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Charles Kemble as Hamlet
 
The following article was originally published in Hamlet From the Actor's Standpoint. Henry P. Phelps. New York: Edgar S. Werner, 1890.

Charles Kemble as HamletCharles Kemble (1775-1854), the brother of John Philip Kemble and the father of Fanny Kemble, although more especially noted for excellence in secondary characters, played Hamlet not infrequently. He maintained, and his daughter agreed with him, that Hamlet was really mad.

Fanny Kemble says:

"I have acted Ophelia three times with my father, and each time in that beautiful scene where his madness and his love gush forth together like a torrent swollen with storms, that bears a thousand blossoms on its stormy waters, I have experienced such deep emotion as hardly to be able to speak. The exquisite tenderness of his voice, the wild compassion and forlorn pity of his looks, bestowing that on others which of all others he most needed; the melancholy restlessness, the bitter self-scorning; every shadow of expression and intonation was so full of the mingled anguish that the human heart is capable of enduring, that my eyes scarce fixed on his ere they filled with tears, and long before the scene was over, the letters and jewel-cases I was tendering to him were wet with them. The hardness of professed actors and actresses is something amazing. After this part I could not but recall the various Ophelias I have seen, and commend them for the astonishing absence of everything like feeling which they exhibited. Oh, it made my heart sore to act it."

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