture of the occasional debauchee and the gentleman of feeling,’ Cassio and Oakley in the ‘Jealous Wife;’ and credits him with a ‘reposing command in the use of his head and shoulders,’ recalling Antinous, but taxes him with indolent languor and weariness of manner. C. R. Leslie [q. v.] disparages him somewhat in 1816, saying that Kemble looked Orlando better than he played it, and adding, ‘He is no great actor; the only character I ever liked him in was Falconbridge’ (Autobiography). Two years earlier Macready pronounced his Young Mirabel ‘a most finished piece of acting,’ his Richmond chivalrous and spirited, and his Cassio incomparable. His tragic assumptions he styles laborious failures, summing him up as ‘a first-rate actor in second-rate parts.’ Dr. Doran holds him the most graceful and refined of actors, unrivalled in Macduff, Falconbridge, and Laertes. Guido in ‘Mirandola,’ by Barry Cornwall, is said to be his best original part. His Hamlet is declared as fine in conception as that of his brother, but inferior in execution, an opinion said to have been held by Mrs. Siddons. In Mercutio ‘he walked, spoke, looked, fought, like a gentleman.’ Westland Marston gives highest praise to the Mercutio, finds his Hamlet in some respects superior to that of Macready, and says concerning his delivery: ‘I had never imagined there could be so much charm in words as mere sounds.’ Vandenhoff gives a stirring account of his delivery, when seventy years of age, of a speech of Mercutio. Outlasting his brother on the stage by some twenty years, he is principally responsible for what is known as the Kemble school, by which the English and American stage was long coloured. In all personal and social respects he stood deservedly high. He was, 10 Jan. 1837, after his retirement, entertained at dinner by the Garrick Club, an unusual honour.
Portraits of him by Kearsley; as Hamlet, by Wyvell; and as Charles II, with Fawcett as Copp, in ‘Charles the Second,’ by George Clint, are in the Mathews collection in the Garrick Club. R. J. Lane, A.R.A., published a series of studies of his principal characters, and Timothy Butler executed a bust.
[The career of Charles Kemble up to 1830 is chronicled in Genest. For his subsequent life, The Records of a Girlhood, 3 vols. 1878, and The Records of Later Life, 3 vols. 1882, supply the principal particulars. See also Biographia Dramatica; Boaden's Life of Mrs. Siddons, and Life of J. P. Kemble; Campbell's Life of Mrs. Siddons; Fitzgerald's Lives of the Kembles; Georgian Era; Pollock's Reminiscences of Macready; Leslie's Autobiography; Westland Marston's Recollections of Our Recent Actors; Vandenhoff's Dramatic Reminiscences; Gent. Mag. January 1855; Era newspaper, 19 Nov. 1854; the stage writings of Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt, and Lamb.]
KEMBLE, Mrs. ELIZABETH (1763?–1841), actress, the wife of Stephen Kemble [q. v.], born in London, was daughter of a musical instrument maker named Satchell. Her first recorded appearance on the stage took place at Covent Garden, on 21 Sept. 1780, as Polly in the ‘Beggar's Opera.’ She also played Patty in the ‘Maid of the Mill,’ and other parts. In the following season she was promoted to Margaret in ‘A New Way to Pay Old Debts,’ Juliet, Ophelia, and Celia in ‘As you like it,’ and took several characters of some importance in new pieces. On 24 Sept. 1783, when she had begun to play leading business, she appeared as Desdemona to Stephen Kemble's Othello. Subsequently she was Indiana in the ‘Conscious Lovers,’