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Title: Their Majesties' Servants (Volume 3 of 3) - Annals of the English Stage
Author: Doran, John
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  NOTE.--_Three Hundred copies of this Edition printed on fine
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  _Each of these copies is numbered._

  _No._ ........

  "Their Majesties' Servants"



  Ballantyne Press


  [Illustration: (Frontispiece, Mrs. Siddons)]










  With Fifty Copperplate Portraits and Eighty Wood Engravings








  CHAPTER I.                                               PAGE



  CENTURY                                                    30


  CHARLES MACKLIN                                            63


  FARREN, MRS. ABINGTON, AND "PERDITA"                       84


  A GROUP OF GENTLEMEN                                      115


  JOHN HENDERSON                                            144


  SARAH SIDDONS                                             153


  JOHN KEMBLE                                               189


  GEORGE FREDERICK COOKE                                    223


  MASTER BETTY                                              239


  STAGE COSTUME AND STAGE TRICKS                            248




  OLD STAGERS DEPARTING                                     301


  NEW ACTORS                                                331


  EDMUND KEAN                                               358


  EDMUND KEAN--CONTINUED                                    395





      I. MRS. SIDDONS      Painted by Gainsborough        _Frontispiece_

     II. MRS. INCHBALD     From a rare Engraving                       8

    III. JOHN BANNISTER    From a picture by J. Russell, R.A.         36

     IV. MISS FARREN (Countess of Derby)   By T. Lawrence, R. A.      96

      V. MRS. ABINGTON     From a Mezzotint                          102

     VI. JOHN HENDERSON    Painted by Gainsborough                   146

    VII. MRS. SIDDONS AS THE TRAGIC MUSE   By Reynolds               156

   VIII. MRS. JORDAN AS ISABELLA  From a picture by George Morland   178

     IX. JOHN KEMBLE AS PENRUDDOCK  By M. A. Shee, R.A.              200

      X. CHARLES KEMBLE                                              212

     XI. FANNY KEMBLE      The last work of Sir Thomas Lawrence      218

    XII. GEORGE F. COOKE   From a picture by J. Corbett              230


    XIV. RICHARD SUETT     From a painting by De Wilde               254

     XV. WILLIAM LEWIS     From a painting by H. R. Cooke            304

    XVI. R. W. ELLISTON    From a painting by G. H. Harlowe,
                                 in the Garrick Club                 320

   XVII. EDMUND KEAN       From an engraving by S. W.
                                 Reynolds                            360

  XVIII. EDMUND KEAN AS SHYLOCK   Painted from life by W. H. Watt,
                                          March 1814                 374





   1. MR. PARSONS AND MISS POPE IN "THE DRUMMER"                1

   2. MR. KING IN "RULE A WIFE"                                30

   3. MR. MACKLIN AS SHYLOCK                                   63


   5. MR. PALMER AS TAG                                       115

   6. MR. HENDERSON AS ROLLA                                  144

   7. MRS. SIDDONS AS MRS. HALLER                             153

   8. JOHN P. KEMBLE                                          189

   9. INTERIOR OF DRURY LANE THEATRE, 1792                    223

  10. MASTER BETTY, THE YOUNG ROSCIUS                         239

  11. NORWICH THEATRE                                         248

  12. MILWARD'S BENEFIT TICKET--Drawn by Hogarth              273

  13. BURNING OF DRURY LANE THEATRE, 1809                     301

  14. COVENT GARDEN THEATRE                                   331

  15. MR. KEAN AS SIR GILES OVERREACH                         358

  16. J. B. BOOTH                                             395





  2. MR. BEARD AS HAWTHORNE                             114

  3. MR. DUNSTALL AS HODGE                              143

  4. MR. MOODY AS SIMON                                 238

  5. MR. FOOTE AS MRS. COLE                             247

  6. MR. DIBDIN AS MUNGO                                272

  7. MR. WESTON AS DR. LAST                             394

  8. MR. FOOTE AS SIR THOMAS LOFTY                      420




A glance at the foregoing list[1] will serve to show that, from the
retirement of Garrick to the close of the eighteenth century, tragic
literature made no progress. It retrograded. It did not even reach
the height of Fenton and Hughes, in whom Walpole discerned some faint
sparkling of the merit of the older masters. After Shakspeare's
time, "Theatric genius," says Walpole, "lay dormant;" but he adds,
that "it waked with some bold and glorious, but irregular and
often ridiculous flights, in Dryden; revived in Otway; maintained a
placid, pleasing kind of dignity in Rowe, and even shone in 'Jane
Shore.' It trod in sublime and classic fetters in 'Cato;' but was
void of nature, or the power of affecting the passions. In Southerne
it seemed a genuine ray of nature and Shakspeare, but falling on an
age still more Hottentot, was stifled in those gross and barbarous
productions, tragi-comedies. It turned to tuneful nonsense in the
'Mourning Bride;' grew stark mad in Lee, whose cloak, a little
the worse for wear, fell on Young, yet in both was still a poet's
cloak. It recovered its senses in Hughes and Fenton, who were afraid
it should relapse, and accordingly kept it down with a timid, but
amiable, hand; and then it languished."

And continued to languish; I cannot more fully show to what
extent, than by remarking that the century which opened with Rowe
concluded with Pye--both Poets Laureate, but of different qualities.
"Tamerlane" and "Jane Shore" have not yet dropped from the list of
acting plays; but who knows anything more of "Adelaide" than that it
was insipid, possessed not even a "tuneful nonsense," and was only
distinguished for having made Mrs. Siddons and John Kemble appear
almost as insipid as the play. Godwin's "Antonio," played in 1800,
was as complete a failure as Pye's "Adelaide."

For the tragic poets who occupy the period between Garrick's
retirement and the coming of Pye and Godwin, a few words will
suffice. Mason's "Caractacus" was a noble effort, but it produced
less effect than D'Egville's ballet on the same subject in the
succeeding century. Cumberland's "Battle of Hastings" was as near
Shakspeare as Ireland's "Vortigern" was; and Home's "Alfred" died,
three days old.

Jephson was, after all, the favourite playwright of Walpole, who says
of his "Law of Lombardy," that it was even "too rich" in language!
but then Jephson always improved the passages to which Walpole
objected. Walpole gave orders for alterations in Jephson's plays,
as he might for the repairs of a cabinet. Sometimes his criticism
is excellent, and at others, it involves a social illustration, as
in that on the "Count of Narbonne." Raymond, in the last scene,
says, "Show me thy wound; oh, hell! 'tis through her heart!" "This
line," says Walpole, "is quite unnecessary, and infers an obedience
in displaying her wound, which would be shocking; besides, as there
is often a buffoon in an audience, at a new tragedy, it might be
received dangerously. The word 'Jehovah!' will certainly not be
suffered on the stage." Walpole praises Miss Younge's acting, and
says, "the applause to one of her speeches lasted a minute, and
recommenced twice before the play could go on." Jephson, however,
wrote fair acting pieces, which is more than can be said for
Bentley's "Philodamus," which, in spite of being pronounced by Gray
the best dramatic poem in the language,[2] was hilariously laughed
off the stage. It was at least original, which can hardly be said
of any of Cumberland's plays, except the "Carmelite," a tragedy that
terminates merrily! Cumberland was as much out of his line in tragedy
as Reynolds, whose "Werter" and "Eloisa" brought him eight pounds!

"And very good pay too, sir!" said Macklin, "so go home, and write
two more tragedies, and if you gain £4 by each of them, why, young
man! the author of _Paradise Lost_ will be a fool to you!"

Hayley, of whom Walpole said, "That sot Boswell is a classic in
comparison;" and Murphy, with undeniable powers, failed in their
attempts at tragedy during this period. Boaden may be said to have
been below the level of Pye himself. On the former's "Aurelio and
Miranda" some criticism was made before it was acted. The author
was reading his play to the actors, when he remarked, that he knew
nothing so terrible as having to read it before so critical an
audience. "Oh, yes!" exclaimed Mrs. Powell, "there is something much
more terrible." "What can that be?" asked Boaden foolishly. "To be
obliged to sit and hear it," was the reply of Lady Emma Hamilton's
old fellow-servant.

But if tragedy languished miserably, comedy was vivacious and
triumphant. This period gave us the "School for Scandal," perhaps
the most faultless comedy of the whole century. It gave us Murphy's
"Know your own Mind;" the "Critic," that admirable offspring of the
"Rehearsal;" Macklin's "Man of the World," the most muscular of
comedies, which contrasts so forcibly with the sketchy sentimental,
yet not nerveless comedies of Holcroft; General Burgoyne's "Heiress,"
which is not only superior to General Conway's "False Appearances"
(a translation from a comedy by Boissy), but is, perhaps, the
second best comedy of the period; Cumberland's "Jew" and "Wheel of
Fortune;" Colman's serio-comic "Mountaineers," and the rattling
"five-act farces" of Reynolds. At the head of all these, and of many
others, stood Sheridan's immortal comedy. He may, as he said, have
spoiled Vanbrugh's "Relapse," in converting it into the "Trip to
Scarborough;" but the "School for Scandal"[3] has been accepted as
the best comedy of the English stage. In its dazzling brilliancy,
the labour expended to effect it is all forgotten. Garrick took the
greatest interest in its success, and when a flatterer remarked
to him that its popularity would only be ephemeral, and that
with Garrick himself the Atlas of the stage had departed, the
latter calmly replied that, in Mr. Sheridan, his successor in the
management, the stage had a Hercules equal to any labour it might
require at his hands.

I turn, less to newspapers than to private contemporary sources, to
see what was thought of this comedy on its first appearance. Walpole
was present at the acting, and he says: "To my great astonishment,
there were more parts performed admirably in the 'School for
Scandal,' than I almost ever saw in any play. Mrs. Abington was
equal to the first of her profession; Yates, Parsons, Miss Pope and
Palmer, all shone. It seemed a marvellous resurrection of the stage.
Indeed, the play had as much merit as the actors. I have seen no
comedy that comes near it, since the 'Provoked Husband.'" The chief
characters were thus represented: Sir Peter, King; Sir Oliver, Yates;
Backbite, Dodd; Charles Surface, Smith; Joseph Surface, Palmer;
Crabtree, Parsons; Lady Teazle, Mrs. Abington; Mrs. Candour, Miss
Pope; and Maria, by Miss P. Hopkins, daughter of the prompter,--soon
to be the wife of Brereton, and subsequently that of John Kemble.

Walpole objected, that the comedy was too long, despite great wit and
good situations; and that there were two or three bad scenes that
might be easily omitted, and which, to his thinking, wanted truth of
character. He does not specify the scenes, and he acknowledges that
he had not read the play, and that he "sat too high to hear it well."
When he had read it, he came to the conclusion that it was "rapid and
lively, but far from containing the wit he had expected, on seeing it

To Walpole, the "Heiress," by Burgoyne, was "the _genteelest_ comedy"
in the English language. Of Macklin's "Man of the World," the same
writer says:--"Boswell pretended to like it, which would almost
make one suspect that he knows a dose of poison had already been
administered; though, by the way, I hear there is little good in the
piece, except the likeness of Sir Pertinax to twenty thousand Scots."

It was the great merit of nearly all these writers, that while they
caricatured folly, they scourged vice; and not only showed society
what it was, but instructed it in what it should be. Cumberland wrote
his "Jew" expressly to create a feeling of sympathy for a despised
people. Howard, the philanthropist, walked, under fictitious names,
through more than one piece,--inculcating the duties of love and
charity; and the too fashionable or foolish people of the day, by
being rendered ridiculous, served to demonstrate, merrily, their own
defects. In this application of dramatic literature, the ladies, whom
I have not yet mentioned, were as busily engaged as the gentlemen.

If we glance at the ladies who wrote for the stage during the latter
half of the last century, and some of them before, we shall find
a marked contrast between them and their sisters of the preceding
century. There is Hannah More, who introduces into "Percy" a sermon,
of which the first part denounces war, and the second draws a
character of the Saviour. Of Mrs. Cowley, kinswoman to Gay--the
unknown Anna Matilda who corresponded with Della Crusca (Merry), the
fastidious Walpole unjustly declared that she was as freely spoken
as Aphra Behn. She was the first lady who held an "At Home day," on
which to receive her friends. She affected, like Congreve, to despise
being an "author," and showed skill in shaping old characters into
new, in comedies which still survive; as well as in defending herself
against the acute people who had "a good nose for inuendo." In
tragedy, she was not so successful; and she winced at the epigram of
Parsons, on her "Fate of Sparta," which said:--

    "Ingenious Cowley! while we view'd
      Of Sparta's sons the lot severe,
    We caught the Spartan fortitude,
      And saw their woes, without a tear."

Of Mrs. Griffith's plays not one is now remembered; but the author
and actress is remarkable for having published, as guides to young
people, the correspondence of herself and husband, before marriage,
under the title of _The Letters of Harry and Frances_; and if they
describe all the love making, the lady was not likely to have
resembled the Platonic Wife, in her own play so called, who laments,
throughout, that her husband will not be exactly what he was when he
was her lover. An incident, connected with this play, will show how
ungallant players could be to female poets, and how free they could
be with their audience. In the third act, when Powell and Holland
were on the stage, the hissing was universal; and at the end of it
the two actors thrust their heads out from behind the drop curtain,
and implored the house to damn the piece at once, and release them
from having to utter any more nonsense!

[Illustration: (Mrs. Inchbald)]

The gentle Frances Brooke's novels are better than her dramas,--save
the pretty musical farce, "Rosina," in which she has so cleverly
secularised the scriptural story of Ruth and Boaz. Unlike Mrs.
Brooke, Elizabeth Inchbald's plays are as good as her novels;--in
both, the romantic daughter of a Suffolk farmer exhibited a
skill and refinement, the latter of which she must have acquired
after the period when, a wayward and beautiful girl of sixteen, she
ran away from home, and manifested wonderful ability in framing
stories of her own, to mislead the curious. After the death of her
husband,--the "Garrick of Norwich,"--whose marriage with her was as
romantically begun as it singularly ended, she took to writing for
the stage, on which she was a respectable actress. In her plays, the
virtues are set in action; and there is much elegance in her style.
She was so successful, that a friend accused her of inculcating
sedition in "Every One Has His Fault." Sometimes, her success was
owing more to the actors than herself. King and Mrs. Jordan, as Sir
Adam and Lady Contest, in the "Wedding Day," were such a pair as have
never been _quite_ approached by their successors.

Petulant Sophia Lee, daughter of a country actor, excelled all the
foregoing ladies in one point,--the skill with which she mingled
broad comedy with natural pathos,--as in her "Chapter of Accidents."
The Lady Wallace was a thousand times more petulant than Miss Lee,
without even a thousandth part of her ability. She resembled the
female writers of the last century only in her vulgarity, and not
in their poor wit. Then, there was Hannah Brand, school-mistress,
like Hannah More; poet and actress, mad with much learning,--or
with very little, of which she thought very much; and proud as an
_artchangel_, as she pronounced the word! The great feat of imperious
Miss Brand was in her "Huniades," which, on its failure, she
altered, by leaving the whole part of Huniades out! She called the
incomprehensible fragment "Agmunda," and heard it hissed (she playing
the heroine), to her great disgust.

The century was within a year of its close, when Miss De Camp taught
parents not to cross the first love of their children, in "First
Faults." Then Joanna Baillie finished one and began another century,
with her series of Plays of the Passions; none of which was intended
for the stage, or succeeded when it was represented. The old Scots,
who shuddered at "Douglas" being written by a minister, must have
been stricken with awe, at the idea of the daughter of the divinity
professor at Glasgow composing three profane tragedies in a single

In the supplement to the last chapter, indications will be found of
the progress of Opera on the English stage. Music and singing were
not uncommonly introduced into our early plays, and they ranked among
the chief attractions of our masques, down to the reign of Charles
I. Under the Commonwealth, and in the reign of Charles II., we had
pieces sung in recitative, till Locke awoke melodious echoes by his
music for the operas of "Psyche," "Macbeth," and the "Tempest;" and
Purcell excelled Lawes in vigour and in harmony, and composed music
to the words of Dryden.

Our first English male stage-singers were simply actors, with good,
but not musically trained voices. Walker, the original Macheath,
could "sing a good song," but he was a tragedian; and some of our
songstresses might be similarly described. Mrs. Tofts, at the
beginning of the eighteenth century, and Miss Campion, were trained
vocalists. In Beard and Miss Brent--he, living to marry an earl's
daughter, and realise a large fortune; _she_, to want bread, and (as
Mrs. Pinto) to thank the elder Fawcett for a shilling--Garrick found
his most dangerous opponents. The "Beggar's Opera" and "Artaxerxes,"
mark epochs; and after Arne arose Linley, Jackson, Arnold, Dibdin,
and Shield, as composers; and Leoni and Miss Browne--the former
sweeter than Vernon, and the lady rich in expression, secured rare
laurels for themselves and the "Duenna," in which opera they played
the principal characters. Jackson's music in "The Lord of the Manor,"
brought Mrs. Crouch, then Miss Phillips, into notice; but it was not
till Stephen Storace began his career, that concerted pieces and
grand finales were introduced by him, and English opera rendered more
complete. With his operas are most associated the names of Crouch,
Kelly, and Braham--which last name, and that of Mrs. Billington, are
the brightest in the operatic annals of the close of the eighteenth,
and opening of the nineteenth century.

With operas and musical entertainments, the romantic drama greatly
flourished for awhile. Indeed, the beautiful and hapless Mrs. Cargill
made a romantic hero of Macheath; her tremor, when the bell sounded
for execution, was a bit of natural tragedy which excited tears.
But of real romantic drama, the most successful was the sensational
"Castle Spectre," the merit of which was pointed out by a joke of
Sheridan's. In a dispute with Lewis, the author, the latter offered,
in support of his opinion, to bet all the money which that drama had
brought into the treasury. "No," said Sheridan, "I'll not do that;
but I don't mind betting all it's worth!"

So few of the plays in the preceding list have survived even in
memory, that there must necessarily have been much suffering among
disappointed authors. But it was not merely those of this half
century who incurred disappointment. I have incidentally mentioned
some of these before. I may add one more sample of the condemned in
Flecnoe, who was among the worst of the writers of the seventeenth
century, and was also the most independent, or the most truculent, in
denouncing his critics. When the managers rejected his "Demoiselles à
la Mode," he printed the piece with a preface, in which he remarked
that:--"For the acting this comedy, those who have the government
of the stage, have their humour, and would be entreated; and I have
mine, and won't entreat them; and were all dramatic writers of my
mind, the Masters should wear their old plays threadbare ere they
should have any new, till they better understood their own interest,
and how to distinguish between good and bad."

But poets better skilled than this ex-Jesuit had to endure
disappointment. Rowe ranks among the condemned (the hilarious
condemned), by his failure in comedy. His idea was good. In the
early part of the century, society was beset by the "Biters." These
were the would-be jokers of the day, who, on hoaxing their friends,
exclaimed "bite!" and exposed the trick they had played. An instance
is afforded in the _Spectator_, of a condemned felon, who sold
his body to a surgeon, but who, on receiving the purchase-money,
called out "bite! I'm to be hung in chains!" Rowe took one of these
humorists for the hero of his bustling three-act comedy or farce,
entitled the "Biter." This part, Pinch, was played by Pack, at
Lincoln's Inn Fields, in 1704; but that clever actor rattled through
it in vain. The jokes fell lifeless, to the great disgust of Rowe,
who was in the pit. As the audience would not, or could not laugh,
but rather yawned or hissed, the author set them the example he would
have them follow, and at every jest he led the way with an explosion
of laughter, which must have become the more lugubrious on every
repetition. A good man struggling against evil destiny is said to be
a sublime spectacle to gods and men; but a dramatic author, known to
half the audience, upholding his own piece, and striving to rescue
it from ruin by a convulsive hilarity, must have been a sight as
astonishing to his foes as to his friends. The poor fellow laughed
vehemently; but the house could not be tempted to sympathise with
him, and the "Biter" was condemned under the applause and laughter of
its hysterical author.

Aaron Hill took his failures more calmly. The public of 1710, at
Drury Lane, would not tolerate his "Elfrid." Aaron shared the public
opinion, and devoted _twenty years_ to re-writing his tragedy,
which was subsequently produced under the title of "Athelwold."
Mrs. Centlivre was not equally patient with _her_ public; from whom,
a month earlier, she withdrew in pique her coolly-received comedy,
"The Man's Bewitched." Elkanah Settle was so systematically visited
with damnation, that he was at last compelled to bring out his plays
under fictitious names, and during the long vacation, lest when the
town was full, some enemy should discover him. Pope was as sensitive
as Settle, if the story be true that he was one of the authors of
"Three Hours after Marriage," and that the cool reception of this
piece caused him to express dislike for the players. Dennis, however,
was perhaps the most irritable of his race. When his adaptation of
"Coriolanus" ("The Invader of his Country") failed, in 1719, to draw
£100 to the house, and was consequently shelved by the management,
Dennis thundered against the insolence, incapacity, and disloyalty of
Cibber and his colleagues, and invoked against them the vengeance of
the Duke of Newcastle, the Lord Chamberlain! Theobald took another
course; and when the pit hissed his pieces, he abused the "little
critics," in a preface, scorned their "ill nature," and appealed to
"better judges."

Gay, considering his dramatic failures in tragedy, found more
consolation than most damned authors. The public of 1724 had no
sympathy for his "Captives;" which, despite Booth, Wilks, and Mrs.
Oldfield, soon disappeared from the stage. To console the author,
the Princess of Wales requested him to read this play in presence
of herself and little court. On being ushered into the august
company, Gay, nervous from long waiting, tragedy in hand, bashful
and blundering, fell over a stool, thereby threw down a screen,
and set his illustrious audience in a comical sort of confusion,
which, notwithstanding the kindness of the princess, marred the
self-possession of the poet. The piece, however, went off more
merrily at Leicester House than it had done at Drury Lane.

More touching than this was the way in which the aged Southerne,
in 1726, took the condemnation of his "Money, the Mistress," at
Lincoln's Inn Fields. The audience refused the request made in the
prologue to protect the man who had filled their mothers' eyes with
tears. They had no particular reverence for "the last of Charles's
bards;" nor especial regard for "great Otway's peer and greater
Dryden's friend." The audience hissed mercilessly. The old man was
standing at a wing with Rich, who asked him, if "he heard what they
were doing." "No, sir," said Southerne, calmly, "I am very deaf!" So
quietly did he see fall from his grey head, the wreath "for half a
century with honour worn."

But "Money" was not more unequivocally damned on the first night than
was the "Provoked Husband," in 1728, at Drury Lane. The difference
was that the last piece suffered shipwreck, on political grounds, but
survived the storm. All the Jacobites in town united to condemn a
play, by the author of the "Nonjuror," with Vanbrugh for colleague.
Cibber played Sir Francis Wronghead, in the face of the hurricane,
and never forgot his part, though he gave up all as lost when, in the
fourth act, the play was brought to a "stand-still," by the fierce
antagonism of the house. Nevertheless, Colley persevered, and the
comedy went on to the end. The critics acknowledged or boasted that
it had been a miserable failure, but Cibber would not confess himself
beaten. The "Provoked Husband" ran for eight-and-twenty successive
nights, and on the last of those nights drew £140, "which happened,"
says the naturally-exulting Cibber, "to be more than in fifty years
before could be said of any play whatsoever."

Gay read his tragedy, after it had been consigned to the limbo of
such pieces, to a court circle; Tracy read his heavy "Periander"
before it was damned at Lincoln's Inn Fields, in 1731, to a circle
of friends, who were regaled on the occasion with a magnificent
supper. Dr. Ridley spoke on behalf of himself and brother critics,
and assured the author that they had been exceedingly well-pleased
with the entertainment provided; he alluded particularly, he said, to
the supper. This was held for wit, but it was not so neat, so happy,
or so friendly as Carl Vernet's reply to the author of the _Maison
à Vendre_. As the curtain fell, Carl remarked, "J'ai cru voir une
Maison à Vendre, et je ne vois qu'une pièce à louer!"

Fielding took disapprobation with infinite indifference. In 1743, his
"Wedding Day" was produced at Drury Lane, with Garrick as Millamour,
and Macklin as Stedfast. Garrick had asked the author to suppress a
scene which, he thought, would imperil the piece. Fielding refused.
"If the scene is not a good one," said he, "let 'em find it out."
This scene _did_ excite violent hissing; and Garrick left the stage
for the green-room, as violently disturbed. "There," says Murphy,
"the author was indulging his genius, and solacing himself with a
bottle of champagne. He had, at this time, drunk pretty plentifully;
and cocking his eye at the actor, while streams of tobacco trickled
down from the corner of his mouth, 'What's the matter, Garrick?' said
he; 'what are they hissing now?' 'Why, the scene I begged you to
retrench. I knew it wouldn't do; and they have so frightened me, that
I shall not be able to collect myself the whole night.' 'Oh! d----
'em!' replies the author, 'they _have_ found it out, have they?'"

Fielding suffered as severely as most authors at the hands of the
critics, but he was bold enough to publish one unlucky play, not
"as it was acted," but "as it was damned at the Theatre Royal." He
accounted, however, for such failures, in himself and others, through
Fustian, his tragic poet, in "Pasquin." "One man," says Fustian,
"hisses out of resentment to the author; a second, out of dislike to
the house; a third, out of dislike to the actor; a fourth, out of
dislike to the play; a fifth, for the joke's sake; a sixth, to keep
the rest in company;--enemies abuse him; friends give him up; the
play is damned; and the author goes to the devil." Fielding might
have given another illustration,--such as that of the Frenchman who
clapped and hissed at the same moment, and explained his apparent
inconsistency, by stating that he had received a free ticket from
the author, and that he clapped out of gratitude to the donor, but
that he hissed for the satisfaction of his own conscience. Again,
there was one French critic who took a more singular way still of
expressing his opinion. In the tragedy of "Antony and Cleopatra," a
mechanical asp was introduced, which hissed as "dusky Egypt" took it
up to apply to her bosom. The Parisian critic, on hearing the sound,
arose and said to the pit--"Gentlemen, I am of the same opinion as
the asp!"

Fielding published his play, "as it was damned," but he did not add,
"as it deserved to be." He was less candid than Bernard Saurin, a
French dramatist of the last century. Saurin's comedy, the "Trois
Rivaux," was pitilessly hissed. The author printed it, not to shame
the critics, but to confess the justice of their verdict. "Authors
who have been humiliated," he says, "are not always the more humble
on that account. Self-love supports itself." After enumerating many
instances, he adds: "There are few unlucky playwrights who do not
look beyond their piece for the cause of an effect which their play
alone has produced. After wearying the public by their insipidity,
they disgust it by their pride, displayed in some haughty preface to
their drama. Perhaps there is a refinement of self-love in what I
am myself now doing, when I candidly confess, that my comedy of the
'Three Rivals' thoroughly merited its fate."

Less reasonable than Saurin was Anthony Brown, the Templar, who
produced his "Fatal Retirement," at Drury Lane, in 1739. This
conversational tragedy, in which nobody is excited much above the
level of every-day talk, fell at the first representation. Anthony
Brown attributed the failure to Quin, who, after selecting one part,
chose another, and finally threw up both. This conduct, according
to Brown, rendered the other players indifferent, and brought on
a catastrophe, which the condemned poet, of course, held to be
unmerited. Accordingly, down went Templars and the Templars' friends,
night after night, to hiss the offending Quin. He was commanded to
make an apology, and he did so in his characteristic way. Addressing
the audience, he said, blandly, that he had read "Fatal Retirement,"
at the author's request, and, under like impulse, had given him his
sincere opinion of the tragedy, namely, that it was the very worst he
had ever read, and that he could not possibly take a part in it. The
audience were amused at the apparent frankness of this communication,
and the Templars, allowing Anthony Brown to be non-suited, satisfied
their indignation by visiting it upon poor Parson Miller, who had
been so ungallant to Mistress Yarrow and her daughter. The "Hospital
for Fools" was not brought out in Miller's name, but the Templar
champions of the fair knew it to be his, and hissed it from the stage
accordingly, despite the acting of Yates, Woodward, and Mrs. Clive,
and that part of the audience who would fain have listened, if the
noisy Templars would only have allowed them. Out of Miller's fiasco,
Garrick subsequently made a success, and on the "Hospital for Fools"
founded his "Lethe," in which he was famous in the character of Lord

There is one anonymous author who exhibited a strange humour in his
protest against the condemnation of his tragedy, the plot of which
had been pronounced improbable. "You (critics)," says the dolorous
author, "harp eternally on my improbabilities. You deal rigorously
with inferior dramatists, on the score of their delinquencies as
to the probable; but when the same fault is found in some great
master, like Shakspeare, oh! then you give the word probability
quite a liberal and kindly latitude of interpretation. And is not
improbability as great a sin in the richest as it is in the poorest
dramatic genius?" Campbell's just reply is, "No: we forgive the
fault, in proportion as it is redeemed by wit and genius."

This author, so angry at being damned, should not have ventured
his plays on the stage. He would have done well to imitate Thomas
Powell, who wrote dramas, but did not wish the public to know it. So
fearful of condemnation was he, that when a friend, who thought well
of a tragedy he had written, called "Edgar," on the same subject as
Ravenscroft's and Rymer's, offered to present it to Garrick, in order
to its being acted,--"No, no!" exclaimed sensitive Powell, "by no
means would I wish even to be known as an author, attackable by all."
The mere pleasure of writing was enough for him. He fancied his
triumphs; and they were thus never marred by hiss from the pit, or
howl from adverse critic.

Some have taken their fate swaggeringly, with a protestation that
the public were not so enlightened as they might be. Others have
whistled, some have sung, a few have reasoned over it, one or two
have acknowledged the condemnation; not one, except Bentley, has
confessed that it was just. When the best scenes in the "Good-natured
Man" were bringing down hisses and imperilling the comedy, Goldsmith
fell into a tremor, from which the bare success of the play could not
relieve him. But he concealed his torture, and went to the club and
talked loud and sang his favourite songs, but neither ate nor drank,
though he affected to do both. He sate out the whole of the company
save Johnson, and when the two were alone, the disappointed author
burst into tears, and swore, something irreverently, that he would
never write again. Johnson behaved like a true man, for he comforted
Goldsmith, and never betrayed his friend's weakness. _That_, of
course, Goldsmith was sure to do for himself. Long after, when they
were dining with Percy, at the chaplain's table at St. James's,
Goldsmith referred to the dreadful night, the hisses, his sufferings,
and his feigned extravagance. Johnson listened in astonishment. "I
thought it had all been a secret between you and me, Doctor," said
he, "and I am sure I would not have said anything about it for the

Some poets thought the players had the better time of the two; but
if poets incurred one peril, the players of this period incurred
another. For instance, in 1777, the Edinburgh company going to
Aberdeen by sea, were snapped up by an American privateer, and
carried off captives to Nantz. How they were ransomed, I am unable to

Walpole may be registered, if not among the damned, yet among the
discontented authors of this half century. Chute might be pleased,
and even Gray approve; but Garrick seems to have had small esteem for
Horace as a dramatic poet. Hence was Garrick, in Walpole's eyes, but
a poor writer of prologues and epilogues, a worse writer of farces,
and a patron of fools who wrote bad comedies, which they allowed
Garrick to make worthless; but yet worthy of the town which had a
taste for them! Walpole wished to see his "Mysterious Mother" acted,
although he well knew that the story, and the inefficient way in
which he had treated it, would have insured its failure. Indisposed
to be numbered among the condemned, he ascribed his reluctance to
venture, to two causes: Mrs. Pritchard was about to retire, and
she alone could have played his Countess; "nor am I disposed," he
says, "to expose myself to the impertinences of that jackanapes,
Garrick, who lets nothing appear but his own wretched stuff, or that
of creatures still duller, who suffer him to alter their pieces as
he pleases." In this strain Walpole was never weary of writing. Of
Garrick's "Cymon" the disappointed Horace was especially jealous,
and he sneered at its pleasing "the mob in the boxes as well as the
footman's gallery," which privileged locality was not yet abolished
in 1772. Garrick might be the best actor, but, said Walpole, he is
"the worst author in the world!"

I have noticed the mirthful _dénouement_ of Cumberland's tragedy, the
"Carmelite." Such _dénouements_ were approved by some part of the
French public.

When the "Gamester" was adapted to the French stage, under the title
of "Beverley, a tragedy of Private Life," the adapter was the Saurin
of whom I have spoken, and his attempt excited the critics, and
divided the town. The poisoning fascinated some and revolted others.
One French poet protested against the "horrible" in tragedy, and

    "Laissons à nos voisins ces excès sanguinaires,
      Malheur aux nations que le sang divertie,
    Ces exemples outrés, ces farces mortuaires
      Ne satisfont ni l'âme ni l'esprit.
    Les Français ne sont point des tigres, des feroces
    Qu'on ne peut amouvoir que par des traits atroces."

The ladies united with the poet, and Saurin found himself compelled
to give two fifth acts, and, as the piece was attractive, the public
were informed whether the _dénouement_ on that particular night would
be deathless, or otherwise! In the former case, as Beverley was
about to take the poison, his wife, friend, and old servant rushed
in just in time to save him, and, in common phrase, to assure him
that things were "made comfortable," in spite of his follies, his
weakness, and rascality. Grimm jokes over plots admitting of double
_dénouements_, and alludes to the Norman vicar of Montchauvet, who
wrote a tragedy on the subject of Belshazzar. The vicar thought
that dramatic catastrophes depended on how the poet started. In his
tragedy everything turned upon whether Belshazzar should sup or not,
in the fifth act. If he does not sup, there can be no hand on the
wall, and so "good-night" to the piece. Accordingly, the poet says,
in the first act, that the king will sup; in the second, that he will
not; in the third, that he will; in the fourth, that he will not;
and, consequently, in the fifth, that he must, and will. Had the
vicar intended otherwise, he would have begun, he says, in different

Ducis adapted Shakspeare's "Othello" to the French stage, for
which he furnished two versions. In the first, he killed Desdemona
according to tradition. At this, ladies fainted away, and gentlemen
protestingly vociferated. Ducis altered the catastrophe, whereat
Paris became divided into two parties, who supported the happy or
the tragic conclusion, as their feelings prompted them. Talma played
the Moor; and, bred as he had been in the shadow and the sunlight
of the English stage, he was disgusted with the liberty taken with
Shakspeare. One night, when the piece was to end as merrily as a
comedy, and the last act was about to begin, Ducis heard Talma
muttering at the wing, "I will kill her. The pit will not suffer it,
I am sure; well, I will make them endure, and enjoy it. She shall be
killed!" Ducis tremblingly acquiesced, and Talma restored the old
catastrophe. There was some opposition, and a little fainting on the
part of the susceptible, but, in presence of the marvellous talent
of the actor, all antagonism gave way, and Talma, with reasonable
pride, notified to his friends on the English stage the successful
effort he had made in support of the integrity of the Shakspeare

Some authors have altogether refused to despair of the success of
their piece, however adverse or indifferent the audience may have
been. Take, as a sample, the case of Joseph Mitchell, the Scottish
stonemason, but "University-bred." Towards the middle of the last
century, the public sat, night after night, quite incapable of
comprehending the mysteries and allusions of his "Highland Fair, or
the Union of the Clans." At length, on the fourth night, the audience
took to laughing at the nonsense served up to them, and as the last
act proceeded, the louder did the hilarity become. Poor Mitchell took
it all for approval, and going up to Wilks, with an air of triumph,
he exclaimed, "De'il o' my saul, sare, they begin to taak the humour
at last!"

Hoole, another of the stage-damned, was less self-deluding. When his
"Cleonice" was about to be played, a publisher gave him a liberal sum
for the copyright, Hoole's reputation, as a poetical translator from
the Italian, being then very great. The play, however, was condemned,
and Hoole was the first to acknowledge the unwelcome truth. He
accordingly returned a portion of the sum he had received to the
publisher. He had intended, he said, that the tragedy should be
equally profitable to both, and now that it had failed, he would not
allow the chief loss to fall on him who had bought the copyright.
The watchmaker's son was a gentleman.

Hoole was as indifferent to condemnation as the French dramatist,
Hardy, with less greed for money than influenced the latter, who,
however, was moved by the proper sense of the value of labour. This
French author, Hardy, who died about the year 1630, saw his plays
damned with as much indifference as he wrote them. He composed
between six and eight hundred, published forty of them, and did not
see one live a fortnight. A couple of thousand lines a day were
nothing to this ready dramatist, who furnished the players for whom
he composed, with a new drama every third day. And it was a day when
French dramas were full of incident. We hear of princesses who are
married in the first act; the particular heroine is mother of a son
in the second, whose education occupies the third; in the fourth
he is a warrior and a lover; and in the fifth he marries a nymph
who was not in existence when the play began. Hardy was the best of
these inferior poets, and was original in this; he was the first who
introduced the custom of getting paid for his pieces, a thing unknown
till then, and which the poets, his successors, have not failed, says
a French writer, "to observe very regularly ever since."

Mrs. Siddons's Bath friend, Dr. Whalley, was not so indifferent to
the success of his muse as Monsieur Hardy; but he ranks among damned
authors who have accepted condemnation or neglect with a joke. His
"Castle of Montval" was yawned at rather than hissed; but as it was
acted beyond the third night, the Doctor went down to Mr. Peake,
the treasurer, to know what benefit might have accrued to him. It
amounted to nothing. "I have been," said the author, an old picquet
player, to an inquiring friend, "I have been piqued and re-piqued;"
and therewith he went quietly back to Bath, where he lived upon
a private fortune, and the rich stipend from an unwholesome
Lincolnshire living, which a kind-hearted bishop had given him on
condition he never resided on it!

The tragedy of the other friend of Mrs. Siddons, Mr. Greatheed (the
"Regent"), was not much, if any, more successful, than Dr. Whalley's;
but the author was so satisfied with his escape, that he gave a
supper--that famous banquet, which was followed by a drinking bout at
the Brown Bear, in Bow Street, at which a subordinate actor, named
Phillimore, was sufficiently tipsy to have courage to fight his lord
and master, John Kemble; who was elevated enough to defend himself,
and generous enough to forget the affair next morning.

Sheridan kept his self-possession under merrier control than this.
His "Rivals" was at first a failure. Cumberland, the most sensitive
author in the world, under condemnation, declared that he could
not laugh at Sheridan's comedy. "That is ungrateful of him,"
said Sheridan, to whom the comment was reported by a particular
friend--"for I have laughed at a tragedy of his from beginning to
end!" But this not having been said in Cumberland's hearing, was
less severe than a remark made by Lord Shelburne, who could say the
most provoking things, and yet appear quite unconscious of their
being so. In the House of Lords he referred to the authorship of Lord
Carlisle. "The noble lord," said he, "has written a comedy." "No,
no!" interrupted Lord Carlisle, "a tragedy! a tragedy!" "Oh! I beg
pardon," resumed Lord Shelburne, "I thought it was a comedy!" The
piece thus adjudged of was the "Father's Revenge," an adaptation from
Boccaccio, of "Tancred and Sigismunda," never played and seldom read.

Cumberland, who bore his own reverses with impatience, and was ever
resolute in blaming the lack of taste on the part of the public,
rather than ready to acknowledge his own shortcomings, endured the
triumphs of his fellow-dramatists with little equanimity. During
the first run of the "School for Scandal," he was present, with his
children, in a stage-box, sitting behind them. Each time they laughed
at what was going on, on the stage, he pinched them playfully, and
asked them at what they were laughing. "There is nothing to laugh at,
my angels," he was heard to say; and if the juvenile critics laughed
on, he less playfully bade them be silent--the "little dunces!"

The dramatists whom he "adapted," declined to be involved in his
reverses. After his "Joanna," an adaptation from Kotzebue, had
been damned, the German author took care to record in the public
papers that the passages hissed by the English public were not his,
but additions made by Cumberland. Sir Fretful found consolation.
"If I did not succeed," says this frequently damned author, "in
entertaining the audience, I continued to amuse myself.... I never
disgraced my colours by abandoning _legitimate comedy_, to whose
service I am sworn, and in whose defence I have kept the field for
nearly half a century--till at last I have survived all true national
taste, and lived to see buffoonery, spectacle, and puerility so
effectually triumph, that now to be repulsed from the stage is to
be recommended to the closet; and to be applauded by the theatre
is little less than a passport to the puppet-show." This spirit
of self-satisfaction, and depreciation of the public taste, was
nothing new. The author or adapter of "Richard II." (Nahum Tate),
finding his piece prohibited by authority, published it with a
self-congratulatory preface; but he had already done more in the
epilogue; mindful of past reverses, and anticipatory of present
condemnation, he made Mrs. Cook say:--

    "And ere of you, my sparks, my leave I take,
    For your unkindness past these prayers I make--
    Into such dulness may your poets tire,
    Till they shall write such plays as you admire!"

This was thoroughly in the old spirit of Flecknoe; but of samples of
the spirit of "damn-ed authors," having given enough, let us pass
among the audiences of the last half of the eighteenth century, whose
"censure," in the old signification of the term, was challenged by
the playwrights.


[1] Vol. ii., pp. 398-406.

[2] "One of the most capital poems in the English language" is what
Gray is reported to have said.

[3] Produced 8th May 1777.

[Illustration: MR. KING IN "RULE A WIFE."]



In the first half of the above century, if a quiet man in the pit
ventured on making a remark to his neighbour, who happened to be a
"nose-puller," and who disagreed with the remark, the speaker's nose
was sure to be painfully wrung by the "puller." In the same period,
those very nose-pullers sat quietly, merely grimacing, when the
great people in the boxes found it convenient to spit into the pit!
But, sometimes the house, pit and all, was full of great people.
Thus, on the night of the 7th March 1751, Drury presented a strange
appearance. The theatre had been hired by some noble amateurs,
who acted the tragedy of "Othello," thus cast in the principal
characters. Othello, Sir Francis Delaval; Iago, by John, subsequently
(1786) Lord Delaval; Cassio, E. Delaval; Roderigo, Captain Stephens;
Desdemona, Mrs. Quon (sister of Sir Francis, and later, the wife of
Lord Mexborough); Emilia, Mrs. Stephens. Macklin superintended the
rehearsals, and Walpole was present; for he says of the amateurs,
in his characteristic way: "They really acted so well, that it is
astonishing they should not have had sense enough not to act at
all!... The chief were a family of Delavals, the eldest of which was
married by one Foote, a player, to Lady Nassau Poulett, who had kept
the latter. The rage was so great to see this performance, that the
House of Commons literally adjourned at three o'clock on purpose. The
footman's gallery was strung with blue ribands. What a wise people!
what an august senate! Yet my Lord Granville once told the prince, I
forget on occasion of what folly: 'Sir, indeed your royal highness is
in the wrong to act thus; the English are a grave nation.'"

The prince, and other members of the royal family, were present in
the stage-box on this occasion; and the presence of blue ribands,
in place of livery tags, in the footman's gallery, was owing to the
circumstance that tickets were issued numerously enough to completely
fill the house, but without indicating to what part of the house
the bearers would be admitted. The first who arrived took the best
places; and tardy peers, knights of the garter, their wives and
ladies, were content to occupy the gallery, for once, rather than
have no places at all. Such an audience was never seen there before,
and has never been seen there since.

At this time swords were still worn, and evil results followed,
to others, as well as to the wearers. On the night of Saturday,
September 21, 1751, as the "Way of the World" was being played at
Drury, a quarrel, and then a fight with swords took place, between
two gallants in the box-lobby. From some cries which arose, the
audience thought the house was on fire, and fearful confusion, with
fierce struggling, and terrible injury ensued. Many women attempted
in their terror to drop from the gallery to the pit. This was not
so frightful as it might at present seem, for in those days the
front of the lower gallery came down to the roof of the lower boxes.
The occupants were a recognised power in the house, often appealed
to, and were of very great intelligence and respectability, in one
especially favourite locality, the Old Haymarket, as long as the
house lasted. Professional men, and poets, and merchants and their
wives, sat there to see, hear, and enjoy, whose grand-daughters now
sail into stalls, unconscious that there is a gallery in the house,
and ignorant that they are of a race who once condescended to sit in

In those days royalty's presence formed a great attraction at the
theatre; and royalty enjoyed a "row" as heartily as the most riotous

When Garrick, in 1754, found that he could not fill Drury
Lane,--notwithstanding the ability of his company of actors,
unless he played himself, and that his own strength was not equal
to the task of playing without intermission,--he brought forward
a magnificent ballet-pantomime, called the "Chinese Festival." It
was composed by Noverre,--who had treated of his art, dancing, as a
branch of philosophy! As many competent English dancers as could be
found, were engaged; and there was a supplementary, but prominent
and able body of foreign dancers. Little would have been thought of
this but for the circumstance, that when the gorgeous show was set
before the public, in the autumn of 1754,[4] war had recently broken
out between England and France. Thereupon, John Bull was aroused in a
double sense,--his patriotism would not allow of his tolerating the
enemy on the English stage; and his sense of religious propriety, not
otherwise very remarkable at that time, was shocked at the idea of
his condescending to be amused by Papists.

His offended sense was further irritated by the circumstance, that
George II., by his presence, on the first night, seemed to sanction
favouritism of the enemy and the hostile church. Aggravated by
that presence, which they did not at all respect, the pit heaved
into a perfect storm, which raged the more as the old King sat
and enjoyed,--nay, laughing at the tempest! The Brunswick dynasty
was included within the aim of the hisses and execrations which
prevailed. Had Garrick followed Lacy's counsel, he would have
withdrawn the piece; but Davy was reluctant to lose his outlay,
striving to save which, he lost hundreds more. As the "spectacle"
was repeated, so was the insurrection against it; but the "quality"
interfering,--as they deemed it the _ton_ to uphold what great
Brunswick approved,--a new element of bitterness was superadded.
The boxes pronounced pit and galleries "vulgar;" and those powers
waged war the more intensely, because of the arrogance of the boxes,
whose occupants were assailed with epithets as unsavoury as any
flung at the dancers. Then ensued strange scenes and encounters.
Gentlemen in the boxes drew their swords, leaped down into the pit,
pricked about them in behalf of "gentility," and got terribly mauled
for their pains. The galleries looked on, shouting approbation,
and indiscriminately pelting both parties. Not so the fair, who
occupied the boxes. They, on seeing the champions of propriety and
of themselves, being menaced or overpowered in the pit, pointed the
offenders out to the less eager beaux who tarried in their vicinity,
and who, for their very honour's sake, felt themselves compelled to
out with their bodkins, drop into the surging pit, and lay about
them, stoutly or faintly, according to their constitutions. The
stronger arms of the plebeians carried the day; and when these had
smitten their aristocratic opponents, they celebrated their victory
with the accustomed Vandalism. They broke up benches, tore down
hangings, smashed mirrors, crashed the harpsichords (always the
first of the victims in the orchestra); and finally, charging on
to the stage, cut and slashed the scenery in all directions. Some
evidence of the improved civilisation of the audiences of this half
of the century is afforded by the circumstance that no one suggested
that the house should be set on fire. But, the pious and patriotic
rioters rushed out to Mr. Garrick's house, in Southampton Street
(now Eastey's hotel), and broke every window they could reach with
missile, from basement to garret. The hired soldiery could not
protect him; nor on their bayonets could he prop up the "Chinese
Festival," wooden shoes and popery. This affair cost him a sum of
money, the loss of which made his heart ache for many a day.

On our side of the Channel, royal personages have been more amusingly
rude than the inferior folk. A good instance of this presents itself
to my memory, in the person of the young King of Denmark, who married
the sister of George III., and who frequently visited the theatres
in London, in 1768. At the play of the "Provoked Husband," it was
observed that he applauded every passage in which matrimony was
derided; which was commented on as an uncivil proceeding, as his wife
was an English princess.

This wayward lad offended audience and actors on another occasion, in
quite a different way. In October, he commanded the edifying tragedy
of "Jane Shore," during the performance of which he fell fast asleep,
and remained so to the amusement of the audience and the annoyance
of Mrs. Bellamy, who played Alicia. That haughty and hapless beauty
was not likely to let the wearied King sleep on; and accordingly,
having to pronounce the words, "O thou false lord!" she approached
the royal box, and uttered them expressly in such a piercing tone,
that the King awoke in sudden amazement, but with perception enough
to enable him to protest that he would not be married to a woman with
such a voice though she had the whole world for a dowry. Two nights
later[5] he went to see "Zara," Garrick being the Lusignan; and it
is to his credit that he sat through that soporific sadness without

The greatest excitement prevailed among the audience when the King
went to see Garrick act Ranger, in the "Suspicious Husband." The pit
was so crowded and so hot, that every man (and there were few or no
women there) took off his coat and sat in his shirt or waistcoat
sleeves, in presence of the King. The various hues formed a queer
sight; but many of the men fainted. At the thunder of the cheers
which greeted his coming, Denmark looked frightened, but bowed
repeatedly; and when at Garrick's appearance, the roar of applause
was renewed, his majesty appropriated it to himself, and again bowed
to all sides of the house, while Ranger waited to congratulate
himself on "having got safe to the Temple."

[Illustration: (John Bannister)]

There was little indecorum in Mrs. Bellamy's act of rousing the
sleepy King of Denmark with a scream, but greater, and what
would now seem gross and unpardonable liberties, were taken by the
actors, with their patron George III. For instance, in the "Siege
of Calais," there is a scene between two carpenters who erect the
scaffold for the execution of the patriots. Parsons played chief
carpenter, in which character it was put down for him to say, "So,
the King is coming! an the King like not my scaffold, I am no
true man." George III. and family were present, one night, at the
Haymarket, when this piece was played by command, and Parsons gave
this unseemly turn to the set phrase. Advancing close to the royal
box, he exclaimed: "An the King were here and did not admire my
scaffold, I would say, D--n him! he has no taste!" At this sally the
King laughed louder and longer than even the hilarious audience!

Sir Robert Walpole was readier to take offence than King George. He
could smile at the inuendoes of the "Beggar's Opera;" but when he was
deeply interested in the success of his Excise Bill, and an actor
sneeringly alluded to it, in his presence, the minister went behind
the scenes, and asked if the words uttered were in the part. It was
confessed that they were not; and thereupon Sir Robert raised his
cane, and gave the offending player a sound thrashing.

In Parsons' case, monarch and audience alike, knew that no offence
was intended, in detection of which loyalty rendered the audience
over acute; as in the case when Jack Bannister got into disgrace with
the house. "God Save the King" was being sung, and Jack, dressed for
Lenitive in the "Prize," stood among an undistinguished group of
choristers at the back of the stage. Gentlemen in the boxes called
upon him vociferously to come into the front rank, and sing so as
to be heard. There was great disapprobation, in which the press
joined, and poor Jack, as loyal a Briton as any in those days, had to
explain, that being dressed in an extravagant costume, he had kept in
the background, out of respect, as his caricatured garb seemed to him
to be out of keeping with the words of the national anthem, which, to
his thinking, were as something sacred.

Indeed, the loyalty of the actors to "King and Country" could not be
doubted. When the Emperor of the French was collecting a host for the
invasion of this country, the actors were among the first to enrol
themselves as volunteers; and it was not an unusual thing to find
the theatre closed, on account of the unavoidable absence of the
principal performers, summoned to drill, or other military service
then rigidly enforced.

On the other hand, there were what was then called disloyal factions
among the audiences, and these drove "Venice Preserved" from the
stage for a time by the furious applause which they gave to passages
in favour of Liberty, and which applause was supposed to indicate
hostility to the British Constitution!

Yet many of these factious people, who did not dislike the King
because they loved liberty, were delighted to mark the unrestrained
enjoyment of the royal family at the theatre. If George III. roared
at the oft-repeated tricks of the clown, little Queen Charlotte
shook with silent laughter at the intelligible action of the great
comic performers. Once, when Foote, caricaturing an over-dressed
lady, with a head-tire a yard in height, and nearly that in breadth,
accidentally let fall the whole scaffolding of finery, and stood
bare-polled upon the stage, the Queen's laughter was then audible
through the house. Perhaps it was all the higher as she herself
wore a modest and becoming adornment for the head. Indeed, she was
proud only of her beautiful arms, and these the plain-featured lady
contrived to display to the lieges assembled, with a dexterity worthy
of the most finished coquette.

There was great homeliness, so to speak, in this intercourse between
royal and lay folk, in those days, and much familiarity. The young
Princes were often behind the scenes. On one of these occasions,
the "sailor-prince," the Duke of Clarence, saw Bannister approach,
dressed for Ben, in "Love for Love." The actor wore a coloured
kerchief round his neck. "That will never do for a man-of-war's man,"
said the Prince; who, forthwith, ordered a black kerchief to be sent
for, which, putting round the pseudo-sailor's neck, he tied the ends
into the nautical slip-knot, and pronounced the thing complete.

The royal patronage and presence did not always give rise to
hilarity. Tragedy sometimes attended it. I can remember nothing more
painful in its way than a scene, at the Haymarket, on the third
of February 1794. The King and Queen had commanded three pieces,
by Prince Hoare--"My Grandmother," "No Song, No Supper," and the
"Prize." Fifteen lives were lost that night in the precipitate plunge
down the old pit-stairs, as the little green doors were opened to
the loyal and eager crowd. Whether those who rushed over the fallen
bodies were conscious of the extent of the catastrophe, cannot be
determined; but the royal family were kept in ignorance of it, from
their arrival till the moment they were about to depart. While they
had been laughing to the utmost, many a tear had been flowing for
the dead, many a groan uttered by the wounded who had struggled so
frightfully to share in the joyousness of that evening, and the
King's own two heralds, York and Somerset, were lying crushed to
death among the slain.

On another occasion, tragic enough in the character of a chief
incident, the conduct of the simple-minded King rose to the dignity
of heroism. I allude to the night of the 11th of May[6] 1800, at
Drury Lane, when George III. had commanded Cibber's comedy, "She
Would and She Would Not." He had preceded the other members of
the royal family, and was standing alone at the front of the box,
when Hatfield fired a pistol at him from below. The excitement,
the dragging of the assassin over the orchestra, the shouts of the
audience, the fear that other would-be regicides might be there,
moved everybody but the King, who calmly kept his position, and, as
usual, looked round the house through his monocular opera-glass. The
Marquis of Salisbury, very much disconcerted and alarmed, if not for
himself, at least for the King, urged the latter to withdraw. "Sir,"
said George III., "you discompose me as well as yourself; I shall not
stir one step." He was a right brave man in this act and observation;
and while the comedy was got through confusedly, the avenues to the
stage crowded by people eager to see the assailant, the audience
breaking spasmodically into cries in behalf of the King, and the
Queen and Princesses in tears throughout the evening, George III.
alone was calm, cheerful, self-possessed, and bravely undemonstrative.

Before we leave these august personages, let us take one glance at
them, as they sit among the audience, "in State."[7]

When their Majesties, with the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal,
and the Princess Augusta, went thus, _in state_, on October 8, 1783,
to see Mrs. Siddons play Isabella, there was much quaint grandeur
employed to do them honour. The sovereign and his wife sat under a
dome covered with crimson velvet and gold; the heir to the throne sat
under another of blue velvet and silver; and the young ladies under
a third of blue satin and silver fringe. My readers may desire to
know how royalty was attired when it went to the play in state some
fourscore years ago. There was some singularity about it. George III.
wore "a plain suit of Quaker-coloured clothes with gold buttons.
The Queen a white satin robe, with a head-dress which was ornamented
by a great number of diamonds. The Princess Royal was dressed in a
white and blue figured silk, and Princess Augusta in a rose-coloured
and white silk of the same pattern as her sister's, having both their
head-dresses richly ornamented with diamonds. His Royal Highness the
Prince of Wales had a suit of dark blue Geneva velvet, richly trimmed
with gold lace." The handsome young fellow, as he was then, must
have looked superbly, and in strong contrast with his sire,--King in
Quaker-coloured suit, and Prince in blue Genoa velvet.

George III. was not always lucky in his Thursday-night commands, and
people laughed, when, after the solemn funeral of his uncle, the
Duke of Cumberland, he ordered "Much Ado about Nothing" to be played
in his presence. For Shakspeare he had less regard than his father.
Prince Frederick once suggested that the whole of Shakspeare's plays
should be represented, under his patronage--at the rate of a play
a week, but difficulties supervened, and the suggestion made no

Let us turn from these royal to less noble folk. We find, on a
July night of 1761, Mr. Walpole at Drury Lane, to witness the
performance of Bentley's "Wishes." He has left a pleasant sketch of
the audience-side of the house, whither he went "actually feeling
for Mr. Bentley, and full of the emotions he must be suffering."
But--"what do you think in a house crowded was the first thing I saw?
Mr. and Madame Bentley perched up in the front boxes, and acting
audience at his own play! No, all the impudences of false patriotism
never came up to it! Did one ever hear of an author who had courage
to see his own first night in public! I don't believe Fielding or
Foote himself ever did. And this was the modest, bashful Mr. Bentley,
that died at the thought of being known for an author, even by his
own acquaintance. In the stage-box was Lady Bute, Lord Halifax, and
Lord Melcombe. I must say the two last entertained the audience as
much as the play. Lord Halifax was prompter, and called out to the
actor every minute to speak louder. The other went backwards and
forwards behind the scenes, fetched the actors into the box, and
was busier than Harlequin. The _curious_ prologue was not spoken,
the whole very ill acted. It turned out just what I remembered it;
the good parts extremely good, the rest very flat and vulgar; the
genteel dialogue, I believe, might be written by Mrs. Hannah. The
audience were extremely fair; the first act they bore with patience,
though it promised very ill; the second is admirable, and was much
applauded; so was the third; the fourth woeful; the beginning of the
fifth it seemed expiring, but was revived by a delightful burlesque
of the ancient chorus, which was followed by two dismal scenes, at
which people yawned, but were awakened on a sudden, by Harlequin's
being drawn up to a gibbet, nobody knew why or wherefore,[8]--at
last they were suffered to finish the play, but nobody attended
to the conclusion. Modesty and his lady sat all the while with the
utmost indifference. I suppose Lord Melcombe had fallen asleep before
they came to this scene." The piece was condemned, and the author
was the first to recognise the fitness of such a fate. His nephew,
Cumberland, sat on one side of him, and when Harlequin was hanged
in the sight of the audience, as the fulfilment of the last of the
"Three Wishes," Bentley whispered into his complacent kinsman's ear:
"If they don't damn this, they deserve to be damned themselves!" The
piece lingered for a few nights, and an unsuccessful attempt was
made to revive it in 1782. So ended the (not first) experiment of
introducing a witty-speaking Harlequin, in place of the dumb hero of

At the period when this play was first acted, Garrick and his fellows
laboured under a serious disadvantage, when attempting to give full
effect to stage illusions,--I allude to the crowding of the stage
by a privileged part of the public. In spite of this, Garrick could
render perfect and seemingly real, on the same evening, the frantic
sorrows of old Lear, and the youthful joyousness of Master Johnny, in
the "School Boy." In Dublin, there was often more annoyance than what
resulted from mere crowding. Garrick was once playing Lear there, to
the Cordelia of Mrs. Woffington, when one Irish gentleman, who was
present, actually advanced, put his arm round Cordelia's waist, and
thus held her, while she answered with loving words to her father's
reproaches. Our sparks never went so far as this, in face of the
public, but their intrusion annoyed the great actor. Such annoyance
was not felt by his colleagues, and when Garrick resolved once and
for ever, in 1762, to keep the public from the stage, there was an
outcry on the part of the players, who declared that on benefit
nights, when seats and boxes, at advanced prices, were erected on
the stage, they should lose the most munificent of their patrons, if
these were prohibited from coming behind the curtain. A compromise
followed, and Garrick agreed to compensate for driving a part of the
audience from the stage, by enlarging the house, and thus affording
more room, and the old advantages on benefit nights. Thus, one evil
was followed by another, for the larger houses were less favourable
to the actor and less profitable to managers,--but stage spectacle
became more splendid and effective than ever.

At this time amateur-acting was a fashionable pastime, and it had
princely countenance. The Blake Delavals led the taste in this
respect at their neat little theatre in Downing Street. The Duke of
York, who had distinguished himself early at the Leicester House
theatricals, which Quin, I believe, superintended, was a very
efficient actor, and he especially merited praise for the grace and
spirit with which he played Lothario to the Calista of Lady Stanhope,
a Delaval by birth. Admission to these performances was not easily
obtained. Walpole did not lack curiosity, but he would not solicit
for a ticket, lest he should be refused. "I did not choose," he
says, in his comic-jesuitical way, "to have such a silly matter to
take ill!"

English and French audiences essentially differed in one pleasant
feature, at this time. In France it was not the custom for young
unmarried ladies to appear at the great theatres, especially the
Opera. As soon as they were married they appeared at the latter
in full bridal array, and the plaudits of the house indicated to
them the measure of their success. With us, it was otherwise.
Ladies, before marriage, appeared at the Opera more frequently than
at church; and with much the same feelings, regarding both. "I
remember," says Lady M. W. Montague, writing to her daughter, Lady
Bute, "to have dressed for St. James's Chapel with the same thoughts
your daughters will have at the Opera."

At the latter house, one of the most conspicuous young ladies of
her day was Miss Chudleigh, afterwards Duchess of Kingston. She was
constantly challenging the attention of the house. On one occasion,
when a chorus-singer happened to fall on his face in a fit, Miss
Chudleigh drew more notice than sympathy to herself, by pretending to
fall into hysterics, and accompanying the pretence with a succession
of shrieks and wild laughter. Walpole characteristically ridicules
this affectation: "As if she had never seen a man fall on his face

But ordinary confusion was as nothing, compared with that made on
benefit nights, when audiences stood, or were seated in a "building
on the stage." When Quin returned to play Falstaff for Ryan's
benefit, the impatience of the house was great to behold their old
favourite; but he was several minutes forcing his way to the front,
through the dense crowd which impeded his path. As for Mrs. Cibber,
Wilkinson had seen her as Juliet, lying on an old couch, in the
tomb of the Capulets, all solitary, with a couple of hundred of the
audience surrounding her. This occurred only on benefit nights, but
even Garrick was unable to abolish it altogether.

It was really high time for this reformation, seeing that on one
occasion, when Holland was acting Hamlet, for his benefit, and all
Chiswick (his father's _bakery_ still exists close to the churchyard)
was there to support their fellow-villager, a young girl, seeing him
drop his hat, the three-cornered cock, which Hamlet still wore, she
ran, picked it up, and clapped it on his head, wrong side before,
in such a way that gave the Dane a look of tipsiness; but see the
respect of audiences for Shakspeare; they refrained from laughing,
till Hamlet and the Ghost were off the stage, and then gave way to
peal on peal of unextinguishable hilarity.

The author of a "Letter to Mr. Garrick," whom the writer treats with
very scant courtesy, remarks, in contrasting the French and English
audiences of his time, that it was then usual in France, for the
audience of a new and well-approved tragedy, to summon the author
before them, that he might personally receive the tribute of public
approbation due to his talents. "Nothing like this," he says, "ever
happened in England!" "And I may say, never will!" is the comment of
the author of a rejoinder to the above letter, who adds:--"I know
not how far a French audience may carry their complaisance, but
were I in the author's case, I should be unwilling to trust to the
civility of an English pit or gallery. We know it is the privilege
of an English audience to indulge in a riot, upon any pretence.
Benches have been torn up, and even swords drawn, upon slighter
occasions than the damning of a play. Suppose, therefore, upon your
principle, that every play that is offered should be received, and
suppose that some one of them should happen to be damned, might not
an English audience, on this occasion, call for the author, not to
partake of their applause, indeed, but to receive the tokens of their
displeasure. Maugre the good opinion which I have received of my own
talents, I would not run the hazard of having my play acted upon
these terms; for I think it less tremendous and much safer to bear at
distance the groans and cat-calls of ill-disposed critics, than to
stand the brunt against half-eaten apples and sour oranges from the
two galleries." These calls, however, are now common enough; but the
French were before us in adopting the fashion.

Truculent as were the fine gentlemen in our theatres, in the days
when swords were worn, they were less pugnacious than Irish audiences
in their wrath. Mossop found this, when he was manager at Cork, in
1769. On one night of the season the house was unusually thin, but
especially in the pit, where sat one little Major, determined to see
all, though he sat alone. Mossop, unwilling to play at a loss, and to
save his having to pay the actors whose salaries were regulated by
the number of days on which they performed, came forward, announced
that there would be no play, and intimated that all the admission
money would be returned. The little Major insisted that the play
should proceed. Mossop remonstrated, but kept to his purpose. The
Major drew his sword and continued to insist. Mossop gently put his
hand to _his_ and declined to act. In a couple of leaps the Major
was on the stage, where the soldier and the player's swords were
speedily crossed, and the two men fighting as fiercely as for some
dear and noble purpose in peril. The actors and the audience seem to
have enjoyed the spectacle; at least no attempt was made to part the
combatants till the Major had run his sword through the fleshy part
of Mossop's thigh, and Mossop had more slightly wounded the Major
in the arm. Both sides claimed a victory; for the manager, unable
to act, closed the theatre; and the soldier, too much hurt to be
immediately removed, remained _in_ the house, as he had declared his
intention to do.

Since that period the manners of most Irish audiences have
_unfortunately_ improved, because the old fun and humour have
departed with the exercise of the old license. Not that the old
license was not frequently of a somewhat uncivilised nature, as when
the Irish footmen in attendance upon masters and mistresses within,
being angered by the withdrawal of some privilege, flung their
lighted torches into the house, and nearly succeeded in burning both
theatre and audience. Sometimes the license had an aspect of rough
gallantry. When an actress was more than ordinarily pretty, it was
the custom of ardent officers and gentlemen to insist upon escorting
the lady home after the play. An incident of this sort once put John
Kemble's life in peril. The father of Miss Phillips (afterwards
Mrs. Crouch) being, through illness, unable to attend his daughter,
procured for her the guardianship of Kemble, who was but too happy
to afford it. After the play Miss Phillips's dressing-room door
was beset by a crowd of adorers, sword in hand, and hearts burning
beneath their waistcoats, sworn to see her home, whether she would
or no. The lady was too alarmed to leave her room; but her deputed
and faithful Squire urged her to do so, and as she appeared, he
gave her his arm, announced the commission he held from the young
lady's father, and he declared that he would resent any affront
offered to her or to him. Therewith he moved forwards, with his
charge under determined escort, and the riotous champions gave way,
in good-natured admiration of his resolute courage. It was the more
resolute, as the gentleman is said to have then entertained a tender
regard for the lady; though, as with that for Mrs. Inchbald, it was
all in vain.

Mr. Maguire, Mayor of Cork, and M.P. for Dungarvan, has recently
stigmatised the Cork theatre as being a locality which has preserved
all the ferocity, and lost all the accompanying fun of the olden
time. But even a Cork audience, in the last century, could be
shocked. The Rev. C. B. Gibson, in his _History of the County
and City of Cork_, tells us of a tailor there who was hanged for
robbery, but who was restored to life by an actor named Glover,
who probably was in his debt, and dreaded the summary demands of
executors. The process of restoration was long and difficult; after
it had been accomplished, the tailor arose, went forth, and got
drunk, in which state he went to the theatre in the evening, told
his story, exhibited the mark of the rope, and tendered very tipsy
acknowledgments to the actor for the service rendered. The audience
did not at all relish this part of the evening's entertainment. At
present the Cork gallery seems to be as vulgar and witless as that of
the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford, when filled with undergraduates.
The liberty of English audiences has never been dealt with so
harshly as that of audiences in continental theatres. In 1772, a
theatrical riot took place in the Copenhagen Theatre. In a burlesque
piece, a critic, who had dealt severely with the author, was quite
as severely satirised, and a fierce tumult ensued. To prevent its
recurrence, hissing and all equivalent marks of disapprobation were
magisterially prohibited. This prohibition was long in force, and
it is still maintained in continental theatres, when crowned heads
are present. On these occasions the audience neither applaud nor
hiss, but leave all demonstrations of approval or censure to the
illustrious visitors, as if they alone were endowed, for the nonce,
with critical acumen.

Charles Fox wound up the idler part of his early life by joining in
private theatricals. Before he seriously commenced his career as a
public man, in 1774, he played Horatio, in the "Fair Penitent," to
the Lothario of his lively friend, Fitzpatrick, at Winterslow House
near Salisbury, the seat of the Hon. Stephen Fox. In the after-piece,
"High Life Below Stairs," Fox played Sir Harry's Servant with immense
spirit; and after the curtain fell the house was burnt to the ground.

On the 10th of January, two days later, the Duke of Gloucester and
his Duchess, formerly Lady Waldegrave, were at Covent Garden, "for
the first time, in ceremony." The Duchess was confounded with the
excessive applause; turned pale, coloured, and won by her modesty,
confusion, and beauty the acclamations which the audience were
willing to spare her, on account of the apparent condition of her
health. The marriage of this pair had offended the King. The piece
selected by them was "Jane Shore," as illustrative, perhaps, of the
evils of _dishonourable_ connections between princes and ladies of
lower degree. Two nights after this visit of ceremony, the King and
Queen went in state to Drury Lane, and saw the "School for Wives." It
is only to be wondered at that numerous applicable passages in both
plays were not noticed by the applause or murmurs of the audience.

Walpole gives a pretty picture of the audience side of Drury Lane,
on the 25th of May 1780, on which night Lady Craven's comedy, the
"Miniature Picture," which had been once privately played at her own
house, was acted for the first time in public. "The chief singularity
was that she went to it herself the second night 'in _form_,' sat
in the middle of the front row of the stage-box, much dressed,
with a profusion of white bugles and plumes, to receive the public
homage due to her sex and loveliness. The Duchess of Richmond, Lady
Harcourt, Lady Edgecumbe, Lady Aylesbury, Mrs. Damer, Lord Craven,
General Conway, Colonel O'Hara, Mr. Lennox, and I were with her.
It was amazing to see a young woman entirely possess herself; but
there is such an integrity and frankness in the consciousness of her
own beauty and talents, that she speaks of them with a _naïveté_,
as if she had no property in them, but only wore them as the gift
of the gods. Lord Craven, on the contrary, was quite agitated by
his fondness for her, and with impatience at the bad performance of
the actors, which was wretched indeed; yet the address of the plot,
which is the chief merit of the piece, and some lively pencilling,
carried it off very well, though Parsons murdered the Scotch Lord
(Macgrinnon), and Mrs. Robinson, who is supposed to be the favourite
of the Prince of Wales, thought on nothing but her own charms, or
him. There was a very good, though endless, prologue, written by
Sheridan, and spoken in perfection by King, which was encored (an
entire novelty) the first night; and an epilogue that I liked still
better, and which was full as well delivered by Mrs. Abington,
written by Mr. Jekyll."

The prologue was called for a second time, at the conclusion of the
play, which was acted after the "Winter's Tale." King had long before
left the house, but though it was past midnight, the audience waited
till he was sent for from his own residence, whence he returned to
speak the address!

"The audience," adds Walpole, "though very civil, missed a very fair
opportunity of being gallant; for in one of those _logues_, I forget
which, the noble authoress was mentioned, and they did not applaud as
they ought to have done exceedingly, when she condescended to avow
her pretty child, and was there looking so very pretty. I could not
help thinking to myself, how many deaths Lady Harcourt would have
suffered rather than encounter such an exhibition; yet Lady Craven's
tranquillity had nothing displeasing--it was only the ease that
conscious pre-eminence bestows on sovereigns, whether their empire
consists in power or beauty. It was the ascendant of Millamant, of
Lady Betty Modish, and Indamore; and it was tempered by her infinite
good nature, which made her make excuses for the actors, instead of
being provoked at them."

Nineteen years later, Lady Craven, then Margravine of Anspach,
"having with unprecedented kindness and liberality lent Mr. Fawcett
the manuscript of her magnificent and interesting opera, the
'Princess of Georgia,'" that actor announced it for his benefit,
April 19th, 1799, with an assurance that "nothing should be wanting
on his part to render it as acceptable to the public as it was to
the nobility who had the pleasure of seeing it at Brandenburgh House
Theatre." On this occasion, however, the house was not so splendidly
attended as when the "Miniature Picture" was represented, and in
spite of the melody of Incledon, the grimaces of Munden, the humour
of Fawcett, the grace of Henry Johnston, and the energy of his wife,
the "Princess of Georgia" was heard of no more.

There is one circumstance which made a striking difference between
the aspects of the French and English pit. One of the popular
grievances which the French Revolution did not redress, was the
appearance of an armed guard, with fixed bayonets, within the
theatre. When the curtain rises, the menacing figures withdraw a
little; but they are at hand. In the last century they remained
throughout the performance, and they kept the pit in a purely passive
condition, whatever might be its displeasure, disgust, or discomfort.
Under the gleam of the bayonet, a spectator no more dared to laugh
too loudly at a comedy, than to sob too demonstratively at a tragedy.
But Gaul and Frank were not always to be restrained, and they would
hiss heartily at times. Ah "Il est bien des sifflets mais nous avons
la garde!" A too prominent dissentient was sure to be seized by the
sentinel, who escorted him to the captain of the guard, who judged
him militarily, and, after procuring the signature of the commissary
of police, a pure matter of form, sent the offender, for the night,
to prison.

With this restraint, it is not wonderful that the French audiences
were coerced into brutality, and that they readily took offence, were
it only to show their manhood. With us it was different. The whole
house laughed aloud, or smiled contemptuously at sarcasms fired at
them from prologue or epilogue, or by implication in the play. It is
singular, too, that so late as 1782, though French audiences _would_
express an opinion, the actors themselves cared little for its being
unfavourable, and careless players grew accustomed to be hissed,
without being the more careful for it. To remedy this, Mercier
proposed the appointment of a writer who should watch the theatres
and register the insults inflicted on the public by incompetent or
indifferent actors, and by incapable poets. It was a proposition, in
fact, for the establishment of a theatrical critic, whose judgments
were to be recorded in the journals. There was public criticism of
all other arts, but up to this time the art of acting was exempt from
the censure of the French journals. So, at least, says Mercier, who
seems, however, to have forgotten that when the Abbé Raynal conducted
the _Mercure_ some thirty years previously, the merits of actors
_were_ occasionally discussed.

French sentinels grew careless, or French individuals waxed bolder.
Our own gallery was once famous for the presence of a trunkmaker,
whose loud applause or shrill censure used to settle the destiny of
authors. The house followed, according as the trunkmaker howled or
hammered. I know nothing in French audiences to compare with this,
except the notorious Swiss in the days of towering feathers and broad
headdresses--a double fashion, which he succeeded in suppressing.
When seated in the back row of a box, unable to see the stage for
the fashionable impediments in front, it was his custom to produce a
pair of shears and cut away all the obstructions between him and the
delights for which he had paid, but could not enjoy. It was probably
only a demonstration of destruction which he made, but the result was
effectual. At first the ladies made way for him to come to the front;
but ultimately they took down their feathers, and narrowed their
head-gear, and the Swiss, shorn of his grievance, was soon forgotten.

This intruder must have often marred the efforts of the best actor;
but I remember a case in which the best actor of his day was entirely
discountenanced by the quietest and most attentive auditor in the
house. John Kemble was playing Mark Antony, in Dublin, when his eye
happened to fall on a sedate old gentleman, who was eagerly listening
to him through an ear-trumpet. The first sight caused the actor to
smile, and that at an inappropriate moment, for he was surrounded by
his wife Octavia (Mrs. Inchbald) and her children, the play being
Dryden's "All for Love," and the situation affecting. The more John
Kemble endeavoured to suppress his inclination to smile, the less
he was able to control himself; as his agitation increased, the
ear-trumpet was directed towards him more pertinaciously; seeing
which the actor broke forth into a peal of laughter, and rushed in
confusion from the stage. The audience had discovered the cause, and
laughed with him; while the deaf gentleman, unconscious of his own
part in the performance, and marking the hilarious faces around him,
dropped his trumpet with the vexed air of a man who had lost a point,
and could not account for it.

Then, if there were infirm, so were there sentimental, auditors. In
the _Morning Post_, of September 27, 1776, we are told that:--"A
gentleman, said to be a captain in the army, was so very much
agitated on Miss Brown's appearance on Wednesday night, that it
was imagined it would be necessary to convey him out of the house;
but a sudden burst of tears relieved him, and he sat out the farce
with tolerable calmness and composure. The gentleman is said to
have entertained a passion for that lady last winter, and meant to
have asked her hand as a man of honour, but--!" There were other
curiosities in front, besides this sentimental captain. The famous
Lady Hamilton drew large audiences to Drury Lane towards the close
of the century, when it was announced that the performance would
be honoured by the attendance of herself and her husband, Sir
William, our minister to the Neapolitan court. The house gazed upon
the beauty, and the beauty was deeply interested in the acting
of Mrs. Powell, who, in her turn, was as deeply interested in my
lady. Between the two women a connection existed which was little
suspected by the audience. The ambassador's wife and the tragedy
queen had first met under very different circumstances, in the house
of Dr. Budd, in Blackfriars, where Jane Powell filled the office of
housemaid, and Emma Harte, as she was then called, was employed as
under maid in the nursery.

At this period I do not know that our galleries at least were more
civilised than they were in earlier days--that is, our provincial
galleries: that of Liverpool, for instance--as the obese, little low
comedian, Hollingsworth, once experienced. He was looking at the
house through the aperture in the curtain, when the twinkle of his
eye being detected by a ruffian aloft, the latter, running a penknife
through an apple, hurled it, perhaps at random, but so fatally true,
that the point of the knife struck the unoffending actor so close to
the eye that for some time his sight was despaired of. The gallery
patrons of the drama in London were as rude, but less cruel, in their
ruffianism. An orange, flung at a lady in court dress, seems to have
been a favourite missile for a favourite pastime. I meet with one of
these ruffians in presence of a magistrate, who solemnly assures him,
that if he is ever guilty of a similar outrage, he will be taken on
to the stage and compelled to ask pardon of the house--an honour at
which the fellow would, probably, have been exceedingly gratified.

We have a sample of the coolness of an Irish debutant and the
patience of an audience of the last century; the first, in the person
of Dexter, whom Garrick, on the secession of Barry from his company,
brought over, with Ross and Mossop, from Dublin. Dexter, on the night
of his first appearance, in "Oroonoko", was comfortably seated in
the pit, where he remained chatting with his friends and supporters
until the "second music" commenced. This music, in the old days, was
ordinarily played half an hour before the curtain rose. This was a
long period for an audience to be kept further waiting; but it was
a short period wherein a tragedian might prepare and deck himself
for a sort of solemn ordeal. The _début_ proved successful; and
Garrick generously expressed great admiration and hopefulness of the
young actor, who, nevertheless, soon fell out of estimation of the
audience, as might have been expected, from the cool and careless
proceeding of his first night, when he walked out of a crowded pit to
hastily dress himself for an arduous part.

This was a sort of liberty which a French pit would not have
tolerated. It bore, however, with other freedoms. When it laughed, as
the children were brought in, in "Inez de Castro," Madame Duclos, who
was the weeping Inez, turned suddenly round, and exclaimed, "Fools!
it is the most touching part of the piece!" and then resumed weeping.
Again: Du Fresne, acting Sévère, in "Polyeucte," speaking low as
he was confiding a perilous secret to a friend, was interrupted by
cries of "Louder! louder!" "And you, sirs, not so loud!" cried the
calmly-angry actor, to a pit which took the rebuke meekly;--as meekly
as our public took the verdict of Foote, who says, in his _Treatise
on the Passions_,--"There are twelve thousand playgoers in London;
but not the four and twentieth part of them can judge correctly of
the merits of plays or players."

Then, considering the measure of respect which actors used to
profess that they entertained for audiences, the liberties which
the former occasionally took with the latter was remarkable. When
Mrs. Griffiths's "Wife in the Right" was coldly received, she laid
the blame on Shuter (Governor Andrews), who had neglected to attend
rehearsal. On a succeeding night, accordingly, the audience hissed
Shuter as soon as he appeared. He defended himself by asserting that
illness had kept him from rehearsal; "but, gentlemen," said he, "if
there is any one here who wants to know if I had been drunk three
days before, I acknowledge that I had, and beg pardon for that." The
audience forgave the rude actor and condemned the play.

Again: a few years subsequently, at York, Mrs. Montagu was cast
for the Queen in Hull's romantic play, "Henry II." She was a great
favourite; and she claimed the more agreeable part of Rosamond, which
had been taken by Mrs. Hudson,--the play being acted for her benefit.
Mrs. Montagu refused to study the part of Queen Eleanor; and under
the plea of illness preventing study, she sent an actor forward to
state that she would read the part. Mrs. Hudson's friends insisted
on Mrs. Montagu appearing, to explain her own case; and then the
imperious lady swept on to the stage, with the saucy exclamation,
"Who's afraid?" and the equally saucy intimation that she _would_
read the part, for she had not had time to learn it. This excited the
wrath of the house; and some one cried out that the audience would
rather hear it read by the cook-wench at the next ale-house than by
her. Then, dame Montagu, as she was called, fired by the remark, and
by cries forbidding her to read and commanding her to act, looked
scornfully at the pit, flung the book which she held into the centre
of the crowd, and with a "There!--curse you all!" swept off the
stage, amid the mingled hisses and laughter of the house. But she was
not permitted to act again.

Covent Garden audiences were more patient with saucy actresses;
and they could even bear with Mrs. Lesingham, the handsome and too
intimate friend of Harris, the proprietor, coming on to speak a
prologue, in which she was so imperfect, that a man stood close to
her with a copy, to prompt her in the words. For less disrespect than
this, the same audience had demanded the dismissal of an actor, and
condemned him to penury. Macklin suffered twice in this way, from the
capricious but cruel judgment of the house; and having here mentioned
his name, I will proceed to notice the career of a man who belongs to
so many eras.


[4] Should be 1755. The "Chinese Festival" was produced 8th November

[5] Probably a misprint for "Ten nights later," October 1 and October
11 being the dates in question.

[6] Should be 15th May.

[7] See the _London Chronicle_, 9th October 1783, for the account of
this visit.

[8] Dr. Doran omits "this raised a prodigious and continued hiss,
Harlequin all the while suspended in the air."

[Illustration: MR. MACKLIN AS SHYLOCK.]



A little child, about the last year of the reign of William III.,--a
boy who is said to have been born, _Anno Domini_ 1690, was taken to
Derry, to kiss the hand of, and wish a happy new year to, the old
head of his family, Mr. M'Laughlin. This ceremony was kept up in
the family circle, because the M'Laughlins were held to be of royal
descent, and the Mr. M'Laughlin in question to be the representative
of some line of ancient kings of Ireland!

In the summer of 1797, an old actor is dying out in Tavistock Row,
Covent Garden. Hull and Munden, and Davies and Ledger, and friends
on and off the stage, occasionally look in and talk of old times with
that ancient man, whose memory, however, is weaker than his frame. He
has been an eccentric but rare player in his day. He had acted with
contemporaries of Betterton; had seen, or co-operated with, every
celebrity of the stage since; and did not withdraw from that stage
till after Braham, who was among us but as yesterday, had sung his
first song on it. He gave counsel to old Charles Mathews, and he may
have seen little Edmund Kean being carried in a woman's arms from
the neighbourhood of Leicester Square to Drury Lane Theatre, where
the pale little fellow had to act an imp in a pantomime. The old
man, carried, in the summer last named, to his grave in the corner
of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, was the child who had done homage to
a traditional king of Ireland, so many years before. If Macklin
(as Charles M'Laughlin came to call himself) was born at the date
above given, the incidents of his life connect him with very remote
periods. He was born two months before King William gained the battle
of the Boyne;[9] and he lived to hear of Captain Nelson's prowess, to
read of the departure to India of that Lieutenant-Colonel Wellesley,
whose career of martial glory culminated at Waterloo, and to have
seen, perhaps, a smart young lad, just then in his teens, the Hon.
Henry Temple,--now Viscount Palmerston and Prime Minister of England!
Five sovereigns and five-and-twenty administrations, from Godolphin
to Pitt, succeeded each other, while Charles Macklin was thus
progressing on his journey of life.

Charles Macklin represents contradiction, sarcasm, irritability,
restlessness. It came of a double source,--his descent and the
line of characters which he most affected. His father was a stern
Presbyterian farmer, in Ulster; his mother, a rigid Roman Catholic.
At the siege of Derry, three of his uncles were among the besiegers,
and three among the besieged; and he had another,--a Roman Catholic
priest, who undertook to educate him, but who consigned the mission
to Nature. I have somewhere read that at five-and-thirty, Macklin
could not read, perfectly; but _that_ is a fable; or at eight or
nine, he could hardly have played Monimia, in private theatricals,
at the house of the good Ulster lady, who looked after him more
carefully than the priest, and more tenderly than Nature.

In after years, Quin said of Macklin that he had--not _lines_ in his
face, but _cordage_; and again, on seeing Macklin dressed and painted
for Shylock, Quin remarked that if ever Heaven had written villain on
a brow it was on that fellow's! One can hardly fancy that the gentle
Monimia could ever have found a representative in one who came to be
thus spoken of; but he is said to have succeeded in this respect,
perfectly, and in voice, feature, and action, to have counterfeited
that most interesting of orphans with great success.

It was a fatal success, in one sense. It inspired the boy with a
desire to act on a wider stage. It created in him a disgust for the
vocation to which he was destined,--that of a saddler,--from which
he ran away before he was apprentice enough to sew a buckle on a
girth; and the lad made off for the natural attraction of all Irish
lads,--Dublin. His ambition could both soar and stoop; and he entered
Trinity College as a badge-man or porter, which illustrious place and
humble office he quitted in 1710.

Except that he turned stroller, and suffered the sharp pangs which
strollers feel,--and enjoyed the roving life led by players on the
tramp, little is here known of him. He seems to have served some
five years to this rough and rollicking apprenticeship, and then to
have succeeded in being allowed to appear at Lincoln's Inn Fields,
in 1725, as Alcander, in "OEdipus." His manner of speaking was found
too "familiar," that is, too _natural_. He had none, he said, of the
hoity-toity, sing-song delivery then in vogue; and Rich recommended
him to _go to grass again_; and accordingly to green fields and
strolling he returned.

I suppose some manager had his eye on Macklin at Southwark Fair,
in 1730, for he passed thence immediately to Lincoln's Inn Fields.
He played small parts, noticed in another page, and was probably
thankful to get them, not improving his cast till he went to Drury
Lane, in 1733, when he played the elder Cibber's line of characters,
and in 1735 created Snip in the farce of the "Merry Cobler," and
came thereby in peril of his life. One evening, a fellow actor,
Hallam, grandfather of merry Mrs. Mattocks, took from Macklin's
dressing-room, a wig, which the latter wore in the farce. The players
were in the "scene room," some of them seated on the settle in front
of the fire, when a quarrel broke out between Hallam and Macklin,
which was carried on so loudly that the actors then concluding the
first piece were disturbed by it. Hallam, at length, surrendered the
"property," but, after doing so, used words of such offence that
Macklin, equally unguarded in language, and more unguarded in action,
struck at him with his cane, in order to thrust him from the room.
Unhappily the cane penetrated through Hallam's eye, to the brain, and
killed him. Macklin's deep concern could not save him from standing
at the bar of the Old Bailey on a charge of murder. The jury returned
him guilty of manslaughter, without malice aforethought, and the
contrite actor was permitted to return to his duty.

Among the friends he possessed was Mrs. Booth, widow of Barton Booth,
in whose house was domiciled as companion a certain Grace Purvor,
who could dance almost as well as Santlow herself, and had otherwise
great attractions. Colley Cibber loved to look in at Mrs. Booth's to
listen to Grace's well-told stories; Macklin went thither to tell his
own to Grace; and John, Duke of Argyle, flitted about the same lady
for purposes of his own, which he had the honesty to give up, when
Macklin informed him of the honourable interest he took in the friend
of Mrs. Booth. Macklin married Grace, and the latter proved excellent
both as wife and actress--of her qualities in the latter respect I
have already spoken.

For some years Macklin himself failed to reap the distinction he
coveted. The attainment was made, however, in 1741, when he induced
Fleetwood to revive Shakspeare's "Merchant of Venice," with Macklin
for Shylock.

There was a whisper that he was about to play the Jew as a serious
character. His comrades laughed, and the manager was nervous. The
rehearsals told them nothing, for there Macklin did little more than
walk through the part, lest the manager should prohibit the playing
of the piece, if the nature of the reform Macklin was about to
introduce should make him fearful of consequences. In some such dress
as that we now see worn by Shylock, Macklin, on the night of the 15th
of February,[10] 1741, walked down the stage, and looking through the
eyelet-hole in the curtain, saw the two ever-formidable front rows of
the pit occupied by the most highly-dreaded critics of the period.
The house was also densely crowded. He returned from his survey, calm
and content, remarking, "Good! I shall be tried to-night by a Special

There was little applause, to Macklin's disappointment, on his
entrance, yet people were pleased at the aspect of a Jew whom
Rembrandt might have painted. The opening scene was spoken in
familiar, but earnest accents. Not a hand yet gave token of
approbation, but there occasionally reached Macklin's ears, from
the two solemn rows of judge and jury in the pit, the sounds of a
"Good!" and "Very good!" "Very well, indeed!"--and he passed off more
gratified by this than by the slight general applause intended for

As the play proceeded, so did his triumph grow. In the scene with
Tubal, which Dogget in Lansdowne's version had made so comic, he
shook the hearts, and not the sides of the audience. There was deep
emotion in that critical pit. The sympathies of the house went all
for Shylock; and at last, a storm of acclamation, a very hurricane of
approval, roared pleasantly over Macklin. So far all was well; but
the trial scene had yet to come.

It came; and there the triumph culminated. The actor was not loud,
nor grotesque; but Shylock was natural, calmly confident, and so
terribly malignant, that when he whetted his knife, to cut the
forfeit from that bankrupt there, a shudder went round the house,
and the profound silence following told Macklin that he held his
audience by the heart-strings, and that his hearers must have already
acknowledged the truth of his interpretation of Shakspeare's Jew.
When the act-drop fell, then the pent-up feelings found vent, and
Old Drury shook again with the tumult of applause. The critics went
off to the coffee-houses in a state of pleasurable excitement. As
for the other actors, Quin (Antonio) must have felt the master-mind
of that night. Mrs. Pritchard (Nerissa), excellent judge as she was,
must have enjoyed the terrible grandeur of that trial-scene; and even
Kitty Clive (Portia) could not have dared, on that night, to do what
she ordinarily made Portia do, in the disguise of young Bellario;
namely, mimic the peculiarities of some leading lawyer of the day.
And Macklin?--Macklin remarked, as he stood among his fellows, all of
whom were, I hope, congratulatory, "I am not worth fifty pounds in
the world; nevertheless, on this night am I Charles the Great!"

That Pope was in the house on the third night, and that he pronounced
Macklin to be the Jew that Shakspeare drew, is not improbable;
but the statement that Macklin, soon after, dined with Pope and
Bolingbroke at Battersea is manifestly untrue, for the latter was
then living in retirement, at Fontainbleau. It could not have been
in such company, at this period, that Pope asked the actor, why
he dressed Shylock in a red hat, and that Macklin replied, it was
because he had read in an old history that the Jews in Venice were
obliged, by law, to wear a hat of that decided colour;--which was

Macklin was proud and impetuous, and often lost engagements, by
offending; and regained them by publicly apologising. He was an actor
well established in favour, when, in the season of 1745-46, he made
his first appearance as an author in an _àpropos_ tragedy for the '45
era, "Henry VII., or the Popish Impostor." The anachronism in the
title is only to be matched by the violations done to chronology
and propriety in the play,--a crude work, six weeks in the doing.
It settles, however, in some degree, the time when Macklin left
the Church of Rome for that of England. It must have been prior to
the period in which he wrote the above-named piece. After it took
place, he used to describe himself "as staunch a Protestant as the
Archbishop of Canterbury, and on the same principles;"--a compliment,
I suppose, to John Potter!

After playing during four seasons at Drury Lane, Macklin spent from
1748 to 1750 in Dublin, where he and his wife were to receive £800
a year. He delighted the public, and helped to ruin the manager,
Sheridan, who was unable to fulfil his engagement, and got involved
in a lawsuit. From 1750 to 1754[11] Macklin was at Covent Garden,
where one of his most extraordinary parts was Mercutio, to Barry's
Romeo!--a part for which he was utterly unfit, but which he held to
be one of his best!--not inferior to Woodward's! His view of the
rival Romeos, too, had something original in it. Barry, he said, in
the garden scene, came on with a lordly swagger, and talked so loud
that the servants ought to have come out and tossed him in a blanket;
but Garrick sneaked into the garden, like a thief in the night. And
at this critical comment the latter did not feel flattered.

In 1754[12] Macklin introduced his daughter, with a prologue, and
withdrew himself from the stage, to appear in a new character, that
of master of a tavern, where dinners might be had at 4s. a head,[13]
including any sort of wine the guest might choose to ask for! The
house was under the Piazza, in Covent Garden; and Mr. Macklin's
"Great Room in Hart Street" subsequently became George Robins'
auction-room. I do not like to contemplate Macklin in this character,
bringing in the first dish, the napkin over his arm, at the head
of an array of waiters, who robbed him daily; that done, he steps
backwards to the sideboard, bows, and then directs all proceedings by
signs. The cloth drawn, he advances to the head of the table, makes
another servile bow, fastens the bell-rope to the chair, and hoping
he has made everything agreeable, retires!

The lectures on the drama and ancient art, and the debates which
followed, in his Great Room, the "British Inquisition," were not in
much better taste. The wits of the town found excellent sport in
interrupting the debaters, and few were more active in this way than
Foote. "Do you know what I am going to say?" asked Macklin. "No,"
said Foote, "_do you?_" On the 25th of January 1755, Charles Macklin
was in the list of what the _Gentleman's Magazine_ used to politely
call the "B--ts," as failing in the character of vintner, coffee-man,
and chapman. His examination only showed that he had failed in
prudence. He had been an excellent father, and on his daughter's
education alone he had expended £1200.

He remained disengaged till December 12th, 1759, when he appeared
at Drury Lane, as Shylock, and Sir Archy Macsarcasm, in "Love à la
Mode," a piece of his own. From the profits received on each night
of its being acted, Macklin stipulated that he should have a share
during life. The arrangement was advantageous to him, although this
little piece was not at first successful. After a season at Drury, he
passed the next at the Garden, and in 1763[14] reappeared in Dublin,
at Smock Alley, then at Crow Street, and Capel Street, under rival
managers Mossop, Sheridan,[15] or Barry, and with more profit to
himself than to them. In 1773 he returned to Covent Garden, where he
made an attempt at Macbeth, which brought on that famous theatrical
"row" which Macklin laid to the enmity of Reddish and Sparks, and of
which I have spoken, under that year. With intervals of rest, Macklin
continued to play, without increase of fame, till 1780,[16] when he
produced his original play, the "Man of the World," and created, at
the age, probably, of ninety years, Sir Pertinax Macsycophant, one of
the most arduous characters in a great actor's repertory. The Lord
Chamberlain licensed this admirable piece with great reluctance,
for though the satire was general, it was severe, and susceptible
of unpleasant and particular application. Shylock, Sir Pertinax,
and Sir Archy, were often played by the old actor, whose memory
did not begin to fail till 1788, when it first tripped, as he was
struggling to play Shylock. The aged actor tottered to the lights,
talked of the inexplicable terror of mind which had come over him,
and asked for indulgence to so aged a servant; and then he went on,
now brilliantly, now all uncertain and confused. He was to play the
same character for his benefit, on May 7th, 1789, and went into the
green-room dressed for the part. Whether he was then in his 90th or
his 100th year, the effort was a great one; and, anticipating it
might fail, the manager had requested Ryder, an actor of merit, who
had been a great favourite and a luckless manager in Ireland, to be
ready to supply Macklin's place.

The older performer seeing good Miss Pope in the green-room, asked
her if she was to play that night. "To be sure I am, dear sir," she
said; "you see I am dressed for Portia." Macklin looked vacantly at
her, and, in an imbecile tone of voice, remarked, "I had forgotten;
who plays Shylock?" "Who? why you, sir; you are dressed for it!"
The aged representative of the Jew was affected; he put his hand to
his forehead, and in a pathetic tone deplored his waning memory;
and then went on the stage; spoke, or tried to speak, two or three
speeches, struggled with himself, made one or two fruitless efforts
to get clear, and then paused, collected his thoughts, and, in a few
mournful words, acknowledged his inability, asked their pardon, and,
under the farewell applause of the house, was led off the stage, for

As an actor, he was without trick; his enunciation was clear, in
every syllable. Taken as a whole, he probably excelled every actor
who has ever played Shylock, say his biographers; but I remember
Edmund Kean, and make that exception. He was not a great tragedian,
nor a good light comedian, but in comedy and farce, where rough
energy is required, and in parts resembling Shylock, in their earnest
malignity, he was paramount. He was also an excellent teacher, very
impatient with mediocrity, but very careful with the intelligent.
Easily moved to anger, his pupils, and, indeed, many others stood in
awe of him; but he was honourable, generous, and humane; convivial,
frank, and not more free in his style than his contemporaries; but
naturally irascible, and naturally forgiving. Eccentricity was second
nature to him, and seems to have been so with other men of his blood.
His nephew and godson, the Rev. Charles Macklin, held an incumbency
in Ireland, which he lost because he would indulge in a particular
sort of Church discipline. At the close of his sermon he used to
administer the benediction, and the bagpipes. With the first he
dismissed the congregation, and, taking up the second, he blew his
people out with a lusty voluntary.

When Macklin left the stage, his second wife, the widow of a Dublin
hosier, and a worthy woman, looked their fortune in the face. It
consisted of £60 in ready money, and an annuity of £10. Friends were
ready, but the proud old actor was not made to be wounded in his
pride; he was made, in a measure, to help himself. His two pieces,
"Love à la Mode," and the "Man of the World," were published by
subscription. With nearly £1600 realised thereby, an annuity was
purchased of £200 for Macklin's life, and £75 for his wife, in case
of her survival. And this annuity he enjoyed till the 11th of July
1797, when the descendant of the royal M'Laughlins died, after a
theatrical life, not reckoning the strolling period, of sixty-four

If Macklin was really of the old school, that school taught what was
truth and nature. His acting was essentially manly, there was nothing
of trick about it. His delivery was more level than modern speaking,
but certainly more weighty, direct, and emphatic. His features were
rigid, his eye cold and colourless; yet the earnestness of his
manner, and sterling sense of his address, produced an effect in
Shylock that has remained, with one exception, unrivalled.

Boaden thought Cooke's Sir Pertinax noisy, compared with Macklin's.
"He talked of _booing_, but it was evident he took a credit for
suppleness that was not in him. Macklin could inveigle as well as
subdue; and modulated his voice almost to his last year, with amazing

In his earlier days, Macklin was an acute inquirer into meaning; and
always rendered his conceptions with force and beauty. In reading
Milton's lines--

    "Of man's first disobedience and the fruit
    Of that FOR-BID-DEN tree--whose mortal taste
    Brought DEATH into the world, and ALL our woe,"

the first word in capitals was uttered with an awful regret, the
suitable forerunner, says Boaden, "to the great amiss" which follows.

Macklin's chief objection to Garrick was directed against his
reckless abundance of action and gesture; all trick, start, and
ingenious attitude were to him subjects of scorn. He finely derided
the Hamlets who were violently horrified and surprised, instead of
solemnly awed, on first seeing the Ghost. "Recollect, sir," he would
say, "Hamlet came there to see his father's spirit."

Kirkman gives us a picture of Macklin, in his old age, which is
illustrative of the man, and his antagonism to Quin. The scene is at
the Rainbow Coffee House, King Street, Covent Garden, in 1787, where
some one of the company had asked him if he had ever quarrelled with
Quin. "Yes, sir," was the answer. "I was very low in the theatre as
an actor, when the surly fellow was the despot of the place. But,
sir, I had--had a lift, sir. Yes; I was to play the--the--the boy
with the red breeches;--you know who I mean, sir;--he, whose mother
is always going to law;--you know who I mean!" "_Jerry Blackacre_, I
suppose, sir?" "Aye, sir,--_Jerry_. Well, sir, I began to be a little
known to the public; and egad, I began to make them laugh. I was
called the _Wild Irishman_, sir; and was thought to have some fun in
me; and I made them laugh heartily at the boy, sir,--in Jerry.

"When I came off the stage, the surly fellow, who played the scolding
Captain in the play; Captain--Captain--you know who I mean!"
"_Manly_, I believe, sir?" "Aye, sir,--the same _Manly_. Well, sir,
the surly fellow began to scold me; told me I was at my tricks, and
that there was no having a chaste scene for me. Everybody, nay,
egad, the manager himself, was afraid of him. I was afraid of the
fellow, too; but not much. Well, sir, I told him I did not mean
to disturb _him_ by my acting, but to _show off a little myself_.
Well, sir, in the other scenes I did the same, and made the audience
laugh incontinently;--and he scolded me again, sir. I made the same
apology; but the surly fellow would not be appeased. Again, sir,
however, I did the same; and when I returned to the green-room, he
abused me like a pickpocket, and said I must leave off my _d----d
tricks_. I told him I could not play otherwise. He said I _could_,
and I _should_. Upon which, sir, egad, I said to him flatly,--'you
lie.' He was chewing an apple at this moment; and spitting the
contents into his hand, he threw them in my face." "Indeed!" "It is
a fact, sir! Well, sir, I went up to him directly (for I was a great
_boxing cull_ in those days), and pushed him down into a chair, and
pummelled his face d----bly."

"You did right, sir."

"He strove to resist, but he was no match for me; and I made his
face swell so with the blows, that he could hardly speak. When he
attempted to go on with his part, sir, he mumbled so, that the
audience began to hiss. Upon which, he went forward and told them,
sir, that something unpleasant had happened, and that he was really
very ill. But, sir, the moment I went to strike him, there were many
noblemen in the green-room, full dressed, with their swords and large
wigs (for the green-room was a sort of state-room then, sir). Well,
they were all alarmed, and jumped upon the benches, waiting in silent
amazement till the affair was over.

"At the end of the play, sir, he told me I must give him
satisfaction; and that when he changed his dress, he would wait for
me at the Obelisk, in Covent Garden. I told him I would be with
him;--but, sir, when he was gone, I recollected that I was to play in
the pantomime (for I was a great pantomimic boy in those days). So,
sir, I said to myself, 'd---- the fellow; let him wait; I won't go
to him till my business is all over; let him fume and fret, and be
hanged!' Well, sir, Mr. Fleetwood, the manager, who was one of the
best men in the world,--all kindness, all mildness, and graciousness
and affability,--had heard of the affair; and as Quin was his great
actor, and in favour with the town, he told me I had had revenge
enough; and that I should not meet the surly fellow that night; but
that he would make the matter up, somehow or other.

"Well, sir, Mr. Fleetwood ordered me a good supper, and some wine,
and made me sleep at his house all night, to prevent any meeting.
Well, sir, in the morning he told me, that I must, for _his sake_,
make a little apology to him for what I had done. And so, sir, I,
to oblige Mr. Fleetwood (for I loved the man), did, sir, make some
apology to him; and the matter dropped."

Macklin's character has been described in exactly opposite colours,
according to the bias of the friend or foe who affords the
description. He is angel or fiend, rough or tender, monster, honest
man or knave,--and so forth; but he was, of course, neither so bad as
his foes nor so bright as his friends made him out to be. One thing
is certain, that his judgment and his execution were excellent. In
a very few tragic parts, he acted well; in comedy and farce, where
villainy and humour were combined, he was admirable and original.
Of characters which he played originally (and those were few),
he rendered none celebrated, except Sir Archy, Sir Pertinax, and
Murrough O'Doherty, in pieces of which he was the author. His other
principal characters were Iago, Sir Francis Wronghead, Trappanti,
Lovegold, Scrub, Peachum, Polonius, and some others in pieces now not
familiar to us.

That Macklin was a "hard actor" there is no doubt; Churchill, who
allows him no excellence, says he was affected, constrained, "dealt
in half-formed sounds," violated nature, and that his features, which
seemed to disdain each other,--

    "At variance set, inflexible, and coarse,
    Ne'er know the workings of united force,
    Ne'er kindly soften to each other's aid,
    Nor show the mingled pow'rs of light and shade."

But "Cits and grave divines his praise proclaimed," and Macklin had
a large number of admiring friends. In his private life, he had to
bear many sorrows, and he bore them generally well, but one, in
particular, with the silent anguish of a father who sees his son
sinking fast to destruction, and glorying in the way which he is

Ten years before Macklin died, he lost his daughter. Miss Macklin
was a pretty and modest person; respectable alike on and off the
stage; artificially trained, but yet highly accomplished. Macklin
had every reason to be proud of her, for everybody loved her for
her gentleness and goodness. As a child, in 1742, she had played
childish parts, and since 1750, those of the highest walk in tragedy
and comedy, but against competition which was too strong for her. She
was the original Irene, in "Barbarossa," and Clarissa, in "Lionel and
Clarissa," and was very fond of acting parts in which the lady had
to assume male attire. This fondness was the cause, in some measure,
of her death; it led to her buckling her garter so tightly that a
dangerous tumour formed in the inner part of the leg, near the knee.
I do not fancy that Miss Macklin had ever heard of Mary of Burgundy,
who suffered from a similar infirmity, but the actress was like the
Duchess in this,--from motives of delicacy she would not allow a
leg which she had liberally exhibited on the stage, to be examined
by her own doctor. Ultimately, a severe operation became necessary.
Miss Macklin bore it with courage, but it compelled her to leave the
stage, and her strength gradually failing, she died in 1787,[17] at
the age of forty-eight, and I wish she had left some portion of her
fortune to her celebrated but impoverished father.

Miss Macklin reminds me of Miss Barsanti, the original Lydia
Languish, whose course on the London stage dates from 1777.[18] The
peculiarity of Miss Barsanti,--a clever imitator of English and
Italian singers,--was the opposite of that which distinguished Miss
Macklin. She had registered a vow that she would never assume male
attire; nevertheless, she was once cast for Signor Arionelli, in the
"Son-in-Law," a part originally played by Bannister. This was after
her retirement from London, and when she was Mrs. Lisley,--playing
in Dublin. The time of the play is 1779, but the actress, who might
have worn a great coat, if she had been so minded, assumed--for a
music-master of that period, in London--the oriental costume of a
pre-Christian, or of no period, worn by Arbaces, in _Artaxerxes_!

Miss Barsanti was an honest woman who, on becoming Mrs. Lisley,
wished to assume her husband's name, but that gentleman's family
forbade what they had no right to prohibit. Her second husband's
family was less particular, and in theatrical biographies, she is
the Mrs. Daly, the wife of the active Irish manager, of that name;
who is for ever memorable as being the _only_ Irish manager who ever
realised a fortune, and took it with him into retirement.

There remain to be noticed, before we pass to the Siddons period,
several actresses, of higher importance than the above ladies, as
well as actors, whose claims are only second to those of Macklin.

[Illustration: Mr. Foote as the Devil upon Two Sticks.]


[9] It is quite apocryphal that Macklin was two months old when his
father was killed at the Battle of the Boyne. When he was in full
possession of his faculties he said he was born in November 1699.
As he died in 1797 he had accomplished ninety-seven years, the age
stated on his coffin-lid, and was in his ninety-eighth year.--_Doran

Dr. Doran no doubt means that Macklin's father was not killed at the
Battle of the Boyne.

[10] 14th of February (2d edition).

[11] Macklin does not seem to have been at Covent Garden in 1754. He
had a farewell benefit at Drury Lane, 20th December 1753, after which
he opened his tavern.

[12] Miss Macklin made her first appearance, as a woman, on 10th
April 1751, on the occasion of her father's benefit.

[13] Cooke, whose account of this matter is very full, says 3s. a

[14] Macklin was at Drury Lane, 1759-60; Covent Garden, 1760-61; and
was in Dublin, at Crow Street, in 1761-62.

[15] Sheridan was not manager after 1759. Macklin acted under the
management of Dawson also.

[16] 1781. The "Man of the World" was produced 10th May 1781.

[17] Should be 1781.

[18] Her English playing ended in 1777, after which year she acted
only in Ireland.




A dozen more of ladies, all of desert, and some of extraordinary
merit, passed away from the stage during the latter portion of
the last century. Mrs. Green, Hippisley's daughter, and Governor
Hippisley's sister,--the original Mrs. Malaprop, and, but for Mrs.
Clive, the first of petulant Abigails, finished in 1779[19] a public
career which began in 1730.[20] In the same year,[21] but after a
brief service of about eight years, Mason's Elfrida and Evelina,
the voluptuous Mrs. Hartley, in her thirtieth year, went into a
retirement which she enjoyed till 1824. She was "the most perfect
beauty that was ever seen,"--more perfect than "the Carrara," who
was "the prettiest creature upon earth." Her beauty, however, was of
feature, lacking expression, and though an impassioned, she was not
an intelligent actress, unless her plunging her stage-wooers into mad
love for her be a proof of it. No wonder, had Smith only not been
married, that he grew temporarily insane about this young, graceful,
and fair creature.

Then, from the London stage, at least, fell Mrs. Baddeley, at the end
of the season, 1780-81. She was a pretty actress with a good voice,
and so little love for Mr. Baddeley and so much for George Garrick
that a duel came of it. The parties went out, to Hyde Park, on a
November morning of 1770. Baddeley was stirred up to fight Davy's
brother, by a Jewish friend, who, being an admirer of the lady,
wanted her husband to shoot her lover! The two pale combatants fired
anywhere but at each other, and then the lady rushed in, crying,
"Spare him!" without indicating the individual! Whereupon, husband
and friend took the fair one, each by a hand, and went to dinner; and
the married couple soon after played together in "It's well it's no

But worse did come, and separation, and exposure, and _Memoirs_ to
brighten Mrs. Baddeley, which, like those of Mrs. Pilkington, only
blackened her the more. She passed to country engagements, charming
audiences for awhile with her Polly, Rosetta, Clarissa, and Imogen,
till laudanum, cognac, paralysis, and small sustenance, made an end
of her, when she had lost everything she could value, save her beauty.

The third departure was of as mad a creature as she, Miss Catley--the
Irish songstress, all smiles and dimples, and roguish beauty; who
loved, like Nell Gwyn, to loll about in the boxes, and call to
authors that she was glad their play was damned; and to ladies, to
stand up that she might look at them, and to display the fashion of
her dress, which those ladies eagerly copied. Her "Tyburn top," which
she wore in Macheath, set the mode for the hair for many a day; and
to be _Catley-fied_ was to be decked out becomingly.

A more illustrious pair next left the stage more free to Mrs.
Siddons, or her coming rendered it less tenable to them; namely, Mrs.
Yates and George Anne Bellamy--the former appearing for the last
time for the benefit of the latter. More than thirty years before,
as Mrs. Graham, young, fat, and weak-voiced, she failed in Dublin.
In 1753-54, she made almost as unsatisfactory a _début_ at Drury
Lane in a new part, Marcia, in "Virginia," in which she only showed
promise. Richard Yates then married and instructed her, and she
rapidly improved, but could not compete with Mrs. Cibber, till that
lady's illness caused Mandane ("Orphan of China") to be given to
Mrs. Yates, who, by her careful acting, at once acquired a first-rate
reputation. In the classical heroines of the dull old classical
tragedies of the last century, she was wonderfully effective, and
her Medea was so peculiarly her own, that Mrs. Siddons herself never
disturbed the public memory of it by acting the part.

When Mrs. Cibber died in 1765,[22] Mrs. Yates succeeded to the whole
of her inheritance, some of which was a burthen too much for her; but
she kept her position, with Mrs. Barry (Crawford) for a rival, till
Mrs. Siddons promised at Bath to come and dispossess both. Mrs. Yates
recited beautifully, was always dignified, but seems to have wanted
variety of expression. With a haughty mien, and a powerful voice,
she was well suited to the strong-minded heroines of tragedy; but
the more tender ladies, Desdemona or Monimia, she could not compass.
To the pride and violence of Calista she was equal, but in pathos
she was wanting. Her comedy was as poor as that of Mrs. Siddons; her
Jane Shore as good; her Medea so sublime as to be unapproachable. I
suspect she was a little haughty; for impudent Weston says in his
will: "To Mrs. Yates I leave all my humility!"

In one character of comedy she is said, indeed, to have
excelled--Violante, in the "Wonder," to the playfulness, loving,
bickering, pouting, and reconciliations, in which her "queen-like
majesty" does not seem to have been exactly suitable. Her _scorn_
was never equalled but by Mrs. Siddons, and it would be difficult
to determine which lady had the more lofty majesty. In passion Mrs.
Yates swept the stage as with a tempest; yet she was always under
control. For instance, in Lady Constance, after wildly screaming,

    "I will not keep this form upon my head,
    When there is much disorder in my wit,"

she did not cast to the ground the thin white cap which surmounted
her headdress, but quietly took it from her head, and placed it on
the right side of the circumference of her hoop! Mrs. Yates died in

George Anne Bellamy is unfortunate in having a story, which honest
women seldom have. That pleasant place, Mount Sion, at Tunbridge
Wells, was the property of her mother, a Quaker farmer's daughter,
named Seal, who, on _her_ mother falling into distress, was taken
by Mrs. Gregory,[23] the sister of the Duke of Marlborough, to be

Miss Seal was placed in an academy in Queen's Square, Westminster, so
dull a locality, that the rascally Lord Tyrawley had no difficulty
in persuading her to run away from it, in his company, and to his
apartments, in Somerset House. When my lord wanted a little change,
he left Miss Seal with her infant son, and crossed to Ireland to make
an offer to the daughter of the Earl of Blessington. She was ugly,
he said, but had money; and when he got possession of both, he would
leave the first, and bring the latter with renewed love, to share
with Miss Seal.

The lady was so particularly touched by this letter, that she sent
it, with others, to the earl, who, rendered angry thereat, forbade
his daughter to marry my lord, but found they were married already.
Tyrawley hoped thus to secure Lady Mary Stewart's fortune; but
discovering she had none at her disposal, he naturally felt he had
been deceived, and turned his wife off to her relations. Having gone
through this amount of villainy, King George thought he was qualified
to represent him at Lisbon, and thither Lord Tyrawley proceeded

He would have taken Miss Seal with him, but she preferred to go on
the stage. Ultimately she _did_ consent to go; and was received with
open arms; but she was so annoyed by the discovery of a swarthy
rival, that she listened to the wooing of a Captain Bellamy, married
him, and presented him with a daughter with such promptitude, that
the modest captain ran away from so clever a woman, and never saw her

Lord Tyrawley, proud of the implied compliment, acknowledged the
little George Anne Bellamy, born on St. George's day, 1733, as his
daughter. He exhibited the greatest care in her education. He kept
her at a Boulogne convent from her fifth to her eighth year, and
then brought her up at his house at Bexley, amid noble young scamps,
whose society was quite as useful to her as if she had been at a
"finishing" school.

Lord Tyrawley having perfected himself in the further study of
demi-rippism, went as the representative of England to Russia,
leaving an allowance for his daughter, which so warmed up her
mother's affections for her, that George Anne was induced to live
with her, and George Anne's mother hoped that her annuity would do so
too, but my lord, having different ideas, stopped the annuity, and
did not care to recover his daughter.

The two women were destitute; but the younger one was very youthful,
was rarely beautiful, had certain gifts, and, of course, the managers
heard of her. She had played Miss Prue for Bridgewater's benefit, in
1742, and gave promise. In 1744, Rich heard her recite, and announced
her for Monimia. Quin was angry at having to play Chamont to "such a
child;" but the little thing manifested such tenderness and ability,
that he confessed she was charming. Lord Byron thought so too, and
carried her off in his coach to a house at the corner of North Audley
Street, which looked over the dull Oxford Road to the desolate fields
beyond. Much scandal ensued; amid which Miss Bellamy's half-brother
appeared, shook his sister as a pert baggage, and sorely mauled my
lord; but Lord Byron lived to murder Mr. Chaworth in a duel, to be
found guilty of slaughtering the poor man, and consequently, being a
peer, to be discharged on paying his fees!

Then Miss Bellamy went among some Quaker relations who had never
previously seen her, and charmed them so by her soft, and winning,
and simple Quakerish ways, that they would have made an idol of her,
if Friends ever made an idol of anything, but lucre and themselves.
A discovery that she was an actress brought this phase of her life
to an end, and it was followed by a triumphant season on the Dublin
stage, from 1745 to 1747, where she made such a sensation, reigned so
like a queen, and was altogether so irresistible and rich, that Lord
Tyrawley's family acknowledged her. My lord himself became reconciled
to her, through old Quin, and would have spent her income for her
after she was re-engaged at Covent Garden, in 1748, if she would only
have married his friend, Mr. Crump. Rather than do that, she let a
Mr. Metham carry her off from Covent Garden, dressed as she was to
play Lady Fanciful, to live with, quarrel with, and refuse to wed
with him.

What with the loves, caprices, charms, extravagances, and sufferings
of Mrs. Bellamy, she excited the wonder, admiration, pity, and
contempt of the town for thirty years. The Mr. Metham she might have
married she would not,--Calcraft and Digges, whom she would have, and
the last of whom she thought she _had_ married, she could not; for
both had wives living. To say that she was a syren who lured men to
destruction, is to say little, for she went down to ruin with each
victim; but she rose from the wreck more exquisitely seductive and
terribly fascinating than ever, to find a new prey whom she might
ensnare and betray.

Meanwhile, she kept a position on the stage, in the very front rank,
disputing pre-eminence with the best there, and achieving it in some
things; for this perilous charmer was unequalled in her day for the
expression of unbounded and rapturous love. Her looks glowing with
the passion to which she gave expression, doubled the effect; and
whether she gazed at a lover or rested her head on the bosom of her
lord, nothing more tender or subduing was ever seen, save in Mrs.
Cibber. She was so beautiful, had eyes of such soft and loving blue,
was so extraordinarily fair, and was altogether so irresistible a
sorceress, that Mrs. Bellamy was universally loved as a charming
creature, and admired as an excellent actress; and when she played
some poor lady distraught through affection, the stoutest hearts
under embroidered or broad-cloth waistcoats, crumbled away, often
into inconceivable mountains of gold-dust.

She laughed, and scattered as fast as they piled it, and in the
gorgeous extravagance of her life began to lose her powers as an
actress. She had once almost shared the throne assumed by Mrs.
Cibber, but she wanted the sustained zeal and anxious study of that
lady, and cared not, as Mrs. Cibber did, for one quiet abiding home,
by whomsoever shared, but sighed for change, had it, and suffered
for it. When her powers began to decay, her admirers of all schools
deplored the fact. In tragedy, natural as she was in feeling, she
belonged to the old days of intoned cadences; and the old and the
rising school mourned over her, yet both were compelled to avow that
only in the ecstasy of love was Mrs. Bellamy equal to the Cibber,
and in that Mrs. Cibber, when acting with Barry, in the younger days
of both, was often George Anne's superior.

From reigning it like a queen on and off the stage,--imperious
and lovely, and betraying everywhere,--to the figure of a poor,
bailiff-persecuted, famishing wretch, stealing down the muddy steps
of old Westminster Bridge to drown herself in the Thames, how wide
are the extremes! But in both positions we find the original Volumnia
of Thomson, the Erixine of Dr. Young, and the Cleone, to whom Dodsley
owed the success of his heart-rending tragedy. To the last, she was
as unfortunate as she had been reckless. Two old lovers, one of whom
was Woodward, bequeathed legacies to her, which she never received.
Those sums seemed as life to her; but, in the days of her pride
and her power, and wicked but transcendent beauty, she would have
scorned them as mere pin-money; and so she grew acquainted with gaunt
misery, till some friends weary, perhaps, of sustaining the burthen
she imposed upon them, induced the managers to give her a farewell
benefit, in 1784,[24] on which occasion Mrs. Yates returned to the
stage to play for her the Duchess, in "Braganza." More than forty
years before, the brilliant little sylph, Miss Bellamy, had floated
on to the same Covent Garden stage, confident in both intellectual
and material charms. Now, the middle-aged woman, still older through
fierce impatience at her fall, through want, misery, hopelessness,
everything but remorse, had not nerve enough to go on and utter a
few words of farewell. These were spoken for her by Miss Farren,
before the curtain, which ascended at the words,--

    "But see, oppress'd with gratitude and tears,
    To pay her duteous tribute she appears;"

and discovered the once beautiful and happy syren, a terrified,
old-looking woman, lying, powerless to rise, in an arm-chair. But the
whole house--some out of respect for the erst charmer, others out of
curiosity to behold a woman of such fame on and off the stage--rose
to greet her. George Anne, urged by Miss Catley, bent forward,
murmured a few indistinct words, and, falling back again, the curtain
descended, for the last time, between the public and the Fallen Angel
of the stage.

Half-a-dozen minor lights are extinguished before we come to a name,
a desert, and a fortune, more brilliant and lasting than that of
George Anne Bellamy,--the name, merit, and fortune of Miss Farren.
Mrs. Wilson, the original Betty Hint, in the "Man of the World," is
not now remembered either for her genius or her errors. Mrs. Belfille
made but one appearance on the London stage, as Belinda, in "All in
the Wrong." She wanted animation and humour, but was distinguished
for the splendour of her stage wardrobe, which was all her own. She
joined Whitlock and Austin's company in the north. Whitlock married
Mrs. Siddons' sister Elizabeth, and took her to America, where her
acting drew rather the admiration than the tears of the Indians.
Mrs. Belfille and Mrs. Whitlock were together in the company named
above. On the back of one of their bills I find a MS. note made by
Austin, in which he says that Mrs. Belfille was an elegant actress,
very fashionable, and genteel in dress and manner; and, he adds,
"Mrs. Whitlock could not keep her temper while Mrs. Belfille was with
me, in Newcastle, Chester, &c."

A year later, in 1789, the charming Bacchante, Mrs. Beresford,
Goldsmith's Miss Richland and Miss Hardcastle, and Sheridan's Julia,
in the "Rivals," left the London stage for Edinburgh, where, says
Jackson, "her Lady Racket will be remembered as long as one of her
audience remains alive."

Pretty Mrs. Wells, famous for her imitations, now disappears. She
was O'Keefe's Cowslip. She was the Jewish gentleman, Mr. Sumbell's,
wife, which he denied; and she so far rivalled Mrs. Siddons, that, in
"Isabella," as it was the fashion for the house to shriek when the
actress shrieked, so, when Mrs. Wells shrieked, her friends shrieked
louder than those of Mrs. Siddons', and, _therefore_, thought Cowslip
was the greater tragedian of the two. Then, the first of the Miss
Bruntons, the Louisa Courtney of Reynold's "Dramatist," finished her
seventh and last season, in London, in 1792, as the wife of Della
Cruscan Merry. She began as an expected rival of Mrs. Siddons, but
London did not confirm the testimony of Bath. Three other actresses
passed away before Miss Farren: mad Hannah Brand, who was a sort of
female Mossop; Mrs. Esten (who tried to disturb Mrs. Siddons, Mrs.
Jordan, and Miss Farren, but who, failing, settled in the north, and
very much disturbed the heart and the purse of the Duke of Hamilton),
and Mrs. Webb, the original Mrs. Cheshire to the above Cowslip; than
whom actress of more weight never made the boards groan, and who
turned her corpulence to account by playing Falstaff.

The first glimpse to be caught of Miss Farren is as picturesque as
can well be imagined. Her father, once a Cork surgeon but now manager
of a strolling company, is in the lock-up of the town of Salisbury;
he fell into durance through an unconscious infringement of the
borough law. The story is told, at length, in my _Knights and their
Days_. On a wintry morning, a little girl carries him a bowl of hot
milk, for breakfast, and she is helped over the ice to the lock-up
window by a sympathising lad. The nymph is Miss Farren, afterwards
Countess of Derby; the boy is the very happy beginning of Chief
Justice Burroughs.

The incident occurred in 1769. Three years later, Elizabeth was
playing Columbine at Wakefield. She could sing as well as she could
dance, gracefully; and, out of very love for the beautiful girl,
Younger brought her out, at Liverpool, where her maternal grandfather
had been a brewer of repute and good fortune, and where his
grand-daughter proved such a Rosetta, that more than half the young
fellows were more deeply in love with her than the paternal Younger

[Illustration: (Miss Farren, Countess of Derby)]

After five years' training, the now radiant girl, glowing with beauty
and intelligence, first charmed a London audience, on June the 9th,
1777, by appearing at the Haymarket, as Miss Hardcastle; Edwin making
his appearance on the same night, as Old Hardcastle. In that first
year of London probation, her Miss Hardcastle was a great success;
the town was ecstatic at that and her Maria, in the "Citizen," was
rapt at her Rosetta, rendered hilarious by her Miss Tittup, and
rarely charmed by her playfulness and dignity, as Rosara (Rosina),
in the "Barber of Seville." Of this character she was the original
representative. Colman omitted the scene in which the Count was
disguised as a tipsy dragoon, on the ground of its being injurious to
morality! The same Colman thought the Fool, in "Lear," too gross for
a London audience.

In the following year, the success of her Lady Townly transferred
her to Drury Lane, where she divided the principal parts with Miss
Walpole, Miss P. Hopkins (Mrs. Kemble, subsequently), and Perdita
Robinson; and not one of the four was twenty years of age.

Her Lady Townly was no new triumph. She had produced such an effect
in it at Liverpool, where, after her father's death, Younger had
engaged the whole family, that, on the strength of the promise of
fortune to come, tradesmen offered them unlimited credit.

For about a score of years she maintained a pre-eminence which she
did not, however, attain all at once, or without a struggle; her
most powerful and graceful opponent being Mrs. Abington. Her early
days had been of such stern and humble aspect, such a strolling and
starving with her stage-mad and improvident father, that an anonymous
biographer says of her: "The early parts of the history of many
eminent ladies on the stage must be extremely disagreeable to them
in the recital; and to none, we apprehend, more than to Miss Farren,
who, from the lowest histrionic sphere, has raised herself to the
most elevated."

During the years above-named, she played principally at Drury
Lane and the Haymarket, and chiefly the parts of fine ladies, for
which she seemed born; though she attempted tragedy, now and then;
and assumed low comedy characters, occasionally; but her natural
elegance, her tall and delicate figure, her beautiful expression, her
superbly modulated voice, her clear and refined pronunciation, made
of her fine lady a perfect charm; not merely the Lady Betty Modish,
and similar personages, but the sentimental Indianas and Cecilias.

Walpole says emphatically of Miss Farren, that, in his estimation,
she was the most perfect actress he had ever seen. Adolphus praises
"the irresistible graces of her address and manner, the polished
beauties of her action and gait, and all the indescribable little
charms which give fascination to the woman of birth and fashion,"
as among the excellences which secured a triumph for Burgoyne's
"Heiress." In that play she acted Lady Emily Gayville.

Among her original characters were Rosara (Rosina), in the "Barber
of Seville;" Cecilia, in "Chapter of Accidents;" Sophia, in "Lord of
the Manor;" Lady Emily Gayville, in the "Heiress;" Eliza Ratcliffe,
in the "Jew;" and Emily Tempest, in the "Wheel of Fortune." In
the "Heiress" Adolphus again says of her:--"Whether high and
honourable sentiments, burning and virtuous sensibility, sincere and
uncontrollable affection; animated, though sportive reprehension;
elegant persiflage, or arch and pointed satire were the aim of
the author, Miss Farren amply filled out his thought, and, by her
exquisite representation, made it, even when faint and feeble in
itself, striking and forcible." In fewer words, she had feeling,
judgment, grace, and discretion.

It was when playing Rosara that her life became in danger, by her
long gauze mantilla taking fire from the side-lights. She was not
aware of her peril, till Bannister (Almaviva) had quietly thrown his
Spanish cloak around her, and had put out the flames with his hands.

During her stage career she was the manageress of the private
theatricals at the Duke of Richmond's,--those most exclusive of
dramatic entertainments. She moved, as it is called, in the best
society, where she was Queen "amang them a'." Charles James Fox is
said to have been more or less seriously attached to her; but long
before she withdrew from the stage it was said, and was printed, that
when "_one_ certain event should happen, a Countess's coronet would
fall on her brow."

And thereby hangs a tale that has something in it extremely
unpleasant; for this one event, waited for during a score of years,
was the death of the Countess of Derby, the only daughter of the Duke
of Hamilton.

To the Duchess of Leinster, who knew something of Miss Farren's
family in Ireland, the actress was indebted for introductions to Lady
Ailesbury, Mrs. Damer, and others, through whom Miss Farren became
acquainted with the Earl of Derby, who was himself a clever actor,
in private theatricals. A Platonic affection, at least, was soon
established. Walpole writing, in 1791, to the Miss Berrys, says: "I
have had no letter from you these ten days, though the east wind has
been as constant as Lord Derby," not to his wife, whom he had married
in 1774, but to Miss Farren, who first came to London three years

On the 14th of March 1797, the long-tarrying Countess departed this
life; on the 8th of April following, Miss Farren took final leave of
the stage, in Lady Teazle. After the play, Wroughton led her forward,
and spoke a few farewell words for her, at the end of which she
gracefully curtseyed to all parts of the house; and that once little
girl who carried milk to her father in the Round House, went home,
and was married to the Earl, on the May Day of the year in which he
had lost his first wife! Six weeks 'twixt death and bridal! and yet
we hear that Miss Farren's greatest charm consisted in her "delicate,
genuine, impressive sensibility, which reached the heart by a process
no less certain than that by which her other powers effected their
impression on their fancy and judgment."

At all events, Miss Farren never acted so hastily, nor Stanley so
uncourteously to the memory of a dead lady, as on this occasion, and
it was not one for which youthful widowers might find an apology,
for the erst strolling actress was considerably past thirty, and her
swain within five years of the age at which Sir Peter Teazle married
"my lady."

Of the three children of this union, only one survived, Mary, born in
1801, and married, twenty years afterwards, to the Earl of Wilton.
Through her, the blood of an actress once more mingles with that of
the peerage; with the same result, perhaps, as followed the match of
Winnifred, the dairymaid, with the head of the Bickerstaffes.

No marriage of an English actress with a man of title ever had such
results as that which followed the union of Fleury's beautiful
sister with the gallant Viscount Clairval de Passy. When the match
was proposed, the parents of the lady were in a fever of delight
that their daughter should be a viscountess. Doubtless she became
so in law and fact; but instead of taking place as such with the
Viscount, _he_ laid by his title, and out of love for his wife and
her profession, turned actor himself! The happy pair played together
with success, and when you meet with the names of Monsieur and Madame
Sainville in the annals of the French stage, you are reading of that
very romantic pair--the happy Viscount and Viscountess Clairval de

In 1796,[25] after more than a quarter of a century of service, Mrs.
Pope, once Garrick's favourite, Miss Younge, withdrew to die, and
leave her younger husband to take a less accomplished actress for his
second wife. But the loss which the stage felt as severely as it did
that of Miss Farren was, in 1798, in the person of a lady, with whom
we first become acquainted as a vivacious and intelligent little girl
selling flowers in St. James's Park. She is known as "Nosegay Fan."
Her father, a soldier in the Guards, mends shoes, when off duty, in
Windmill Street, Haymarket, and her brother waters the horses of the
Hampstead stage, at the corner of Hanway Yard. Who would suppose that
this little Fanny Barton, who sells moss-roses, would one day set the
fashions to all the fine ladies in the three kingdoms; that Horace
Walpole would welcome her more warmly to Strawberry Hill than an
ordinary princess, and that "Nosegay Fan" would be the original and
never-equalled Lady Teazle?

[Illustration: (Mrs. Abington)]

Humble, however, as the position of the flower-girl is, there is
good blood in her very blue veins. She comes of the Bartons of
Derbyshire, and not longer ago than the accession of King William,
sons of that family held honourable office in the Church, the army,
and in government offices. Fanny Barton ran on errands for a French
milliner, and occasionally encountered Baddeley, when the latter
was apprenticed to a confectioner, and was not dreaming of the
Twelfth Cake he was to bequeath to the actors of Drury Lane. Then
ensued some passages in her life that remind one of the training
and experience of Nell Gwyn. The fascinating Fanny, in one way or
another, made her way in the world, and, for the sake of a smile,
lovers courted ruin. This excessively brilliant, though not edifying,
career did not last long. Among the many friends she had acquired
was that prince of scamps and Bardolphs, Theophilus Cibber, who had
just procured a licence to open the theatre in the Haymarket. He had
marked the capabilities of the "vivacious" Fanny, and he tempted
her to appear under his management, as _Miranda_, in the "Busy
Body," to his Marplot. This was on the 21st of August 1755, when the
_débutante_ was only seventeen years of age. She immediately excited
attention as an actress of extraordinary promise; and, in the short
summer season, she exhibited her versatility by playing Miss Jenny,
in the "Provoked Husband;" Desdemona, Sylvia, in the "Recruiting
Officer," and finally enchanted her audience as Prince Prettyman, in
the "Rehearsal."

From the Haymarket this clever girl went to Bath and fascinated
King, the manager; thence to Richmond, where Lacey, the manager
there, fell equally in love with her, and engaged her for Drury
Lane (1756-57), where, however, the presence, success, and claims
of Miss Pritchard, Miss Macklin, and Mrs. Clive, kept her out of
the line of characters for which she was specially qualified. She
was, moreover, ill-educated, and she forthwith placed herself under
tuition. Fanny took for music-master Mr. Abington, who, of course,
became desperately in love with her, and married his pupil. The young
couple established a splendid home in the then fashionable quarter,
St. Martin's Lane; but soon after, the convenient Apollo disappears,
and even the musical dictionaries fail to tell us of the being and
whereabout of a man whose wife made his name famous.

After four seasons at Drury, she went on a triumphant career to
Dublin. There she acquired all she had hitherto lacked, and when, in
the season of 1765-66, she reappeared at Drury Lane, as Cherry,[26]
upon terms granted by Garrick, which were no longer considered
extravagant, so conspicuous was her talent, the playgoing world
was in a fever of delight. Her career, from 1755 to 1798, lasted
forty-three years, and, though like Betterton, Time touched her
person, it never weakened her talent. Critics praise her elegant
form, her graceful address, the animation and expression of her
looks, her quick intelligence, her perfect taste. Expression served
her more than beauty, and her voice, once hardly better than Peg
Woffington's, became perfectly musical by her power of modulation.
Every word was pronounced with a clearness that made her audible in
the remotest parts of the theatre, and this was a charm of itself
in such parts as Beatrice, and Lady Teazle, where "every word
stabbed," as King was wont to remark. In short, she was one of the
most natural, easy, impressive, and enchanting actresses that ever
appeared on the stage. Reynolds took her for his Comic Muse, and
it is worth a pilgrimage to Knowle Park to look on that wonderful
impersonation, and realise something of the grace and perfection
of Mrs. Abington. In 1771, Walpole wrote to her, "I do impartial
justice to your merit, and fairly allow it not only equal to that
of any actress I have seen, but believe the present age will not be
in the wrong if they hereafter prefer it to those they may live to
see." On one occasion, he describes her, in Lady Teazle, as "equal
to the first of her profession." She "seemed the very person," an
"admiration of Mrs. Abington's genius made him long desire the
honour of her acquaintance." He goes to sup with her, hoping "that
Mrs. Clive will not hear of it;" and he throws Strawberry open to
her, and as many friends as she chooses to bring with her. When the
fever of his enthusiasm had somewhat abated, and he remembered the
"Nosegay Fan" of early days, his admiration was more discriminating.
Mrs. Abington, then, "can never go beyond Lady Teazle, which is a
second-rate character, and that rank of women are always aping women
of fashion without arriving at the style." Out of the line of the
affected fine lady, says Lady G. Spencer, "Mrs. Abington should never
go. In that she succeeds, because it is not unnatural to her." This
criticism is just, for Lady Teazle is a _parvenu_. The country-bred
girl apes successfully enough the woman of fashion, but in her early
home, as we are told, she wore a plain linen gown, a bunch of keys
at her side, her hair combed smooth over a roll; and her apartment
was hung round with fruits in worsted, of her own working. Her
girlish occupation was to inspect the dairy, superintend the poultry,
make extracts from the family receipt-book, comb her aunt Deborah's
lap-dog, draw patterns for ruffles, play Pope Joan with the curate,
read a sermon aloud, and strum her fox-hunting father to sleep at
the spinnet. This "fine lady," by accident and not by birth, Mrs.
Abington could play admirably; better than she could Lady Modish, who
was a lady by birth and education. But even in the latter character
she is described as having been the accomplished and well-bred woman
of fashion. Her intercourse with ladies of rank, an intimacy which
made her somewhat vain, was of use to her in such impersonations;
but she was not received so unreservedly as Mrs. Oldfield, for many
remembered her early wild course, and saw no compensation for it in
the later and better regulated life. She turned such schooling as she
could obtain in drawing-rooms to the best account; but Mrs. Oldfield,
in the University of Fashion, took first-class honours.

Coquettes, chambermaids, hoydens, country girls, and the women of the
Lady Teazle, Lady Fancyful, and Lady Racket cast, she played without
fear of a rival. Her chambermaids seem to have been over-dressed,
and this superfluity attended some of her other characters, in which
she was as much beplumed as the helmet in the _Castle of Otranto_.
For more than a quarter of a century, her Widow Belmour, in the
"Way to Keep Him," was a never-failing delight to the public. Murphy
says that her graces of action gave to this part brilliancy, and
even novelty, every time she repeated it. She was the original
representative of thirty characters, among which we find,--Lady Bab,
in "High Life Below Stairs;" Betty, in the "Clandestine Marriage;"
Charlotte, in the "Hypocrite;" Charlotte Rusport, in the "West
Indian;" Roxalana, in the "Sultan;" Miss Hoyden, in the "Trip to
Scarborough;" and her crowning triumph, Lady Teazle.

Like other clever players, she committed a fault,--hers was in acting
Scrub, for a wager,--at her benefit, in 1786. Genest says, "In point
of profit, it no doubt answered; but she is said to have disgraced
herself in Scrub, and to have acted the part with her hair dressed
for Lady Racket," which she played in the after-piece! Her portrait,
as Scrub, with her hair thus dressed, gives her an absurd appearance.
She figured in the private theatricals, at Brandenburgh House, of the
Margravine of Anspach. In one of the plays represented--the "Provoked
Wife"--the piece was cut down, in order that no female character
should have equal prominence with that of Lady Brute, played by the
Margravine herself; but Mrs. Abington asserted her professional
right, and played her once famous scene of Lady Fancyful, straight
through, to the united delight of herself and audience.

In her later years she lost her old grace and fine figure; and she,
who had snatched the mantle from Kitty Clive, found it taken from
her, in her turn, by the gentle yet all-conquering Miss Farren, whom,
however, she survived on the stage. From 1798 to 1815, Mrs. Abington
lived in retirement, active only in works of charity; and when she
died in the latter year, few remembered in the deceased wealthy lady,
the vivacious "Nosegay Fan" of three-quarters of a century before.

There remains to be noticed one who, in the annals of the stage,
appears like a brief but charming episode,--a fair promise, hastily
made, and not realised; an actress of whom Garrick augured well, and
whom he gave to the stage, from which she was snatched by a prince.
Miss Darby was a native of Bristol, and a pupil of Hannah More. She
was the heiress of a fair fortune, which her philanthropic father
dissipated in attempts to civilise the Esquimaux Indians. Having
thereby beggared his wife and child, the man, with a heart for all
mankind, but not for his home, left the latter; and the mother
then was supported by what Miss Darby could earn as a governess.
What she could then spare, she devoted to acquiring "the usual
accomplishments." Among the latter was dancing; and her master (a
Covent Garden ballet-master) introduced her to Garrick. After some
training, she recited Cordelia, like a pretty and clever child, as
she was; and then disappeared.

She was not sixteen when she married Mr. Robinson,--a young man of
good fortune, apprenticed to the law. The happy couple ran through
their fortune in splendid haste; and Mrs. Robinson spent more than
a year with him in prison. Misery drove her again to Garrick, who,
though now withdrawn from the stage, rehearsed Romeo to her Juliet;
and sat in the orchestra on the night of the 10th of December 1776,
when she played the latter part to the Romeo of Brereton. She was
then only eighteen; and her success was all that could be expected
from her talent and beauty, and a voice which reminded Garrick of his
darling, Mrs. Cibber. Thus commenced the brief stage career which
ended in May 1780 with the "Winter's Tale," and her own farce, the
"Miniature Picture,"[27] on which occasion she played Perdita and
Eliza Camply.[28]

In the interval, she had played the tender or proudly loving ladies
in tragedy, and the refined and sprightly nymphs in comedy; and she
was the original Amanda, in the "Trip to Scarborough." Since Mrs.
Woffington and the first blush of Mrs. Bellamy, such peculiar grace
and charms had not been seen on the stage. The critics extolled both,
the fine gentlemen besieged her with billets-doux, and the artists
protested that they had never beheld better taste than hers in

On the 3d of December 1779 their Majesties' servants played, by
command, at Drury Lane, the "Winter's Tale," for the sixth time.
Gentleman Smith was Leontes; Bensley, Polixenes; Brereton, Florizel;
Miss Farren, Hermione; and Mrs. Robinson, Perdita.

The King, Queen, and royal family were in their box, when Perdita
entered the green-room, dressed more exquisitely and looking more
bewitching than ever. "You will make a conquest of the Prince,
to-night," said Smith laughingly; "I never saw you look so handsome
as you do now!" He was a true prophet. The Prince was subdued by
her beauty, and subsequently wrote letters to her, which were
signed "Florizel," and were carried by no less noble a go-between
than William Anne Capel, Earl of Essex; but others ascribe this
messengership of love to his son Viscount Malden, who subsequently
married Miss Stephens, the vocalist, and present dowager-countess.[29]

The messenger of love wooed her for the Prince, while he adored her
himself,--at least he said so. He gave her the Prince's portrait,
and a heart,--not in precious metal, but in paper,--a symbol of the
worth and tenacity of the Prince's. On this token was a double motto,
in French, for the air of the thing: "Je ne change qu'en mourant;"
and in English, for the emphasis of it: "Unalterable to my Perdita
through life."

This young creature's husband was living in profligacy on her salary,
which he received at the treasury, and she was wooed by a young
Prince, with a magic of wooing which, she said, she should never
forget. The first step she made towards the latter was, by meeting
him in a boat, moored off Kew. The second, was by meeting him by
moonlight, in Kew Gardens. But then, the "Bishop of Osnaburgh" was
present! And the lady herself was a furbelowed Egeria to a powdered
Numa. "During many months of confidential correspondence," she says,
"I always offered his royal highness the best advice in my power."

Deathless was to be the young Prince's love, and his munificence
was to be equal to his truth. In proof of the latter, he gave her a
bond for £20,000, to be paid to her on his coming of age. In a few
months he attained his majority, refused to pay the money, and made
no secret to the lady of his deathless love having altogether died
out. He passed her in the park, affecting not to know her; and the
spirited young woman, who had given up a lucrative profession for his
sake, flung a remark at him, in her indignation, that ought to have
made him blush, had he been to that manner born. However, she was
not altogether abandoned. The patriotic Whig statesman, Charles Fox,
obtained for the Prince's cast-off favourite an annuity of £300,--out
of the pockets of a tax-paying people!

Perdita would fain have returned to the stage, but her friends
dissuaded her. No one could tell how a moral people would receive
the abandoned of "Florizel!" So, restless, she dwelt, now here, now
there; now in France, where Marie Antoinette gave a purse, knitted
by her luckless fingers, to "la belle Anglaise;" now in Brighton,
where also resided, in the brightest of her beauty and the highest
of her splendour, Mrs. Fitzherbert;--the married Polly and the royal
Macheath's neglected Lucy?

Perdita was not idle; she wrote poems and novels; the former, tender
in sentiment and expression; the latter, not without power and good
sense. She had undertaken to supply the _Morning Post_ with poetry,
when she died, after cruel suffering, in the last year of the last
century (1800); and she herself the last of the pupils of David

There was good in this hapless creature. Throughout life she was the
loving and helping child of her mother; the loving and helping mother
of her child, for both of whom she laboured ungrudgingly to the last.
Hannah More, herself, would not harshly construe the conduct of her
pupil. "I make the greatest allowance for inexperience and novel
passions," was the comment of Horace Walpole. "Poor Perdita!" said
Mrs. Siddons, "I pity her from my very heart!"

She fell into bad hands--beginning with those of her father. In her
husband's she was still less cared for, though she spent nearly a
year with him in a sponging-house, to leave which she was importuned
by worthless peers and equally worthless commoners--from ancient
dukes down to young city merchants. There was a public admiration
for her which scarcely any other actress so practically experienced.
Thus, on the night in 1776, when the "Trip to Scarborough" was
undergoing temporary but loud condemnation, Mrs. Yates, yielding to
the storm, suddenly withdrew, and left Mrs. Robinson, as Amanda,
standing alone on the stage, where she was so bewildered by the
continued hissing, that the Duke of Cumberland stood up in his box,
requested her not to be alarmed, and cheered her by calling out, "It
is not you, but the piece, they are hissing."

She gave rather the promise than the actuality of a fine actress; she
had good taste, and manifested it in an attention to costume, when
propriety therein was not much cared for. She describes the outward
presentment of her Statira ("Alexander the Great"), by saying, "My
dress was white and blue, made after the Persian costume; and, though
it was then singular on the stage, I wore neither a hoop nor powder.
My feet were bound with sandals, richly ornamented; and the whole
dress was picturesque and characteristic."

Between this period and the time when she lay stricken by paralysis,
the interval was not long; and then the forsaken creature, if vanity
abided with her, was obliged to content herself with reminiscences
of the past--when she was the Laura Maria of Della Crusca, and when
Merry declared that future poets and ages would join "to pour in
Laura's praise their melodies divine." During that same time Peter
Pindar called her, "_The_ nymph of my heart;" Burgoyne pronounced her
"perfect as woman and artist;" Tickle proclaimed her "the British
Sappho;" John Taylor hailed her, "Pensive Songstress;" Boaden
recorded her, "mentally perfect;" the Hon. John St. John asserted
that "Nature had formed her queen of song;" Kerr Porter saluted her
in thundering heroics; and two theatrical parsons, Will Tasker and
Paul Columbine, flung heaps of flowers at her feet, with the zeal of
heathen priests before an incarnation of Flora.

And so passes by this vision of fair last-century women to make way
for a group of actors of the Garrick school--standing a little apart
from whom is John Henderson, whom the town was willing to take for
David's successor.

[Illustration: Mr. Beard as Hawthorn.]


[19] Her last appearance was 26th May 1780.

[20] I cannot find any mention of her earlier than 1735.

[21] 1780.

[22] Mrs. Cibber died on 30th January 1766.

[23] Mrs. Bellamy calls this lady Godfrey.

[24] The benefit took place on 24th May 1785.

[25] Mrs. Pope's name is in the bills for the last time on 26th
January 1797.

[26] Mrs. Abington played the Widow Belmour, in "The Way to Keep
Him," at Drury Lane, on 27th November 1765, being "her first
appearance there for five years."

[27] "The Miniature Picture" is not by Mrs. Robinson, but by the
Margravine of Anspach.

[28] Her last appearance was no doubt on 31st May 1780, when "Rule a
Wife," and the "Miniature Picture" were played.

[29] Miss Stephens died February 22, 1882.

[Illustration: MR. PALMER AS TAG.]



The players of the Garrick period and the years immediately
succeeding it, followed in due time their great master. Of these,
Samuel Reddish was a player of that great epoch, who, for some
especial parts, stood in the foremost rank. We first hear of him in
the season of 1761-62, strengthening Mossop's company in Smock Alley,
Dublin, by his performance of Etan, in the "Orphan of China." Of
his origin, no one knows more than what he published of himself in
the Irish papers,--that he was "a gentleman of easy fortune." This
description was turned against him by his old enemy, Macklin, on
one occasion, when Reddish in a part he was acting, threw away an
elegantly-bound book, which he was supposed to have been reading.
Macklin's comment was that, however unnatural in the character he was
representing, it was quite consistent in Mr. Reddish himself, who,
"you know, has advertised himself as a gentleman of easy fortune."

In September 1767, Reddish first appeared in London, at Drury Lane,
as Lord Townly, to Mrs. Abington's "My Lady." A few nights after, he
played Posthumus to the Imogen of Mrs. Baddeley. It was in this last
character that he took his melancholy leave of the stage at Covent
Garden, shaken in mind and memory, on the 3d of May[30] 1779; Mrs.
Bulkley was then the Imogen. His career in London was but of twelve
years, and it might have been longer and more brilliant but for that
_fast_ life which consumed him,--and for one illustration of which,
when he was rendered incapable of acting, he made humble apology on
the succeeding evening.

Within those dozen years, Sam Reddish played an infinite variety of
characters, from tragedy to farce. Among those he originated were
Darnley ("Hypocrite,") Young Fashion ("Trip to Scarborough"), and
Philotas ("Grecian Daughter"). As an actor, his voice and figure
were highly esteemed in Dublin, but the latter was not considered so
striking in London. I gather from his critics, that Reddish was easy
and spirited; that he spoke well in mere declamatory parts, but,
for want of feeling and variety in the play of his features, failed
in parts of passion. His most attractive character was Edgar, in
"King Lear;" Posthumus stood next; he thought Romeo was one of his
happiest impersonations, but the public preferred his Macduff and
Shylock. As Alonzo ("Revenge") he made a favourable impression; his
Castalio, Lothario, and Orlando were indifferent, and his Alexander
bad. Reddish was, however, an impulsive actor, often feeling more
than the immobility of his features would permit him to show; and he
endeavoured to make up for it by violence and impetuosity of action.
He was once acting Castalio, when the part of his brother Polydore
was played by Smith. In the last act of the "Orphan," Polydore gives
his brother the lie, calls him "coward!" adds "villain!" and at
length so exasperates Castalio that the latter, drawing his sword,
exclaims, "This to thy heart, then, though my mother bore thee!" and
before Smith was well ready for the fight, Reddish thrust his sword
into him and stretched him bleeding on the stage. The next words
Castalio should have uttered were, "What have I done? My sword is in
thy breast!" but the poor fellow could only exclaim, "My sword _was_
in thy breast!" and the play came to an end. Smith, however, did not
die (as in the play) with a "How my head swims! 'tis very dark! good
night!" He recovered of his wounds, and lived to die again.

When Churchill said, "With transient gleam of grace Hart sweeps
along," he was praising the lady whom Reddish married soon
after he came to London, and who lost the "transient gleam" in
ungracefully growing fat. His second wife was a woman of very
different quality,--a respectable, but impoverished, widow in
Mary-le-bone, named Canning, whose first husband had, in 1767,
published a translation of the first book of Cardinal Polignac's
_Anti-Lucretius_. The widow Canning's son, George, subsequently
became Prime Minister of England, "for giving birth to whom," says
Genest, "she was in due time rewarded with a handsome pension,"
which she enjoyed as Mrs. Hunn, down to 1827. Reddish, I suppose,
met with her on the stage of Drury Lane, where the lady made her
first public appearance (6th of November 1773) in "Jane Shore,"
Reddish playing her husband; while Garrick acted Hastings, at the
request of several ladies of rank who patronised Mrs. Canning. She
repeated Jane Shore, and subsequently played Perdita to the Florizel
of "gentle" Cautherley,--who was said to be a natural son, certainly
a well-trained pupil of Garrick. Her next part was Mrs. Beverley
to Garrick's Beverley; her fourth, Octavia (in "All for Love") to
the Antony of Reddish, whose wife she became, or at least is said
to have become, at an unlucky season. As early as the year 1773,
Reddish exhibited one symptom of the malady which compelled him
ultimately to retire, namely the want of memory, which indicates
weakness of the brain. In March of that year, he played Alonzo, in
Home's tragedy so called; he was the original representative of the
part. Although Alonzo is the hero, he does not appear till the play
is half over, and when the piece came to nearly that point on the
particular night, Reddish was missing; a riot ensued, and his part
was read by one of the Aikins. Just before the curtain fell, the
truant appeared, declaring that he had only just remembered that it
was not an oratorio night. His comrades believed him, and for fear
the public should be less credulous he ran from the theatre to Bow
Street Office, and there, in presence of Sir Sampson Wright, made
oath to that effect. The affidavit was published the next day, and
he thereto adds, "that this unhappy mistake may not be misconstrued
into a wilful neglect of his duty, he most humbly begs pardon of the
public for the disappointment." The public forgave him, and received
him kindly on his next appearance. His wife, who was a favourite in
the provinces, was ultimately hissed from the stage of Old Drury.

Gradually, his memory grew more disturbed, till it could no longer
be at all relied on. During the season 1777-78, he was incapable of
acting, and was supported by the fund. In the following season, he
essayed Hamlet, but it was almost as painful as the Ophelia of poor,
mad Susan Mountfort. Later in the season, in May 1779, the managers
gave him a benefit, when "Cymbeline" was acted, and Reddish was
announced for Posthumus. An hour or two before the play began, he
called at a friend's house, vacant, restless, and wandering. Some
one congratulated him on being well enough to play. "Aye, sir! and
I shall astonish you in the garden scene!" He thought he was to act
Romeo. He could neither be persuaded nor convinced to the contrary,
for a long time, and then only to fall into the old delusion. "Am
I to play Posthumus? I'm sorry for it, but what must be, must be!"
and then he walked to the theatre, his friend accompanying him, and
pitying the poor fellow, who went on rehearsing Romeo, by the way.
He was so impressed by his false idea, that his colleagues of the
green-room, who had vainly striven to keep him to Posthumus, saw him
go to the wing, with the expectation on their part that he would look
for Benvolio's cue, "Good morrow, cousin!" and would be prepared to
answer, "Is the day so young?" With that expectation, they pushed him
on the stage,--where the old situation wrought a temporary cure in
him. To the welcoming applause he returned a bow of modest respect,
and by the time the Queen had uttered the words--

                            "'twere good
    You leaned unto his sentence with what patience
    Your wisdom may inform you,--"

his eye had lighted up, and he answered with calm dignity--

              "Please your highness,
    I will from hence to-day,"

and went through the scene with more than his usual ability. But he
had no sooner passed the wing than the old delusion returned; he was
all Romeo, waiting for and longing to begin the garden scene with--

    "Soft! what light from yonder window breaks?
    It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!"

And many were the fears that at his second going on, he would be
disturbed. He stood dreamingly waiting at the side, but when Philotas
had exclaimed, "Here comes the Briton! Let him be so entertained
amongst you as suits with gentlemen of your knowing, to strangers of
his quality,"--Reddish was Posthumus again, and to the remark of the
Frenchman,--"Sir, we have known together in Orleans," he replied in
the clear, level tone which distinguished him,--"Since when I have
been debtor to you for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay and
yet pay still." Thenceforward, his mind became healthy, and he played
to the close with a burst of inspiration and talent, such as he had
not shown, even in his best days.

His mind, however, was healthy only for the night; fitful seasons
there were in which he tried to act in the country; but he soon
became diseased again, and, shut up in a madhouse, poor Reddish
might be seen on visitors' days at St. Luke's, a sad and humiliating
spectacle, herding among the lunatics in that once popular place of
cruel exhibition. Two old feelings survived the otherwise complete
wreck--his love of good living, and his dislike of inferior company.
He drank greedily his draught of milk, out of a wooden bowl, but
the "gentleman of easy fortune" complained bitterly of his forced
association with the low people who thronged the gallery. Poor
Reddish! he was moved to better air, improved diet, and less
plebeian society,--in the Asylum at York. The outside world had been
by him long forgotten, and he forgotten by the world, when he happily
died there, not one hour too soon, in the last month of the year
1785. Little more than eight years later his stepson, George Canning,
made his maiden-speech in the Commons, as Tory member for Newport,
and _failed_; but like noble actors in another house, he gained
ultimate success, by turning his experience to advantage.

About the same time disappeared from the London stage, Ross,
who, like Barton Booth, was a Westminister boy, and the son of a
gentleman. Less fortunate than Booth, his father discarded him,
for going on the stage. Ross, the actor, had for school-fellow
Churchill, the poet--John Nicoll then being master; and Booth had for
condiscipulus the poet Rowe, under the famous mastership of Busby.
Like Booth, Ross first tried his fortune on the Dublin stage in 1749,
when he came to London to be of the school of Garrick, as Booth came
to be a follower of Betterton. Both men had pleasing and powerful
voices and fine figures, but Ross's countenance lacked expression.
Ross, like Booth, played Young Bevil with great ability, and, as the
Ghost of Banquo, produced almost as much effect as Booth in the Ghost
of Hamlet's father. Here, however, all parallel ends. Wanting Booth's
industry, Ross never raised himself to Booth's level; he originated
very few characters, wasted his powers, grew fat and indolent, and
lost what Barry kept to the last,--

              "A voice as musically clear
    As ever pour'd, perhaps, upon the ear."

With a passion for the stage, and every qualification but industry,
he marred his prospects by letting "mere chance conduct him every
night," till the town wearied of him. He had been at Drury Lane,
from 1751, when he first appeared as Young Bevil, to 1757; and at
Covent Garden, where he commenced with Hamlet,[31] from that year to
1768, when he became manager of the new theatre in the Canongate,

In Edinburgh, Ross is remembered, however, as the founder of the
legal stage. That is, he was the patentee of the first theatre that
had the sanction of the law. When the new town of Edinburgh was
projected, in 1767, care was taken for the lawful establishment of
the Scottish stage, and Ross built that pleasant house which, till
1859, occupied the site where now stands the New Post Office. It
says something for Ross's prudence, despite his defects, that he had
saved £7000, which he expended on the construction and completion
of this house.[33] It was opened in December 1769. "Strange," says
Mr. Robert Chambers, "to recall the circumstances of its opening. No
Princes Street then, for the belles and beaux--no new town whatever,
only one or two houses building at wide intervals. The North Bridge
unfinished and broken down; ladies and gentlemen obliged to come to
these mimic scenes through Leith Wynd, and other and still narrower
alleys." Thence came failure; and Ross let the house to Foote, and
subsequently to Digges, "a spendthrift gentleman of good connexions,"
for £500 a year.

At the end of four years, Ross was back at Covent Garden; but he
had ceased to attract, and he ultimately fell into distress (the
Edinburgh Theatre failing to be profitable to him), from which he was
relieved by receiving annually from an anonymous donor the sum of
£60. It was by mere accident that Ross discovered the gallant seaman,
Barrington, to be his munificent friend; but what connection existed
between the two men, I am not aware.

Such is the record of a player who entirely threw his chance away
by his neglect. Possessing power, he wanted will, and was always
looking to others for help; and, indeed, he often got it. He played
George Barnwell with such effect that dissipated and felonious
apprentices were turned from their evil ways; and young men given to
philandering with Milwoods and to thoughts of killing their uncles,
were frightened into a better state of things. One who was thus
rescued used to send, anonymously, ten guineas yearly to Ross, with
a suitable acknowledgment on his benefit night. "You have done more
good by your acting," said Dr. Barrowby to him, "than many a parson
by his preaching." The fact is, that Ross's Barnwell was a sermon
which went home to the bosoms of the Athenians.[34]

The next to disappear from our group is Yates (1736-1782),[35] the
only actor of his day who had a just notion how to play Shakspeare's
fools; he was ever natural, but frequently imperfect; in low comedy,
not to be surpassed; but in fine gentlemen, he "looked like Tom
Errand in Beau Clincher's clothes." Philip in "High Life Below
Stairs," Sir Bashful Constant, Major Oakley, and Sir Oliver Surface,
were among his original characters. His forte was old men; but in
stolid clowns, he was inimitable. Yates did not act so well off the
stage as on, for he declined to subscribe to the theatrical fund, on
the ground that he was not likely ever to need its assistance!

Next passes from the stage to private life, Gentleman Smith, son of
a city grocer, and one of the few players who have been pupils at
Eton. Cambridge he left in some disgrace, to avoid being compelled
to leave. In 1753, as the pupil of Barry he first appeared as
Theodosius. In 1786[36] he retired, after playing his original
character, Charles Surface. Meanwhile, he had earned the honourable
addition to his name. If the stage had no greater clown and old man
than Yates, it had no more perfect gentleman than Smith; who, besides
Charles Surface, originally represented (in London) Glenalvon,
Mason's Athelwold, and Edwin. In gay comedy lay his strength, but he
was the most refined of light tragedians, and played Richard with
effect even in Garrick's days. His qualifications for both comedy
and tragedy were without a single drawback, save a monotony of
voice, the enunciation of which, in other respects, was perfect. His
Faulconbridge was not surpassed till Charles Kemble made the part his

Smith made two remarkable marriages. His first was with a daughter
of that Viscount Hinchinbroke, who did not live to succeed his
father, the third Earl of Sandwich. This lady was the young widow of
a Courtenay of Devon, and her union with an actor was described as a
disgrace to her family. Smith offered to withdraw from the stage, if
the family would secure to him an annuity equal to his salary; but
this was refused, and the player continued his vocation, in order
that he might make suitable provision for his wife. The union was
dissolved by her death in 1762.

Smith was indefatigable in his profession, and proud of his own
position in it, congratulating himself on never having had to act
in a farce, or sink through a trap. On his retirement, he married a
widow with a fortune ample enough, when added to his own, to enable
him to live like a country gentleman at Bury St. Edmunds, whence he
came, in 1798, to play Charles Surface, at sixty-six, with some fat,
and legs a little shaky, but with youthful spirit, for the farewell
benefit of King.[37]

Then there is Tate Wilkinson, whose reverend father of the Savoy
Chapel, Garrick had contributed to transport, by informing against
him for illegally performing the ceremony of marriage. Garrick, in
return, helped forward the son--an _exotic_, as he said, rather than
an actor; but as an imitator never equalled, for he represented not
only the voice and manner of other persons, but could put on their
features, even those of beautiful women! He played in tragedy and
comedy well; but only when he mimicked some other actor throughout
the piece. He used also to reproduce Foote's imitations of the older
actors, and I remember Mathews's imitations of the imitations of
Wilkinson. He had been long connected with York, and very little with
London, if at all, at the period of Smith's retirement. Wilkinson,
who has added to the literature of the drama, is further to be
remembered for having prohibited his York actors from soliciting,
bill in hand--the latter ready to grasp the usual fee of half a
crown--patronage for their benefits; a custom which, I think, did not
survive 1784, though Wilkinson lived till 1805.

From 1765 to 1790--beginning at Dublin, and ending at Covent
Garden[38]--indicates the career of poor Edwin. He was execrable
when he began, in Sir Philip Modelove; but two years of practice in
Dublin, and nine in Bath, fashioned him into a perfect actor for the
metropolis. When a stage-struck youth there, and vexing his friends,
and about to lose his clerkship in the Pension Office, Ned Shuter
used to say to him, "You'll be a great actor when I am laid low." The
town, at first, did not relish his humour; but, at last, relished
it so much, that they allowed him any liberty. He might go out of
his part, and make appeals to them, or forget his words through "the
drink, dear Hamlet"--his pardon was sure to follow. When young,
he played old men; when old, young; and to his humour and ability
O'Keeffe owed such obligation, that it was said whenever Edwin died,
O'Keeffe would be d----d!

His fault was his remembrance of the audience. He was always playing
_to_ them, not _with_ his fellows; but it was so exquisitely done,
that the audience least of all objected. "He was sure of applause,
whether he had to utter the humour of Shakspeare, the wit of Congreve
or Sheridan, or merely to sing 'Tag-rag-merry-derry;'" says Adolphus.
Henderson pronounced his bye-play as unequalled. In Sir Hugh Evans,
when preparing for the duel, Henderson had seen him, we are told, for
many minutes together, keep the house in an ecstasy of merriment,
without uttering a single word. Edwin was the original Lingo,
Darby, Peeping Tom, Sheepface, Ennui ("Dramatist"), and a hundred
other light parts, in which he wore that peculiar smile which had
not passed away when his comrades, in October 1790, looked on his
shrouded face before they escorted him to the grave.

The two Aikins, belonging to the last century, demand no further
notice than that one brother was distinguished as "Tyrant Aikin;"
the other for having fought a bloodless duel with John Kemble, on
some stage-management dispute, in which Bannister acted as second to
both parties.

West Digges, proud of the blood of the Sackvilles, not less than of
being Home's original Norval, and of being called the "Gentleman
Actor," was a player, who, like Brereton, was always struggling to
reach the highest eminence, only to fall short of it. Digges died of
paralysis, and Garrick's pupil, Brereton, of madness.

Lee Lewes, a sort of counterfeit Woodward, also struggled and failed,
though not without merits, either in Harlequin or Flutter, of which
latter he was the original representative. His self-estimation could
not maintain him before a London audience, and he travelled to India,
in search of others which cared even less for him; and, after all,
came back to read, lecture, live straitly, and die.

In contrast with this erst deputy-postman, passes grave and dignified
Bensley, whom not even the idea that he was poisoned, could induce to
forget his identity with this part. Sensitive in other respects, this
scholarly actor, with a glare in his eye, a prominence in his gait,
and a peculiar tone in his voice, earnestly implored Bannister to
omit him from his imitations in Dick ("Apprentice").

Bensley's great part was Eustace de St. Pierre, in Colman's
"Surrender of Calais," in which he was remarkable for his mingling of
churlish humour with the most tender sympathy. His career extended
from 1765 to 1795; and there was no actor with so many natural
defects who so ably surmounted them. His Pierre, his Ghost (in
"Hamlet"), his Iago, Clytus, and Malvolio were excellent.

The ex-lieutenant Bensley may be said to have made his first
appearance in the drama, in Richmond Park, where he unconsciously
had the park-keeper for his admiring audience. The part was Pierre,
for some instructions in which he was indebted to Colman, and which
he used to rehearse in the park at early morn, with the "six tubs,"
or trees, planted on Queen Caroline's Mount, for scene and senate.
The park-keeper, who had often seen him wending that way, full of
thought, once lay hidden near, and watched his proceedings. Bensley
was rehearsing the scene before his judges, and the listener must
have been sorely puzzled, as he heard allusions made to chains and
conquests, and the centre tub addressed as a "great duke," who
"shrunk, trembling, in his palace;" and references to the Duchess
Adriatic, in terms that must have perplexed his judgment. He simply
set the poor gentleman down as mad, and left him to teach the loose
Venetians "the task of honour, and the way to greatness," without
farther molestation.

About the same time that Bensley left the stage to become
barrack-master at Knightsbridge, Moody retired from the public
scene. Lady Morgan, when contrasting her father with Moody, does
great injustice to the latter. She cites Cumberland as saying to
Mr. Owenson, after seeing the latter play Cumberland's Major
O'Flaherty:--"Mr. Owenson, I am the first author who has brought an
Irish gentleman on the stage, and you are the first who ever played
it _like_ a gentleman." Moody was the original Major; and Lady
Morgan remarks, that he "knew as much of Ireland as he did of New
Zealand. English audiences, however," she adds, "were satisfied, for
they had not yet got beyond the conventional delineation of Teague
and Father Foigard, types of Irish savagery and Catholic Jesuitism.
Cumberland and Sheridan both thanked my father for redeeming their
creations from caricature." Hereby does Moody suffer retribution. The
best actor of Irishmen of his time, he was ashamed of being taken
for one. His name was Cochrane; he was a native of Cork, where he
had been apprenticed to his father, a hairdresser; but he chose to
call himself Moody, and to declare that he was not born in Cork, but
somewhere near Clare Market. Foolish ambition! Taking him at his
word, Sydney Owenson rejoins that he knew as much of Ireland as he
did of New Zealand! Nevertheless, Moody knew a good deal of Ireland,
and something at least of Jamaica, to which island he ran away from
his own, and played the leading tragic characters there for several
years. He made no effect at Covent Garden, till he was cast for
Captain O'Cutter, in Colman's "Jealous Wife"--an Irish gentleman
before Cumberland's Major O'Flaherty. His fine humour and correct
judgment gained for him the universal applause. Hitherto all stage
Irishmen had been funny ruffians. Churchill has recorded the merit of

    "Long, from a nation ever hardly used,
    At random censured, wantonly abused,
    Have Britons drawn their sport, with partial view
    Form'd general notions from the rascal few;
    Condemn'd a people as for vices known,
    Which from their country banish'd, seek our own.
    At length, howe'er, the slavish chain is broke,
    And sense, awaken'd, scorns her ancient yoke;
    Taught by thee, Moody, we now learn to raise
    Mirth from their foibles, from their virtue, praise."

The _Dramatic Censor_ speaks of Moody as the best Teague the
stage ever knew, but the crown of his reputation was set by his
representation of Major O'Flaherty, for which he reaped as golden a
harvest of fame as the author did by his piece. Indeed, he was the
first who brought the stage Irishman into repute, and rendered the
character one of a distinct line whereby a performer might acquire
reputation. The Thespian Dictionary says of Owenson, for whose sake
Lady Morgan disparaged Moody, "he chiefly supported Irish character,
in which he was a favourite, particularly with the galleries; but his
representation of them (as it was in the country itself) was _high
coloured_, and would therefore have been too coarse for an English
audience. He has now (1802) quitted the stage for business, which is
still in the _public_ line."

More careful Moody combined stage _and_ business. Like many of his
profession, he had his suburban villa; and in his garden by the side
of Barnes Common, he not only raised vegetables, but carted them, and
carried them thence to market. The original Lord Burleigh selling

Moody, however, could very well support the dignity of his character
as man and actor. In the Half-Price Riots of 1763, he supported
Garrick. Moody stood between him and the angry audience with a good
humour which so exasperated the latter, that they insisted on his
begging pardon on his knees, a humiliation to which he refused to
submit, though the refusal might drive him from his profession.
Honest John Moody, however, kept his own, and had no rival till
Johnstone appeared in 1784,[39] without any idea of rivalry, for
the latter began his career as an operatic singer. Moody created
Sir Callaghan O'Brallaghan, in "Love à la Mode;" Captain O'Cutter,
in the "Jealous Wife;" the Irishman, in the "Register Office;"
Major O'Flaherty, in the "West Indian;" Sir Patrick O'Neale, in the
"Irish Widow," and other Irish characters of less note. His range
of character beyond this was indefinite, for he played Iago and Sir
Tunbelly Clumsey; Henry VIII. and Dogberry; Shylock, Peachum, and a
hundred other opposites, between the years 1759 and 1796. Towards the
end of that period, he grew torpid with good luck. His Sir Lucius was
without humour and his Major lacked spirit, but Johnstone was at hand
to supply a place from which Moody retired a few years too late.

In 1796, another of the players, who dated from the Garrick days,
passed away from the stage,--and from life;--I mean little Dodd.
Like Moody and the Kembles, he had a sire who was connected with
hair-dressing, but who gave his boy a very excellent education. At
a London school, he played Davus, in the "Andria," to such purpose,
that at sixteen, he was off to Sheffield, where he commenced his
histrionic course as Roderigo, in "Othello." He served the hard
apprenticeship of itinerancy, and then so distinguished himself on
the Bath stage, by his comic acting, although he had been engaged
for general business, that Garrick beckoned him up to London, and
by consigning to him the part of Faddle, in the "Foundling," showed
that he took perfect measure of his ability. From that year 1765 to
1796, Dodd was the darling of the public in his peculiar line. For
fops of the old school, or old men who would pass for young fops,
for simpletons and cunning knaves, for wearing a now obsolete modish
costume, for "the nice conduct of a clouded cane," for carrying a
china snuff-box, and, above all, for his unsurpassable style of
taking a pinch, Dodd was really a wonderful actor. He wore his
sword, cocked or carried his hat, displayed his ruffle, and moved
about in a poising, tottering sort of way which was all his own, and
always perfect. His Abel Drugger stood next to Weston's, if not to
Garrick's,--but Garrick said Weston's was the finest the stage had
ever seen; and his Sir Andrew Aguecheek was as truly Shakspearian
as the author could have desired. Master Slender, Master Stephen,
Watty Cockney, were among the parts which were said to die with
him; and in his original characters of Lord Foppington ("Trip to
Scarborough"), Sir Benjamin Backbite, Dangle, Le Nippe, and Adam
Winterton[40] ("Iron Chest"), he has never been "touched," probably
by the most able of his successors. Of Dodd dying no one dreamt till
it was done. I can only think of him as going forward on the tips of
his toes, mincingly, hat in one hand, cane in the other, a smile on
his face, and with a bow to the Summoner, sinking contentedly back on
a convenient sofa,--one little sigh perhaps of weariness, and little,
fresh, cheery, gentleman-like Dodd is gone, sir!

That he once loved Mrs. Bulkley, the Miss Wilford of earlier days,
does not surprise me; for had the fiercest of the stage-hating
Presbyterians in Edinburgh, where her Lady Racket was talked of by
old men, at the beginning of this century, with their hand on their
heart and over their waistcoat-pocket,--had one of the severer stock
only seen her, he would have loved her too. Dodd and Mrs. Bulkley
went into house-keeping together, like Booth and Susan Mountfort, but
the nymph was faithless, and there was a scandal, and a separation.
The public condemned the lady, as she one night learnt by their
hissing, but the saucy beauty stepped unabashed to the front, and
told her censurers that if she failed in her duty or powers as an
actress, they were right in their reproof; "but," she added with an
air of Woffington about her, "as for my private affairs, I beg to be
excused!" The audience condoned the erring beauty; they could not be
angry with a Lady Grace of peculiar elegance; and the original Miss
Hardcastle, and Julia in the "Rivals," was allowed to have her pretty
way unreproved. She was on the London stage from 1764[41] to 1789,
and at the time of her death had been known for two years as Mrs.

About the same time as Bensley, Moody, and Dodd, the stage of the
last century lost Baddeley. He is said to have been a confectioner,
to have even acted as cook to Foote, and to have travelled in some
humble capacity abroad, where he learnt French, and the way to play
French valets and similar characters. Baddeley was the original
Canton ("Clandestine Marriage"), and Moses ("School for Scandal"),
and he was dressed for this part when, in 1794, he was taken ill and
shortly after expired.

Baddeley, before dying, thought of his old comrades, and of his
successors, in his own good-natured way. He bequeathed his cottage at
Moulsey to the Drury Lane Fund, desiring that four poor comedians,
not disinclined to live sociably together, might therein have a joint
home. There was ample accommodation for such a company, in four
bed-chambers and two sitting-rooms. He assigned to them a little
bit of acting also;--that they might not appear dependents, he
bequeathed a trifle to each, which each was to give away in charity,
with an air of its being his own! Mindful, too, of their ease,
habits, and sentiment, he left funds for the building of a "smoking
summer-house," out of wood from Old Drury, and in sight of the temple
to Shakspeare in Garrick's garden at Hampton. In remembrance of his
own old vocation as a pastry-cook, and in token of love for brothers
and sisters of his later calling, he left £100 Three per Cents. for
the purchase of a Twelfth Cake and Wine, to be partaken of annually,
"for ever," by the company of Drury Lane, in green-room assembled.

Kelly says, the trustees of the Theatrical Fund sold Baddeley's house
at Moulsey. Adolphus thinks that the deviser infringed the statute
of mortmain, and that the property, for want of heir, escheated to
the crown. Strange, that of property left by players for the use of
players, the poor actors should be cheated, at Moulsey as elsewhere.

Baddeley is said to have challenged Foote to a duel with swords, as
he did George Garrick to one with pistols:--"Here's a pretty fellow!"
cried Foote; "I allowed him to take my spit from the rack and stick
it by his side, and now he wants to stick me with it!" Baddeley is
reported to have been cook, not only to Foote, but to Lord North.

A greater artist than Baddeley left the stage soon after him, in
1795, after three and thirty years of service; namely, Parsons, the
original Crabtree, and Sir Fretful Plagiary, Sir Christopher Curry,
Snarl to Edwin's Sheepface; and Lope Tocho, in the "Mountaineers."

Parsons was a Kentish man,[42] who might have been an apothecary, or
an excellent artist, but that he preferred the stage. He was a merry,
honest fellow, who kept the house in a roar by his looks as well as
words, and loved to make the actors laugh, who were on the stage with
him, by some droll remark, uttered in an undertone.

His forte lay in old men, his picture of whom, in all their
characteristics, passions, infirmities, cunning, or imbecility, was
perfect. When Sir Sampson Legend says to Foresight, "Look up, old
star-gazer! Now is he poring on the ground for a crooked pin, or
an old horse-nail, with the head towards him!" we are told "there
could not be a finer illustration of the character which Congreve
meant to represent, than Parsons showed at that time in his face and
attitude." He was finely discriminating, too. His Skirmish in the
"Deserter" presented, says Adolphus, "a shrewd, quick-witted fellow,
whose original powers were merged, but not absolutely drowned,
in drink." In his own estimation, Corbaccio was his best played
character; but, said he, generously, "All the merit I have in it I
owe to Shuter."

The last character he acted was Elbow, on the 30th of December
1794,[43] when Kemble revived "Measure for Measure;" but asthma
had then reduced him to a shadow, and he had to yield the part to
Waldron. He died soon after, and then ensued a singular domestic
incident. His second wife was Dorothy Stewart, niece to the Earl of
Galloway, whom he had married after the lively young lady had run
away from a convent at Lille. Of this marriage there was a little
son, who had for tutor a reverend young clergyman; and this tutor
Dorothy Parsons married, four days after her husband's decease.
So that she had two husbands in the house; one dead and the other
living![44] The first had left her a fortune. The second spent it,
and left herself and son destitute.

The town had not an old comic actor it esteemed more highly,
except, perhaps, Palmer. The early life of John Palmer was full
of disappointment; the latter end of trials; the middle, of some
follies; but nothing more. When he was in hopes of employment in the
theatre, he had been told to go for a soldier. Garrick would not have
him; Foote pronounced his tragedy bad; but thought his comedy would
do. He "strolled," struggled, starved; and then was engaged first
by Garrick, then by Foote, to do anything he was told to do, at a
salary which barely found him in bread. Again he went to the country;
married, or was married by a lady of expectations, which came to
nothing, as she had mated with an actor.

When again in London, Palmer was too frightened at Barry, to play
Iago to his Othello; Garrick eventually engaged him, but ridiculed
his alleged powers of study, on which point, however, Davy soon
changed his mind. Palmer slowly made his way, but it was very nearly
stopped for ever, by Mrs. Barry, in the "Grecian Daughter," stabbing
him (Dionysius) with a real dagger. He subsequently built and opened
the Royalty Theatre, in Wellclose Square, but was compelled to close
it, by the patentees. From the difficulties in which this involved
him he never relieved himself, and his life became a struggle
between bailiffs eager to catch him, and Palmer eager to escape from
bailiffs. Sometimes he passed a week together in the theatre; at
others, he was carried out of it in some mysterious bit of theatrical
property. From 1761[45] to 1798 he was on the London stage, one of
the best general actors it ever had, except in singing parts and old
men, and some tragic characters. His fine figure, nevertheless, was
always a help to him. His Young Wilding was pronounced "perfect;"
and among the best of his characters were Face, Captain Flash, Dick,
Stukely, Sir Toby Belch, Captain Absolute, Young Fashion, Joseph
Surface, Prince of Wales, Sneer, Don John, Volpone, Sir Frederick
Fashion, Henry VIII., Father Philip, Villeroy, Brush, &c. Among
those he originated were Joseph Surface, Count Almaviva, Sneer, Lord
Gayville, Cohenberg, Sydenham, and Dick Dowlas.

He was often careless, and would go on the stage very imperfect,
trusting to his wits, his impudence, and the "usual indulgence"
of the audience. On one occasion he delivered a prologue without
knowing a line of it. The prompter was beneath a toilet table, and to
Palmer standing near, he gave line for line, which Palmer repeated,
with abounding smile and action to make up for dropped words. On
another occasion, this actor took advantage of an uproar in front,
to seem to deliver a prologue of which he knew nothing. He moved
his lips, extended his arms, touched his heart, and said nothing.
Suddenly came a lull, and then Palmer looked reproachfully as if the
noise had embarrassed him; whereupon one half of the house stormed at
the other, for not keeping silence, and, under cover of the storm,
Palmer seemed to conclude the prologue, and made a grateful bow, as
if pleased with the fact of having been enabled to perform a pleasant

After playing Father Philip and Comus at Drury Lane, on the 19th of
June 1798, Palmer proceeded to Liverpool. He had finished at Drury as
radiant with gaiety, on the stage, as if his heart were not breaking.
Death had taken from his family circle his wife and the most dearly
loved of his sons. Sorrow for those who had departed, and anxiety
for the remaining children who depended on him, affected him deeply,
and, despite all effort, even when acting, he could not keep the dead
or the living for a moment out of his memory. At length the night
came when he was to repeat the character of the "Stranger," and then
there was no simulation in his mournful aspect. He had got through
his part to the middle of the opening scene of the fourth act. He
had answered "I love her still," to the query of Baron Steinfort
(Whitfield) respecting his wife; and then to the question as to his
children, he gave the reply, "I left them at a small town hard by;"
but the words, falteringly uttered, had scarcely passed his lips,
when he fell, dead, at Whitfield's feet!

The sensation which this caused was most painful; and it was not
allayed by those pious persons who saw in this sudden death an
especial judgment launched by Heaven on the head of a man who
exercised an unrighteous calling. To support their theory, they
invented the story that Palmer was stricken after uttering the
quotation, in the first scene of the third act, "there is another and
a better world!" These words suited the inferences they wished to
draw. They did not agree with the facts: but it was the old story,
"so much the worse for the facts!" The lie yet lives.

Poor Palmer! One cannot help having a kindly feeling for "Plausible
Jack." Can you not see him coming up to Sheridan, when reconciliation
had followed quarrel, with his head bent blandly forward, his eyes
turned up, his hand on his heart, and a phrase after the manner,
if not of the very matter, of Joseph Surface, of which he was
the original representative? "If you could but see my heart, Mr.
Sheridan!" and Sheridan's pleasantly remonstrating remark, "Why,
Jack, you forget I wrote it!"

And then he was so modest. "Plausible, am I?" he once asked; "you
really rate me too highly. The utmost I ever did in that way was, on
once being arrested by a bailiff; when I persuaded the fellow to
bail me!"

After many of these actors had commenced their career, and long
before some of them concluded it, a great player came, charmed, and
departed, leaving a name and a reputation which render him worthy of
a chapter to himself. I allude to Henderson.

[Illustration: Mr. Dunstall as Hodge.]


[30] Should be 5th of May.

[31] He commenced with Essex--"Earl of Essex"--3d October 1757. He
played Hamlet on the 8th.

[32] Ross left Covent Garden at the end of 1766-67. He appeared at
the Edinburgh Theatre, in the Canongate, on 9th December 1767.

[33] The money was partly subscribed by shareholders, and Ross seems
to have owed most of the balance.

[34] Ross died suddenly in 1790 (2d edition).

[35] 1783.

[36] 1788 (2d edition).

[37] Not King's _farewell_ benefit.

[38] Should be Haymarket.

[39] Johnstone's first appearance in England took place on 2d October

[40] This is more than doubtful. The immoderate length of this part
contributed largely to the condemnation of the play.

[41] Her first appearance as an actress was made 23d April 1765.

[42] According to Thomas Bellamy's Life of Parsons, he was a Londoner.

[43] Bellamy gives Sir Fretful Plagiary as his last part--19th
January 1795.

[44] Bellamy mentions that there was such a story as this current,
but characterises it as false.

[45] First appearance on any stage, 20th May 1762.

[Illustration: MR. HENDERSON AS ROLLA.]



In the bill of the Bath Theatre for October the 6th, 1772, the part
of Hamlet is announced to be performed "by a young gentleman." On
the 21st of the month,[46] we read, "Richard III., by Mr. Courtney,
the young gentleman who acted Hamlet." Mr. Courtney repeated those
characters, and subsequently played Benedick, Macbeth, Bobadil,
Bayes, Don Felix, and Essex; and on the 26th of December, having thus
felt his way and become satisfied of his safety, we have "Henry IV.,"
with "Hotspur by Mr. Henderson."

After being anonymous and pseudonymous, he added, under his last
and proper designation, the following characters to those he had
previously acted: Fribble, Lear, and Hastings, Alonzo and Alzuma; and
Mr. Henderson was an established Bath favourite.

At this time, Henderson was five-and-twenty years of age. Descended
from Scottish Presbyterians and English Quakers, with a father who
was an Irish factor, Henderson is the sole celebrity of the street in
which he was born, in March 1747,[47] Goldsmith Street, Cheapside.
The father died too soon for his two sons to remember him in after
life; but the boys had an excellent mother, who unconsciously trained
one of her sons to the stage, by making him familiar with the
beauties of Shakspeare.

Having succeeded so far in art as to obtain a prize when he was
Fournier's pupil, for a drawing exhibited at the Society of Arts; and
having been as reluctant as Spranger Barry to be bound apprentice to
a silversmith, Henderson longed to win honour by the sock and buskin.
This desire was probably fostered by the sight of Garrick in the shop
of Mr. Becket the bookseller, a friend of Henderson's. Garrick seldom
went to coffee-houses, and never to taverns, but at Becket's shop he
held a little court, and Henderson sighed to be as great as he.

The weakly-voiced lad, with no marked presence, and a consumptive
look, could obtain audience or favour from no one; least of all from
Roscius. He went up to remote Islington, and, in the long room of an
inn there, delivered Garrick's _Ode on the Shakspeare Jubilee_. After
this, and, perhaps, in consequence, Garrick received him, heard him
recite, shook his head at a voice which was more woolly than silvery,
and, after some counsel, procured for him an engagement at Bath, and
at a trifling salary.

For five seasons he was a rising, improving, and then cherished
actor at Bath. But his fame did not influence the London managers.
At length, _exeunt_ Garrick, Barry, Woodward, and Foote! and Colman,
lacking novelty at the Haymarket, invites, somewhat unwillingly,
young Henderson from Bath. He appeared at the Little Theatre in 1777,
and, in a little more than a month of acting nights, put £4500 into
the manager's pocket. He played Shylock, Hamlet, Leon, Falstaff (in
"Henry IV.," and in the "Merry Wives,"), Richard III., Don John, and

[Illustration: (John Henderson)]

In this first season he played three of his greatest parts--Shylock,
Hamlet, and Falstaff. The first was selected for his _début_,
contrary to his own inclination. Macklin's Shylock was the Shylock
of all playgoers; but the difference between it and Henderson's
attracted attention and audiences. Old Macklin himself praised his
young rival's conception of the part with energetic liberality.
"And yet, sir," said Henderson, "I have never had the advantage of
seeing you in the character." "It is not necessary to tell me
that, sir," said Macklin, with no conceited modesty. "I knew you
had not, or you would have played it differently." Garrick also saw
Henderson in the part, and remarked that Tubal was very creditably
played indeed! It is said that Henderson, after delighting Garrick,
when breakfasting with him in 1772, by imitations of Barry, Woodward,
Love (whose single character of note was Falstaff), and some others,
offended him by a close imitation of Garrick himself. Colman is
reported to have been equally offended by an imitation of himself,
at his own table, by Henderson, who did not, as Foote would have
done, watch his host, and mimic him at other tables. Henderson seems
to have been so little willing to offend, that in playing Bayes, he
omitted the imitations of contemporary performers, by which all other
actors of the parts had been wont to reap rich harvests of applause.

Macklin said of him that the young man had learned a great deal; but
what remained for him was to unlearn much of it, in order that he
might learn to be an actor. In this oracular manner there was more
kindness than Henderson met with from Foote, previous to his first
season in London, and of which Genest has compiled this account:--

"Henderson, accompanied by two friends, waited on Foote, and was
received with great civility. Foote's imagination was so lively, his
conceptions were so rapid as well as so exuberant, that by a torrent
of wit, humour, pleasantry, and satire, he kept the company for a
considerable time in convulsions of laughter; however, Henderson's
friends thought it, at last, time to stop the current of Foote's
vivacities, by informing him of the reason of their visit, and
Henderson was permitted to begin a speech in 'Hamlet;' but before he
could finish it, Foote continually interrupted him by some unlucky
joke or droll thought.... At the conclusion Henderson was, without
interruption, allowed to speak Garrick's prologue on his return from
the continent. This being no caricature, but a fair representation of
Garrick's manner, did not make any impression on Foote; however, he
paid the speaker a compliment on the goodness of his ear--dinner was
now announced, and when Henderson took his leave, Foote whispered one
of the company, _he would not do_.

"Henderson once requested Palmer 'not to bring him forward in too
many parts;' observing that it must be for the manager's interest, as
well as his own credit, to have him studied in the parts he was to
appear in: he added, 'to learn words, indeed, is no great labour, and
to pour them out no very difficult matter; it is done on our stage
almost every night, but with what success I leave you to judge--_the
generality of performers think it enough to learn the words_; and
thence all that vile uniformity which disgraces the theatre.'"
This was rather proud criticism, as it referred to his early Bath
colleagues; but Henderson's standard of propriety would not allow him
to speak otherwise.

In his second character in London, Hamlet, he came into more
direct contrast with Garrick, whose greatest idolaters found heavy
fault in Henderson's young Dane for flinging away his uncle's
picture--subsequent to the famous speech in which he compares the
portraits of his father and uncle. On a following night he retained
the picture in his hand, and the same party ridiculed him, on the
ground that if he was right the first night, he must necessarily
have been wrong on the second! He was said, too, not to have managed
his hat properly on first seeing the Ghost; and similar carpings
were made against the new actor, only to hear whose words, "the fair
Ophelia!" people went as to the most exquisite music. But what was
that to the Garrick faction who pronounced him disqualified, because
in the closet scene he did not, in his agitation, upset the chair.
"Mr. Garrick, sir, always overthrew the chair."

During his short, but brilliant and honourable career, he originated
no new character that may be found in any acting play of the present
day. I think he was the first actor who, with Sheridan, gave public
readings. They filled Freemason's Hall, and their own pockets, by
their talents in this way, and Henderson could as easily excite
tears by his pathos, as he could stir laughter by a droll way of
reciting Johnny Gilpin, which gave wild impetus to the sale of that
picturesque narrative.

His own temperament, however, was naturally grave, derived from that
mother whose occasional melancholy was nearly allied to insanity.
Yet he was not without humour, or he could not have played Falstaff
with a success only inferior to Quin, nor have founded the Shandean
Club in Maiden Lane, nor have written so quaint a pastoral love-song
as his Damon and Phyllis. In acting Æsop, he delivered the fables
with great significance. The chief characteristic of the part lay in
its grim splenetic humour, such as he himself showed when he, the
high-spirited pupil of Fournier, had to drive his master when he gave
drawing-lessons, and to clean the horse and chaise after reaching
home again!

He loved praise, honestly owned his love, and worked hard to win
public favour. When he was cast for a new character he read the
entire play, learned his own part, read the play again, and troubled
himself no more about it, although a fortnight might elapse between
the last rehearsal and the first performance. Previous to which
latter occasion, it was his custom to dine well, and sit at his wine
till summoned to rise and go forth. A Garrick-worshipper told him he
was wrong.[49] Mr. Garrick, on such occasions, shut himself up for
the day, and dined lightly. Henderson was the last of the school of
Garrick, and once imitated his master in his diet. The result was a
cold and vapid performance of Bireno, in the "Law of Lombardy;" and
Henderson registered a vow, to be original and dine generously on
like occasions, in future.

Henderson was, in every respect a gentleman; his social position
was as good as that of any gentleman of his time. In Dublin,
as in London, he was a welcome guest in the best society, even
in that for which the stage had few attractions. Personally, he
had natural obstacles to surmount. He was short, not gracefully
moulded, lacked intelligent expression of the eye, and had a voice
too weak for rage and not silvery soft enough for love. But he had
clear judgment, quick feeling, ready comprehension, and accurate
elocution. Cumberland names Shylock, Falstaff, and Sir Giles as his
best characters, but there were portions of others in which he could
not be excelled; "in the variety of Shakspeare's soliloquies, where
more is meant than meets the ear, he had no equal," and this is high
praise, for the difficulty of the task is work for a genius.

Never strong, his poor health failed him early, and on the 8th of
November 1785 he acted for the last time. The part was Horatius, in
the "Roman Father." In less than three weeks, and at the early age
of thirty-eight, troops of friends escorted the body of the man they
had esteemed to Westminster Abbey,--one more addition to the silent
company of the great of all degrees and qualities, from actors to
kings. Professionally, Henderson did not die prematurely. Kemble had
already been two years at Drury Lane, and the new school of acting
was supplanting the old.

Let me add a word of Henderson's brother. He, too, belonged to art,
and promised to be a great engraver, but consumption struck him down
early. He was residing, for his health, on the sunny side of a house
in then fashionable Hampstead, when death came suddenly upon him.
Among the company in the same house was the most beautiful and gay of
gay women,--Kitty Fisher. But she was true woman too, and hearing of
a lonely stranger menaced with death, she went straightway to tend
him, and Henderson's brother died in Kitty's arms.

His readings were attended frequently by Mrs. Siddons and John
Kemble; his voice was so flexible that his tones conveyed every phase
of meaning. Even his way of reading the words, "They order this
matter," said I, "better in France," had a world of significance
in it, not to be found when uttered by others; and the letter of
Mrs. Ford to Falstaff, when he read it on the stage, shook the
house with such laughter as was seldom heard, save indeed when he
imitated Garrick and Dr. Johnson, the former reciting his ode, and
the latter interrupting him by critical objections. I do not wonder
that both Munden and John Kemble who, all their lives, had a longing
to play Falstaff, abandoned the idea when they remembered Henderson's

At the period of Henderson's death, his early prophecy had been
fulfilled with regard to Mrs. Siddons;--to whose career we will now
direct our notice.


[46] Should be 20th.

[47] Ireland, Henderson's biographer, states that he was born in
February 1747. He is said to have been baptized on 8th March.

[48] "Walpole availed himself of Henderson's triumph to say something
malicious of Garrick: 'Garrick is dying of yellow jaundice on the
success of Henderson, a young actor from Bath,' which was not true"
(2d edition).

[49] I think this Garrick-worshipper was Tom Davies.

[Illustration: MRS. SIDDONS AS MRS. HALLER.]



On the 13th of June 1755,[50] when Garrick and Mrs. Cibber, Yates
and Mrs. Pritchard, Woodward and Mrs. Clive, were the leaders in the
Drury Lane Company,--while Barry and Mrs. Bellamy, Ryan and Mrs.
Woffington, were among the "chiefs" of Covent Garden, Sarah Kemble
was born, the first of twelve children, at a public-house, in Brecon,
in which town, exactly a score of years later, was born her youngest
brother, Charles.

By both parents she belonged to the stage. Her mother's maiden name
was Ward. This lady's father had been a respectable actor[51] under
Betterton, and was a strolling manager, when the hairdresser of the
company, a handsome fellow, poor, of course, and a Roman Catholic,
eloped with and married the manager's daughter. His name was Roger
Kemble. He was an actor too; love, at first, had helped to make him a
very bad one. Fanny Furnival, of the Canterbury company, drilled him
into the worst Captain Plume[52] that ever danced over the stage; but
Mrs. Roger Kemble, a woman who illustrated the truth that beauty is
of every age, used in her latter days to look at the grand old man,
and assert that he was the only gentleman-like Falstaff she had ever

Mr. and Mrs. Kemble were "itinerants" when the first child of their
marriage was born,--a child who made her _début_ on the London stage
long before her father;--the latter playing, and playing very well,
the Miller of Mansfield, at the Haymarket, in 1788, for the benefit
of the wife of his second son, Stephen. When Roger carried off Miss
Ward, her father with difficulty forgave her,--and only on the ground
that she had, at all events, obeyed his injunction,--not to marry an
actor. "He will never be that," said the old player of the Betterton
era. With which remark, his discontent was exhausted.

Her grandsire acted under Betterton and Booth; her parents had
played with Quin;--she herself fulfilling a professional career which
commenced with Garrick, and ended with her performing Lady Randolph
to Mr. Macready's Glenalvon;--when I add to this record that she
saw the brilliant but chequered course of Edmund Kean to nearly its
close, and witnessed the _début_ of Miss Fanny Kemble,--the whole
history of the stage since the Restoration seems resumed therein.

Roger Kemble's itinerant company, as his children were born,
received them as members. They played,--Sarah, John, Stephen,
Elizabeth,--almost as soon as they could speak. Sarah's first
audience compassionately hissed her, as too young to be listened
to; but she won their applause by reciting a fable. At thirteen,
she played in the great room of the King's Head, Worcester,--among
other parts, Ariel, in the "Tempest," her father, mother, sister
Elizabeth, and brother John acting in the same piece. For the next
four or five years, there was much of itinerant life, till we find
her at Wolverhampton, in 1773, acting in a wide range of characters,
from Lee's heroines to Rosetta, in "Love in a Village." In the latter
case, the young Meadows was a Mr. Siddons, who had acted Hippolito in
Dryden's "Tempest," when she played Ariel. In her father's company
she was always the first and greatest. She played all that the
accomplished daughter of a manager chose to play, among her father's
strollers,--and she attracted admirers both before and behind the
curtain. The Earl of Coventry[53] and sundry squires were among the
former. Among the latter was that poor player, an ex-apprentice from
Birmingham, named Siddons, between whom and Sarah Kemble there was
true love, for which, however, there was lacking parental sanction.
The country audiences sympathised with the young people, and
applauded the lover, who introduced his sad story into a comic song,
on his benefit night. As he left the stage, the stately manageress
received him at the wing, and there greeted him with a ringing box of
the ears.

This led to the secession of both actors from the company. Mr.
Siddons went,--the world before him where to choose; Sarah
Kemble,--to the family of Mr. Greatheed, of Guy's Cliff,
Warwickshire. "She hired herself," says the _Secret History of
the Green Room_, published in the very zenith of her fame,--"as
lady's maid to Mrs. Greatheed, at £10 per annum." "Her station,"
says Campbell, "was humble, but not servile, and her _principal_
employment was to read to the elder Mr. Greatheed." She probably
fulfilled the double duty,--no disparagement at a time when the maids
of ladies were often decayed ladies themselves.

[Illustration: (Mrs Siddons)]

Old Roger Kemble is said to have been very unwilling that any of
his children should follow that profession, in exercising which
he had wandered far, suffered much, and profited sparingly. The
unwillingness was natural, but he seems to have put it in practice
when too late;--after he had allowed his attractive young people
to enjoy some of the perilous delights of the stage. There are bills
extant which show that some of them, at least, were playing in his
company, when they were of tender years. When Sarah Kemble went to
Guy's Cliff, it was with no idea of permanently leaving the stage;
and if it be true, as alleged in the series of dramatic biographies,
published by Symonds at the beginning of the present century, that
Roger Kemble apprenticed his daughter Elizabeth to a mantua-maker
in Leominster, and Frances to a milliner in Worcester, he narrowly
missed marring their good fortunes. A similar vocation could not keep
Anne Oldfield from the stage, and though Elizabeth and Frances Kemble
were not actresses of extraordinary merit, they had not to regret
that they abandoned the vocations chosen for them by their parents,
for that which was followed by their parents themselves.

From Guy's Cliff, Sarah Kemble was ultimately taken by her
persevering wooer, to whom her father reluctantly gave her at Trinity
Church, Coventry, on the 6th of November 1773. The bride was in her
nineteenth year. The married couple continued but for a brief period
in the Kemble company. A month after the marriage, the name of "Mrs.
Siddons" was, for the first time, in the playbill, at Worcester,[54]
to Charlotte Rusport, in the "West Indian," and Leonora, in the
"Padlock." Shortly after, Roger Kemble saw Mr. and Mrs. Siddons
depart for Chamberlain and Crump's company, in Cheltenham. Here
Mrs. Siddons at once took her place. Her Belvidera excited universal
admiration. Lord Ailesbury, the cousin of the Pretender's wife, the
Countess of Albany, mentioned her to Garrick; and Lord Dungarvon's
daughter, Miss Boyle, directed her wardrobe, lent her many of her own
dresses, and helped to make others for her with her own hands.

The Cheltenham "properties" were of the poorest; but there were some
that even the Honourable Miss Boyle could not supply. Thus, for the
male disguise of the Widow Brady, Mrs. Siddons found, on the night
of performance, that no provision had been made; but we are told
that a gentleman in the boxes lent her his coat, while he stood at
the side-scenes, with a petticoat over his shoulders, and ready to
receive his property when done with!

Garrick, on Lord Ailesbury's report, sent King down to see this
actress of promise, and on King's warrant, engaged her for Drury
Lane, at £5 per week. Others say that it was on the warrant of Parson
Bate, of the _Morning Post_, who greatly praised her Rosalind.[55]

Her first appearance was on the 29th of December 1775, as Portia, "by
a young lady," to King's Shylock. On January 2d, 1776, she repeated
Portia, "by Mrs. Siddons." On the 18th,[56] she played Epicoene,
but the part was subsequently assigned to another. On the 2d of
February she acted Julia, in a new and poor farce, the "Blackamoor
washed White," and on the 15th, Emily, in Mrs. Cowley's new comedy,
the "Runaway," which part she had to surrender to Mrs. King. She was
not more fortunate in Maria, her third original character, in "Love's
Metamorphoses;" nor in a subsequent part, that of Mrs. Strictland
to Garrick's Ranger, did she excite any further remark save that it
was played in a pathetic manner. Her second appearance with Garrick
was as Lady Anne to his Richard, which she repeated twice, the last
time on June 5, in presence of the royal family. Five nights later,
Garrick took his farewell of the stage, and Mrs. Siddons's engagement
was at an end.

In Belvidera, for which she had been praised by King, she was not
permitted to appear. Bate had commended her Rosalind, but she had
to see it played by Miss Younge. Even Miss Hopkins, who became her
sister-in-law, had better parts than she; and there was Mrs. Yates
keeping Calista and Isabella, and Mrs. King playing Lady Macbeth, and
Mrs. Canning (mother of the future statesman) allowed on the benefit
of Reddish, whom she married, to play Monimia. Mrs. Siddons concluded
that the other actresses who plagued Garrick's life out, hated her,
because Garrick was polite and even kind to her. Sheridan alleged,
as a reason for not re-engaging her, that Garrick did not recognise
in her a first-rate actress (which she was far from being at that
time). Woodfall thought her sensible, but too weak for London. "You
are all fools!" said buxom Mrs. Abington.

The fragile, timid, faltering actress acquired strength in the
country. Henderson, himself rising to excellence, acted with, and
spoke well of, her. York pronounced her perfect, and Bath took
her with the warrant, and retained her, its most cherished tragic
actress, object of public applause and private esteem, till the year
1782. It was here, in truth, that the great actress was perfected,
and _that_ amid as many matronly as professional duties. On leaving
the Bath stage, she pointed to her children as so many reasons for
the step; and therewith went up, with no faint heart, this time to
the metropolis. "She is an actress," said Henderson, "who has never
had an equal, and will never have a superior." "My good reception in
London," writes Mrs. Siddons, "I cannot but partly attribute to the
enthusiastic accounts of me which the amiable Duchess of Devonshire
had brought thither, and spread before my arrival." Poor Henderson!

With broken voice, the old nervousness, and a world of fears, she
rehearsed Isabella, in Southerne's tragedy. When the night of
the 10th of October 1782 arrived, she dressed with a desperate
tranquillity, and many sighs, and then faced the public, her son
Henry, then eight years of age, holding her by the hand, and her
father, Roger, looking on with a dismay that was soon converted into
delight. Smith played Biron, and Palmer, Villeroy,--but Siddons
alone was heeded on that night, in which she gave herself up so
thoroughly to the requirements of the part, that her young son, who
had often rehearsed with her, was so overcome by the reality of the
dying scene, that he burst into tears.[57] "I never heard," she
writes, "such peals of applause in all my life. I thought they would
not have suffered Mr. Packer to end the play."

With the echoes of the shouting audience ringing in her ears,
she went home solemnly and silently. "My father, my husband,
and myself," she says, "sat down to a frugal, neat supper, in a
silence uninterrupted, except by exclamations of gladness from Mr.
Siddons." With succeeding nights, the triumph went on increasing. The
management gave her Garrick's dressing-room, and gentlemen learned in
the law presented her with a purse of a hundred guineas.

After the tender Isabella came the heroic loveliness of Euphrasia,
with Bensley for Evander, her success in which shook the laurels on
the brows of Mrs. Yates, and the widow of Spranger Barry. Having
given new life to Murphy's dull lines in a play which, nevertheless,
does not lack incident, she appeared as Jane Shore to Smith's
Hastings, and with such effect that not only were sobs and shrieks
heard from the ladies, but men wept like children, and "fainting
fits," says Campbell, "were long and frequent in the house."

To the Lothario of Palmer and Horatio of Bensley, Mrs. Siddons
next played Calista, in another of Rowe's tragedies, the "Fair
Penitent,"--that impersonation of pride, anguish, anger, shame,
and sorrow, and with undiminished success. But in Belvidera (to
the Jaffier of Brereton, and Pierre of Bensley) she seems to have
surpassed all she had hitherto accomplished over the minds and
feelings of the audience, whom she fairly electrified. Her Belvidera,
with its honest, passionate, overwhelming love and truth, was well
contrasted with her scorn and magnificence of demeanour in Zara. The
whole season was one of triumph,--the only dark spot in which was
the failure of Hull's "Fatal Interview," in which she played Mrs.
Montague, but with so little effect, where, indeed, no opportunity
was given her of creating any, as to injure for a moment a prestige
which grew all bright again by her performance of Calista.

It is singular that she liked her part in Hull's play--"a new
tragedy, in prose," she writes; "a most affecting play, in which I
have a part that I like very much;" but she adds, from her house, 149
Strand, "the 'Fatal Interview' has been played three times, and is
quite done with. It was the dullest of all representations."

Of Mrs. Crawford (Barry) the new actress entertained some small
fears, which are not too generously expressed in a letter to Dr.
Whalley. "I should suppose she has a very good fortune, and I should
be vastly obliged if she would go and live very comfortably upon it
... let her retire as soon as she pleases!" At this time, when her
second benefit brought her nearly £700, her ideas of supreme bliss
were limited to a cottage in the country, and a capital of £10,000.

Her success brought her many an enemy, the most virulent and unmanly
of whom was an anonymous paragraph-writer in the newspapers, who
slandered her daily, and for a brief moment excited against her the
ill will of the public. "He loaded her with opprobrium," says an
anonymous contemporary, "for not alleviating the distresses of her
(alleged) sister,"[58] Mrs. Curtis, a vicious woman, who, according
to the quaintly circumstantial writer, "would not conform to modesty,
though offered a genteel annuity on that condition." Mrs. Curtis read
lectures at Dr. Graham's Temple of Health, and the wayward woman
attempted to poison herself in Westminster Abbey. The enemies of
Mrs. Siddons somehow connected her with both circumstances, as they
subsequently did with that of old Roger Kemble applying, humbly, for
relief from some charitable fund, in the hands of a banker. Probably
the ex-hairdresser was proud, and may have preferred to apply for
aid to a fund which he had helped to sustain than to take it from
his children. The story is detailed by Genest, who seems inclined to
place some faith in it!

Ireland eagerly invited the new actress, and she crossed from
Holyhead to Dublin in a storm, which she looked on or endured with a
"pleasing terror." Landing in the middle of a wet night in June, no
tavern even would then receive a woman and a stranger, and it was
with difficulty that her companion Brereton, a promising Irish actor,
whom she had instructed in Jaffier, procured accommodation for her,
in the house where he himself lodged. She played with equal success
at Cork as at Dublin, particularly in Zara. From the former place
she writes to Dr. Whalley:--"I have sat to a young man in this place
who has made a small full length of me in Isabella, upon the first
entrance of Biron ... he has succeeded to admiration. I think it more
like me than any I have ever yet seen." Who was this unnamed artist?
Where is this young Isabella?

Mrs. Siddons returned to England, richer by £1000 by her Irish
summer excursion, and with an antipathy against the people, which
could only be momentary in the daughter of a lady born in Clonmel.
Her season of 1783-84 at Drury was doubly marked: she played two
Shakspearian characters--Isabella, in "Measure for Measure," to
Smith's Duke; and Constance, in "King John," to the King of her
own brother, John Kemble. The first was a greater success than the
second; but Constance became ultimately one of the most perfect of
her portraitures.

To see her Isabella, in the "Fatal Marriage," the whole royal family
went in quaint state. To her brother's Beverley, she played the wife,
in a way which affected the actors as much as it did the audience.
In the Countess of Salisbury, one of Mrs. Crawford's great parts,
and Sigismunda, she comparatively failed; but she achieved a double
triumph in Lady Randolph. It will be remembered how she had desired
the retreat of Mrs. Crawford. The old actress had been famous for her
performance of Lady Randolph, which she played on her reappearance
at Covent Garden in November 1783. Her oldest admirers (some critics
excepted) confessed that her powers were shaken. A month afterwards
Mrs. Siddons played the same character, for her benefit, to the
Young Norval of Brereton, when the old actress succumbed at once,
by comparison; but it is doubtful if Mrs. Siddons excelled her, if
the comparison be confined to the period when each actress was in
youth, strength, and beauty. "Mrs. Siddons," says Campbell, "omitted
Mrs. Crawford's scream, in the far-famed question, 'Was he alive?'"
In 1801, the year when Mrs. Crawford was laid by the side of her
husband, Barry, in Westminster Abbey, Mr. Simons, says Genest, "in a
small party at Bath, went through the scene between Old Norval and
Lady Randolph,--his imitation of Mrs. Crawford was most perfect,
particularly in 'Was he alive?' Mrs. Piozzi, who was present, said to
him,--'do not do that before Mrs. Siddons; she would not be pleased.'"

The King shed tears, however, at her acting; and the Queen, turning
her back to the stage, styled it in her broken English "too
_dis_agreeable;" but she appointed Mrs. Siddons preceptress in
English reading to the Princesses, without any emolument, and kept
her standing in stiff and stately dress, including a hoop, which
Mrs. Siddons especially detested, till she was ready to faint! The
King, too, praised her correct emphasis, mimicked the false ones of
other actors, and set her above Garrick on one point, that of repose,
whereas, he said, "Garrick could never stand still. He was a great

The Countesses entrapped her into parties where crowds of well-bred
people stood on the chairs to stare at her. One invalid Scotch
lady, whose doctor had forbidden her going to the theatre, went
unintroduced to Mrs. Siddons's residence, then in Gower Street, and
calmly sat down, gazed at her for some minutes, and then walked
silently away. Sir Joshua Reynolds painted his name on the _hem of
her garment_, in his portrait of her as the Tragic Muse, and Dr.
Johnson kissed her hand, and called her "My dear Madam," on his
own staircase. Statesmen were glad, when she played, to sit among
the fiddlers; and the fine gentlemen of the day, including him of
"Wales," visited her in her dressing-room, after the play, "to make
their bows." And then she rode home in "her own carriage!"

Edinburgh was impatient to see her, but slow in making up its mind
about her. One supreme effort alone, in Lady Randolph, elicited from
a generous critic in the pit, the comment, uttered aloud, "That's nae
bad;" after that sanction the house shook with applause. Glasgow, not
to be behindhand, gave her not only applause but a service of plate.
In Dublin, where, probably, her expressed dislike of the Irish people
had been reported, there was great opposition to her. Her engagements
stood in the way of charitable benefits, and no sacrifices she made
to further the latter, whether for societies or individuals, were
allowed to her credit. I think, too, that the Irish actors little
relished her stage arrangements made for proper effect, and Irish
managers were not delighted with her terms of half the receipts;
altogether Mrs. Siddons returned to London in saddened temper. In
Dublin she had raised a storm; in Edinburgh, where crowds of unwashed
people were crammed nightly to see her, in an unventilated theatre,
a fever, such as used to be in crowded gaols, broke out, and spread
over the city. As once in the case of Garrick, so now with the
great actress; it was called the _Siddons' fever_, as if she were
responsible for it!

The anecdote of "That's nae bad!" then, is not to be quoted to
the disadvantage of Scottish audiences.[59] The Edinburgh people,
moreover, had been told that Mrs. Siddons was unwilling to be
interrupted by applause, which, however, was not true; as she
herself alleged that the more applause the less fatigue, as she had
more breathing time. Indeed, the Edinburgh enthusiasm anent the
great actress surpassed all such manifestations elsewhere. Fancy
the General Assembly of the Kirk being obliged to arrange their
meetings with reference to Mrs. Siddons's acting, as the younger
members followed the artist, as Bossuet used to follow contemporary
actors, to study elocution. People, during her first engagement
of three weeks, assembled in crowds, hours before the doors were
opened, sometimes as early as noon. As soon as admission was given,
there ensued a fierce struggle which disregarded even the points of
bayonets, whose bearers were called in to quell disorder; and, as
soon as the play was over, and the doors were closed, porters and
servants took up a position, standing, lying, sleeping, but all ready
to secure places on the opening of the box-offices on the following
day. On one occasion there were applications for 2557 places, of
which the house numbered but 630; and when, at night, the struggle
was renewed for these, the loss of property, in costume and its
attendant luxuries of jewellery and the like, was enormous.

One night, as Mrs. Siddons was playing Isabella, and had uttered
the words by which she used to pierce all hearts, words uttered on
discovering her first husband, in whose absence she had remarried,
"Oh, my Biron! my Biron!" a young Aberdeenshire heiress, Miss Gordon
of Gight, sent forth a scream as wild as that of Isabella, and,
taking up the words in a hysterical frenzy, was carried out still
uttering them. Next year this impressible lady was wooed and won by
a Byron, the honourable John of that name, by whom she became the
mother of one more famous than the rest, Lord Byron, the "lord of
himself, that heritage of woe." Lady Gray, of Gask, told my friend,
Mr. Robert Chambers, that she "never could forget those ominous
sounds of, 'Oh, my Biron!'"

Notwithstanding all this success, I find contemporary critics
expressing an opinion that she played too frequently. "If she hopes,"
says one, "to have the gratification of being followed by crowds,
she should never perform more than once a week, or twelve times in
a season." The arithmetical computation seems defective; but it is
singular that Mrs. Delaney made a similar remark with respect to

Mrs. Siddons was, however, equal to more fatigue than some of her
admirers would have had her undergo. I find it recorded, with
admiration, in a paper three-quarters of a century old, that in four
days she had achieved the (then) incredible task of acting in three
theatres, so wide apart as London, Reading, and Bath!

Walpole thus speaks of her in Isabella, "I have seen Mrs. Siddons;
she pleased me beyond my expectation, but not up to the admiration
of the _ton_, two or three of whom were in the same box with me,
particularly Mr. Boothby, who, as if to disclaim the stoic apathy
of Mr. Meadows in "Cecilia," was all bravissimo. Mr. Crawfurd, too,
asked me if I did not think her the best actress I ever saw? I said,
'By no means; we old folks were apt to be prejudiced in favour of our
first impressions.' She is a good figure, handsome enough, though
neither nose nor chin according to the Greek standard, beyond which
both advance a good deal. Her hair is rather red, or she has no
objection to its being thought so, and had used red powder. Her voice
is clear and good; but I thought she did not vary its modulations
enough, nor ever approach enough to the familiar; but this may come
when more habituated to the awe of the audience of the capital.
Her action is proper, but with little variety; when without motion
her arms are not genteel. Thus you see, madam, all my objections
are very trifling; but what I really wanted, but did not find, was
originality, which announces genius, and without both which I am
never intrinsically pleased. All Mrs. Siddons did, good sense or good
instruction might give. I dare to say that, were I one-and-twenty,
I should have thought her marvellous; but, alas! I remember Mrs.
Porter and the Dumesnil; and remember every accent of the former in
the very same part." Subsequently, he says:--"I cannot think Mrs.
Siddons the greatest prodigy that ever appeared, nor go to see her
act the same part every week, and cry my eyes out every time; were I
five-and-twenty, I suppose I should weep myself blind, for she is a
fine actress, and fashion would make me think a brilliant what now
seems to me only a very good rose-diamond."

That Mrs. Siddons abandoned the reddish-brown powder then in fashion,
we shall see in the chapter on costume. Meanwhile, let us keep to
her career on the London stage. On her return thither from Ireland,
she found the town possessed by reports of her pride, arrogance, and
lack of kindness to her poorer colleagues. A cabal interrupted her
performance during several nights; but even when she triumphed over
it, by proving the injustice of her accusers, she did not entirely
recover her peace of mind. She felt that she had chosen a humiliating
vocation. There were, however, bright moments in it. In Franklin's
absurd tragedy, the "Earl of Warwick," her superb Margaret of Anjou
caused the playgoers who had applauded Mrs. Yates to acknowledge
that, great as the original representative was, a greater had arisen
in Mrs. Siddons. But when the latter played Zara, the supremacy of
Mrs. Cibber was only divided. In Cumberland's "Carmelite," in which
she played Matilda to the Montgomeri of Kemble, she produced little
effect.[60] The great actress had no such poets as the great Mrs.
Barry had, to fit her with parts; and, lacking such, fell back upon
the old. Her Camiola, in Massinger's "Maid of Honour," was, however,
only a passing success.

She made ample amends for all by her triumph in Lady Macbeth, in
1785. With this character her name and fame are always most closely
associated. Walpole himself could hardly have questioned the grand
originality of her conception of the part. Mrs. Siddons imagined the
heroine of this most tragic of tragedies to be a delicate blonde,
who ruled by her intellect, and subdued by her beauty, but with
whom no one feeling of common general nature was congenial; a woman
prompt for wickedness, but swiftly possessed by remorse; one who is
horror-stricken for herself and for the precious husband, who, more
robust and less sensitive, plunges deeper into crime, and is less
moved by any sense of compassion or sorrow.

From this night, Mrs. Pritchard, the Lady Macbeth of past days, was
unseated from her throne in the hearts of many old admirers. Mrs.
Siddons certainly never had a superior in this part, the night of her
first success in which formed an epoch in dramatic history. Sheridan,
the manager, had dreaded a fiasco, for no other reason than that in
the sleep-walking scene Mrs. Siddons would not carry the candlestick
about with her! Mrs. Pritchard had always done so, and any omission
in this respect--so he thought--would be treated by the audience as
a mark of disrespect to the memory and to the observances of the
older actress. The audience were too enthralled by the younger player
to think of such stage trifles. Mason, the poet, hated Mrs. Siddons
for surpassing his idol, Pritchard, and friends abstained from
pronouncing her name in his presence. She subdued him, of course,
and they played duets together at Lord Harcourt's; but she could
make nothing of the old poet's Elfrida, played to the Athelwold of
Smith--and Mrs. Pritchard was never displaced from the shrine she
occupied in his memory.

Lord Harcourt's judgment of Mrs. Siddons, in Lady Macbeth, is thus
expressed:--"To say that Mrs. Siddons, in one word, is superior to
Mrs. Pritchard in Lady Macbeth, would be talking nonsense, because I
don't think that it is possible; but, on the other hand, I will not
say with those _impartial_ judges, Mr. Whitehead and Miss Farquhar,
that she does not play near as well. But there are others too, and
in the parts for Mrs. Siddons, that are of this opinion; that she
has much more expression of countenance, and can assume parts with a
spirit, cannot be denied; but that she wants the dignity, and above
all, the unequalled compass and melody of Mrs. Pritchard. I thought
her wonderful and very fine in the rest of that scene. She throws a
degree of proud and filial tenderness into this speech, 'Had he not
resembled,' &c., which is new and of great effect. Her 'Are you a
man!' in the banquet scene, I thought inferior to Mrs. Pritchard's;
and for the parts spoken at a great distance her voice wanted
power. Her countenance, aided by a studious and judicious choice of
head-dress, was a true picture of a mind diseased in the sleeping
scene, and made one shudder; and the effect, as a picture, was better
in that than it had ever been with the taper, because it allows of
variety in the actress of washing her hands; but the sigh was not so
horrid, nor was the voice so sleepy, nor yet quite so articulate as
Mrs. Pritchard's."

This is a less summary criticism than that of the Calais landlady,
on whom Mrs. Siddons had made an impression. "She looks like a
Frenchwoman; _but_ it will be a long time before she gets the grace
and dignity of a Frenchwoman!"

If Walpole may be trusted, Mrs. Siddons's ideas of Lady Macbeth had
not always been identical. I find this in a pretty picture painted
by Walpole, in 1783:[61]--"Mrs. Siddons continues to be the mode, and
to be modest and sensible. She declines great dinners, and says her
business and the cares of her family take her whole time. When Lord
Carlisle carried her the tribute money from Brooks's, he said she was
not _maniérée_ enough. 'I suppose she was grateful,' said my niece,
Lady Maria. Mrs. Siddons was desired to play Medea and Lady Macbeth.
'No,' she replied, 'she did not look on them as female characters.'"

At that time she had not made up her mind to attempt a part in which
Mrs. Pritchard had been unrivalled. As far as Medea was concerned,
Mrs. Siddons left the laurels of Mrs. Yates unshaken, and declined to
play that supremely tragic part. One of her chief desires was that
Walpole should see her in Portia, in which she had failed; Walpole
preferred witnessing her Athenais. In the passionate scenes of so
poor a play as "Percy," Walpole greatly admired her; but he found her
voice hollow and defective in cool declamation.

Of course, there were various individuals who were said to be--who
affected to be--or who really were in love with the great actress.
Among these was Brereton, son of the major of that name, and who was
a poor actor till rehearsing Jaffier to Mrs. Siddons's Belvidera
she inspired him, as Malibran did Templeton, into something like
excellence. Mrs. Siddons having thus effected for him what Garrick
had failed to do, Brereton was exceedingly grateful, and his
good-natured friends not only conduced to Mrs. Brereton's peace
of mind, by reporting that he was in love with the great actress,
but when "a malady not easily accounted for," as the theatrical
biographies call the insanity which impeded his performances with
Mrs. Siddons in Dublin, compelled him to leave the stage, the madness
was set down to over much regard for, and a little difference with "a
great tragic actress, of whom he is said to be very fond." To this
matter Mrs. Siddons doubtless alludes in a curious letter to Dr.
Whalley, dated March 13, 1785. "I have been very unhappy; now 'tis
over, I will venture to tell you so, that you may not lose the dues
of rejoicing. Envy, malice, detraction, all the fiends of hell have
compassed me round about to destroy me; 'but blessed be God who hath
given me the victory,' &c. I have been charged with almost everything
bad, except incontinence; and it is attributed to me as thinking a
woman may be guilty of every crime, provided she retain her chastity.
God help them, and forgive them; they know but little of me."

Poor Brereton died in confinement, in 1787; and if his wife had ever
been rendered unhappy by the report of his love for Mrs. Siddons,
his widow was rendered happy by the love of Mrs. Siddons's brother
for herself; and Mrs. Brereton, the lively Priscilla Hopkins of the
old days when her father was prompter, became Mrs. John Kemble.
Meanwhile, at other adorers of her own, Mrs. Siddons only laughed.
"If you should meet a Mr. Seton," she writes to Dr. Whalley, "who
lived in Leicester Square, you must not be surprised to hear him
boast of being very well with my sister and myself, for since I
have been here I have heard the old fright has been giving it out
in town. You will find him rather an unlikely person to be so great
a favourite with women." But her Desdemona certainly increased the
number of her lovers, old and young. The character is in such strong
contrast with that of Lady Macbeth, that the public were not prepared
for the new and more delicate fascination. "You have no idea," she
writes, "how the innocence and playful simplicity of my Desdemona
have laid hold on the hearts of the people. I am very much flattered
by this, as nobody has ever done anything with that character before."

Nevertheless, the sense of humiliation does not seem to have left
her. She announces the marriage of her sister Elizabeth with Mr.
Whitelock, a "worthy man," though an actor; but that of another
sister, Frances, has a more jubilant tone in the proclaiming: "Yes,
my sister is married, and I have lost one of the sweetest companions
in the world. She has married a most respectable man, though of small
fortune; and I _thank God, that she is off the stage_." This was Mrs.
Twiss. Of another sister, we only remember her as the old-fashioned
novelist, "Anne" (Hatton) "of Swansea."[62]

Of theatrical gossip, Mrs. Siddons's letters do not contain much,
but it is generally epigrammatic; "Miss Younge," she writes to Dr.
Whalley, "is married to Mr. Pope, a very boy, and the only one she
will have by her marriage." In 1786, she says, "We have a great
comic actress now, called Mrs. Jordan. She has a vast deal of merit,
but, in my mind, is not perfection." What Mrs. Siddons had acquired
already by the stage, we learn from her own words: "I have at last,
my friend, attained the ten thousand pounds which I set my heart
upon, and am now perfectly at ease with respect to fortune." From
lodgings, at 149 Strand, she had gone to a house of her own, in
Gower Street, Bedford Square, "the back of it is most effectually
in the country, and delightfully pleasant." There, in then suburban
Gower Street, was established a happy and flourishing household, the
master of which had friends who borrowed four hundred pounds at a
time, and the mistress others to whom she lent smaller sums, and who
thought her exceedingly ungrateful when she asked, as she did without
scruple, for her money.

Mrs. Jordan, "to my mind, is not perfection," wrote Mrs. Siddons,
but the former was more perfect than the latter in Rosalind, which
Mrs. Siddons played for her benefit in April 1785, to the Orlando
of Brereton; King played Touchstone; Palmer, Jacques. Mrs. Siddons
dressed the character ill, as the disguised Rosalind; her costume
was severely handled by the critics. As Miss Seward magniloquently
put it, "the scrupulous prudery of decency produced an ambiguous
vestment, that seemed neither male nor female." The character
was "totally without archness," said Young; "how _could_ such a
countenance be arch?" Campbell, like Walpole, says that in comedy
she gathered no laurels. Miss Farren and Mrs. Jordan excelled her
there; and her Mrs. Lovemore, in the "Way to Keep Him," must be
reckoned amongst her failures. That some of her heroines, in dull and
defunct tragedies, rank only next to failures, must be laid to the
account of the poets. Throughout the kingdom she was recognised as
Queen of Tragedy. In Scotland, a sensitive man in the Glasgow gallery
exclaimed, "She's a fallen angel!" and Edinburgh fishwives looked
with interest on the lady who had "gar'd them greet, yestreen!"

"I am going to undertake your adored Hermione this winter," writes
Mrs. Siddons to Dr. Whalley. "You know I was always afraid of her,
and I am not a bit more bold than I was." This timidity was not
justified; her Hermione, indeed, was not equal to that of a later
actress, Rachel, but it had grand points. The simple words, "Why,
_Pyrrhus_!" when Orestes (Smith) asked her whom she would have him
murder, thrilled the remotest auditor by their emphasis. But she
could thrill actors as well as auditors; playing Ophelia for her
second benefit, 1786, in the mad scene, she spoke some words in so
strange a manner, as she touched the arm of the Queen, that the
memory of so practised a player as Mrs. Hopkins was disturbed, and
she stood awed and silent.

[Illustration: (Mrs. Jordan)]

Though Ophelia was not a triumph, nor the Lady in "Comus," nor
Cleone, to which nobody went on the second night, for the strange
reason, that Mrs. Siddons was too affecting!--her position was
unassailably established. Mrs. Jordan she put out of all competition
with her in certain parts, by playing Imogen; for which she asked of
the artist Hamilton to sketch for her "a boy's dress to conceal the
person as much as possible."

Whether she desired to set aside Mrs. Jordan altogether as a rival
in comedy, is doubtful; but she certainly continued to try comic
parts, but the laugh excited was not hearty; her Lady Townly had no
airiness; her smiles are spoken of as glorious condescensions; when
Bannister was asked if her comic acting had ever pleased him, he
"shook his head, and remarked," says Campbell, "that the burthen of
her inspiration was too heavy for comedy," in which, according to
Colman, she was only "a frisking Gog." Miss Baillie, on the other
hand, insists that but for unfair discouragement she would have
been a great comic actress. In private life, she had great relish
for humour, and told laughable stories in her slow way, as well as
read scenes in comedy with great effect. And yet Katharine, with its
passionate expression, was as little thought of as Rosalind. One
would have thought this character would have fitted her; her own
judgment as to what suited her is not satisfactorily exhibited in her
preference of Tate's Cordelia and of Dryden's Cleopatra to those of
Shakspeare. But she distrusted her own judgment in some things. "Mr.
Siddons," she remarks to Dr. Whalley, "is a much better judge of the
conduct of a tragedy than myself."

This remark occurs in a letter written in September 1787 under
perplexing circumstances. Young Mr. Greatheed, of Guy's Cliff, was
the author of a tragedy, the "Regent," the heroine in which he
designed for her acting. She liked neither the play nor her own part
in it; but how could she disoblige the present head of a family where
she had found an asylum, when love had disturbed the tenor of her
life. Therefore, she wrote this letter to her friend Dr. Whalley,
who did _not_ burn it, as he ought to have done:--"September 1,
1787.--Mrs. Piozzi may be an excellent judge of a poem possibly,
but it is certain that she is not of a tragedy, if she has really
an opinion of this. It certainly has some beautiful poetry, but it
strikes me that the plot is very lame, and the characters very, very
ill-sustained in general, but more particularly the lady, for whom
the author had me in his eye. This woman is one of those monsters (I
think them) of perfection, who is an angel before her time, and is
so entirely resigned to the will of heaven, that (to a very mortal
like myself) she appears to be the most provoking piece of still life
one ever had the misfortune to meet. Her struggles and conflicts
are so weakly expressed, that we conclude they do not cost her much
pain, and she is so pious that we are satisfied she looks upon her
afflictions as so many convoys to heaven, and wish her there, or
anywhere else but in the tragedy.... Mr. G. says that it would give
him too great trouble to alter it, so that he seems determined to
endeavour to bring it on the stage, provided I will undertake this
milksop lady.... Mr. Siddons says it will not do at all for the stage
in its present state, for the poetry seems to be all its merit; and
if it is to be stripped of that--which it must be, for all the people
in it forget their feelings to talk metaphor instead of passion--what
is there to support it? I wish, for his own sake, poor young man,
that he would publish it as it is....

  "Your truly affectionate S. SIDDONS."

The event justified her sentiments, and the "Regent" did not live.
She continued, however, to reap her harvest of laurels, gathering
them most profusely by her acting in that Queen Katharine, which had
been recommended to her by Dr. Johnson. We continue to associate her
name with this part, in which she was more queenly and dignified, I
suspect, than Katharine herself; certainly more imposing, if it be
true that by simply saying, "You were the Duke's Surveyor, and lost
your office on the complaint o' the tenants," she put the surveyor,
to whom the words were addressed, into such perspiring agony, that as
he came off, crushed by her earnestness, he declared he would not for
the world meet her black eyes on the stage again!

I doubt, however, if the poor fellow could afford to give up his
engagement; and I know that some of these "affectations" are assumed
by inferior actors. I have heard of a lady so audibly affected,
as she stood at the wing, by the acting of her manager, then on
the stage, that she was invited to his room to partake of cake and
wine. But Mrs. Siddons undoubtedly possessed power above all other
actresses of attracting and subduing. In the procession scene, in her
brother's barbarous mutilation of Shakspeare's Coriolanus, which he
played so inimitably, her dumb show, as Volumnia, triumphing in the
triumph of her son, attracted every eye, touched every heart, and
caused the pageant itself to be as nothing, except as she used it for
her purpose. It is strange that one so gifted should have ventured,
at four-and-thirty, to act Juliet, who

    "Even or odd, of all days in the year,
    Come Lammas-eve at night, shall be fourteen!"

and to Lammas-eve it wanted "a fortnight and odd days."

But authors, of course, make as many mistakes as actresses. When the
King, in Miss Burney's tragedy, "Edwy and Elgiva," cried, "Bring
in the Bishop," the audience, thinking of the pleasant mixture so
called, broke into laughter, which was only exceeded by that which
broke forth when Mrs. Siddons died, under a hedge and on a superb
couch! I do not believe, with Genest, that anybody ever laughed at
her dying Zara; but when, in "Edward and Eleanora," the two babes
were brought in, in imperial frocks and long coating, and were handed
into the bed of their dying mother, the audience did break forth
into loud hilarity. Indeed, babies in arms were stumbling-blocks to
Mrs. Siddon's dignity. At a later period than that above-mentioned,
when acting in Sotheby's "Julian and Agnes," she had to make her
exit, carrying an infant. The exit was made precipitately, and in the
doing of it she so violently struck the passive baby's head against
a door-post as to discover that the said head was made of wood. The
audience laughed again, and Agnes, Countess of Tortona, all taken
aback as she was, laughed heartily too. Once also, when Mrs. Siddons
was playing Agnes in Lillo's "Fatal Curiosity," and the flesh of the
audience crept at her suggestion of murdering the stranger, who is
her son,--as the scene proceeded towards the murder, one gentleman
in the pit laughed aloud; he would have been roughly treated by the
audience, but for the discovery that he was in hysterics at her

At other times, the actress was overcome by herself. In the pretended
fainting scene of Arpasia, in "Tamerlane," after the wild cry,
"Love! Death! Moneses!" Mrs. Siddons fell back violently, clutching
her drapery, and her dress all disordered,--a swoon in earnest,
which caused a rush, from the pit and boxes, of part of the excited
and sympathising audience. The agitation of the actress was almost
perilous to her life!

There were occasions, however, on which that audience refused to
be sympathetic. When she and her brother acted in Jephson's dull
"Conspiracy," we are told that they "acted to vacancy: the hollow
sound of their voices was the most dreary thing in the world." This
was among the least of her troubles; at the moment of her greatest
exertions, family cares and sorrows pressed on her. Mr. Siddons's
speculations alarmed her prudent mind. Mr. Sheridan's money, when he
held the purse at Drury Lane, flowed but slowly and intermittently
into her banker's coffers; and if this, or even illness, drove her
into temporary retirement, she had enemies who reported that her
brain was not as well as it might be.

At the beginning of the present century Mrs. Siddons more than once
expressed a desire "to be at rest." The labours of her life, and the
troubles of it, too, were equal in magnitude to her triumphs. Could
she but realise £300 a year above that she had already acquired for
her family by her sole and brilliant exertions, she would begin to
be "lazy, saucy, and happy." Nevertheless, when the period of 1812
arrived, and she had determined on retirement, she was less bold
in spirit. It was like taking the first step of the ladder, she
said, which led to the next world. Once she was in peril of taking
that first step less agreeably. While standing as the statue in the
"Winter's Tale," the flowing white drapery of her dress caught fire
from behind, but it was extinguished by the courage and prudence of a
poor scene-shifter, before she knew the whole of her danger. He saved
her life; and she not only rewarded him liberally, but saved his son,
a deserter from the army, from the horrible punishment which was then
inflicted on such offenders.

She upheld the dignity of her vocation, by refusing to act with the
"young Roscius," while to act inferior parts in the same piece with
her, actresses of reputation esteemed it an honour. Miss Pope, on
having the part of Lucy, in "George Barnwell," sent to her, returned
it with some anger; but when she was told that Mrs. Siddons was about
to play Milwood to Charles Kemble's Barnwell, Miss Pope resumed the
character with eagerness. On the stage, and even in the green-room,
she seldom departed from the humour of the part she sustained on
that particular evening; but she had no sooner concluded it than
she was herself again. Miss Seward records with particular delight,
after seeing the great actress in Beatrice, at Birmingham, that Mrs.
Siddons having made a curtesy generally to the house, made one in
particular, with an especial smile of benignity, to Miss Seward and
her friends in the stage-box.

She began and ended her London theatrical life with
Shakspeare,--commencing in 1775 with Portia, and terminating in June
1812 with Lady Macbeth. Some few subsequent appearances, indeed,
there were. When her son, Henry Siddons, was the somewhat unlucky
proprietor of the Edinburgh Theatre, he thought that if his mother
and uncle would but play for him in the same pieces, on the same
night, he should retrieve his fortunes. He wrote separately to both,
and received respective answers. That from Mrs. Siddons intimated
that she would act, for half the receipts and a free benefit. The
reply from John Kemble expressed his readiness to act,--for a free
benefit and half the receipts! Henry Siddons, much perplexed,
had to look elsewhere for less expensive aid. After his death,
and subsequent to his mother's farewell to the London stage, she
played several nights, in Edinburgh, _gratis_, for the benefit of
his family; and critics saw no other change in her, than that she
looked older. Her "last" appearance in public was in June 1819, when
she played Lady Randolph, for the benefit of Charles Kemble. The
Shakspearian characters for which she enjoyed the greatest fame, are
Lady Macbeth and Queen Katharine; and these were included in the
readings which she continued to give during a few years. These last
were especially relished by Queen Charlotte and her family;--the
guerdon for many of which, including Othello, read aloud at Windsor
one Sunday evening, was a gold chain with a cross of many-coloured

Her beauty, personal and mental, she retained to the last,--the
former only slightly touched by time. _That_ was marked, in the
Gallery of the Louvre, even amid the finest examples of mortal and
godlike beauty from the hands of Greek sculptors. Her sense of the
beautiful was also fresh to the last. Standing rapt at the sublimity
of the scenery in the neighbourhood of Penmanmawr, she heard a lady
remark, "This awful scenery makes me feel as if I were only a worm,
or a grain of dust, on the face of the earth!" Mrs. Siddons turned
round and said: "_I_ feel very differently."

She had the misery to outlive all her children, except her daughter
Cecilia, but in successive visitations she was so well-tempered as
to create the means of consolation, and in modelling statuary, often
found at least temporary relief from sorrow. Hannah More as heartily
applauded her in private life as the warmest of her admirers ever
did in public; and in truth her religion was cheerful, and her rule
of life honest. She was not only a great artist, but a thoroughly
English lady, a true, honest, exquisite woman; one of the bravest and
most willing of the noble army of workers. Proud, she may have been,
and justly so. Simple she was, and simple-minded, in many respects.
The _viola amoena_ was her favourite flower; and, from the purple
borders of her garden in spring time up at then secluded Westbourne,
her managing hand-maid acquired the name of Miss Heartsease.

Those who knew her best have recorded her beauty and her grace,
her noble carriage, divine elocution, and solemn earnestness; her
grandeur and her pathos, her correct judgment, her identification of
whatever she assumed, and her abnegation of self. Erskine studied
her cadences and intonations, and avowed that he owed his best
displays to the harmony of her periods and pronunciation. According
to Campbell, she increased the heart's capacity for tender, intense,
and lofty feelings, and seemed something above humanity, in presence
of which, humanity was moved, exalted, or depressed, according as she
willed. Her countenance was the interpreter of her mind, and that
mind was of the loftiest, never stooping to trickery, but depending
on nature to produce effect.

She may have borne her professional habits into private life and
"stabbed the potatoes," or awed a draper's assistant by asking, "Will
it wash?" but there was no affectation in this;--as she said, still
in her tragic way, "Witness truth, I did not wish to be tragical!"

I have alluded to the apparent lack of judgment in her assuming, at
thirty-four, the character of Juliet, a girl not yet fourteen. Miss
Weston, however, writes, "a finer performance was never seen. She
contrived to make her appearance light, youthful, and airy, beyond
imagination, and more beautiful than anything one ever saw. Her
figure, she tells me, was very well fitted by previous indisposition."

In carrying into private life her stately stage manner, Mrs. Siddons
undesignedly imitated Clairon, the "Queen of Carthage," as the French
called her, from her marvellous acting as Dido. "If," said Clairon,
"I am only a vulgar and ordinary woman during twenty hours of the
day, I shall continue to be a vulgar and ordinary woman, whatever
efforts I may make, in Agrippina or Semiramis, during the other four."

There remains but to be said that this "lofty-minded actress," as
Young called Mrs. Siddons, died on the 8th of June 1831--leaving
a name in theatrical history second to none, and deep regret that
the honoured owner of it had departed from among the living. Of the
latter was the elder brother, who owed much of his greatness to her,
and who is noticed in the next chapter.


[50] I can find no authority for this date. The birth of Mrs. Siddons
is always stated to have taken place on 5th July 1755.

[51] As a child.--_Doran MS._

[52] Sergeant Kite is the character which Lee Lewes, who tells the
story, says that Mrs. Furnival taught Roger to play. Both characters
are in the same play, the "Recruiting Officer."

[53] The Earl of Coventry was said to be an admirer of her mother.

[54] This seems to have been at Wolverhampton.

[55] Two interesting letters were published in the _Courier_ many
years ago, which proved that Sir Henry Bate Dudley (then Mr. Bate)
was Garrick's ambassador on this occasion. Garrick's letter contains
some remarks on Mrs. Siddons's condition which are more expressive
than elegant.

[56] Should be the 13th.

[57] This incident is said to have occurred at a rehearsal.

[58] I do not know why Dr. Doran says "alleged" sister.

[59] Campbell's account of this incident makes its meaning quite
clear. He says that when, after a supreme effort, the silence was
broken by the solitary "that's no' bad!" the audience was convulsed
at the "ludicrous parsimony of praise." But the laughter was followed
by such thunders of applause that it seemed as if the galleries would
come down.

[60] This is inaccurate. The play was a success, and Mrs. Siddons was
said to have been seldom more admired than in it.

[61] Walpole's letter is dated Christmas 1782.

[62] This was the notorious Mrs. Curtis, previously mentioned. Mr.
Percy Fitzgerald (_Kembles_, ii. 98) gives an admirable account of
her life.

[Illustration: JOHN P. KEMBLE.]



On the 1st of February 1757, John Philip Kemble was born at Prescot,
in Lancashire. His father's itinerant life not only led to his
appearance on the stage when a child, but to his being placed at
school at Worcester, whence he passed through Sedgley to Douay,
where he was remarkable for his elocution. He had for college fellow
Miller, or Milner, as he chose to call himself--and who, when a Roman
Catholic prelate, used to affirm that, in point of elocution, he was
considered equal to Kemble!

In 1776, the year in which Garrick retired, Kemble may be said to
have made his first public appearance as an actor at Wolverhampton,
and Boaden thinks he was too good for his audience. In various
northern towns he endured a stern probation, and made sundry
mistakes. He played Plume, Ranger, and Archer, which were totally
unsuited to him; and he was actually laughed at in tragedy--by some
persons of distinction in the boxes at York. He resented this with
such dignity, that the York fine people, who could not understand
the latter feeling, insisted on an apology; and when the rest of
the house declared he should make none, he thanked them with such a
weight of heavy argument to show they and he were right, that those
bewildered Yorkists demanded of him to beg pardon immediately.[63]

Subsequently, John Kemble published fugitive poems, which he was
afterwards glad to burn; wrote a tragedy, "Belisarius," and a comedy,
the "Female Officer;" composed a Latin ode, _Ad Somnium_, and a
Latin epitaph for his dead comrade, Inchbald; laid the foundations
of friendship with the Percys; gave lectures on oratory; and, at
twenty-three, made an attempt to improve Shakspeare's "Comedy of
Errors," by turning it into a farce, called "Oh, it's impossible!"
the chief point in which was that the audience should be as puzzled
about the two Dromios, of whom he made a couple of niggers, as their
masters themselves.

If, at York, the admirers of the now forgotten Cummins contended
that he was superior to Kemble, so in Ireland those who remembered
their old favourite Barry, were slow to admit Kemble's equality.
But, though he nearly made shipwreck of his fame by playing comedy,
he rose in Irish estimation by his acting in tragedy; and he won
all hearts by his finished performance of Jephson's "Count of
Narbonne," in which he represented the Count, to the Adelaide of Miss
Francis--the Mrs. Jordan of later years. Jephson was an Irishman, and
Dublin was grateful to the actor who helped him to a triumph. Black
Rock, I dare say, is to this day proud of the author.

On the 30th of September 1783, John Kemble first appeared in London,
at Drury Lane, as Hamlet. The fierceness and variety of the criticism
denote that a new and a great actor had come before the critics.
His novel readings were severally commented on--some of them were
admirable, but bold. The utmost one critic could urge was that the
player was "too scrupulously graceful;" and objection was fairly made
to his pronouncing the word "lisp," to Ophelia, as "_lithp_." Boaden
calls this "a refinement;" but he is forced to allow that it was
"below the actor."

Just previous to this successful _début_ at Drury Lane, John Kemble's
brother Stephen had very moderately succeeded in Othello, at
Covent Garden, where the management had secured the _big_, instead
of the _great_, Mr. Kemble. Just subsequent to the former first
appearance, two sisters of these players, Elizabeth and Frances
Kemble (afterwards Mrs. Whitelock and Mrs. Twiss), made an attempt
to share in a theatrical and family glory, in which, however, they
had no abiding part.[64] These ladies passed away, and left that
glory to be divided by John Kemble, and his sister, Mrs. Siddons. But
some time elapsed before the latter were permitted to play in the
same piece. Smith had possession of parts of which custom forbade
his being deprived; and it was not till each had played singly in
various stock pieces, that they came together in "King John," and
subsequently in the "Gamester."[65] Previous to Kemble's undertaking
the former character, the old actor, Sheridan, read the part to him
as Sheridan was used to play it; but grandly as the King was played,
the Constance in the hands of Mrs. Siddons was the magic by which
the audience was most potentially moved. It was the same in the
"Gamester;" the sufferings of Mrs. Beverley touched all hearts; but
the instability, selfishness, cowardice, and maudlin of the wretched
husband, excited both contempt and execration--but that was precisely
what the author, as well as the actor, intended.

This union of genius was not, however, permanent; when Mrs. Siddons
played Lady Macbeth, Smith acted, with graceful indifference, the
Thane; and it was not till March 1785, that brother and sister
appeared together in another play,[66] and then in "Othello"--the
Moor and Desdemona being assigned to them. Neither player was ever
identified with the character respectively acted; but what could even
John Kemble do, who performed the Moor in the uniform of a British
general of the actor's own time? He made a more certain flight by
selecting "Macbeth" for his benefit, and playing the chief part to
his sister's Lady; but it was only for one night. The Thane belonged
by prescriptive right to Smith, and as long as he remained a member
of the company, the original Charles Surface was entitled to one
of the sublimest parts in all the range of tragedy. Even when Mrs.
Siddons selected the "Merchant of Venice" for her benefit, and played
Portia, Shylock fell, as by right, to King, and John Kemble had to be
content with Bassanio![67]

He had his revenge; not in playing the insipid heroes of the new
tragedies, which were then more or less in fashion, but in acting
Lear to his sister's Cordelia, on occasion of her benefit in January
1788. The greatest admirers of Garrick confessed that Kemble's Lear
was nearly equal to that of their idol; but Boaden records that he
never played it so grandly and so touchingly as on that night.

Kemble is said to have been so much attached to Miss Phillips
(afterwards Mrs. Crouch), that he was exceedingly moved on reading
the epitaph on her tomb, by Boaden. He is reported also to have
been tenderly affected by Mrs. Inchbald--for he composed a Latin
epitaph for the tomb of her defunct husband. I find further mentioned
"a young lady of family and fortune at York," whose cruel brother
interfered menacingly in the matter, and also that "the daughter of
a noble lord, once high in office, was strongly attached to him,
and that the father bought off the match with £3000. It is certain
that Mrs. Siddons was highly offended at the alliance (subsequently
with Mrs. Brereton)--perhaps she looked with anxious hope to a
consanguinity with the noble house of G----." So sneers old legend,
and here follows truth.

The lady he _did_ marry was a very excellent lady indeed. Her own
parents had fought their way well through life, for Mr. Hopkins was
a strolling player when he married the daughter of a Somersetshire
Boniface; but the bridegroom became Prompter, and Mrs. Hopkins a
respectable actress at Drury Lane. One of their daughters, Priscilla,
subsequently belonged to the company, when young Brereton persuaded
her to take his name, and share his fortunes. Whether excess of
admiration for Mrs. Siddons, with whom he frequently acted, drove
Brereton mad or not, his widow kept her senses under cool control,
and about a year after the death of her first husband, one of
Garrick's ineffective pupils, she said to Mrs. Hopkins, "My dear
mother, I cannot guess what Mr. Kemble means: he passed me just now,
going up to his dressing-room, and chucking me under the chin, said,
'Ha, Pop! I shouldn't wonder if you were soon to hear something very
much to your advantage!' What could he mean?" "Mean!" the sensible
mother answered--Adolphus so styles her--"why he means to propose
marriage; and if he does, I advise you not to refuse him."

The wedding was dramatic enough. Mrs. Hopkins, her daughter, Jack
Bannister and his wife, walked from Jack's house in Frith Street,
to John's in Caroline Street, Bedford Square, to breakfast with the
bridegroom, who did not seem to expect them. Thence, on a December
morning, 1787, in two hackney coaches, the party went to church and
were married by "the well-known Parson Este." The bride--no dinner
having been thought of by any one else--dined early, the bridegroom
late, at the Bannisters'; at whose house Kemble remained with Mrs.
Bannister, or rather taking his wine without her, while Mr. Bannister
and Mrs. Kemble went to Drury Lane, where they had to act in the
"West Indian." The lady's former name was in the bill. On her return
to Frith Street, Kemble took his good wife home, and the next acting
day, Monday, Lady Anne was acted by Mrs. Kemble to the Richard of Mr.
Smith. On the 14th, man and wife played together, Sir Giles and his
daughter Margaret; the delicate audience seizing on a marked passage
in the play, and laughing as they applauded, to indicate they knew
all about it. Sir Giles remained grave and self-possessed.

Subsequently, Kemble attained the management of Drury Lane,
succeeding King, who had been merely the servant of the proprietor,
in 1788-89. He could now play what parts he chose,--and his first
character was Lord Townly; his second, Macbeth.[68] In the first,
he was second only to Barry; in Macbeth, from the weakness of his
voice, he failed to rise to an equality with Garrick. Leon followed,
with some state; Sciolto, in which he rendered the stern paternal
principle sublime; Mirabel, in which he was to be altogether
distanced by his brother, Charles; and Romeo, in which he never
approached the height of Barry. On his first revival of "Henry
VIII.," he left Bensley in possession of his old part, Wolsey, and
for the sake, it is said, of giving a "duteous and intelligent
observance" to his sister in the heavier scenes, doubled the parts
of Cromwell and Griffith, in his own person. His great Wolsey
triumph was a glory of a later time; so was the triumph of his
Coriolanus,--not yet matured; but in which he was not only never
surpassed, but never equalled. His first season as manager was a
decided success, as regards the acting of himself and sister, and
also the novelties produced.

His second was marked by some revivals, such as "Henry V." and the
"Tempest," and adaptations of the "False Friend" of Vanbrugh, and the
"Rover" of Aphra Behn. In the first piece, in which Kemble played the
King better than he did his other Kings,--Richard and John, he made a
fine point in starting up from prayer and expression of penitence, at
the sound of the trumpet. In lighter pieces he was less successful.
His Don John, the Libertine, was as far beyond his powers as were the
songs of Coeur-de-Lion in Burgoyne's pretty recasting of "Sedaine".
How he cared to attempt such a feat as the last is inexplicable--but
did not droll little Quick, George III.'s favourite actor, and almost
personal friend, once play the Hunchback Richard? and did not Kemble
play Charles Surface? and also take as a compliment Sheridan's
assurance that he had "entirely _executed_ his design?"

Nevertheless fortune attended the Kemble management, although George
III.'s especial patronage was bestowed on the rival house. It had
its perils, and once brought him to a _duello_ with James Aikin,
a spirited actor, who had caused the destruction of the Edinburgh
Theatre through his refusal to beg pardon of the audience on his
knees. His only offence was in having succeeded a favourite, but
discharged actor, named Stayley. In this duel, fought in Marylebone
Fields, with Jack Bannister as sole second to both combatants,
Aikin's fire was not returned by his manager, and the adversaries
were soon reconciled.

With a short interval John Kemble was manager of Drury Lane till
1801.[69] In the following year he went abroad, the affairs of Drury
having fallen into confusion; and in 1803, having purchased a sixth
share of Covent Garden, he succeeded Lewis in the management of that
theatre, and remained there till his retirement in 1817, at the
close of the season in which Mr. Macready made his first appearance
in London, as Orestes; and Lucius Junius Booth, as Richard, flashed
promise for a moment and straightway died out.

With Kemble's departure from Drury Lane closes the first part of
his career. He had begun it with £5 per week, and ended it with a
weekly salary strangely reckoned of £56, 14s. He had borne himself
well throughout. He had a lofty scorn of anonymous assailants; was
solemn enough in his manners not to give a guinea, for drink, to the
theatrical guard, without stupendous phrases; but he could stoop to
"knuckle down" at marbles with young players on the highway; and to
utter jokes to them with a Cervantic sort of gravity.

He addressed noisy and unappreciative audiences with such neat satire
that they thought he was apologising, when he was really exposing
their stupidity. I do not know if he were generous in criticism of
his fellow actors; he said of Cooke's Sir Pertinax, that comedy had
nothing like it. This had been called "liberal;" but it looks to
me satirical; and he certainly never praised Cooke's tragedy. The
utmost, indeed, he ever said of Kean was, that "the gentleman was
terribly in earnest." On the other hand, his own worshippers nearly
choked him with incense. Boaden may not have been far wrong when he
said that Kemble was at the head of the Academics, but he certainly
was so in describing Cooke as merely at the head of the vulgar; and
he approached blasphemy when he tells us that Kemble's features and
figure as the Monk in "Aurelio and Miranda" reminded him, and could
only be compared with, those of ONE, to name WHOM would be irreverent!

Kemble's secret of success lay in his indefatigable assiduity. In
studying the part of the Stranger he neglected for weeks, that for
which he was particularly distinguished,--neatness of costume.
Whatever the part he had to play, he acted it as if it were the most
important in the piece; and, like Betterton, Booth, Quin, Barry, and
Garrick, he made his impersonation of the Ghost[70] as distinct a
piece of art as Hamlet, when that character fell to him, in its turn.
Even in Earl Percy, in the "Castle Spectre," an inferior character,
he took such pains as nearly to break his neck, and in the scene of
the attempted escape, fell back, from the high window to which he had
climbed, to the sofa below, from which he had painfully ascended,
with the agility and precision of a harlequin.

Rolla would have seemed to me unworthy of him, but that I remember
Pitt, on seeing him in that character, said, "there is the noblest
actor I ever beheld!" Sheridan had almost despaired of Kemble's
success in Rolla; but Kemble felt that everything was in his favour,
and gave all his own admiration to his sister, who, in Elvira,
rendered so picturesque "a soldier's trull."

I have heard eyewitnesses describe his Octavian, not as a
heart-rending, but a heart-dissolving display, the feelings of the
spectators being all expressed by tears; and yet he could win a laugh
from the same spectators in Young Marlow, and shake their very hearts
again in that mournful Penruddock, his finest effort in comedy; but
in comedy full of tragic echoes.

Next to Penruddock, Boaden classes his Manly, for perfection; I have
heard that parts of his Lord Townly surpassed them both. There the
dignity and gravity were of a quality quite natural to him.

[Illustration: (John Kemble)]

In Henry V. he was so much the King that an earl, Guilford, wrote
an essay by way of eulogy on it; and his Hotspur had but one fault,
that of being incorrectly dressed. In Roman parts, and in the Roman
costume, he seemed native and to the manner born. His Coriolanus
and Hamlet are the characters the most associated with his name.
Nevertheless, I do not discern any great respect, on Kemble's part,
for Shakspeare, in his revival of Coriolanus or of any other of the
plays of the national poet. The revival of Coriolanus was a mixture
of Thomson and Shakspeare's tragedies, with five of the best scenes
in the latter omitted, and what was judicious in the former, marred.
I cannot help thinking that Kemble had only that sort of regard for
Shakspeare which people have for the picturesque, who tear away
ivy from a church tower in order to whitewash its walls.

Then, again, in that matter of Ireland's forgery of "Vortigern," as
Shakspeare's, it is not clear what opinion Kemble held of it previous
to the night of its performance. Mrs. Siddons declined to play
Edmunda; but Kemble's consenting, or rather resolving, to play the
principal character in the tragedy, would seem to indicate that, at
the best, he had no opinion, and was willing to leave the verdict to
be pronounced by the public. I take from a communication to _Notes
and Queries_, by an eyewitness, an account of what took place on that
eventful night when an alleged new piece, by William Shakspeare, was
presented to the judgment of a public tribunal.

"The representation of Ireland's tragedy took place on Saturday,
April 2, 1796. Being one of those who were fortunate in gaining
admittance and a seat on the second row in the pit, I am anxious,
while my life is spared, to state what I saw and heard on this
memorable occasion. The crowd and the rush for admittance were almost
unprecedented. I do not think that twenty females were in the pit,
such was the eagerness of gentlemen to gain admittance. Mr. Ireland's
father, I remember, sat in the front box on the lower tier, with
some friends around him. His son was behind the scenes. There was
little or no disapprobation apparently shown by the audience until
the commencement of the fifth act, when Mr. Kemble, it was probable,
thought the deception had gone on long enough." Such, I think, was
Ireland's own opinion; for in his _Confessions_, published in 1805, I
find the following account of the disapproval of the audience given
by himself.

"The conduct of Mr. Kemble was too obvious to the whole audience to
need much comment. I must, however, remark, that the particular line
on which Mr. Kemble laid such a peculiar stress was, in my humble
opinion, the _watchword_ agreed upon by the Malone faction for the
general howl. The speech alluded to ran as follows; the line in
italics being that so particularly noticed by Mr. Kemble:--

    "'Time was, alas! I needed not this spur.
    But here's a secret and a stinging thorn,
    That wounds my troubled nerves. O Conscience! Conscience!
    When thou didst cry, I strove to stop thy mouth,
    By boldly thrusting on thee dire Ambition:
    Then did I think myself, indeed, a god!
    But I was sore deceived; for as I pass'd,
    And traversed in proud triumph the Basse-court,
    There I saw death, clad in most hideous colours:
    A sight it was, that did appal my soul;
    Yea, curdled thick this mass of blood within me.
    Full fifty breathless bodies struck my sight;
    And some, with gaping mouths, did seem to mock me;
    While others, smiling in cold death itself,
    Scoffingly bade me look on that, which soon
    Would wrench from off my brow this sacred crown,
    And make me, too, a subject like themselves:
    Subject! to whom? To thee, O sovereign Death!
    Who hast for thy domain this world immense:
    Churchyards and charnel-houses are thy haunts,
    And hospitals thy sumptuous palaces;
    And, when thou wouldst be merry, thou dost choose
    The gaudy chamber of a dying king.
    O! then thou dost ope wide thy bony jaws,
    And, with rude laughter and fantastic tricks,
    Thou clapp'st thy rattling fingers to thy sides:
    _And when this solemn mockery is o'er_,
    With icy hand thou tak'st him by the feet,
    And upward so; till thou dost reach the heart,
    And wrap him in the cloak of 'lasting night.'

"No sooner was the above line uttered in the most sepulchral tone of
voice possible, and accompanied with that peculiar emphasis which, on
a subsequent occasion, so justly rendered Mr. Kemble the object of
criticism (viz., on the first representation of Mr. Colman's 'Iron
Chest'), than the most discordant howl echoed from the pit that ever
assailed the organs of hearing. After the lapse of ten minutes the
clamour subsided, when Mr. Kemble, having again obtained a hearing,
instead of proceeding with the speech at the ensuing line, very
politely, and in order to amuse the audience still more, redelivered
the very line above quoted with even more solemn grimace than he had
in the first instance displayed."

During John Kemble's fourteen years' connection with Covent Garden,
he created no new character that added to his fame, except, perhaps,
Reuben Glenroy, in Morton's "Town and Country." His other original
parts were in poor pieces, more or less forgotten. In old characters
which he assumed for the first time during his proprietorship in
Covent Garden, the most successful was Gloucester, in "Jane Shore,"
to which he gave a force and prominency which it had never previously
received. His Prospero was a marvel of dignity and beautiful
elocution, and his Brutus perfect in conception and execution. Of
other parts his Pierre was good, but his Iago was below the level of
more than one fellow-actor; his Eustace de St. Pierre was, perhaps,
as fine as Bensley's, but his Valentine, in the "Two Gentlemen of
Verona," could have been better played, even then, by his brother

In judgment, he sometimes erred as Garrick did. He peremptorily
rejected Tobin's "Honeymoon," which, with Elliston as the Duke Aranza
and Miss Duncan as Juliana, became one of the most popular comedies
of the day. He acknowledged his mistake; and he was as ready to
acknowledge the sources of some of his best inspirations. His Wolsey,
for instance, was one of his finest parts, but he confessed that his
idea of the Cardinal was taken from West Digges. He was sensitive
enough as to public criticism, and when about to try Charles Surface,
he wrote to Topham, "I hope you will have the goodness to _give
orders to your people_ to speak favourably of the Charles, as more
depends on that than you can possibly be aware of." The act was
facetiously characterised as "Charles's Martyrdom," rather than
"Charles's Restoration," and Kemble himself used to tell a story how,
when offering to make reparation to a gentleman, for some offence,
committed "after dinner," the gentleman answered that a promise on
Mr. Kemble's part never to play Charles Surface again, would be
considered ample satisfaction. Wine is said to have always made
Kemble dull, but not offensive. Naturally dull he was not, though
he was styled so by people who would have called Torrismond dull,
because he said, "Nor can I think; or I am lost in thought!" Kemble
was lively enough to make a good repartee, when occasion offered.
He was once rehearsing the song in "Coeur-de-Lion,"--which he used
to sing to the blaring accompaniment of French horns, that his voice
might be the less audible,--when Shaw, the leader, exclaimed, "Mr.
Kemble, Mr. Kemble, you really murder the time!" "Mr. Shaw," rejoined
the actor, taking coolly a pinch of snuff, "it is better to murder
Time than to be always beating him, as you are."

He bore misfortune manfully. When Covent Garden, Rich's old house,
with the royal arms in the centre of the curtain, which had hung
on the old curtain at Lincoln's Inn Fields, was burnt down after
the performance of "Pizarro," on the night of the 19th of September
1808, he was "not _much_ moved," though, in the fire, perished a
large amount of valuable property. Mrs. Kemble mourned over the
supposed fact that they had to begin life again, but Kemble, after
long silence, burst into a rhapsody over the ancient edifice, and
straightway addressed himself to the rearing of that new building
which has since gone the way of most theatres. In the completion of
that second playhouse on this spot, he was nobly aided by his patron,
the Duke of Northumberland, who lent him £10,000, and at the dinner
by which the opening was celebrated, sent the actor his bond, that
he might, as a crowning effect, commit it to the flames. It was a
princely act, and he who was thought worthy of being the object of
it, must have been emphatically a gentleman.

In earlier days, Kemble was accustomed to be with the first of
gentlemen. One of the finest of the few left makes some record
of him. Walpole notices Kemble twice; and we find that he held
him superior to Garrick in Benedick, and to Quin in Maskwell. In
September 1789, Walpole writes from Strawberry Hill to the Miss
Berrys: "Kemble, and Lysons the clergyman, passed all Wednesday here,
with me. The former is melting the three parts of 'Henry VI.' into
one piece. I doubt it will be difficult to make a tolerable play out
of them." The only other notice is dated April 1791; when the writer
says to Miss Berry: "_Apropos_ to Catherine and Petruchio, I supped
with their representatives, Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, t'other night,
at Miss Farren's ...," at the bow-window house in Green Street,
Grosvenor Square. "Mrs. Siddons is leaner, but looks well. She has
played Jane Shore and Desdemona, and is to play in the 'Gamester,'
all the parts she will act this year. Kemble, they say, shone in

Othello was one of Kemble's effective, yet not his most successful
character; but his figure was well formed for it. He bore drapery
with infinite grace, and expressed every feeling well, by voice,
feature, and glance of the eye--though in the first, as with his
brother Charles, lay his chief defect. It wanted strength. We are
accustomed, perhaps, to associate him most with Hamlet, and old
playgoers have told me of a grand delivery of the soliloquies; a
mingled romance and philosophy in the whole character; an eloquent
bye-play, a sweet reverence for his father, a remembrance of the
_prince_, with whatever companion he might be for the moment, of a
beautiful filial affection for his mother, and of one more tender
which he could _not_ conceal for Ophelia. When Kemble first appeared
in Hamlet, the town could not say that Henderson was excelled, but
many confessed that he was equalled. That confession stirred no
ill-blood between them. "I never had an opportunity," said Kemble,
later, "to study any actor better than myself, except Mr. Henderson."

Of the grandeur and sublimity of the passion-tossed Orestes he gave
so complete a picture that it was said--by that single character
alone he might have reaped immortal fame.

On the other hand, his Biron was only a respectable performance; his
Macbeth on a level with his Othello; his Richard and Sir Giles very
inferior to Cooke's, still more so to those of Edmund Kean; and in
comedy, generally, he was a very poor actor indeed, except in parts
where he had to exercise dignity, express pathos, or pronounce a
sentiment of moral tendency.

    "Whene'er he tries the airy or the gay,
    Judgment, not genius, marks the cold essay."

The judgment was not always sensibly exercised, for Kemble was

    "For meaning too precise inclined to pore,
    And labour for a point unknown before."

I think, in the old Roman habit he was most at his ease; there art,
I am told, seemed less, nature more. In this respect he was exactly
the reverse of Garrick, who could no more have competed with him in
delineating the noble aim of the stern Coriolanus, than Kemble could
have striven successfully against Garrick's Richard, or Abel Drugger.

And yet all the characters originally played by him, and successfully
established on the stage, are of a romantic and not a classical cast.
The prating patriot Rolla, the stricken, murmuring, lost Octavian,
by which he sprung as many fountains of tears as his sister in the
most heart-rending of her tragic parts; his chivalrous Coeur-de-Lion,
his unapproachable Penruddock, his Percy ("Castle Spectre"),
his Stranger, his de l'Epée, his Reuben Glenroy (the colloquial
dialogue of which character, however, was always a burthen to him),
and his De Montfort, are all romantic parts, to many of which he
has given permanent life; while more classical parts for which he
seemed more fitted, and in plays of equal merit at least, such as
Cleombrotus ("Fate of Sparta"), Huniades (which certainly is not
_romantic_),--his Pirithous, and his Sextus ("Conspiracy"), are all
forgotten. That his sympathies were classical, may in some sort be
accepted from the fact, that he began his public life in 1776 (the
year of Garrick's farewell), at Wolverhampton, with Theodosius, and
closed it, at Covent Garden, in 1817, with Coriolanus. That Kemble's
own departure from the stage did not, as was once expected, prove
its destruction, is to be gathered from the circumstance that while
his farewell performances were in progress, Sheil's tragedy of the
"Apostate" was produced at the same theatre, with a cast including
the names of Young, Macready, C. Kemble, and Miss O'Neill!--and Kean
was then filling Drury Lane with his Richard, Shylock, and Sir Giles.

Kemble's nearest approach to a _fiasco_ was on his playing Sir Edward
Mortimer. The "Iron Chest" had been ill-rehearsed, and Kemble himself
was in such a suffering condition on the first night that he was
taking opium pills as the curtain was rising. The piece failed, till
Elliston essayed the principal part; and, on its failure, Colman
published the most insulting of prefaces to the play, in which
he remarked that "Frogs in a marsh, flies in a bottle, wind in a
crevice, a preacher in a field, the drone of a bagpipe, all--all
yielded to the inimitable and soporific monotony of Mr. Kemble!"

In one class of character Kemble was pre-eminent. He was "the noblest
Roman of them all." His name is closely associated with Coriolanus,
and next with Cato. He was not a "general" actor, like some of his
predecessors, yet he excelled in parts which Garrick declined to
touch. A contemporary says of him, "He is not a Garrick in Richard,
a Macklin in Shylock, a Barry in Othello, or a Mossop in Zanga," and
adds, that "there is more _art_ than _nature_ in his performance;
but let it be observed that our best actors have always found _stage
trick_ a necessary practice, and Mr. Kemble's _methodical_ powers
are so peculiar to himself, that every imitator (for there have been
some who have endeavoured to copy his manners) has been ridiculous
in the attempt." Nevertheless, there was a Kemble school, the last
of whose members is Mr. Cooper, who made his first appearance in
London, at the Haymarket, in 1811, and has not yet, after more than
half a century of service, formally retired from the stage. Not
the least merit of actors formed on the Kemble model, was distinct
enunciation, and this alone, in our large theatres, was a great boon
to a listening audience.

As a dramatic author, Kemble has achieved no great reputation;
he was, for the most part, only an adapter or a translator, but
in both he manifested taste and ability, save when he tampered
with Shakspeare. His solemn farewell, on the 23d of June 1817, in
Coriolanus, was made not too soon; his great powers had begun, after
more than forty years assiduous service, to fail, and he becomingly
wished, "like the great Roman i' the Capitol," that he might adjust
his mantle ere he fell. The memory of that night lives in the heart
of many a survivor, and it lived in that of its hero till he calmly
died, after less than six years of retirement at Lausanne, in
February 1823. The old student of Douay never formally withdrew from
the Church, of which his father once destined him to be a priest, but
he remained a true Catholic Christian, with a Protestant pastor for
friend and counsellor, who was at his side, with a nearer and dearer
friend, when the supreme moment was at hand. Such was the man. As an
actor, he lacked the versatility and perfection of Garrick and Barry;
and, says Leigh Hunt, "injured what he made you feel, by the want of
feeling himself."

Of John Kemble's brothers, Stephen and Charles, the former was the
less celebrated, but he was not without merit. The fame of his sister
induced him to leave a chemist's, or an apothecary's counter, for
the stage, as, later in life, the reputation of the eldest brother
tempted Charles Kemble to abandon an appointment in the Post Office,
in order to try his fortune as a player. In these respective trials
Stephen was less fortunate than Charles. Born in 1758, on the night
his mother played Anne Boleyn, he was by seventeen years the elder
of the latter. His theatrical life commenced in Dublin, after an
itinerant training; but there John extinguished Stephen; and when,
in 1783, he appeared at Covent Garden, as Othello, to the Desdemona
of Miss Satchell, afterwards his wife, whatever impression he may
have made, Stephen was speedily swept from public favour by the
greater merit of John. After subsequently playing old men at the
Haymarket, Stephen opened a house in Edinburgh, against Mrs. Esten
at the established theatre. The opposition led to, in some sense, a
dignified strife. The Duke of Hamilton loved Mrs. Esten, and the Duke
of Northumberland was a friend to the Kembles. In the law proceedings
which followed, each Duke gave material support to his favourite, and
here was the old feud of Douglas and Percy again raging in the north!

Ultimately Stephen left Edinburgh with no great amount of luck to
boast of, and, after a wandering life, appeared, in 1803,[71] at
Drury Lane, as Falstaff, after the delivery by Bannister of a heavy
set of jocular verses, making allusion to his obesity, which enabled
him to act Falstaff without stuffing! He did not act it ill; but
Henderson had not yet faded from the memory of playgoers, and Stephen
Kemble could not attain higher rank than a place among the best of
the second class of actors. Again he disappeared from the metropolis,
but returned, and played a few of the parts to which he was suited,
rather by his size than his merits; and in 1818, at Drury Lane, where
he assumed the office of manager, opened the season by introducing
his son Henry, from Bath, as Romeo. In 1819 he played Orozembo; and
"therewith an end." The theatre was then let to Elliston; Henry
Kemble sank from Drury to the Coburg,[72] and Stephen withdrawing to
a private life, not altogether ill provided, died in 1822.

[Illustration: (Charles Kemble)]

In that last year his younger brother Charles had attained, had
perhaps rather passed, the zenith of a reputation of which his early
attempts gave no promise whatever. Hard work alone made a player of
him. He could not have been a post-office clerk long after he left
the Roman Catholic College at Douay, for he was but seventeen when
he first acted, at Sheffield, in 1792, Orlando, in "As You Like
It." He began with Shakspeare, and he ended with him; his farewell
being in Benedick, at Covent Garden, in 1836. On both occasions he
played the part of a lover, and at the end of forty years he probably
played it with more grace, tenderness, ardour, and spirit, than
when he began.

There was much judgment in selecting Malcolm for his first appearance
in London on the 21st of April 1794, on the opening of New Drury
Lane Theatre, the house built by Holland, and burnt in 1809,--to the
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons. He had
little in his favour but good intentions. He was awkward in action,
weak in voice, and ungraceful in deportment. All these defects he
corrected, except the weakness of voice, which he never got over. It
did not arise from the asthmatic cough which so often distressed his
brother, but from simple debility of the organ, and this weakness
always marred parts in which he was called upon for the expression of
energetic passion.

Gradually, Charles Kemble became one of the most graceful and refined
of actors. He was enabled to seize on a domain of comedy which his
brother and sister could never enter with safety to their fame.
In his hands, secondary parts soon assumed a more than ordinary
importance from the finish with which he acted them. His Laertes
was as carefully played as Hamlet, and there was no other Cassio
but his while he lived, nor any Faulconbridge then, or since, that
could compare with his; and in Macduff, Charles Kemble had no rival.
Rae's Edgar was considered one of that gentleman's most effective
parts, but Charles Kemble may be said to have superseded him in it.
In the tender or witty lover, the heroic soldier, and the rake, who
is nevertheless a gentleman, he was the most distinguished player
of his time. Of all the characters he originated, that of Guido,
in Barry Cornwall's "Mirandola," was, perhaps, his most successful
essay: it was certainly among the most popular of his performances
during the run of that play. I find his Jaffier, indeed, praised
as being superior to that of any contemporary; but whatever be
the character he represented, I also find critics occasionally
complaining of a certain languor, and now and then a partial loss of
voice, after it had been much exercised, which interfered with the
completeness of the representation. Sheridan always thought well of
him, particularly after his performance of Alonzo in "Pizarro;" the
grateful author used to address him as "my Alonzo!"

Charles Kemble's Hamlet was as fine in conception but inferior
in execution to his brother's. Such, at least, as I am credibly
informed, was the judgment delivered by Mrs. Siddons. That it was
finely conceived, yet weaker in every point than Young's, I can well
remember. In tragic parts there was a certain measured, however
musical enunciation, of which Charles Kemble never got rid, and in
the play of the features, the actor, and not the man represented,
was ever present. This was particularly the case in Hamlet, in
which his assumed seriousness rendered his long face so much longer
in appearance than ordinary, that in the rebuke to his mother his
eyebrows seemed to go up into his hair, and his chin down into his

That his voice ill-fitted him for passionate, tragic heroes they
will recollect who can recall to mind his Pierre and that of Young!
Charles Kemble looked the part to perfection, and dressed it with
the taste of a gentleman and an artist. Nothing could be finer, more
gallant, more easy and graceful, than his entry; but he had scarcely
got through "How fares the honest partner of my heart?" than the
_pipe_ raised a smile; it was so unlike the full, round, hearty,
resonant tone in which Young put the query, and indeed played the

Nor was Charles Kemble invariably successful in all the comic
parts he assumed. His Falstaff I would willingly forget. It was a
mistake. When Ward, as the Prince, exclaimed "Peace, chewet, peace!"
the command seemed very well timed. But his Mercutio! In that he
walked, spoke, looked, fought, and died like a gentleman. Some of
his predecessors dressed and acted it as if this kinsman to the
Prince and friend to Romeo had been a low-bred, yet humorous fellow,
cousin to the lacqueys, Abraham and Peter; but Charles Kemble was as
truly Shakspeare's Mercutio as ever Macklin was Shakspeare's Jew.
In comedy of another degree; in Young Mirabel, for instance, in the
"Inconstant," he was unequalled by any living actor. Indeed his
spirits here sometimes overcame his judgment; as in the last scene,
when he is saved by the arrival of the "Red Burgundy," he leaped into
the air like a man who is shot, and snapping his fingers, danced
about the stage in a very ecstasy of delirium, too great, I thought,
for a brave young fellow extricated from an awful scrape. But,
whatever may be the worth of such thought, it is certain that in his
Mirabel the delighted audience saw no fault; and who ever did in his

Happy in his successes, he was thrice happy in his pretty and
accomplished wife. Maria Theresa Decamp was one year his junior;
and, like himself, was born in the purple. Miss Decamp's real name
is said to have been De Fleury. She was a Viennese by birth. Her
family belonged to the ballet and the orchestra, and she herself,
at six years of age, was dancing Cupid in Noverre's ballets at the
London Opera House; and, ultimately, was a leading, very young lady
in those at the Circus, now the Royal Surrey. From the sawdust of
the Transpontine Theatre she was transferred, on the recommendation
of the Prince of Wales, it is said, to figure in similar pieces, at
Colman's house in the Haymarket.

She was reserved, however, for better things than this: but Miss
De Camp was not to attain them without study; she had to learn
English--to speak and to read it; music, and other accomplishments.
By a genius all this may be speedily effected; and Miss De Camp, in
the season of 1786-87, appeared at Drury Lane as Julie, in "Richard
Coeur de Lion," her future brother-in-law playing the King. At this
time she was scarcely in her teens; but she was full of such promise,
that she bade adieu for ever to ballet and the sawdust of the Royal
Circus, and henceforth, and for upwards of thirty years, belonged to
the regular drama. A score of years was to elapse before she was to
change her name; but long previously she had made that first name
distinguished in theatrical annals. She had exhibited unusual merit
in singing and acting Macheath to the Polly of Charles Bannister, and
the Lucy of Johnstone; and she created characters with which her name
is closely associated in the memory of playgoers or playreaders. She
was the original Floranthe in the "Mountaineers," Judith in the "Iron
Chest," Irene in "Bluebeard," Maria in "Of Age To-morrow," Theodore
in "Deaf and Dumb," Lady Julia in "Personation," Arinette in "Youth,
Love, and Folly," Variella in the "Weathercock," and Morgiana in the
"Forty Thieves."

And while the glory she derived from this last performance was
still at its brightest, Miss De Camp in 1806 married Mr. Charles
Kemble--some rather tempestuous wooing, for so tender and gallant a
stage-lover, but for which he rendered public apology, not impeding
the match.[73] In the year of her marriage Mrs. C. Kemble joined
the Covent Garden Company, and on making her appearance as Maria in
the "Citizen," she was congratulated, on the part of the audience,
by three distinct rounds of applause. Between this period and 1819,
when she withdrew from the stage, she created two parts in which she
has had no successor, Edmund in the "Blind Boy," and Lady Elizabeth
Freelove in "A Day after the Wedding;" and, in the last year of her
acting, Madge Wildfire in the "Heart of Mid-Lothian."

Ten years later, Mrs. Charles Kemble returned to the stage (October
5, 1829), to do for her daughter what Mrs. Pritchard, on a like
occasion, had done for her's--namely, as Lady Capulet, introduce the
young _débutante_ as Juliet. This one service rendered, Mrs. Charles
Kemble finally withdrew.

She had a pleasant voice; charming, but not powerful in her early
days, as a vocalist. In sprightly parts, in genteel comedy, in all
chambermaids, in melodramatic characters, especially where pantomimic
action was needed, she was excellent. Genest, who must have known
her well, remarks, that "no person understood the business of the
stage better; no person had more industry; at one time she almost
lived in Drury Lane Theatre. The reason of her not being engaged
after 1819 is said to have been that she wanted to play the young
parts, for which her time of life, and her figure (for she had grown
fat), had disqualified her; whereas if she would have been contented
to have played Mrs. Oakly, Mrs. Candour, Flippanta, and many other
characters of importance, which were not unsuitable to her personal
appearance, it would have been greatly to her own advantage, and to
the satisfaction of the public."

[Illustration: (Fanny Kemble)]

Charles remained on the stage till December 1836, but he returned
for a few nights, a year or two later, when he went through a series
of his most celebrated parts, for the especial gratification of the
Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria, and for the gratification
of the public generally. Occasionally he reappeared as a
"Reader," in which vocation, his refined taste, his judgment, and his
graceful, though not powerful elocution, were manifest to the last.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kemble added something to our dramatic
literature; the lady's contribution to which, "A Day after the
Wedding," still affords entertainment whenever it is performed. Her
other piece, "First Faults," is now forgotten. Charles Kemble's
additions to the literature of the stage, comprise the "Point of
Honour," "Plot and Counterplot," and the "Wanderer;" the first two
being translations from the French, and the third from the German.

In his later days Charles Kemble was afflicted with deafness, so
complete that he could not hear the pealing thunder, but could fancy
it was in the air; for, as he once remarked amid the crash, "I feel
it in my knees!" It was, perhaps, this affliction which occasionally
gave him that look of fixed melancholy which he occasionally wore.
Of anecdotes of his later time, there are few known to me of any
interest, except the following, which I cull from the _Athenæum_. It
is in reference to his son, Mr. J. M. Kemble's Lectures at Cambridge,
_On the History of the English Language_, which were unsuccessful.
"After making a good deal to do about them," says the correspondent
of the _Athenæum_, "he obtained the use of the Divinity School to
lecture in, and it was pretty well crowded at the first lecture;
but the lecture itself was such a sickener, and so unintelligible,
that at the second, myself, and I think two others, formed the whole
audience. The appearance was so absurdly ridiculous in the large
room, that Kemble gave notice, in announcing the day of his third
lecture, that in future he should deliver them at his own private
apartments. Meanwhile his father, Charles Kemble, the actor, came to
see him, and on the day fixed for the third lecture, nobody was there
to hear him but his said father and I; upon which, when we had waited
in vain nearly an hour for an increase of audience, I moved, and his
father seconded the proposal, that instead of inflicting the lecture
upon us two, the lecturer should send into Trinity College buttery,
as it was then the hour it was open, and procure a quantity of ale
and cheese, for the excellence of both which Trinity College was
celebrated, and with the aid of these we passed the afternoon. Such
was the end of Kemble's lectures."

Rogers has left in his _Table Talk_ some record of the Kembles,
which, as coming from an eye and ear witness, may find admission
here. From this we learn that Mrs. Siddons, to whom he had been
telling an anecdote showing that, when Lawrence gained a medal at
the Society of Arts, his brothers and sisters were jealous of him,
remarked:--"Alas! after _I_ became celebrated, none of my sisters
loved me as they did before!" And then, when a grand public dinner
was given to John Kemble on his quitting the stage, the great actress
said to the poet, "Well, perhaps, in the next world women will be
more valued than they are in this." "She alluded," says Rogers, "to
the comparatively little sensation which had been produced by her
own retirement from the boards; and, doubtless, she was a far, far
greater performer than John Kemble."

When young, she had superseded Mrs. Crawford (Barry), then in her
old age, and she rejoiced in being rid of so able a rival; but when
other competitors crossed her own path, Mrs. Siddons rather unfairly
remarked that the public were fond of setting up new idols, in
order to mortify their old favourites. She had herself, she said,
been three times threatened with eclipse; first, by means of Miss
Brunton (afterwards Lady Craven); next, by means of Miss Smith (Mrs.
Bartley); and, lastly, by means of Miss O'Neill--"nevertheless,"
she is reported to have said, "I am not yet extinguished." She then
stood, however, with regard to Miss O'Neill exactly as Mrs. Crawford
(Barry) had stood with respect to herself--the younger actress
carried away the hearts, the older lived respected in the memories
of the audience. But over audiences, Mrs. Siddons had, in her day,
deservedly reigned supreme; and that should have been enough of
greatness achieved by one whom Combe remembered to have seen, "when
a very young woman, standing by the side of her father's stage, and
knocking a pair of snuffers against a candlestick, to imitate the
sound of a windmill during the representation of some harlequinade."

When she had departed from the scene of her glory, the remembrance
of that glory did not suffice her. When Rogers was sitting with her,
of an afternoon, she would say, "Oh, dear! this is the time I used
to be thinking of going to the theatre; first came the pleasure of
dressing for my part; and then the pleasure of acting it; but that
is all over now." This was not vanity, but the natural wail of an
active spirit forced to be at rest. There was less dignity in the
retirement of John Kemble, if what Rogers tells us be true, that
"when Kemble was living at Lausanne, he was jealous of Mont Blanc;
and he disliked to hear people always asking, 'How does Mont Blanc
look this morning?'"

The two greatest rivalries that John Kemble had to endure, before the
final one, in which Kean triumphed, emanated from two very different
persons--George Frederick Cooke and Master Betty. The success of both
marks periods in stage history, and demands brief notice here.


[63] If this means that his supporters changed about and asked him to
apologise, it is a strange perversion of the story.

[64] These ladies appeared in the beginning of 1783, previous to both
brothers' appearances.

[65] The "Gamester" preceded "King John," being played on 22d
November, while "King John" was not played till 10th December.

[66] They almost certainly played in the "Countess of Salisbury"
together on 13th April 1784; they undoubtedly were both in "Tancred
and Sigismunda" on 24th April 1784, in the "Carmelite" on 2d December
1784, and in the "Maid of Honour" on 27th January 1785.

[67] This must refer to Kemble's benefit, 6th April 1786.

[68] Dr. Doran evidently considers that Kemble became manager about
10th October 1788--the date of his address to the public on the
subject of his new position. On the 30th September he had acted
Hamlet; on 16th October he played Macbeth; on 20th October Lord

[69] Kemble and Mrs. Siddons retired from Drury Lane in 1802.

[70] I can find no record of his having played this part.

[71] 7th October 1802.

[72] Henry Kemble sank into abject distress; he and his wife were
glad to be allowed to take care of unoccupied houses.--_Doran MS._

[73] Is Dr. Doran not thinking of John Kemble's public apology?




About the time when Garrick was reluctantly bidding farewell to his
home on the stage, at Drury Lane, a hopeful youth, of twenty years of
age, born no one can well tell where, but it is said, in a barrack,
of an English sergeant and a Scottish mother, was making his first
grasp at the dramatic laurel, in the little town of Brentford.

With the exception of a passing appearance at the Haymarket, for
a benefit, in 1778, as Castalio,--when London was recognising in
Henderson the true successor of Garrick--the town knew nothing of
this ambitious youth for more than twenty years; then he came to
Covent Garden to dethrone John Kemble; and he disquieted that actor
for awhile. In ten years more, his English race was done, and while
Kemble was beginning the splendid evening of his career, Cooke passed
over to America, prematurely ending his course, in disgrace and ruin,
and occupying a grave which a civilised Yankee speedily dishonoured.

If Cooke was an Irishman, it was by accident. He was certainly
educated in England; and he early acquired, by reading Otway and
seeing Vanbrugh, a taste for the drama. In school theatricals,
he made his Horatio outshine the Hamlet of the night; and
his Lucia,--though the boy cried at having to play a part in
petticoats,[74]--win more applause than his schoolfellow's Cato.
School-time over, the wayward boy went to sea, and came back with
small liking for the vocation; turned to "business," only to turn
from it in disgust; inherited some property, and swiftly spent it;
and then we find him in that inn-yard at Brentford, enrolled among
strollers, and playing Dumont in "Jane Shore," to the great delight
of the upper servants from Kew, Gunnersbury, and parts adjacent,
sent thither to represent their masters, who had not the "particular
desire" to see the play, for which the bills gave them credit.

The murmur of London approval, awarded to his Castalio, was the
delicious magic which drew him for ever within the charmed circle
of the actors, and George Frederick passed through all the heavy
trials through which most of the vocation have to pass. He strolled
through villages, thence to provincial towns, and I think, when in
1786, he played Baldwin to the Isabella of Mrs. Siddons, that lady
must have been compelled, perhaps was willing, to confess, that there
was a dramatic genius who, at least, approached the excellence of her

From York, after much more probation, Cooke went over to Dublin,
where he acted well, drank hard, and lost himself, in one of his wild
fits, by enlisting. Fancy the proud and maddened George Frederick
doing barrack scullery-work, and worse!--he who had played the Moor
in presence of a vice-regal court! If his friends had not purchased
his discharge, Miss Campion would certainly soon have heard that her
Othello had hanged himself. The genius who would not be a soldier,
though born in a barrack, found an asylum in the Manchester theatre;
and subsequently Dublin welcomed him back to its well-trod stage.
There, he and John Kemble met for the first time.

John took the lead, George Frederick played,--I can hardly call them
secondary parts, for Booth had acted some of them to Betterton,
Garrick to Sheridan, and one great performer to another,--such parts,
in fact, as Ghost to Kemble's Hamlet, Henry to his Richard, Edmund
to his Lear, and a similar disposition of characters. What Kemble
then thought of his acting, I cannot say, but he complained of being
disturbed by Mr. Cooke's tipsily defective memory. George Frederick
was stirred to anger and prophecy. "I won't have your faults fathered
upon me," he cried; "and hark ye, Black Jack,--hang me if I don't
make you tremble in your pumps one day yet."

He kept his word. On the 31st of October 1801,[75] he acted Richard,
at Covent Garden, to the Henry of Murray, the Richmond of Pope, the
Queen of Miss Chapman, and the Lady Anne of Mrs. Litchfield;--and
Kemble was present to see how Cooke would realise his promise.
Kemble had played Richard himself that season at Drury Lane, to the
Richmond of his brother Charles,--Henry, Wroughton; Queen, Mrs.
Powell; Lady Anne, Miss Biggs. I fancy he was satisfied that in the
new and well-trained actor there was a dangerous rival. Kemble acted
Shylock and one or two other characters against him. They stood
opposed in some degree as Quin and Garrick were, at Covent Garden
and Drury Lane, in 1742-43. In that season, Garrick played Richard
eleven times.[76] In Cooke's first season at the Garden, he acted the
same part double the number of times. Shylock, Iago, and Kitely, he
acted each ten times. Macbeth, seven; Sir Giles Overreach, five; the
Stranger, twice; and Sir Archy Macsarcasm, several times.

Of his first reception in Richard, Cooke speaks, as being flattering,
encouraging, indulgent, and warm, throughout the play and at the
conclusion. Cooke was not blinded by this triumphant season. Long
after he said, when referring to having played with and also against
John Kemble: "He is an _actor_. He is my superior, though they did
not think so in London. I acknowledge it!" Having made Black Jack
"tremble in his pumps," Cooke honestly acknowledged, in homely
phrase, that he could not stand in Kemble's shoes.

Kemble, however, was not superior to Cooke in all his range of
characters. In the very first season of their opposition, after
an obstinate struggle, Kemble gave up Richard, but in Macbeth
he remained unapproachable by Cooke, who, in his turn, set all
competition at defiance in his Iago, in which, says Dunlap, "the
quickness of his action, and the strong natural expression of
feeling, which were so peculiarly his own, identified him with
the character." In Kitely, his remembrance of Garrick confessedly
served him well. In Sir Giles, he excelled Kemble; but the Stranger
was speedily given up by Cooke, and it remained one of his rival's
glories to the last.

Cooke's general success, the position he had attained, and the
prospect before him, steadied his mind, strengthened his good
purposes, made him master of himself under a healthy stimulus,
careful of his reputation, and strict in performing his duties.
I record this, as his previous biographers have registered the
character. Consequently, on the night he was announced to appear,
to open his second season of anticipated triumph--September 14th,
1801--as Richard, a crowded audience had collected about the doors,
to welcome him, as early as four o'clock. At that hour no one could
tell where he was, and a bill was issued, stating that it was
apprehended some accident had happened to Mr. Cooke; and the play was
changed to "Lovers' Vows." In five weeks the truant turned up, played
magnificently, and was forgiven.

During his truant time, young Henry Siddons made his first appearance
at Covent Garden. He played Herman in a dull new comedy, "Integrity,"
and Hamlet; but the Charter-house student would have done better if
he had accepted the vocation to which his mother would have called
him--the Church. Henry Siddons acted Alonzo to Cooke's Zanga, Hotspur
to Cooke's Falstaff, and Ford to the other's Sir John, in the "Merry
Wives." Cooke's criticism on his own performance was, that having
acted all the Falstaffs, he had never been able to please himself,
or to come up to his own ideas in any of them. His great failure was
Hamlet, in which even young Siddons excelled him, but a triumph which
compensated for any such failures, and for numerous offences given to
the audience--made victims of his "sudden indispositions"--was found
in Sir Pertinax, in which, even by those who remembered Macklin, he
was held to have fully equalled the great and venerable original.

In the season of 1802, Cooke's indispositions became more frequently
sudden, and lasted longer. On the days of his acting nights, his
manager was accustomed to entertain him, supervise his supply of
liquor, and carry him to the theatre; but George Frederick often
escaped, and could not be traced. In many old characters he sustained
his high reputation, but his Hamlet and Cato only added to that of
Kemble. Perhaps his Peregrine, in "John Bull," of which he was the
original representative, would have been a more finished performance
but for--not the actor, but the author's indiscretion. "We got
'John Bull' from Colman," said Cooke to Dunlap, "act by act, as he
wanted money, but the last act did not come, and Harris refused to
make any further advances. At last necessity drove Colman to make
a finish, and he wrote the fifth act, in one night, on separate
pieces of paper. As he filled one piece after the other, he threw
them on the floor, and, finishing his liquor, went to bed. Harris,
who impatiently expected the _dénouement_ of the play, according
to promise, sent Fawcett to Colman, whom he found in bed. By his
direction Fawcett picked up the scraps, and brought them to the

In the season of 1803-4, when Kemble became part proprietor and
acting manager at Covent Garden, he played in several pieces with
Cooke. They were thus brought into direct contrast. Kemble acted
Richmond to Cooke's Richard; Old Norval to his Glenalvon; Rolla to
his Pizarro; Beverley to his Stukely; Horatio to his Sciolto--Charles
Kemble playing Lothario, and Mrs. Siddons, Calista,--such a cast as
the "Fair Penitent" had not had for many years! John Kemble further
played Jaffier to Cooke's Pierre; Antonio to his Shylock; the Duke,
in "Measure for Measure," to his Angelo; Macbeth, with George
Frederick for Macduff; Henry IV. to Cooke's Falstaff; Othello to
his Iago; King John, with Cooke as Hubert, and Charles Kemble as
Faulconbridge--Mrs. Siddons being, of course, the Constance; Kemble
also played Ford to Cooke's Falstaff, and Hamlet to Cooke's Ghost;
and, in a subsequent season, Posthumus to his Iachimo, with some
other parts, which must have recalled the old excitement of the times
of Garrick and Quin, but that audiences were going mad about Master
Betty, to the Rolla of which little and, no doubt, clever gentleman,
George Frederick, needy and careless, was compelled to play Pizarro!

For a few seasons more he kept his ground with difficulty. He did
not play many parts well, it has been said, but those he did play
well, he played better than anybody else. But dissipation marred his
vast powers even in these; and recklessness reduced this genius to
penury. After receiving £400 in banknotes, the proceeds of a benefit
at Manchester, in one of his summer tours, he thrust the whole into
the fire, in order to put himself on a level to fight a man, in a
pothouse row, who had said that Cooke provoked him to battle, only
because he was a rich man, and the other poor!

It is not surprising that prison locks kept such a man from his
duties in the playhouse; but the public always welcomed the prodigal
on his return. When he reappeared at Covent Garden, as Sir Pertinax,
in March 1808, after a long confinement, it was to "the greatest
money-house, one excepted, ever known at that theatre. Never was a
performer received in a more flattering or gratifying manner."

[Illustration: (George F. Cooke)]

But he slipped back into bad habits, was often forgetful of his
parts, and was sometimes speechless; yet he was generally able to
keep up the Scottish dialect, if he could speak at all, and his part
require it. Once, when playing Sir Archy Macsarcasm, he forgot his
name, called himself _Sir Pertinax Macsycophant_, and was corrected
by a purist in the gallery. Cooke looked up, and happily enough
remarked, "_Eet's aw ane blude_!"

He was hardly less happy, when, for some offence given by him, on
the stage, at Liverpool, he was called on to offer an apology to the
audience. Liverpool merchants had much fattened, then, by a fortunate
pushing of the trade in human flesh. "Apology! from George Frederick
Cooke!" he cried; "take it from this remark: There's not a brick in
your infernal town which is not cemented by the blood of a slave!"

The American Cooper found him in the lowest of the slums of
Liverpool, and tempted, or kidnapped him to America, whence this
compound of genius and blackguard never returned. On one of his
early appearances, in New York, he is said, being elated, to have
refused to act till the orchestra had played "God Save the King;"
and then he insisted, with tipsy gravity, that the audience should
be "upstanding." In seventeen nights following the 21st of November
1810, when he first appeared in New York, as Richard, the treasury
was the richer by twenty-one thousand five hundred and seventy-eight
dollars. He felt and expressed, however, such a contempt for the
Yankee character, that New York soon deserted him, and Philadelphia
paid him little or no homage. Once he was informed that Mr. Madison
was coming from Washington, expressly to see him in a favourite

"Then, if he does, I'll be ---- if I play before him. What, I, George
Frederick Cooke, who have acted before the Majesty of Britain, play
before your Yankee President! No! I'll go forward to the audience,
and I'll say, Ladies and gentlemen,--

"The King of the Yankee-doodles has come to see me act; _me_, George
Frederick Cooke, who have stood before my royal master, George III.,
and received his imperial approbation ... it is degradation enough to
play before rebels; but I'll not go on for the amusement of a king of
rebels, the contemptible King of the Yankee-doodles!"

From among the "Yankee-doodles" Cooke found, however, a lady with
the old dramatic name of Behn, who became his second wife; but his
condition was little improved thereby. Dr. Francis, in his _Old New
York_, gives the following picture of him at this time:--

"After one of those catastrophes to which I have alluded, I paid
him a visit at early afternoon, the better to secure his attendance
at the theatre. He was seated at his table, with many decanters,
all exhausted, save two or three appropriated for candlesticks, the
lights in full blaze. He had not rested for some thirty hours or
more. With much ado, aided by Price the manager, he was persuaded
to enter the carriage waiting at the door to take him to the
playhouse. It was a stormy night. He repaired to the green-room,
and was soon ready. Price saw he was the worse from excess, but the
public were not to be disappointed. 'Let him,' says the manager,
'only get before the lights and the receipts are secure.' Within
the wonted time Cooke entered on his part, the Duke of Gloster. The
public were unanimous in their decision, that he never performed
with greater satisfaction. As he left the house he whispered, 'Have
I not pleased the Yankee-doodles?' Hardly twenty-four hours after
this memorable night, he scattered some 400 dollars among the needy
and the solicitous, and took refreshment in a sound sleep. A striking
peculiarity often marked the conduct of Cooke: he was the most
indifferent of mortals to the results which might be attendant on his
folly and his recklessness. When his society was solicited by the
highest in literature and the arts, he might determine to while away
a limited leisure among the illiterate and the vulgar, and yet none
was so fastidious in the demands of courtesy. When the painter Stuart
was engaged with the delineation of his noble features, he chose
to select those hours for sleeping; yet the great artist triumphed
and satisfied his liberal patron, Price. Stuart proved a match for
him, by occasionally raising the lid of his eye. On the night of his
benefit, the most memorable of his career in New York, with a house
crowded to suffocation, he abused public confidence, and had nothing
to say but that Cato had full right to take liberty with his senate."

In this strange being, there are two phases of character that are
beyond ordinary singularity. The first was his "mental intoxication,"
of which he thus speaks in one of his journals: "To use a strange
expression, I am sometimes in a kind of mental intoxication; some,
I believe, would call it insanity. I believe it is allied to it. I
then can imagine myself in strange situations and strange places.
This humour, whatever it is, comes uninvited, but it is nevertheless
easily dispelled,--at least, generally so. When it _cannot_ be
dispelled, it must, of course, become madness." Here was a decided
perception of the way he might be going,--from physical, through
mental, intoxication, to the madhouse!

His common sense is another phase in the character of this great
actor, who manifested so little for his own profit. He was the
guardian of female morals against the perils of contemporary
literature! "In my humble opinion," he says, "a licencer is as
necessary for a circulating library, as for dramatic productions
intended for representation; especially when it is considered how
young people, particularly girls, often procure, and sometimes in
a secret manner, books of so evil a tendency, that not only their
time is most shamefully wasted, but their morals and manners tainted
and warped for the remainder of their lives. I am firmly of opinion
that many females owe the loss of reputation to the pernicious
publications too often found in those dangerous seminaries."

Cooke may be said to have been dying, from the day he landed in the,
then, United States. His vigorous constitution only slowly gave way.
It was difficult for him to destroy that; for in occasional rests he
gave it, when he sat down to write on religion, philosophy, ideas
for improving society, and diatribes against drinking, in his diary,
his constitution recovered all its vigour, and started refreshed
for a new struggle against drunkenness and death. The former,
however, gave it a mortal fall, in July 1812, when Death grasped
his victim, for ever. Cooke was taken ill, while playing Sir Giles
Overreach, at Boston, on the 31st of the above month.[77] He went
home, irrecoverably stricken, met his fate with decency, and calmly
breathed his last in the following September, in full possession of
his mental faculties to the supreme moment.

He was buried in the "strangers' vault," of St. Paul's Church, New
York, with much respectful ceremony, on the part of friends who
admired his genius and mutilated his body, as I shall presently show.
Meanwhile, let me record here, that Cooke was of the middle size,
strongly and stoutly built, with a face capable of every expression,
and an eye which was as grand an interpreter of the poets, as the
tongue. He was free from gesticulation and all trickery, but he
lacked the grace and refinement of less accomplished actors. In
soliloquies, he recognised no audience; and his hearers seemed to
detect his thoughts by some other process than listening to his

Kemble excelled Cooke in nobleness of presence, but Cooke surpassed
the other in power and compass of voice, which was sometimes as harsh
as Kemble's; and indeed I may say _the_ Kemble voice was invariably
feeble. In statuesque parts, and in picturesque characters,--in the
Roman Coriolanus, and in Hamlet the Dane,--Kemble's scholarly and
artistic feeling gave him the precedence; but in Iago, and especially
in Richard, Cooke has been adjudged very superior in voice,
expression, and style; "his manner being more quick, abrupt, and
impetuous, and his attitudes better, as having less the appearance
of study." Off the stage, during the progress of a play, he did not,
like Betterton, preserve the character he was acting; nor like Young,
tell gay stories, and even sing gay songs; but he loved to have the
strictest order and decorum,--he, the most drunken player that had
glorified the stage, since the days of George Powell! Could he have
carried into real life the scrupulousness which, at one time, he
carried into the mimicry of it, he would have been a better actor and
a better man.

When Edmund Kean was in America, Bishop Hobart gave permission for
the removal of Cooke's body, from the "strangers' vault," to the
public burial-ground of the parish, where Kean was about to erect
a monument to the memory of his ill-fated predecessor. On that
occasion, "tears fell from Kean's eyes in abundance," says Dr.
Francis; but those eyes would have flashed lightning, had Kean been
aware that there was a headless trunk beneath the monument; and that,
whoever may have been the savage who mutilated the body and stole
the head,--that head was in the possession of Dr. Francis! To what
purposes it has been turned, this gentleman may tell in his own words.

"A theatrical benefit had been announced at the Park, and 'Hamlet,'
the play. A subordinate of the theatre hurried at a late hour to
my office, for a skull. I was compelled to loan the head of my
old friend, George Frederick Cooke. 'Alas, poor Yorick!' It was
returned in the morning; but on the ensuing evening, at a meeting
of the Cooper Club, the circumstance becoming known to several of
the members, and a general desire being expressed to investigate,
phrenologically, the head of the great tragedian, the article was
again released from its privacy, when Daniel Webster, Henry Wheaton,
and many others who enriched the meeting of that night, applied the
principles of craniological science to the interesting specimen
before them.... Cooper felt as a coadjutor of Albinus, and Cooke
enacted a great part that night." If Cooke could have spoken his
great part, he would assuredly have added something strong to his
comments on what he used to call the civilisation of Yankee-doodle.

The monument, erected by Edmund Kean, consists of a pedestal,
surmounted by an urn, with this inscription:--"Erected to the memory
of George Frederick Cooke, by Edmund Kean, of the Theatre Royal,
Drury Lane, 1821;" and, beneath, this not very choice, nor very
accurate distich:--

    "Three kingdoms claim his birth.
    Both hemispheres pronounce his worth!"

And below this superscription lies all that has not been stolen of
what was mortal of one among the greatest and the least of British

During his career, flourished and passed into private life a boy, who
still survives, rich with the fortune rapidly acquired in those old
playgoing days,--Master Betty.[78]

[Illustration: Mr. Moody as Simon.]


[74] His appearance as Lucia was after his becoming bound to a
printer, and his crying is apocryphal.

[75] Should be 31st October 1800.

[76] Should be fourteen times. See note in vol. ii. page 82.

[77] Cooke was playing at Providence, with the Boston company. Dunlap
does not say, or imply, that he was taken ill specially on that
night, which finished his engagement at Providence.

[78] Died 24th August 1874, aged eighty-two.

[Illustration: MASTER BETTY.]



William Henry West Betty was born at Shrewsbury, in 1791,--a
Shropshire boy, but of Irish descent. His father, a man of
independent means, taught him fencing and elocution, and was
unreasonably surprised to find that a histrionic affection came of
this double instruction.

"I shall certainly die, if I do not become an actor!" said the boy,
when residing near Belfast, and after seeing Mrs. Siddons in the
ungrateful part of Elvira, in "Pizarro." Ho was then ten years old;
was a boy with a will and decision of character; and, in his twelfth
year, he made his first appearance at Belfast, on the 11th of August
1803, as Osmyn, in "Zara." The judgment of the Irish manager, Atkins,
was that he was an "Infant Garrick."

Master Betty also played Douglas, Rolla, and Romeo; and he went up to
Dublin, in November, with the testimony of the Belfast ladies that he
was "a darling." In the Irish capital, he acted Douglas, Frederick,
Prince Arthur, Romeo, Tancred, and Hamlet. As he is said to have
learned and played the last part within three days, I have small
respect for his precocious cleverness and do not wonder that the
Dublin wits showered epigrams upon him.

"The public are respectfully informed that no person coming from
the theatre will be stopt till after eleven o'clock." Such was the
curious announcement on the Irish playbill which invited the public
to go and see Master Betty, and advised them to get home early, if
they would not be taken for traitors. Those days were the days of
United Irishmen, when Ireland was divided into factions, and Dublin
not quite at unity as to Master Betty's merits.

The majority, however, worshipped the idol, before which Cork,
Waterford, Londonderry, and other cities, bowed the knee. The popular
acclaim wafted him to Scotland. In Glasgow, there was one individual
who was not mad, and would criticise; but in return for "a severe
philippic" administered by him, the wretch "was compelled to leave
the city!"

If he went to Edinburgh, he found more excess of dotage than he had
left in Glasgow. It was not merely that duchesses and countesses
caressed the boy, but there was Home himself, at the representation
of his own "Douglas," blubbering in the boxes,[79] and protesting
that never till then had young Norval been acted as he had conceived
it! And he had seen West Digges, the original, in Edinburgh; and
Spranger Barry, the original, in London. Critics said the Infant
Roscius excelled Kemble; and Lords of the Court of Session presented
him with books, and gave him old men's blessings!

Birmingham next took him up, and the English town confirmed the
verdicts of Ireland and Scotland. Miss Smith (afterwards Mrs.
Bartley) played mother to him one night, and maid beloved the next;
and at the close of a dozen performances, the Infant Roscius was
celebrated by a Bromwicham poet as having crushed the pride of all
his predecessors, and being "Cooke, Kemble, Holman, Garrick, all in

"Theatrical coach to carry six insides, to see the young Roscius,"
was the placard on many a vehicle which carried an impatient public
from Doncaster races to Sheffield, where crowds of amateurs from
London fought with the country-folk for admission to the theatre, and
a poetic Templar, rather loose in his Italian, remarked in a long
poem in his praise:--

    "Would Sculpture form APOLLO BELVIDERE,
    She need not roam to France, the model's here!"

Liverpool, Chester, Manchester, Stockport, all caught the frenzy,
and adored the boy,--to whom Charles Young played subordinate parts!
Occasionally, Master Betty played twice in the same day, and netted
about £500 a week! Royal dukes expressed their delight in him,
grateful managers loaded him with silver cups, and John Kemble wrote
to Mr. Betty _père_, to express the happiness he and Mr. Harris would
have in welcoming the tenth Wonder to Covent Garden Theatre,--at £50
per night and half a clear benefit.[80]

[Illustration: (Master Betty and his Various Characters)]

Accordingly, on Saturday, the 1st of December 1804, at ten in the
morning, gentlemen were "parading" under the Piazza. By two o'clock
serried crowds possessed every avenue, and when the doors were
opened, there was a rush which ultimately cost some persons their
lives. "The pit was two-thirds filled from the boxes. Gentlemen
who knew that there were no places untaken in the boxes, and who
could not get up the pit avenues, paid for admission into the lower
boxes, and poured from them into the pit, in twenties and thirties
at a time." Contemporary accounts speak in detail of the terrible
sufferings not only of women, but men. "The ladies in one or two
boxes were occupied almost the whole night in fanning the gentlemen
who were beneath them in the pit.... Upwards of twenty gentlemen,
who had fainted, were dragged up into the boxes.... Several more
raised their hands as if in the act of supplication for mercy and
pity." As for the play, "Barbarossa," the sensible public would
have none of it before the scene in the second act, in which Selim
(Master Betty) first makes his appearance. When that arrived, he was
not disturbed by the uproar of applause which welcomed him; and he
answered the universal expectation. "Whenever he wished to produce a
great effect he never failed." He was found to be "a perfect master."
His whisper was "heard in every part of the house," says a newspaper
critic; "there is something in it like the undernotes of the Kembles;
but it has nothing sepulchral in it.... The oldest actor is not equal
to him, he never loses sight of the scene.... His judgment seems to
be extremely correct.... Nature has endowed him with genius which
we shall vainly attempt to find in any of the actors of the present
day;"--after which last sweeping judgment comes the qualifying line,
"If he be not even now the first, he is in the very first line;
and he will soon leave every other actor of the present day, at an
immeasurable distance behind him."

The critics evidently had small confidence in their own judgments,
but princes led the applause; their Majesties were charmed with their
new "servant;" royalty received him in its London palace, and to the
Count d'Artois (future King of France) and an august party at Lady
Percival's, the small-eyed and plump-faced boy shook his luxuriant
auburn curls, and acted Zaphna, in French.

The philosophers went as mad as the "quality" and critics. _Quid
noster Roscius egit_ was given by Cambridge University as the
subject for Sir William Brown's prize-medal. Old "Gentleman Smith,"
the original Charles Surface, came up from Bury St. Edmunds, and
presented him with a seal bearing the likeness of Garrick, and which
Garrick, in his last illness, had charged him to keep only till he
should "meet with a player who acted from NATURE and from FEELING."
Having found such actor, Smith consigned to him the keeping of the
precious relic.

Then, if the overtaxed boy fell ill, as he did more than once, the
public forgot the general social distress, the threats of invasion,
war abroad and sedition at home, and evinced such painful anxiety,
that bulletins were daily issued, as though the lad were king-regnant
or heir-apparent.

Subsequently, Drury Lane and Covent Garden shared him between them.
In twenty-three nights,[81] at the former house, he drew above
£17,000, and this double work so doubled his popularity, that on
one night, having to play Hamlet, the House of Commons, on a motion
by Pitt, adjourned, and went down to the theatre to see him! This
flattery from the whole Senate was capped by that of a single
legislator; Charles Fox read Zanga to the little actor, and commented
on Young's tragedy, with such effect, that the young gentleman never
undertook the principal character.[82]

Except John Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, there was scarcely an actor
of celebrity who did not play in the same piece with him, including
Suett and Joey Grimaldi, who were the Gravediggers to his Hamlet. At
the close of the season he passed through the provinces, triumphant,
and returned to Drury Lane in 1805, to find "garlick amid the
flowers," and a strong sibilant opposition, which he, however,
surmounted, and again played the usual round of tragic heroes,
carrying heaps of gold away with him to the country, where he easily
earned large additions to the heap.[83]

But the London furore henceforth subsided. The provinces continued
their allegiance for a year or two, but the metropolis no longer
asked for, or thought of him. His last season was at Bath, in 1808;
in the July of which year he entered Christ's College, Cambridge,
as a Fellow Commoner; subsequently hunted in the vicinity of the
Shropshire estate, purchased for him by his father, and became
Captain Betty of the North Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry.

So ended Master Betty! But, in 1812, his father being dead, Mr. Betty
longed again for the incense of the lamps and the dear homage of
applause, and he went through a course of provincial theatres, ending
with a month at Covent Garden, with questionable success. His old
admirers would have it that he was the English, as he had been the
Infant, Roscius; but the treasury account told another tale, and Mr.
Betty could only take rank as a respectable actor.

His name, however, was still a tower of strength beyond the
metropolis; and, in country towns, the intelligent young man drew
audiences still. In Edinburgh, Mr. Macready played Edward to Mr.
Betty's Warwick; in which last character, after fitful appearances in
the country, and acting for a single night now and then in London,
as an additional attraction for a benefit, Mr. Betty took his final
farewell of the stage, at Southampton, on August the 9th, 1824, being
then but thirty-two years of age.

There can be no doubt of Master Betty having been the most
"promising" young actor that ever delighted his contemporaries,
and disappointed those that were to be so hereafter. His wonderful
memory, his self-possession, his elegance of manner, his natural and
feeling style of acting--all but his habit of dropping his _h's_,
were parts of a promise of excellence. But his early audiences took
these for a whole and complete performance. He was master of words
but not of ideas, and in his boyhood was imperfectly educated. He
could learn Hamlet in three or four days, and, no doubt, he played
it prettily; but to play prettily and to act masterly, are different
things. Hamlet is no matter for a boy to handle. Betterton acted it
for fifty years, and, to his own mind, had not thoroughly fathomed
the profoundest depths of its philosophy even then. Master Betty
commenced too early to learn by rote; and the habits he then formed
never permitted him to study as well as learn, by heart. The feeling
and the nature, for which he was once praised, were those of a boy;
they kept by him, and they were found weak and nerveless in the man.
But therewith he reaped a large fortune, and he has prudently kept
that too. May the old man long enjoy what the young boy, between
natural abilities and the madness of "fashion," earned with happy

There remains but one name more of exceeding greatness to be
mentioned,--that of Edmund Kean; but, ere we let our curtain fall on
him, I have to notice something of the manners, customs, sayings, and
doings of a past time, which differed greatly from that in which Kean
was reared, flourished, and fell. Let us glance at that olden period
before we summon him to occupy our final scene.

[Illustration: Mr. Foote as Mrs. Cole.]


[79] This is somewhat fanciful. Jackson says nothing about Home, who
was seated at the wing, "blubbering."

[80] It is generally stated that the terms were fifty guineas and a
clear benefit.

[81] Should be twenty-eight nights.

[82] This is wrong. Betty did play Zanga.

[83] He again played at both houses, but his attraction was already

[Illustration: NORWICH THEATRE.]



In the journals of 1723 I find various complaints of the deficiencies
in the theatrical wardrobe. The shabbiness of the regal robes is
especially dwelt upon, though those were splendid enough which were
worn by a leading actor. Duncan and Julius Cæsar, at the above date,
had worn the same robes _for a century_; and it was suggested that
monarchy was brought into contempt by poorly-clad representatives.

It is said of Betterton, in Hamlet, that when he first beheld his
father's spirit, he turned as white as his own neckcloth. Betterton
wore the laced kerchief then in fashion. There was a worse fashion
in part of Garrick's time. That actor dressed the young Dane in a
court suit of black,--coat, waistcoat, and kneebreeches, short wig
with queue and bag, buckles in the shoes, ruffles at the wrists,
and flowing ends of an ample cravat hanging over his chest. Then,
Woodward as Mercutio! This young nobleman of Verona, kinsman to a
prince, and friend to the love-sick Montagu, did not walk his native
city capped, plumed, and bemantled, according to the period, but in
the dress of a rakish squire of Woodward's own days. On the top of a
jaunty peruke was cocked one of those three-cornered hats, popularly
known as an "Egham, Staines, and Windsor," from the figure of the
finger-post on Hounslow Heath pointing to those three towns. The
hat was profusely gold-laced at the borders. Round the neck of the
Veronese gentleman was negligently wound a Steinkirk cravat of muslin
with _point of Flanders_ ends. The rest of the attire was that of a
modern state coachman on a drawing-room day, save that the material
was chiefly of velvet, and that Woodward wore high heels to his
gold-buckled shoes. The waistcoat descended over the thighs, and into
its pocket Woodward thrust one hand, as, with a finger of the other
knowingly laid to his nose, he began the famous lines, "Oh! then, I
see Queen Mab hath been with you!"

Booth's dress for Cato was not more or less absurd than Betterton's
in "Hamlet." The Cato of Queen Anne's days wore a flowered gown and
an ample wig!

Garrick's Macbeth was a modern Scottish serjeant-major,[84] his Romeo
"a beau in a new birthday embroidery." His Richard, fancifully but
more correctly decked, is preserved to us in Hogarth's picture; but
when the King was thus attired, all the other persons of the drama
wore court suits, powdered wigs, bags, cocked hats, and drawing-room
swords! And yet the grandeur of the performance seems to have been
in no way marred. When we smile at these things, we should remember
that all managers who allow our old comedies to be played in modern
costume, offend equally against good sense. I would have Ranger
acted in a wig, as Garrick, and not in the dress of the actor's
time, as Elliston played it. The chronology of costume is worthy
of every manager's notice, however accustomed the eye may become
to anachronisms,--as with the dress worn in 1806, by Matthews, as
Old Foresight, in "Love for Love," which was the very famous and
fashionable suit, worn for many a season by the graceful Wilks in
that most airy of his parts, the youthful rake and gentleman, Sir
Harry Wildair.

In Macklin's Macbeth, there was nothing of antiquity about the
costume, which was a semi-military uniform of no, or of several
periods, with a masquerade look about a good portion of it. His
Hamlet was a modern gentleman in a black suit, such as might have
been seen any day in the Mall. John Kemble dressed the sad young
Dane, whose father had just been murdered by Hamlet's worst enemy,
one who stood between him and his inheritance, in a fancy suit
defying chronology, a carefully curled and powdered wig, such as
never sat on Scandinavian head, and a blaze of jewelled orders--on
the breast of him who courted seclusion! Altogether, there were
strange things done on the stage in those days, not the least,
perhaps, were comic solo dances, or compound hornpipes of a score of
"merry sailors," with Highland reels, danced _between the acts_ of
the most solemn of Shakspeare's tragedies!

Reddish played Hamlet in a bag-wig, which Whitfield, as Laertes, once
carried off on the point of his sword! Henderson, who acted the Dane
so well, dressed him ill,--in a three-cornered cock and flap hat,
like my uncle Toby! Why not? since Lewis as Hippolitus, attired that
hapless young man, of the era of Neptune and sea-calves, in knee
breeches, a jaunty silk jacket, tight-fitting boots, and a little
court bodkin on his thigh--the thigh of the son of Theseus!

As for the ladies, they were as careless on the subject as the men,
whether it was Mrs. Pritchard in Lady Macbeth, or Miss Younge as
Zara, or Mrs. Yates as Cleopatra, they were all decked alike, court
skirts over huge hoops, and trains tucked up to the waist, with
powdered hair surmounted by a forest of feathers. Mrs. Siddons,
when she made her first appearance in 1775, in Portia, played the
part in a salmon-coloured sack and coat; and her Euphrasia, to
judge from her portrait, more nearly resembled an English than a
Grecian matron, in the costume. But she soon improved in taste, or
was able to exercise her own without interference; and Sir Joshua
approved of her innovation of appearing in her natural hair, without
_marischal_ powder--of a reddish brown tint, then in fashion, and
worn with abundance of pomatum in the tubular curls of the ladies'
head-dresses. She braided her locks into a small compass, in
accordance with the size and shape of the head; and when long stiff
stays and hoop petticoats were universally worn by stage heroines, as
well as ladies in general, Mrs. Siddons had the courage to appear in
a dress far from ample, with a waist of the very shortest; and King
George III. himself warned Mrs. Siddons against using white paint
(_blanc d'Espagne_, I suppose) on her neck, as dangerous to health.

Mrs. Esten depended for effect almost entirely on her dresses,
and a languishing manner. Her success, when she first appeared in
Belvidera, was attributed to "the picturesque and elegant manner"
in which she dressed the character. This lady was the daughter of
Mrs. Bennett, the author of _Juvenile Indiscretions_, and could have
afforded her mother with matter for a dozen more volumes, had not the
older lady been indiscreet enough to possess abundant material in her
own experiences.

I think that the custom of noblemen presenting their cast-off
court-suits to great players (Betterton played Alexander the Great in
one), went out before the middle of the last century. A better custom
prevailed in France. Not only princes of the house of Bourbon, but
noblemen at court, sent theatrical costumes to Lekain--according to
the stage fashion of the period--but the actor never wore any other.
There was as little variety in this actor's wardrobe as in the style
of his acting, which was very circumscribed. With two or three tunics
and a turban, one expression and a single attitude, he carried about
with him "French tragedy."

In France, not only Hamlet, as once with us, but Orestes, wore
powder! But in this there was nothing more absurd than was to be
found in Quin's Chamont, a young Bohemian nobleman of a remote
romantic era. At the age of sixty, Quin played this youthful lover
"in a long, grisly, half-powdered wig, hanging low down on each side
the breast, and down the back; a heavy scarlet coat and waistcoat,
trimmed with broad gold lace, black velvet breeches, a black silk
neckcloth, black stockings, a pair of square-toed shoes, with an
old-fashioned pair of stone buckles, and a pair of stiff, high-topped
white gloves, with a broad, old scolloped hat. Were the youthful,
fiery Chamont," adds the anonymous biographer, "to appear on the
stage in such a dress now, the tragedy would cause more laughter than
tears." Absurd as this may seem in Quin, it was not more absurd than
the dress worn by Hale, an actor of Garrick's time, who, playing
Charles I. in Havard's tragedy, wore a full-bottomed wig of the reign
of Queen Anne--of the lightest colour, and flowing over back and
shoulders; in short, a perfect "cataract peruke!" Hale always fancied
himself fascinating in this head-piece, as Mrs. Hamilton thought
herself irresistible in jewels, with which she used so to load her
dark hair, that they were compared to glow-worms in a furze-bush.

That there _is_ much in a wig beyond the head it covers is, however,
certain. No actor ever had such a wonderful collection of them as
Suett, or looked so comic in them; though his horrible depression,
and his terrific and painful dreams, nearly drove him mad. Such
importance was attached to these wigs, that when the entire
collection was burnt in the fire that destroyed the Birmingham
Theatre, a friendly writer expressed a hope, that "until Mr. Suett
can replace them,--the public will make an allowance for the great
drawback their loss must be upon his comic abilities."

In some theatres, one coat has served successive generations of
actors. It was not so with the dress which Garrick wore when he first
appeared at Goodman's Fields, as Richard. This fell into the keeping
of a man named Carr, who, when a strolling manager, used to act in
it--let the character he had to represent be what it might! Greater
actors than Carr were as negligent with respect to costume. Gentleman
Smith, for instance, I meet with, complaining of the shabbiness of
his Richard III.'s hat, and asking if he cannot have that which
Powell wore as King John!

[Illustration: (Richard Suett)]

The _Morning Chronicle_ for November 14, 1783, after extolling Mrs.
Crawford's Lady Randolph as a triumph of acting which no competitor
could reach, assails the costumes. "Lord Randolph and Glenalvon
were as fine as if they were designed for the soft service of Venus,
and meant to be present in an Eastern ballroom; and yet the whole
scene of the play lies in the hardy region of the North, &c., &c. Old
Norval's dress," it is added, "had not the most distant semblance of
the ordinary habit of a Scotch shepherd."

Of John Kemble's anachronisms in Hamlet, I may add to the record,
that in that play, the period of which is before the Norman conquest,
he wore the order of the Elephant, which was not instituted till the
middle of the fifteenth century! In Hotspur, too, he always wore
the order of the Garter, even after proof was laid before him that
young Harry Percy had never been a member of the order. Elliston
imitated Kemble; but when he heard that Hotspur did not belong to
that chivalrous fraternity, he took the garter from his knee, as he
was one night at the wing, ready to go on.

Originally, Kemble even acted Hamlet with the order of the Garter
beneath his knee! He also wore the riband and star, with a black
velvet court-dress, diamond buckles; and his powdered hair
dishevelled, in the mad scene. The Vandyke dress, with black bugles,
and dark, curled wig,--a dress which knew but little change till Mr.
Fechter introduced a portrait-costume more appropriate from Albert
Durer,--was first worn by John Kemble during his own management of
Drury Lane. In one respect, the latter actor was the exact reverse
of Henderson, who was so careless in the matter of costume, that
he once boasted of having played ten different characters, in
one season, in the same dress! Lewis was nearly as negligent as
Henderson. His Earl Percy, for instance, was a marvel of anachronism
and indifference. The noble Northumbrian was attired in a light
summer attire of no possible age, and suited to no possible people.
His hair was flowing, but profusely powdered; and these pendant locks
were prettily tied up in a cluster of light blue streamers, which his
airiness made flutter in the breeze. But those were days in which
everything was borne with and nothing questioned. The beautiful Mrs.
Crouch, for example, acted one of the Witches in "Macbeth," in a
killing, fancy hat, her hair superbly powdered, rouge laid on with
delicate effect, and her whole exquisite person enveloped in a cloud
of point lace and fine linen.

In 1791 Bensley acted Mortimer in the Hon. Frank North's jumble of
tragedy, comedy, and opera, at the Haymarket,--the "Kentish Barons."
The date of the piece was of the period of Richard II., but the
costume was of an earlier time; and the figure which solemn Bensley
cut, when skating through a scene in shoes with the peaks so long
that they were turned up and fastened to his girdle, must have been
one provocative of fun. Other players have been as incorrect, and
infinitely more absurd. Take, for example, Edmund Kean himself in
Orestes. He had seen Talma in that part, in Paris, and the excellence
of the French actor fired Kean to attempt the same character. But
Edmund imitated him neither in correctness of costume, nor in having
the part correct, by heart. Kean played Orestes only in Bath and
Edinburgh. His dress, and that of his faithful Pylades (Ward) at
the first place, were covered with ribbons. Neither of the ancient
heroes had seen such silken manufacture in his life; but both of the
actors had frequently seen ribbons, and that was enough. Defective
in costume, Kean was also deficient in memory. At Bath he stumbled
through the character; at Edinburgh he improvised a good deal of
it; and in the mad scene substituted fragments from any other mad
character he had in his mind for the moment, particularly Sir Giles
Overreach! All this flustered the Pyrrhus especially, and his
embarrassment was so marked that the Edinburgh critics took care to
tell him that he ought to have exercised more industry in mastering
the words of his part, when he had to play with so great a master as
Mr. Kean!

A taste for mere finery in costume was long prevalent; and I have
seen Young's dress for Macbeth, and that for Hamlet, censured as "too
finical." In the latter part, not contented with the order of the
Elephant, he sometimes wore a thick golden cord round his waist, with
heavy bullion tassels. In Coriolanus and Brutus, Young introduced the
toga, for the first time, in a perfect form on the English stage.
But it was found that a perfect toga was not always the most proper
dress, and Talma's senatorial robes were adopted by Charles Young,
who, taught to wear them by the great French player, instructed
in his turn, the ever-willing-to-learn Charles Kemble. The latter
dressed Charles Surface in the costume of his own day. It looked well
enough, no doubt, but _now_, in Deighton's portrait, its absurdity is

In my younger days of playgoing there was a certain action of
the hand and wrist on the part, especially, of actresses playing
chambermaids, and rather lively young ladies, which was a trick of
Mrs. Abington's, and had become, perhaps still is, a tradition.
O'Keeffe says: "Mrs. Abington's manner was charmingly fascinating,
and her speaking voice melodious. She had peculiar tricks in acting,
one was turning her wrist, and seeming to stick a pin in the side
of her waist. She was also very adroit in the exercise of her fan;
and though equally capital in fine ladies and hoydens, was never
seen _in low or vulgar characters_! On her benefit night the pit was
always railed into the boxes; her acting shone brightest when doing
Estifania to Brown's Copper Captain." This refers to the season
1759-60, when she was in Dublin, and before she had received "the
stamp of a London audience." Her Kitty in "High Life Below Stairs"
created a sort of infatuation for her at the Smock Alley Theatre.
Her name was, so to speak, on the public lip, "and in ten days her
cap was so much the fashion that there was not a milliner's shop but
what was adorned with it, and 'ABINGTON' appeared in large letters
to attract the passers-by." The men "toasted" and adored her, the
women paid her the highest homage by imitating her style in dress and

With old costumes, the actors of bygone days had quaint tricks and
ideas,--as strange to us now as their dresses. I may class with
the former one circumstance of Quin's Falstaff in his later days.
After the fight, when Falstaff, somewhat wearied and disposed to
moralise, used to seat himself on the stump of a tree and give way
to philosophising, Quin calmly sank down into a crimson velvet chair
with gold claws and blue fringe, conveniently pitched on the field of

There used to be an old stage-trick for effect, employed in "Venice
Preserved." Pierre, railing at the conspirators in defence of
Jaffier, addresses himself, among the rest, to a pale, lean, haggard
fellow, who, in such a picture, should be kept in the shade. But in
the old days this fellow,--all exaggerated ghastliness and horror,
used to stand forth and exhibit his caricature of fright and famine,
by sundry actions, the applause for which was even less reasonably
given than that to the Gravedigger in "Hamlet," when he deliberately
doffed some score of waistcoats before he took to digging.

Mossop, too, had his trick in tragedy, which was sometimes akin
to pantomime. In Macbeth, when with his truncheon he smote that
white-livered loon of a messenger, he invariably broke in two the
symbol of authority over the unlucky envoy's skull. People applauded
the earnestness of the tragedian as thus displayed; but the fact was,
that Mossop always carried a truncheon made to fly in two when dealt
on a victim's head. The absurdity of the act never struck himself.

More unmeaning, but much more costly; more pantomimic, and much more
improbable, was Barry's great trick in Alexander. He never, indeed,
tried it in London; and I cannot account for its toleration by so
refined and critical an audience as that of Dublin a century ago.
In the triumphal entry into Babylon he was drawn down the stage in
his car by unarmed soldiers. When he alighted to address them, each
man placed his hand on some portion of the chariot, the machinery
of which broke up into war accoutrements; the wheels into bucklers,
the axles into sheaves of spears, the body of the vehicle into
swords, javelins, lances, standards, and so forth. All which likely
work having been accomplished, and the soldiers having arranged
themselves in battle array, Alexander addressed his easily provided
army amid a hurricane of applause; and O'Keeffe protests that it was
not only beautiful, but that he "never saw anything to equal it, for
simplicity!" _Oh_, sancta Simplicitas!

And this "simplicity" reminds me of the three separate ways in which
Cibber, John Kemble, and Young, used to suit, or not suit, the action
to the word in a passage of Wolsey:--

    "This candle burns not clear. 'Tis I must snuff it;
    Then, out it goes."

Cibber's trick, to gain applause, was to fairly snuff the candle out.
John Kemble, taking this in the light of an accomplished fact, was
wont to look as one offended by the stink. Young, finding nothing
more to do, always crossed his arms at this passage, smiled, and
_did_ nothing.

O'Keeffe remarks, that it is a method with an old stager, who knows
the advantageous points of his art, "to stand back out of the level
with the actor who is on with him, and thus he displays his own full
figure and face to the audience; but when two knowing ones are on
together, each plays the trick upon the other. I was much diverted,"
he adds, "with seeing Macklin and Sheridan, in Othello and Iago, at
this work; both endeavouring to keep back; they at last got together,
up against the back scene. Barry was too much impassioned to attend
to such devices." Edmund Kean is said to have practised this trick
when playing with actors or actresses taller than himself; but in
so doing he was only putting himself on an equality with his taller
colleague. I remember when, in my boyish days, the actors of the
Théâtre Français used to take me behind the scenes, observing that
when Talma was seated on the stage by the side of Mademoiselle
Duchesnois, the seat of his chair was gradually raised towards the
back, like a driving-box, and thus enabled him to appear as tall as
that ugly and able lady.

Garrick, too, had his chair-trick in "Hamlet." When the Ghost
appeared between the young Dane and his mother, Garrick, starting
from his chair, used always to overturn the latter,--which was
differently constructed from that used by the Queen. The legs of the
actor's chair were, in fact, tapered to a point, and placed so far
under the seat, that it fell with a touch.

Dr. Burney seems to think that "the elocution of Garrick and Mrs.
Cibber was but exquisite trickery, and that a notation of their tones
for a sort of musical declamation would be a good practical lesson
for inferior actors, and would be the means of conveying it" (the
notation) "to posterity, who will so frequently meet with their names
and eulogiums in the history of the stage, and be curious to know in
what manner they acquired such universal admiration."

Very young children on the stage are sometimes as difficult to manage
as "sagacious dogs," and other animals. The tricks resorted to, in
order to preserve propriety, are amusing. When Mrs. Siddons was
selected to play Venus, in Garrick's revived "Jubilee" (for which
she was sneeringly called "Garrick's Venus"), she had little Tom
Dibdin for Cupid. They were seated in the front of the stage; and
it was necessary that the son of the goddess should smile in his
mother's face,--but Tom was too much cowed to take any liberty of
that sort. Whereupon Venus looked fondly on him and asked, in a stage
whisper, if he loved sugar-plumbs?--and what sort? and wouldn't he
like some of the best quality when the piece was over? At all which,
Cupid's face expanded into wreathed smiles, and he gazed on Venus
with a laughing admiration,--in mental anticipation of the sweets
in the hereafter. In 1785, Mrs. Siddons was the Tragic Muse in the
"Jubilee," in which the Venus was represented by Mrs. Crouch, who
might have smitten with jealousy Anadyomene herself.

Some actors have made audiences merry by a mistake; others, by
spontaneous wit. When Quin, in Coriolanus, bade his soldiers lower
their _fasces_ (in which he pronounced the _a_ long), down went their
faces in the lowest of bows,--and up went the laughing shout of the
audience. A similar effect was once produced by Charles Kemble, by
transposing, unconsciously, two letters in the phrase, "Shall I lay
perjury upon my soul?" and making of it, "Shall I lay surgery upon
my poll? No, not for all Venice!" More intentionally did Lewis once
raise a foolish laugh, when playing with little Cherry, who, as
Drugget, exclaimed, "He looks as if he were going to eat me!" "Eat
you!" exclaimed Sir Charles Racket (Lewis), and out of his character,
"I could swallow you; I needn't make two bites of a cherry!" On
the other hand, one individual, at least, raised fun, and made
money out of his own deformity; namely, Coffey, who was monstrously
hunchbacked, and who, for his own benefit, acted Æsop. There was
more method in a whim like this than in the madness of Cassans, a
promising actor of the last century, who lost his chance on the stage
by preferring to sing ballads in the streets, or acting as waiter at
a tavern, both of which offices he undertook seriously, and acted to

Off the stage, there were performers whose fame was extended,
by the second skill of a brother player, as was the case with
Deighton, of Drury Lane, who (like Emery) was a clever painter, and
was the first who exhibited slightly-caricatured likenesses of his
colleagues,--enough to indicate some queer peculiarity, but not
enough to give offence. These used to attract the public round his
shop-window, in Charing Cross, till Deighton (or Dighton, as the
Sadler's Wells bills used to record) had to make his _exit_. The
"Hundred Guilder Print," by Rembrandt, was missing from the British
Museum; and to that print access had been given by Beloe, the keeper
of the prints, to Deighton. There was a scandal which sent the actor
into exile, and cost the translator of Herodotus his place.

From an incident between actor and audience, the more gorgeously
dressed than elegantly spoken Mrs. Hamilton acquired the name of
_Tripe Hamilton_. She had been hissed by the pit, for refusing to
play for Mrs. Bellamy's benefit; and she explained wherefore. The
language of the poets she could learn quickly, and deliver with
dignity; but her own was of that sort which sponsors are supposed
to be bound to teach. Mrs. Hamilton said: "Gentlemen and ladies,--I
suppose as how you hiss 'cause I didn't play for Mrs. Bellamy. Well,
I wouldn't, 'cause she said as how my audience, on my benefit night,
were nothing but tripe people, and made the house smell!" Yet this
woman _could_ play Lady Graveairs admirably.

There was another actress of the last century who had great power and
much grace in addressing an audience, namely, Mrs. Fitzhenry. She is
better remembered in Dublin than here; but I notice her on account
of a curious circumstance, when she finally left the stage, there. On
that occasion, she not only thanked the audience for past indulgence,
but asked for future favour,--not for herself,--but for Mr. John
Kemble, who had played several characters with her, but without being
appreciated! Mrs. Fitzhenry gave assurance that there was sterling
stuff in that young man, and hoped he would be encouraged!

This reminds me of another benefit night in Dublin, that of Mrs.
Melmoth, wife of Courtenay Melmoth, whose real name was Pratt.
To fill the house, the actress gave out that she was about being
converted to the Roman Catholic religion, and she went daily and
ostentatiously to mass. The house, however, was but a poor one, and
Mrs. Melmoth became thereby convinced that the Romish Church had not
that efficacy she had hoped to find in it; and she remained in her
original belief,--the chief point of which was, that Courtenay was by
no means so wise as he looked, nor so great as he thought himself.
I know of no other case of conversion on the part of an actress,
except that of Mrs. Wells, who, being confined in the Fleet, met
there with Mr. Sumbell, of the Hebrew faith, and, on her enlargement,
which she physically did not need, declared that she had married him,
and had turned Jewess. This she had, indeed, done, at a splendid
barbarico-comic marriage ceremony; but the ancient people doubted its
validity, and so did Mr. Sumbell.

There was an actor of the last century, named Wignell, who was so
doubly-refined that he could not deliver an ordinary message without
trying to make blank verse of it. "Wignell," said Garrick, "why can't
you say, 'Mr. Strickland, your coach is ready,' as an ordinary man
would say it, and not with the declamatory pomp of Mr. Quin, or Mr.
Booth, when playing tyrants!" "Sir," said poor Wignell, "I thought in
that passage I _had_ kept down the sentiment!" _That_, he never could
do; his Doctor, in "Macbeth," was so wonderfully solemn, that his
audience was always in fits of laughter at it.

If this was rather taking a liberty with an actor, the actors often
took liberties with the audience. Just after Mrs. Bland was confined
for the first time, her husband, in Arionelli ("Son-in-law"), had to
say, "Marriage! oh, that is quite out of my way." The actor of Cranky
immediately responded with a speech, for which he ought to have been
fined,--to the effect,--if that were the case, what about the little
incident at home. But Emery once went further than this and, when
acting the Sentinel, in "Pizarro," contrived to let Rolla and the
whole house know that Mrs. Emery had increased the number of his
family circle. This freedom would be found to have no "fun" in it now.

No one better supported the dignity of the profession than Charles
Murray, a son of Sir John Murray, of Broughton, and originally
intended for the medical profession. In his younger days, before he
fell into the line of old men, at Covent Garden, he was playing at
Wakefield, where he so spiritedly resented an insult flung at him as
an actor, that the party he thereby offended made a public quarrel
of it, and the town was divided into two factions. Murray refused to
ask pardon on the stage, and on a night he was to play in the "Beaux'
Stratagem," knowing the intentions of his enemy in front, he entered
booted and spurred, and announced that, aware of the opposition, he
was about to set out for Doncaster. Whereupon, his friends leaped
from the boxes to the stage, declared he should not be driven from
the theatre, and guarding the wings, they compelled Murray, dressed
or undressed, as he was, to go through his part, and to remain on the
stage throughout the piece, lest he should profit by an _exit_, to
make his escape.

On the other hand, poor Jack Owen, the "successor" of Henry Mossop,
and the "real Zanga," as he used to call himself, was always able
to defend his own cause. He was one night hissed while playing
Polydore, in the "Orphan," when under the influence of the grape. He
had just dismissed the Page, with "Run quickly, then, and prosperous
be thy wishes," when his imperfect utterance raised a storm of
hisses. But he turned the first words of the succeeding soliloquy
to good account,--and advancing to the footlights, growled to the
house, "Here I am alone and fit for mischief,"--putting himself in
a fighting attitude, and moving the house to laughter by his new

The discipline of preparation for the stage in the older days was
greater than it is now. It included strolling, slaving at country
theatres, a course of probation at Norwich, Bath, York, and such
towns,--after which there was an assured trial for an ambitious
player, at every fresh season in London. But ere this point was
reached, there was much to be endured.

Blisset and Dimond, for instance, walked from London to Bath, with
half-a-crown between them, and the former ever after kept the
shoes in which he had done it, as a memento of his hard days. Some
strolling managers have flourished much better than their actors.
Smith, proprietor of the Margate Theatre, had been a hostler;
Copeland, of the Dover Theatre, a groom. At the former house, it
was customary for the company to parade in front in full dress, on
a balcony, while the house was filling, or was not filling. The
Birmingham company used to send round a bellman or a drummer to
announce and praise the coming performances, and Dick Yates is said
to have filled one or other office more than once. To these managers,
candidates came with an ignorance that was only to be exceeded by
that of their employers. "How ought I to look when I see the Ghost?"
said a sucking Hamlet to the Margate manager. "Look!" said the
latter; "well; oh!--look? why as much as to say, 'Confound it, here's
a rig!'"

Humble enough were some of these houses. The old Margate was over
a stable, whence came all sorts of unpleasant reminiscences. The
Tunbridge Wells house was of such dimensions that the audience part
was in Kent, the stage in Sussex, and between the two ran a ditch,
which players in debt found convenient, when bailiffs were after
them, as they speedily evaded jurisdiction by escaping into another
county. It was here that the ubiquitous, yet stationary, Mrs. Baker,
the proprietress, stood at three pay places and took money at all!

In matters of costume, affairs were in a primitive condition. In a
garrison town, Cato and the senators were generally decked out in
old regimentals, lent by the Fort-Major; and there and in ordinary
towns ladies who commanded plays provided the wardrobe for the
actresses. Benefits, however, were seldom so to those for whom they
were technically "given." Tate Wilkinson himself once, at Maidstone,
netted only two pieces of candle and eighteenpence. This theatre was
so near the river that the tide overflowed the pit, and threatened
to float away the house. I do not know that "Hamlet" was really
ever played without the principal character, but it is recorded of
Waldron, at Windsor, that his company acted the "Suspicious Husband,"
without a Mr. Strickland, and "She Stoops to Conquer," without a Miss
Hardcastle. Windsor, nevertheless, was patronised by the old King,
who went thither in much less state than the Margravine of Anspach to
the little theatre at Newbury.

In the hurry, anxiety, and disappointments in which the old strollers
lived, study was imperfect, and I have heard of a play acted almost
entirely from the prompting supplied from a book borrowed from one
of the audience, the actors neither knowing the piece nor having a
copy to learn it from! That such a life should have any attraction
may seem surprising, but Incledon left the musical band of a
man-of-war to sing ballads, on country stages, and to get little more
than bread to keep him in voice. Occasionally, the strollers played
in very good company,--as at Plymouth, where Sir Charles Bampfylde
would play Captain Brazen, or any other part, "by particular desire
of Sir Charles," as the bills had it! The Plymouth house is the only
house, except the old Dublin, in which performances took place before
the roof was on! On one night of Shuter's benefit, the gallery was
so crowded that the beam visibly bent, and two uprights were placed
under it, to prevent the people, who came to be amused, from being
killed. It must have been a cheerful night, free from anxiety!

Between country actors and audiences, there was an easy freedom.
Miller, of Birmingham, played Frenchmen well and Hamlet abominably,
for which last he was hissed, and thereupon he told the audience
that since they wouldn't have his Hamlet, they shouldn't have his
Frenchman! Mrs. Charke records that one night, as she was playing
Pyrrhus, she was called upon to deliver some speeches of Scrub, in
which she had distinguished herself the night before. In like manner,
when Incledon was singing the most pathetic ballad, his rude hearers
would demand some coarse popular song, nor let him off till he had
sung it!

"Oh! take more pity in thine eyes!" said a Portsmouth Richard to
Lady Anne. "Would they were _battle-axe_," said Miss White (instead
of "_basilisks_") "to strike thee dead!" This, however, was probably
only a slip.[85] At all events, it was not so shocking as Brereton's
first indications of his insanity when, at a country theatre, and
playing with his wife (afterwards Mrs. Kemble), he made her dance a
_minuet_ with him, when she ought to have been weeping; and when she
died in character, the poor fellow (a _star_ in the country) would,
if not watched, walk up to her and seriously bewail the sad condition
of his darling wife.

Brereton, in his day, had seen as much misery while strolling as
Bensley,--a gentleman as well-born as himself. The latter once
tramping it with Robinson, they found that they had but a penny
between them. They tossed as to who should have the mutton pie which
it could purchase, and Bensley burst into tears while the winner
devoured the prize. Their next dinner was purchased by their cutting
off their hair, then worn long, and selling it. And this incident
of the hair reminds me of Fox, the manager's son at Brighton, who,
when hair-powder was worn by some and denounced by others, because
of the tax upon it, appeared, in some fine gentleman's part, with
his head half in powder and half without. To allay the uproar that
ensued, he explained that he did it to please both parties, and of
course gratified neither. Some old strolling companies, on the
tramp, walked very many hundreds of miles during the year. Even the
richer brethren of the craft sometimes suffered tribulation. As
once happened with the Bath Company, when their scenery, machinery,
dresses, and "property" of every theatrical sort, were burnt in their
caravans, as they were crossing Salisbury Plain.

I return again to the old houses, for a moment, to consider three
subjects not yet touched upon,--the old rage for prologues and
epilogues,--the "dedications" of plays, and the "benefits" of the

[Illustration: Mr. Dibdin as Mungo.]


[84] Garrick dressed Macbeth in a suit of scarlet and gold. Macklin,
in 1774, was the first to introduce any Scottish character into the

[85] Judging from Tate Wilkinson's account of this lady and her
mother, this was not a slip.

[Illustration: MILWARD'S "BENEFIT TICKET." (Hogarth)]



In looking over the poetical addresses made to audiences in former
days, our regret is that such abundant illustration, as they give,
of life in and out of the theatre, is rendered unavailable by a
licentiousness which runs through every line. From those of Aphra
Behn, and her contemporaries and immediate successors, filthy
missiles, as it were, were flung at morals generally, and at the
audience in particular. Nevertheless, and down to a later period,
the British appetite for prologue and epilogue was for many years
insatiable. The public, though often insulted in both, with that
sort of licence which belonged to the old jester, whose master,
however, could as readily chastise as laugh at him, listened eagerly;
and only with reluctance saw the time arrive when the play was
considered safe enough to go on without the introduction. Even when
old plays were revived, the audience expected the prologue to enjoy
resuscitation also. So, when "Cato" was reproduced at Covent Garden,
for Sheridan, and the play commenced without the famous introductory
lines by Pope, there was a vociferous shout from the house of
"prologue! prologue!" That eccentric actor, Wignell, was then on the
stage as Portius, and in his fantastically pompous way had pronounced
the opening passage of his part,

    "The dawn is overcast, the morning lowers,
    And heavily, with clouds, brings on the day,"--

when he was interrupted by renewed vociferations for the prologue.
Wignell would neither depart from his character, nor leave the house
without satisfactory explanation; and accordingly, after the word
"day," without changing feature or tone, he solemnly went on, with
this interpolation:--

    "(Ladies and gentlemen: there has not been
    For years a prologue spoken to this play--).
    The great, the important day, big with the fate
    Of Cato and of Rome."

Sometimes the prologue, in preceding the piece, did so in mournful
verse, "As undertaker walks before the hearse;" and in the case of
tragedy, it was etiquette for the speaker to be attired in solemn
black, generally a court suit. Occasionally, the prologue to an
historical tragedy was a brief lecture, for the enlightenment of an
ignorant audience. At all times it was held to be a better means of
instruction than that followed by French writers of tragedy, through

                    "Who might instruct the pit,
    By asking questions of the leading few,
    And hearing secrets, which before they knew."

Few men wrote more of them than Garrick, though in that to "Virginia"
he says that--

    "Prologues, like compliments, are loss of time,
    'Tis penning bows and making legs in rhyme.
    'Tis cringing at the door, with simp'ring grin,
    When we should show the company within."

But he subsequently wrote in the epilogue to the "Fathers," that--

    "Prologue and epilogues--to speak the phrase--
    Which suits the warlike spirit of these days--
    Are cannons charged, or should be charged, with wit,
    Which, pointed well, each rising folly hit."

Garrick, however, only wrote according to the humour of the hour,
for elsewhere he describes prologues as "the mere ghosts of wit;"
and proposes their abolition. Their alleged falseness of promise he
illustrates, in a "Prologue upon Prologues," spoken when none at all
was needed, by a story:--

    "To turn a penny, once, a wit,
    Upon a curious fancy hit,
    Hung out a board on which he boasted,
    'Dinner for threepence, boiled and roasted!
    The hungry read, and in they trip
    With eager eye and smacking lip:
    'Here bring this boiled and roasted, pray!'
    Enter potatoes, _drest each way_!
    All stared and rose, the house forsook,
    Cursed the dinner, and kicked the cook."

It is a singular thing that authors had little or no control over
the prologues or epilogues attached to their plays. In this respect,
the manager acted as he pleased, licensed such sentiments as _he_
approved of, and was irresponsible. Thus, the refined Dr. Young was
insulted by an unclean epilogue attached to his "Brothers," which
was played for the benefit of the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel, and Dr. Browne, one of the vainest of authors, was horrified
by hearing Garrick, in the epilogue to "Barbarossa," make Woodward
ask the public--referring to the doctor, to "Let the poor devil
eat! allow him that!" Home, however, seems to have exercised, in
some respect, his own judgment, when "Douglas" was played. That is,
he refused to tag a satirical address to so solemn a tragedy; but
another poet laughed at him, through Barry, who came on exclaiming--

    "An epilogue I asked! but not one word
    Our bard would write! He vows 'tis most absurd
    With comic wit, to contradict the strain
    Of tragedy, and make your sorrows vain."

But Shenstone, in his epilogue to Dodsley's "Cleone," a few years
later, followed a double course. After that tragedy of anguish, the
address began with,

    "Well, ladies, so much for the tragic style--
    And now the custom is--to make you smile."

Then came hints that had the absent husband Lefroy lived in modern
times, his Cleone would have proved a different damsel to her
depicted by the poet; but Shenstone adds, in his moral strain:--

    "'Tis yours, ye fair, to bring those days again,
    And form anew the hearts of thoughtless men.
    Make beauty's lustre amiable as bright,
    And give the soul, as well as sense, delight;
    Reclaim from folly a fantastic age,
    That scorns the press, the pulpit, and the stage."

This was a good attempt to raise the character of women by pointing
to a duty which they might perform; and a similar moral strain was
adopted long after by Sheridan. In the epilogue to his "Rivals,"
spoken by Mrs. Bulkley, he says:--

    "Our moral's plain, without more fuss,
    Man's social happiness all rests on us;
    Through all the drama, whether damned or not,
    Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot."

Among the curiosities of prologues and epilogues, may be reckoned the
boasts, promises, and little confidences, in those delivered on the
occasion when "Cato" was played at Leicester House, by the children
of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and some of the young nobility. The
prologue, indeed (spoken by Prince George, afterwards George III.),
was not especially remarkable. It lauded the wisdom of men who
declared that--

    "To speak with freedom, dignity, and ease,
    To learn those arts which may hereafter please,"--

nothing was required, but that "youth in earliest age" should
"Rehearse the poet's labours on the stage." As for patriotism, said
Prince George,--"Know,--'twas the first great lesson I was taught!"
And, of course, he gloried that he was "A boy, in England born, in
England bred!" Artists, who may hereafter paint the scene, will do
well to remember what pictures were suspended on the walls:

                "Before my eyes those heroes stand,
    Whom the great William brought to bless this land;--
    To guard, with pious care, that gen'rous plan
    Of power well bounded, which he first began."

The epilogue was spoken by Lady Augusta (as Prince Frederick called
his daughter) and Prince Edward, afterwards Duke of York. It was mere
doggerel; but Augusta flouted at the fine phrases of the prologue,
and Edward--entrusted with a sly hit at George's boast of being
English born--declared that George had--

            "Vouchsafed to mention
    His future gracious intention,
    In such heroic strains, that no man
    Will e'er deny his _soul a Roman_."

There was an allusion to the imperial sway the elder brother was to
enjoy, and the obedience the younger was to observe; after which, the
latter, addressing the little sister, to whom he had been a suitor
(Juba) in the play said--

    "But, sister, now the play is over,
    I wish you'd get a better lover."

To which the already destined bride of Brunswick, and future mother
of that Caroline, who was so luckless and unlovely a Queen of
England, made reply, wherein we see something of the training for
high duties, then adopted in high places:

    "Why--not to under-rate your merit,
    Others would court with diff'rent spirit;
    And I, perhaps, might like another
    A little better than a brother,
    Could I have one of England's breeding.
    But 'tis a point they're all agreed on,
    That I must wed a foreigner,
    Across the seas--the Lord knows where!"

Whereupon, Prince Edward congratulated himself on being "wedded to
the nation;" and, alluding to his mimic command in the tragedy, he
hoped that future times would see him "general in reality," adding,--

    "Indeed, I wish to serve this land;--
    It is my father's strict command."

And so forth, in like strain, wherein great purpose took the guise of
low impertinence.

This address is said to have been extremely well delivered. On
the regular stage, Woodward and King were remarkable as prologue
speakers. A biographer of the latter says: "As a prologue speaker,
in the comic style, he is undoubtedly unapproachable. There is a
happy distinction in his ease, manner, familiarity, and acting
those dramatic exordiums, so as to render them, in his possession,
entertainments of the first kind. Indeed, the audience are so
sensible of this, that they never omit calling for them on those
nights the pieces are represented, with an avidity and impatience
that strongly indicate their pleasure." From the earliest times,
indeed, it was the ambition of an actor to be considered an
efficient speaker of prologues. Wilks was never so angry as when the
office was entrusted to another; Cibber never so proud as when Dryden
made selection of _him_.

If the audience were almost invariably insulted in these old
addresses, individual patrons were grossly flattered by authors in
the dedication of their plays. Mrs. Behn leads the way decently
enough with her "good, sweet, honied, sugar-candied reader,"
prefixed to her "Rover;" but she speedily turns from abstract to
actual personages, and then the address out-Herods Herod. Passing
from her, to select another sample from the hundreds about me, I
come to Dryden's horrible farce of "Amboyna," with its unsavoury
jokes, Bacchanalian chaunts, hymn from the Basia, and unspeakable
atrocities. It is dedicated to the first Lord Clifford, of Chudleigh.
This patron of the poet was the grandson of a Protestant clergyman,
but he became a Romanist before the Restoration. He was one of the
defamers of Clarendon. In the Commons he was as bold as he had
ever been in any of his volunteer actions at sea. Pepys speaks
of him as "a very fine gentleman, and one much set by at court,
for his activity in going to sea, and strictness everywhere, and
stirring up and down." Evelyn alludes to him in unrestrained terms
of admiration and affection; and as far as Lord Clifford's private
character is concerned, he was worthy of such praise. But he betrayed
his country's liberties; and he vehemently desired to establish
Popery. Clifford was a magnificent Lord High Treasurer, and one of
the Cabal. Dryden's dedication to him, of his anti-Dutch farcical
tragedy, probably rests on Clifford's deeds in sea-fights against
the Dutch. But here we have an English poet lauding to the skies an
un-English peer, who is said to have avowed, that he would rather
see our King dependent on the French monarch than on five hundred
kings in parliament. Dryden says, that despairing of "repaying
his obligements" to my lord, he is driven to "receive only with
a profound submission the effects of that virtue which is never
to be comprehended but by admiration;" and he receives my lord's
"favours as the Jews of old received their law,--with a mute wonder."
Perhaps there is a little satire in this, as there seems to be in
the reference to his lordship's doings at the Treasury, where "no
man attended to be denied." "Had that treasure been your own," says
Dryden, "your inclination to bounty must have ruined you!" Which
sounds very much like complimenting a man for robbing his master in
order to distribute charity.

In the dedication of his plays, Dryden twice approaches
royalty,--legitimate royalty,--in the persons of James, Duke of York,
and Mary of Modena, his Duchess. To the former, he dedicates his
_Conquest of Granada_; and the poet runs mad in praising the Prince's
valour. To the Duchess, he dedicates his _State of Innocence_; and
the bard runs wild in lauding the Princess's beauty!

The Almanzor of the play is a faint image of James himself! whose
youth of bright deeds left his manhood nothing to perform, but to
outdo himself! He was an honour to England, when England was a
reproach to itself!--"and when the fortunate usurper sent his arms
to Flanders, many of that adverse party were vanquished by your
fame, ere they tried your valour. The report of it drew over to
your ensigns whole troops and companies of converted rebels, and
made them forsake successful wickedness to follow an oppressed and
exiled virtue!" Armies, beaten by the Duke, learned from him to
conquer! When he was not present, the guardian angel of the nation
was careless as to how inferior generals got bruised! If James and
Charles were concerned more with one thing than with another, it was
in watching over the honour of England! In the former, the poet had
found his model for the extraordinarily heroic Almanzor. He adds,
with a spice of satire, which is to be found in most of Dryden's
dedications, that there is, to be sure, in Almanzor, "a roughness
of character, impatience of injuries, and a confidence of himself,
almost approaching to an arrogance!" "But these errors," says the
crafty bard, "are incident only to great spirits!"

There is more of insanity and insolence in the adulation with which
Dryden deluges the Duchess. Her beauty is a deity, her grandeur a
guardian angel! Of her beauty, he _will_ rave. "I would not, without
extreme reluctance, resign the theme to any other hand!" He is proud
that he cannot flatter, and then pelts her with flattery as with
missiles. The Creator had placed her near the crown that her beauty
might give lustre to it! There would have been no contest for the
apple, had _she_ been alive when the prize was to be awarded! As it
is, he cannot describe her wondrous excellence. "Like those who have
surveyed the moon by glasses, I can only talk of a new and shining
world above us, but not relate the riches and the glories of the
place!" So resplendent is she, that she makes men false to other
ladies, and then scorns the homage of the traitors. And, having
libelled the men, he defames the women, by saying: "Your conjugal
virtues have deserved to be set as an example to a less degenerate,
less tainted age. They approach so near to singularity in ours, that
I can scarcely make a panegyric to your royal highness, without a
Satyr on many others!" Finally, having outraged all propriety, he
can still go further, by the addition of a little blasphemy; and her
royal highness is informed by her most obedient, most humble, and
most devoted servant, John Dryden, that her "person is so admirable,
it can scarce receive addition when it shall be glorified!"
Therefore, the Duchess is to dwell for ever in Elysium, in her
mundane body, unchanged, "for your soul, which shines through it,"
says the vile adulator, "finds it of a substance so near her own,
that she will be pleased to pass an age within it, and to be confined
to such a palace." Such was the incense which the greatest living
poet of his day expected even a shrewd princess like Mary of Modena
to inhale!

Otway crawls at the feet of the King's concubine, the rapacious
Duchess of Portsmouth, in his dedication of "Venice Preserved," and
almost invites her to void her rheum upon his head. However generous
the woman may have been to him, the man is abject. The play he
presents is but as the poor apple offered by a clown to an emperor!
"Next to Heaven," all his gratitude is due to her Grace! It was she
who dragged him from the mire, and set him to bask in "those royal
beams whose warmth is all I have, or hope, to live by." Then, after
asserting his loyalty and his scorn of republicanism, the poet thus
tumbles for the amusement of, or by way of homage to, this handsome
and painted Jezebel!--"Nature and fortune were certainly in league
when you were born, and as the first took care to give you beauty
enough to enslave the hearts of all the world, so the other resolved
to do its merit justice that none but a monarch fit to rule that
world should e'er possess it; and in it he had an empire. The young
prince you have given him, by his blooming virtues early declared
the mighty stock he came from;" and so forth. That this prince, the
first Duke of Richmond of the present line, will always aid the cause
of the Stuarts and smite all rebels, is part prayer, part prophecy,
on the side of the poet, who in this case was no Vates, for the Duke
served as aide-de-camp to William in Flanders, and died a Lord of the
Bedchamber to King George I.

In course of time, as the little Duke grows to manhood, the poets
keep him in view, and in their dedications oppress him with praise of
his parents' qualities and his own. Southern is among the foremost
and the most flattering of these eulogists. He dedicates his first
venture, the "Loyal Brother" (1682), to the Duke. "Could my vanity,"
says the author, when dedications were paid for at a rate varying
from five to twenty guineas, "carry me to the hopes of succeeding in
things of this kind, I am confident my surest way would be to draw
my characters from you, in whom the fairest images in nature are
shown in little. Your royal father's Greatness, Majestic Awfulness,
Wit, and Goodness, are promised all in you. Your mother's conquering
beauty triumphs again in you. Nothing is wanting to crown our hopes,
but time, to make you in England what Titus was in Rome,--the Delight
of Mankind." The Russian Admiral, Livsoski, claims that title now for
the Czar,--the holy master of the Mouravieffs and De Bergs,--whose
shedding of human blood is gratefully acknowledged by the new
Titus,--athirst for vengeance.

Etherege, ordinarily so impudent, pretends, in dedicating his "Man
of Mode" to the Duchess of York, that his patroness's virtues and
perfections are things not to be treated of in humble prose, and that
he will address himself to the sublime subject some day in poetry!
Wycherley presents his "Love in a Wood" (1672), to the Duchess of
Cleveland, who had gone two successive nights to see it acted. It is
his first attempt, he says, at dedication; and he cannot lie, like
other dramatists, who wreathe garlands for their patron's brow only
to enjoy the perfume of them, themselves! And then he sings a long
song of praise for his guineas, or in whatever other way his guerdon
may have come, in which he tells the lady, among other fine things,
that she has that perfection of beauty which others of her sex only
think they have; "that generosity in your actions which others of
your quality have only in their promises, with a spirit, wit, and
judgment which fit heroes for command, and which fail to make _her_
proud." It is not to be supposed that Wycherley believed this, for
when he dedicated his "Plain Dealer" (1674) "to my Lady B----," or
Mother Bennet, the most infamous woman in London, he especially
praises her for her modesty, in keeping away from the representation
of his play, even on the first day,--a play which he pretends to
believe ought not to be witnessed by modest people!

Congreve sometimes insinuates praise, at others he flings it. In the
dedication of his "Old Batchelor," to Lord Clifford (Lanesborough),
afterwards Earl of Burlington, he says, "I cannot give your Lordship
your due, without tacking a bill of my own privileges." His "Double
Dealer" goes to Charles, Lord Montague, with an assurance that poetry
is my Lord's mistress, and the mother by him of a "most beautiful
issue." He addresses his "Love for Love" to the Earl of Dorset, and
hails him as the undisputed monarch of poetry! Dorset, whose best
claim to being considered a poet, rests on the song, "To all ye
ladies now on land," of his being the author of which there is no
positive assurance!

In the eighteenth century a man was killed in the streets of
Morpeth, for maintaining that the blood of the Dacres was as good
as that of the Ogles. Of the excellence of the latter, Shadwell
entertained very exalted ideas. In 1680 there was living, and in
the same year died, the Earl of Ogle, to whom was contracted in her
infancy the famous Lady Elizabeth, sole heiress of the last of the
Earls of Northumberland. Her subsequent contract with Tom Thynne
led to the murder of the latter by Count Königsmark. In the year
above-mentioned, Shadwell produced at Dorset Gardens, and published,
his "Woman Captain," in dedicating which to the Earl of Ogle, the
Marquis of Newcastle's son, Shadwell says, "one virtue of your
Lordship's I am too much pleased with not to mention, which is,
that in this age, when learning is grown contemptible to those who
ought most to advance it, and Greek and Latin sense is despised, and
French and English nonsense applauded, when the ancient nobility and
gentry of England, who not long since were famous for their learning,
have now sent into the world a certain kind of spurious brood of
illiterate and degenerate youth, your Lordship dares love books, and
labours to have learning."

This is fine testimony and not flattery to one of the most promising
young gentlemen of the day. His child-wife subsequently married the
proudest of dukes, and Swift has immortalised the red-haired beauty
as "the d----d Duchess of Somerset!"

In one of the greatest of moral writers,--the Rev. Dr. Young, we meet
with one of the most fulsome of adulators. This divine dedicated his
"Revenge" to his friend Philip, Duke of Wharton, the most profligate
and unprincipled, but one of the most accomplished men of his age.
Young assures us that his Grace leads a virtuous pastoral life, such
as your town rakes know nothing of; that his is given to study,
and that he is a perfect master of all history, as well as of many
languages; that he is as well skilled in men as in books, and that he
"can carry from his studies such a life into conversation, that wine
seems only an interruption to wit." The Duke has, we are told, "so
sweet a disposition that no one ever wished his abilities less, but
such as flattered themselves with the hope of shining when near him."
The poet even makes the peer his _collaborateur_ in the piece, and
acknowledges that he not only "suggested the most beautiful incident,
but made all possible provision for the success of the whole."

But, although authors may have been ready enough to flatter their
patrons, the appetite of the latter was sometimes stronger than could
be met by the supply. Peter Motteux, of whom I have already spoken,
had a patron of this quality, whose name was Heveningham, and who,
having accepted the dedication of one of Peter's dramatic trifles,
was so little satisfied with the copy which was sent to him for
approval, that he wrote one to himself, subscribed it with Motteux's
name, and sent it to the press! Unluckily, Heveningham had mentioned
therein an incident which could have been known only to himself; and
the epigrammatic wits found their account in the oversight.

There is something more touching in the dedication of "Merope" to
Bolingbroke, by poor Aaron Hill, when "hard up," through speculation,
indiscreet generosity, and a profuse hospitality, in which there was
no discretion at all! Aaron felt his position, and was conscious of
an end approaching, to which the sad poet thus alludes:--

    "Covered in Fortune's shade, I rest reclined,
    My griefs all silent and my joys resigned.
    With patient eye Life's ev'ning gleam survey,
    Nor shake th' out-hasting sands, nor bid them stay;
    Yet while from life my setting prospects fly,
    Fain would my mind's weak off'ring shun to die;
    Fain would their hope, some time through light explore,
    The _name's_ kind passport, when the _man's_ no more."

I fear Bolingbroke had few means to materially help the writer,
beyond the dedication fee. Even the profits of the author's three
nights brought to his family little more than a hundred and odd

Murphy and Fielding were the first dramatic poets who departed from
the old beaten track. Murphy dedicated his "Zenobia," not to an
earl, but to an actress,--Mrs. Barry, who had saved his tragedy by
her glorious acting. This dedication is gracefully worded, and is a
faithful testimony to the ability of a great artist. Unfortunately,
flattery could creep into such homage as this. For fulsomeness of
praise, Soane's dedication of the "Dwarf of Naples," to Edmund Kean;
and Sheil's, of his "Adelaide," to Miss O'Neill, equal any similar
offence of the olden time.

I could cite more, but will only add that, of all the writers of
dedications, by far the most amusing is the man who wrote none!
This ingenious person called himself Adam Moses Emanuel Cooke, but
his sole Christian name was simply Thomas. He was a Northumbrian by
birth, an Oxonian by education, and a beneficed clergyman who drove
all his parishioners mad by his superstitious practices, his mystical
enthusiasm, and his turn for unintelligible mysteries. He took all
the loving promises to the Jews so much to heart as to believe that
the more nearly he approached them in all their old observances, the
more true he should be to the Christian dispensation. Accordingly,
he practised them all, did not hesitate at the most painful and
characteristic, and was very much astonished that other men declined
to follow his example.

Cooke was mad, in this one matter, no doubt; but considering that
episcopal patience bore with the theatre-haunting Rev. Dr. Dodd, I
think Cooke's bishop treated him a little harshly by procuring his
deprivation, and driving him out to starve.

To starvation, however, the poor man had reasonable objections; and
to obviate such an end, he turned dramatic author, as if to justify
those who called him mad. It was then that he showed that there was
method in his madness. Having nothing, he denounced the rights of
property. Possessing nothing he could throw in to the common lot, he
preached communism. At Will's, or Tom's, or Button's, at the Grecian,
or any other well-frequented coffee-house, the hungry author of two
unrepresented and unrepresentable plays who might have thanked
heaven that he was not worth a ducat, would coolly enter and seat
himself at the first table which he saw ready furnished with a meal
for which he longed, and thought not of paying. The rightful owner,
if ignorant of the ways of Adam Moses Emanuel, would blandly smile at
the absent man, thinking sighingly of the mighty labours which had
brought him to such a pass, and quietly move off. If the gentleman
whose chocolate, toast, and eggs Cooke appropriated, knew of the
mystic's ways, he would smilingly submit to them, and await the
moment which should bring the _Gastronome sans argent_ and mine host
into collision.

However this might be, the breakfast concluded, Cooke returned
thanks, rose, shook his faded suit of sables, and made, calmly
satisfied, for the door. Between that and himself ever stood the
landlord, or head waiter, and then ensued a controversy, to hear
which, old beaux, middle-aged bucks, and younger bloods crowded
with more eagerness than would have marked their going to a sermon.
Cooke's theory was not "base is the slave that pays," but that,
payment lacking on his part, it would be base to deprive him of
breakfast. To the simple and conclusive reasoning of the master he
opposed texts from the Talmud, maxims from the Rabbis, and a clincher
from Moses, according to whose legislation even a thief was not to
be punished, if his so-called offence originated in the natural
necessity of satisfying his stomach. Of course, when the audience
grew tired of the argument, they clubbed the amount required, and
sent the cunning author rejoicingly on his way.

That way took him from the landlord, who was quite "agreeable" to
have him for a customer,--he drew so many others--to the patron from
whom Cooke hoped to extract sufficient whereon to dine, have his
claret, and spin out his evening, like a gentleman. He was always
about to publish one of, perhaps both, the mad plays he had written:
"The King cannot Err," and the "Hermit Converted, or the Maid of
Bath Married." Or he was on the point of giving to the public some
treatise on mystical divinity. For suitable patrons he had as fine a
scent as for breakfast. He selected them among wealthy old Creoles,
or rich young lords just returned from the grand tour; or peers who
would be glad to give a guinea to get rid of him; or baronets who
would think the fun got out of him well worth the fee; or simple
'squires and gentlemen honestly ready to contribute to the support of
literature and distressed authors.

With the guinea for subscription in his pocket, Cooke withdrew on
that day, to call on the same or some other patron the next, for
permission to dedicate his drama to one of whose virtues, talents,
magnanimity, divine endowments, and the like, the town was giving
hourly assurance. The fish thus tickled generally proved a gold-fish,
and with a dedication fee of, at least, five guineas, Cooke
disappeared as solemnly as the Ghost in "Hamlet."

Like that shadowy majesty of Denmark, our dramatic author was a
"revenant." He always returned. A happy thought had struck him. A
copper-plate engraving of his patron's shield of arms, at the head of
the dedication, would magnify every party concerned, and especially
him of whose house it was the blazon! There were little incidental
expenses, no doubt; but what were they to one so munificent and so
disposed to promote the best interests of learning! And, accordingly,
Cooke withdrew, all the richer by ten guineas,--for the engraver!

When Cooke's goose ceased to lay golden eggs--when no other was to
be found, and managers cruelly refused to have anything to do with
his dramas, the reverend gentleman let his beard grow, turned street
preacher, and, as the Bearded Priest, railed against sin generally,
and those connected with plays and players, in particular. That drama
having been played out, Cooke became a peripatetic, traversing the
three kingdoms on foot, and meeting more examples and incidents for
the _History of a Vagabond_ than ever entered into the experience
or the imagination of Goldsmith. He contrived to fall into the way
of scholars and universities,--and from these, whether they were in
Oxford, Dublin, or Edinburgh, he never turned hungry. It is hardly
necessary to say that his eccentricities brought him, by the way, to
"Bedlam," that hell upon earth, where men were driven fiendishly mad,
who were only harmlessly so before. Cooke, recovering his liberty,
never recovered method with his madness. The latter was intensified
by an aggravation in its old mystic element, and this poor fellow,
who is said to have realised more money in fees for dedications,
which he never wrote, to plays which were never acted, died,
characteristically enough, according to report, of the consequences
of following an example set in heathen days, by Atys, and in a
Christian period by Origen,--without, however, having had the cause
pleaded by the one, or the reason alleged by the other.

To conclude this chapter with a word on Benefits. These are of royal
invention, and the first, already recorded, was awarded by King James
to Elizabeth Barry,--a tribute to her genius.[86] The fashion has
not died out, but that of announcing them, as of yore, _has_. For
example, the _Spectator_ often put in a good word for George Powell.
Sometimes there was an intimation that George, well qualified, but
ever and anon careless, would distinguish himself, if the public
would only patronise the "Conquest of Mexico," to be acted, for his
benefit. When, in April 1712, he was, on a like occasion, to play
Falstaff, in the first part of "Henry IV.," it was after this fashion
that the _Spectator_ did a good turn for its particular friend.
"The haughty George Powell hopes all the good-natured part of the
town will favour him whom they applauded in Alexander, Timon, Lear,
and Orestes, with their company this night, when he hazards all his
heroic glory in the humbler condition of honest Jack Falstaff."

It is pleasant, too, to observe that though actors lost their
engagements and endured much privation in consequence, they were not
forgotten. I frequently meet with announcements of benefits "for some
distressed actors, lately of this house;"--and, occasionally, if
circumstances rendered the benefit less productive than was expected,
a second is gratuitously given to make up for the deficit. Again,
"For the benefit of a gentleman who has written for the stage,"
shows a delicate feeling for a modest, or a damned, author. And as
"for sufferers from fire," "wards in Middlesex Hospital," or "for
the building of churches and chapels," or for "Lying-in Hospitals,"
the stage was never weary of lending itself to such good purposes
of relief. It was not till May 1766 that the profession began to
think of doing something for itself, and I find a benefit announced
"towards raising a fund for the relief of those who, from their
infirmities, shall be obliged to retire from the stage." Garrick
played Kitely on this occasion.

In 1719,[87] Spiller advertised a performance at Lincoln's Inn
Fields, "for the benefit of himself and creditors." The announcement,
in the shape of a letter, is a curious document. "I think," says
this one-eyed comedian, "I have found out what will please the
multitude.... I have tolerable good luck, and tickets rise apace,
which makes mankind very civil to me, for I get up every morning
to a levee of at least a dozen people, who pay their compliments
and ask the same question, 'When shall we be paid?' All I can say
is, that wicked good company has brought me into this imitation of
grandeur. I loved my friend and my jest too well to grow rich: in
short, wit," says the comedian, sporting with his own infirmity, "is
my blind side." Theophilus Cibber was often as candid, sometimes
more impertinent. In May 1722 he announces "Richard III." for
his benefit, "for the entertainment of those who will come." He
sometimes advertised his benefit as being for himself and creditors
conjointly, and in April 1746 we find him, a comedian of the first
rank, thus appealing to the consideration of the public,--"As I have,
in justice to my creditors, assigned over so much of my salary as
reduces the remainder to a very small pittance, I very much depend
on the indulgence and encouragement of the town at my benefit,
whose favours shall be gratefully remembered, by their very humble
servant,--Theophilus Cibber." Such an announcement would sound
curiously in these days, but it was, perhaps, exceeded in singularity
by Lillo's advertisement, in 1740, of the performance, on the third,
or author's night, of his "Elmeric," "for the benefit of my poor
relations." The frankness of the avowal and the liberality suggested
are social traits worth preserving.

One of the observances which _beneficiaires_ were expected to follow,
has long gone out of usage,--namely, that of personally calling on
those whose patronage was hoped for. Apologies for the omission
are very common. In 1723, Bickerstaffe announces the "Mourning
Bride" and "Stage Coach," with this appendix to his bill,--"N.B.
Bickerstaffe being confined to his bed by his lameness, and his wife
lying now dead, has nobody to wait on the quality and his friends for
him; but hopes they'll favour him with their appearance."

Again, Bullock, in 1739, advertises the "Spanish Friar," with
himself as Dominic. The once lively fellow thus pleads _his_
excuse:--"Bullock hopes his great age, upwards of threescore years
and twelve, will plead his excuse that he cannot pay his duty to
his acquaintance and friends, whose good nature may engage them to
assist him in his decline of life, in order to make the remainder
of his days easy and comfortable to him. In his younger days he had
the pleasure and happiness of entertaining the town, and Sir Richard
Steele, in his _Tatler_, has been pleased to perpetuate his memory
in honouring him with a memorial there. As this is the last time he
may possibly beg the favour of the town, he hopes to receive their
indulgence, which, for the few remaining days, shall be gratefully
acknowledged by him."

In like half friendly, half humble, style, and with something, too,
of the same reflective element, Chapman of Covent Garden, about to
play Modely, in the "Country Lasses," adds the apologetic "N.B."
to his advertisement:--"I, being in danger of losing one of my
eyes, am advised to keep it from the air, therefore stir not out to
attend my business at the theatre,--on this melancholy occasion, I
hope my friends will be so indulgent as to send for tickets to my
house, the corner of Bow Street, Covent Garden, which favour will
be gratefully acknowledged by their obedient humble servant, Thomas
Chapman." Chapman was only under misfortune, he was not like the
younger Cibber, who was as extravagant and as deeply in debt in 1740
as in 1722. At the foot of the advertisement for his benefit in the
first-named year are some singular but not altogether unsatisfactory
words;--whereby his creditors are requested to meet and receive a
fourth dividend of his salary! His creditors were interested in all
his benefits.

In the following year, at the Goodman's Fields Theatre, Blakes and
Miss Hippisley had a joint benefit, which was curiously announced
as "for the entertainment of several of the ancient and honourable
society of Free and Accepted Masons." The pieces were the "Miser,"
and "Lethe," Blakes playing Clerimont and the Frenchman, and Miss
Hippisley, Lappet and Miss Lucy. The patronising brethren met at the
Fleece Tavern, and walked processionally and "cloathed," to that part
of the pit which was especially railed in for them.

When Woodward advertised his benefit in 1745, at Covent Garden,
on which occasion he played Sir Amorous la Foole, in the "Silent
Woman," and Harlequin, in the "Rape of Proserpine," he made no
especial appeal to the public. But Merchant Tailors did not forget
their old schoolfellow, and a letter in the _General Advertiser_
called upon Merchant Tailors, generally, to rally round their
condiscipulus, for,--"The original design of forming ourselves into a
society was, as I take it, to serve and promote the interest of our
schoolfellows," &c.

The benefits of the greater actors, however profitable to themselves,
must have afforded but few pleasant stage illusions to the public. On
these occasions, the stage itself was converted into an amphitheatre,
or was built round with boxes for the convenience of ladies, while
the pit, if necessary, was turned into ground tiers of boxes, at
increased prices. Remembering how fierce the spirit and unscrupulous
the actions of that pit could be, when offended, the patience with
which it endured being turned out was especially remarkable. The
public of that day seems to have been treated with alternate contempt
and servility. When Yates took his benefit at Goodman's Fields, he
advertised the impossibility of his calling personally on theatrical
patrons in the neighbourhood, on the ground that he had got into
such a strange part of the town, he could not find his way about the

Sometimes an appeal was made to the compassion of the public, as
by generally hilarious Hippisley, who, about to play Scrub for
his benefit, at Covent Garden, in 1747, announces in the _General
Advertiser_, "he is so far recovered from his late illness, that
though considerably altered in his physiognomy, and lowered in
spirits, he persuades himself a crowded house on Thursday next,
at the 'Stratagem,' for his benefit, will create a smile on his
countenance, raise his spirits, and make him appear as much a Scrub
as ever."

In the same year there was an ambitious young actor at Goodman's
Fields, named Goodfellow, who played Hamlet and Fribble, two of
Garrick's best characters, for his benefit; for taking which he
gave the singular reason, that "my friends having expressed a great
dislike to my being on the stage, I have resolved upon taking this
benefit to enable me to return to my former employment." The public
accordingly patronised him in order to get rid of him, and the young
fellow was so grateful that he remained on the stage!

These examples are cited as they occur to me, and I will not add to
them; but rather turn away, to mark some eminent actors flitting from
the stage, and some samples of the public opinion connected with it,
before the coming of Edmund Kean.


[86] Poets' beneficiary nights were of much earlier date.--_Doran MS._

[87] This benefit took place on 31st March 1720.

[Illustration: BURNING OF DRURY LANE THEATRE, 1809.]



Of the old actors who entered on the nineteenth century, King was
the first to depart. He is remembered now, chiefly, as the original
representative of Sir Peter Teazle, Lord Ogleby, Puff, and Dr.
Cantwell. He began his London career at the age of eighteen, in
1748, on Drury Lane stage, as the Herald in "King Lear," and made
such progress, that in the next year[88] Whitehead selected him to
play Valerius in his "Roman Father." By 1756 he was an established
favourite, and he remained on the London stage, with hard summer work
during the holidays, till the 24th of May 1802, when he took his
leave in Sir Peter, to the Lady Teazle of Mrs. Jordan. At the end of
upwards of half a century he withdrew, to linger four years more, a
man of straitened means--one whom fondness for "play" would not at
first allow to grow rich; nor, after that was accomplished, to remain
so. I have noticed a few of his principal original characters; of
others, his Touchstone has not been equalled, nor his Ranger, save
by Garrick and Elliston. He was a conscientious actor, and a prime
favourite during the greater part of his career--but the once rapid,
clear, arch, easy, versatile Tom King, remained on the stage somewhat
too long.

Suett was to "low," what King was to "genteel," comedy; and the
stage lost Dicky in 1805, in which year he died. Dicky Suett was the
successor, but not the equal of Parsons. For a comic actor he had
a very tragical method of life--indicated by a bottle of rum and
another of brandy being among the furniture of his breakfast table.
From 1780 to 1805 he was a favourite low comedian; he killed his
audiences with laughter, and then went home (the tavern intervening)
to bed, where his sleep was merely a night of horror caused by
hideous dreams, and mental and bodily agony. John Kemble appreciated
him, in Weazle particularly, which he played to the tragedian's
Penruddock, and by his impertinent and persevering inquiries, peering
into Penruddock's face, used to work him up into a condition of
irritability required by the part. He was tall, thin, and ungainly;
addicted to grimace and interpolations; given to practical jokes on
his brother actors on the stage; and original in everything, even
to encountering death with a pun excited by a sign of its dread
approach. Suett was one of those perversely conscientious actors,
that when he had to represent a drunkard, he took care, as Tony
Lumpkin says, to be in "a concatenation accordingly."

In 1809 Lewis withdrew, in his sixty-third year. He was a Lancashire
man, well descended, though a draper's son, and was educated at
Armagh. He left linen-drapery for the stage,[89] played with success
in Dublin and Edinburgh, and came to Covent Garden in 1773, where,
however, he did not displace Barry, as in Dublin he had vanquished
Mossop.[90] He remained at Covent Garden from 1773, when he appeared
in Belcour (a compliment to Cumberland, who had helped to bring him
thither), till the 29th of May 1809, when he took his farewell in
the Copper Captain, the best of all his parts. He died in 1813, and
out of part of his fortune bequeathed to his sister, the beautiful
new church at Ealing was chiefly erected. His various styles are
indicated by some of the parts he created. Pharnaces and Sir Charles
Racket; Arviragus (Caractacus) and Millamour; Percy and Doricourt;
Sir Thomas Overbury and Count Almaviva; Herodian and Lackland;
Aurungzebe ("Prince of Agra") and Young Rapid; Faulkland and Jeremy
Diddler: he played Carlos in the "Revenge," and created the Hon. Tom
Shuffleton in "John Bull;" acted Posthumus, and originated Vapid;
began his course of original parts with Witmore, in Dr. Kenrick's
"Duellist;" and ended them with Modern, in Reynolds's "Begone Dull
Care"--both of which plays were failures.

In Morton and Reynolds's comedies, his breathless and restless style
told well; but Lewis's reputation is connected with the authors of
an older period. His Copper Captain was a masterpiece; and Cooke
recorded of him, that during the last thirty years of his life, he
was "the unrivalled favourite of the comic muse, in all that was
frolic, gay, humorous, whimsical, eccentric, and at the same time
elegant." During twenty-one years he was manager of Covent Garden;
and the same writer testifies that Lewis was "a model for making
every one do his duty, by kindness and good treatment." As early
as 1802 he had been warned by an epileptic fit, while rehearsing
Sapling, in Reynolds's "Delays and Blunders;" but he recovered,
played two years longer, and in less than two years more died,
leaving a handsome fortune to his wife, children, and other members
of his family.

[Illustration: (William Lewis)]

The greatest loss to the stage, in the early years of the present
century, was in the person of Miss Pope, the only real successor
of Kitty Clive. She withdrew on the 26th of May 1808, after
playing Deborah Dowlas in the "Heir-at-Law," for the first and last
time. She had played as a child when Garrick was in the fullest of
his powers; won his regard, and the friendly counsel of Mrs. Clive;
played hoydens, chambermaids, and half-bred ladies, with a life,
dash, and manner, free from all vulgarity; laughed with free hilarity
that begot hilarious laughing; and the only question about her was
not if she were an excellent actress or not, but as an actress, in
what she most excelled. She gave up young parts for old as age came
on, and would have done it sooner, but that managers found her still
attractive in the younger characters. In them she had been without
a rival; and when she took to the Duennas and Mrs. Heidelbergs,
she became equally without a rival. She was the original Polly
Honeycombe, Miss Stirling, Mrs. Candour, Tilburina, and of two or
threescore other parts less known.

Miss Pope was as good a woman, and as well bred a lady, as she was
a finished actress, and was none the less a friend of Garrick for
having little theatrical controversies with him touching costume,
salary, or other stage matters. In the year she played Cherry, Polly
Honeycombe, Jacinta, Phædra, Beatrice, Miss Prue, Miss Biddy, and
other buoyant ladies and lasses, a poet said of her:--

    "With all the native vigour of sixteen,
    Among the merry groups conspicuous seen,
    See lively Pope advance to jig and trip,
    Corinna, Cherry, Honeycombe, and Snip!
    Not without art, but yet to nature true,
    She charms the town with humour, just, yet new,
    Cheered by her promise, we the less deplore,
    The fatal time when Clive shall be no more."

Such was she in Churchill's eyes, in 1761. The fairy of that day;
but, in 1807, the fairy had expanded into "a bulky person, with a
duplicity of chin." Such was she in the eyes of James Smith, to whom
she told her love for handsome but fickle Holland, losing--or casting
off whom--she never after heeded suit of mortal man.

In the drawing-room of her and her brother's house in Queen Street,
Lincoln's Inn Fields, two doors east of the Freemasons' Tavern,
in that richly-furnished apartment, where, for forty years, Miss
Pope lived--among choice portraits of Mrs. Oldfield and her little
son, afterwards General Churchill; of Lord Nuneham, who, as Earl of
Harcourt, visited Miss Pope with as much ceremonious courtesy as if
she had been a princess; of Garrick and of Holland--the old lady told
the tale of her young love, her hopes and her disappointment, to
James Smith. Garrick, or "Mr. Garrick," as Miss Pope, with the old
habit of reverence, used to call him, had observed the intimacy and
growing attachment between the young actor and actress, and, guardian
of the happiness of those whom he regarded, he warned the lady of the
waywardness, instability, and recklessness of the swain. But Holland
could persuade in his own cause more successfully than Garrick could
urge against him; and Miss Pope, trusting the man she loved, looked
confidently forward to the day when she would become his wife. Ere
that day arrived, she went in the old Richmond coach, on her way to
pay a visit to Mrs. Clive at Twickenham; and on the road she passed
a postchaise, in which were Holland and a lady. The perplexed Miss
Pope rode thoughtfully on, and, alighting at Richmond Bridge, walked
meditatively along the meadows to Strawberry Hill. Her jealous
attention was attracted by a boat on the river, opposite Eel Pie
Island, the rower of which could not so hurriedly but confusedly pull
through the weeds to the Richmond side, before she saw that he was
her faithless swain, Holland, making a day of it with that seductive
piece of mischief, Mrs. Baddeley. Poor Miss Pope might fairly confess
to the "pang of jealousy," which she then endured.

Shortly after they met at rehearsal. He, being conscious of wrong
and incapable of confessing it, assumed a haughty bearing, but the
injured woman was as proud as he; and from that time they never
exchanged a word, except in acting. The foolish, weak, and ungrateful
fellow went philandering on; "but I have reason to know," said Miss
Pope, "that he never was really happy." And forty years after this
rude waking from a happy illusion, and in presence of the counterfeit
presentment of her faithless lover, the lady, whose heart at least
never grew old, shed tears as she told the one love passage of her
life, and thought of the dream of the bygone time.

Out of life she faded gradually away; and one of the merriest
and most vivacious actresses of her day lost, mutely, sense after
sense ere she expired. Previous to this, she had left her old
familiar house in Queen Street; much as she was attached to it,
she found the Freemasons too lively neighbours. "From the Tavern,
on a summer's evening, when windows are perforce kept open, the
sounds of 'Prosperity to the Deaf and Dumb Charity!' sent forth a
corresponding clatter of glasses, which made everybody in Miss Pope's
back drawing-room, for the moment, fit objects of that benevolent
institution." Mr. James Smith alludes to the pleasant parties she
gave at the house in Newman Street, in which she died. She was
attacked by "stupor of the brain;" and gradually passed away. "She
sat quietly and calmly in an arm-chair by the fireside, patting the
head of her poodle dog, and smiling at what passed in conversation,
without being at all conscious of the meaning of what was uttered."

Miss Pope had a sort of _doublure_ in Mrs. Mattocks, granddaughter of
the Hallam unhappily killed by Macklin. Her father was the founder of
the English drama in America. Under his management, the first play
ever regularly performed beyond the Atlantic, was at Williamsburg,
in Virginia, on the 5th of September 1752, namely, the "Merchant of
Venice," in which Malone acted Shylock; Hallam, Launcelot Gobbo; and
Mrs. Hallam, Portia.[91] During Mrs. Mattocks's long career, from
1752, when a child, to 1808, she played a variety of characters,
commencing with tragedy; but, as she used to say, in her old age,
"so long ago, I have almost forgotten it." She thence passed through
light, young, comic characters, to old women; and played the latter
very happily. In her widowhood, she bestowed a rich marriage dowry
on her daughter, reserving for herself the interest of £6000 in the
five per cents., on which to live, at Kensington. Her son-in-law
held her general power of attorney, and received her dividends; but
he one day made away with both interest and principal, and the old
actress was left penniless. A free benefit, however, produced upwards
of £1000, with which a life annuity was purchased, on which the aged
player lived till 1826. If human art could have prolonged her life,
it would have been done by her friend and medical adviser, the late
Mr. Merriman, to whom, in testimony of her respect, Mrs. Mattocks
bequeathed her portrait.

I add a passing word to record the passing away of Mrs. Litchfield,
in 1806, after a brief career in London of nine years. She came at
a time when competition with Mrs. Siddons was impossible; but Mrs.
Litchfield was pre-eminent in having the finest voice that was ever
heard on the stage,--from an actress.

Bannister, Charles or John, father or son,--the name had a pleasant
sound in our fathers' ears. The elder was a bass singer, with a
voice that would crack a window-pane. "A _pewtiful foice_! your
father had," said a German Jew to the son; "so deep, so deep! He
could go so low as a bull!" Handsome Jack played, in his salad days,
with Garrick; in his glowing maturity, with Edmund Kean,--in whose
brilliancy, as he said, he almost forgot his old master, David. John
Bannister might have been a painter, but he chose to be a player;
and, in his line, he was one of the best. He felt, and made feel;
could exact tears as easily as laughter; and was never out of temper
but once, when a critic denounced him for acting ill, on a night when
he was too ill to act. For this malicious deed, the player recovered
damages from his assailant.

There was nothing he could not do _well_. There were many things he
did inimitably. His Hamlet belonged to the first--a host of comic
parts to the second category. His author was never dissatisfied
with him, however exigent; and he engaged the immediate attention
of the audience, by seeming to care nothing about it. Applause
interrupted his speech--never his action. In depicting heartiness,
ludicrous distress, grave or affected indifference, honest bravery,
insurmountable cowardice, a spirited, young, or an enfeebled old
fellow, yet impatient; mischievous boyishness, good-humoured
vulgarity,--there was no one of his time who could equal him. In
everything he acted he was natural, except in Mercutio, which,
strangely enough, did not suit him;--he made of that elegant and
vivacious gentleman, simply an honest, jolly fellow. In parts,
combining tragedy and comedy, he was supreme. Such was his Walter;
such, too, his Sheva,--though in some parts of the latter he was,
perhaps, surpassed by Dowton. His features were highly expressive
and flexible, and he had them in supreme command. In 1772, he
played Calippus, in the "Grecian Daughter," and then had a time of
probation; but, from 1778, when he played Zaphna, in "Mahomet," to
1815, when the curtain finally descended on him, as Walter,--a part
which he created in 1793,--there was no more pleasant actor before an
audience. Walpole thus speaks of the last-named part in the year just

"I went on Monday evening, with Mrs. Damer, to the Little Haymarket,
to see the 'Children in the Wood,' having heard so much of my
favourite, young Bannister, in that new piece, which, by the way,
is well arranged and near being fine. He more than answered my
expectation, and all I had heard of him. It was one of the most
admirable performances I ever saw. His transports of despair and
joy are incomparable; and his various countenances would be adapted
to the pencil of Salvator Rosa. He made me shed as many tears as
I suppose the old original ballad did, when I was six years old.
Bannister's merit was the more striking, as, before the 'Children
in the Wood,' he had been playing the sailor, in 'No Song, No
Supper,' with equal nature. I wish I could hope to be as much pleased
to-morrow night, when I am to go to Jerningham's play, the 'Siege of
Berwick;' but there is no Bannister at Covent Garden."

He left the stage with a handsome fortune, the fruits of his labour;
and younger actors visited him and called him "father!" Among
the very long list of characters he created at Drury Lane or the
Haymarket, were Don Ferolo Whiskerandos, Inkle, Sir David Dunder,
Robin ("No Song, No Supper"), Leopold ("Siege of Belgrade,"),
Lenitive ("Prize"), Walter ("Children in the Wood"), Will Steady,
Sheva, Michael ("Adopted Child"), Sylvester Daggerwood, Three
Singles, Wilford ("Iron Chest"), Sponge, Frank Heartall, Rolando
("Honey Moon"), Ali Baba, Storm, and Sam Squib, in "Past Ten
o'Clock." A print, from a miniature, by Edridge, shows how goodly was
his presence in young manhood off the stage; his well-known portrait,
as Colonel Feignwell, reveals a handsome presence on the stage; and
in his features, which Leslie borrowed for his "Uncle Toby," we
may see (in the picture at Kensington) a presence fine, frank, and
simple, which was that of his older age.

Mrs. Jordan was another of the players whose youth belonged to the
last century, but who did not retire till after Edmund Kean had given
new life to the stage. She came of a lively mother, who was one of
the many olive branches of a poor Welsh clergyman, from whose humble
home she more undutifully than unnaturally eloped with, and married,
a gallant Captain, named Bland. The new home was set up in Waterford,
where Dorothy Bland was born in 1762; and nine children were there
living when the Captain's friends procured the annulling of the
marriage, and caused the hearth to become desolate.

Dorothy was the most self-reliant of the family, for at an early
age she made her way to Dublin, and under the name of Miss Francis,
played everything, from sprightly girls to tragedy queens. As she
produced little or no effect, she crossed the Channel to Tate
Wilkinson, who inquired what she played,--tragedy, comedy, high or
low, opera or farce? "I play them all," said the young lady,--and
accordingly she came out as Calista, in the "Fair Penitent;" and
Lucy, in the "Virgin Unmasked."[92] Previously to this, Wilkinson,
addressing her as Miss Francis, was interrupted by her,--"My name,"
she said, "is Mrs. Jordan,"--her Irish manager had called her flight
over the Channel "crossing _Jordan_," and she took the name with the
matronly prefix. Wilkinson looked at her, and saw no reason why she
should not.[93]

Three years after, she was acting some solemn part, at York, when
Gentleman Smith saw her, and forthwith recommended her to the
managers of Drury, as a good _second_ to Mrs. Siddons; and in that
character she was engaged. But Dorothy Jordan was not going to play
second to anybody; she resolved to be first in comedy, and came out
in 1785, as the heroine of the "Country Girl." Her success raised
her from four to eight, and then twelve pounds a week. Her next
character was among her best; namely, Viola; in which the buoyant
spirit oppressed by love and grief was finally rendered. Equal to it
was her Hypolita. Rosalind, also one of her great achievements, she
did not play till the next season; and Lady Contest ("Wedding Day"),
which was born with, and which died with her, she did not create till
the season of 1795-96.[94]

When she first appeared in London, she was in her twenty-fourth
year. Just previous to the commencement of the Drury Lane season of
1789-90, the season in which she added Polly Honeycombe, Laetitia
Hardy, and Lydia Languish, to her parts; and created Little Pickle,
in the "Spoiled Child," I find indications of another condition which
she had reached. On the 4th of September 1789, Walpole writes from
Strawberry Hill to the Miss Berrys:--"The Duke of Clarence has taken
Mr. Henry Hobart's house (Richmond), point blank over against Mr.
Cambridge's, which will make the good woman of that mansion cross
herself piteously, and stretch the throat of the blatant beast at
Sudbrook (Lady Greenwich) and of all the other pious matrons _à la
ronde_; for his royal highness, to divert lonesomeness, has brought
with him ----, who being still more averse to solitude, declares that
any tempter would make even Paradise more agreeable than a constant
_tête à tête_." The Duke's companion is not named; but Mrs. Jordan is
supposed to be alluded to. But in September 1791 Walpole writes to
the same ladies: "Do you know that Mrs. Jordan is acknowledged to be
Mrs. Ford?" They could not know it, for Ford (the magistrate) never
married her, though he kept household with her, where all the signs
of matrimony at least were abundant.

In the previous March of that year Mrs. Jordan played Coelia, in an
adaptation of the "Humourous Lieutenant," called the "Greek Slave,"
for her benefit. Coelia is the mistress to a king's son; and this,
coupled with a prophetic allusion in the modern epilogue, to a future
condition in her life, which was not then, in the remotest degree,
contemplated, is noted in Mr. Boaden's life of the actress, as a
coincidence. At whatever period she first became the intimate friend
of the Duke, she certainly was never married to Ford. "Her husband,"
the wits used to say, "was killed in the battle of Nubibus."

When she said that "laughing agreed with her better than crying," and
gave up tragedy, she both said and did well. John Bannister declared
that "no woman ever uttered comedy like her;" and added, that "she
was perfectly good-tempered, and possessed the best of hearts."
She partook of the fascination of Mrs. Woffington, having a better
voice, with less beauty. She surpassed Mrs. Clive and Miss Farren in
some parts, but fell short of the former in termagants, and of the
latter in fine, well-bred ladies. Her voice was sweet and distinct,
and she played rakes with the airiest grace and the handsomest leg
that had been seen on the stage for a long time. Simple, arch,
buoyant girls,--with sensibility in them; or spirited, buxom, lovable
women,--in these she excelled. She liked to act handsome hoydens, but
not vulgar hussies. In later days she grew fat, but still dressed as
when she was young. The hints of critics were unheeded by her, as
were those of her friends, that "she should assume an older line."
Mr. Charlton, the Bath manager, once proposed to her to play the "Old
Maid." "No," she answered: "I played it in a frolic, for my benefit,
but do not mean to play such parts in a common way."

After a London career of little less than thirty years,--long after
her home with the Duke had been broken up, she suddenly left London,
without any leave-taking. Her finances, once so flourishing, had
become embarrassed,--and the old actress with whom "laughing used
to agree," withdrew without friend or child or ample means, to St.
Cloud, in France, where she assumed her third pseudonym, Mrs. James.
She was neglected, but she was not destitute; for, at the time of her
death, in 1815, she had a balance of £100 at her bankers. She was
buried without a familiar friend to follow her, and the police seized
and sold her effects,--"even her body-linen," says Genest, who wrote
her epitaph, "was sold amidst the coarse remarks of low Frenchwomen."
Her wealth had been largely lavished on the Duke of Clarence and
their family; and she had calls upon it from other children. In the
days when she was mistress of the house at Bushey she was often,
with more or less ill humour, saluted as "Duchess." When the Duke
became King, he ennobled all their children, raising the eldest
of Mrs. Jordan's sons to the rank of Earl of Munster, and giving
precedence to the remaining sons and daughters. Thus the blood of
this actress, too, runs in the English peerage,--in the line of the
Earls of Munster, and by her daughter Sophia, whom the King raised to
the rank of a Marquis's daughter, in that of the Lords De L'Isle and
Dudley. If the portrait of the Monarch hangs from the walls of their
mansions, that of Dora or Dorothea Bland should not be absent; for,
despite appearances, the worth, the virtue, and the endowments of the
mother were, in many respects, greater than those of the sire.

ROBERT WILLIAM ELLISTON, like Mrs. Jordan and some others, belongs
to two centuries. Born in Bloomsbury, in 1744, he had, in due time,
the choice of two callings,--that of his father, a watchmaker;
or of his uncle, the Rev. Dr. Elliston, master of Sidney Sussex
College, Cambridge,--"the Church." He declined both; and having
been applauded in his delivery of a thesis, at St. Paul's School,
on the subject: "Nemo confidat nimium secundis," he threw up his
own happy prospects, and ran away to Bath, at sixteen, to seek an
engagement on the stage. While waiting for it, he engaged himself
as clerk in a lottery-office; but he eagerly changed his character,
when opportunity was afforded him to act Tressel, in "Richard III."
Between that and the Duke Aranza, the greatest of his parts, he had
far to go; but his energies were equal to the task.

The first success was small, and Elliston resorted to Tate Wilkinson,
at York; where he had few opportunities of playing leading
characters; and in disgust and want he came up to London.[95]
Kemble advised him to study Romeo, and in that character he charmed
a Bath audience, and laid the foundations of a future prosperity.
Subsequently, after playing a few nights at Covent Garden, he
appeared at the Haymarket, in 1797,[96] as Octavian and Vapour. In
the first part, a rival to the throne of Kemble was recognised; in
the latter, one who had gifts which were wanting even in Bannister.
A few nights later, he played Sir Edward Mortimer, and obtained a
triumph in the character in which Kemble had signally failed. From
that time, the "greatness" of Elliston was an accepted matter in his
lofty mind. But it suffered much mutation between that time and 1826,
when, at the end of nearly thirty years, after being proprietor of
the Olympic, the Surrey, and Drury Lane, disregarding the prudence of
Kemble in refraining from such an attempt, he tried Falstaff, failed
thereby to recover his ruined fortunes, and sank again to the Surrey.
Famous for putting the best face on everything, he comforted himself,
by observing, that he had "quite an opera pit!"

For a brief period after his first appearance, Elliston was held to
have excelled Kemble in truth and inspiration. Elliston's Hamlet was
accounted superior in two points, the humour of the Dane, and his
princely youth;--but in the deep philosophy of the character Robert
William was not above respectability. And yet, by his universality of
imitation, he was pronounced to be the only genius that had appeared
since the days of Garrick. Perhaps he never manifested this more
clearly than when, on the same night, he played Macbeth and Macheath!

His soliloquies were too declamatory! he forgot that a soliloquy is
not an address to the audience, but simply a vehicle to enable them
to be familiar with the speaker's thoughts. His voice was here too
pompously deep, and a certain catching of his breath, at the end of
energetic words, sounded like sobbing. Nevertheless, it was said that
Elliston was not less than Kemble in genius;--but only in manner.
With study and a more heroic countenance he would have been on the
same level. As it was, _in general excellence_, he may be said, when
in his prime, to have been one of the greatest actors of the day.

A more complete stage "gentleman," our fathers and some of ourselves
never knew. He was well made; had a smile more winning and natural
than any other actor; and perhaps a lover so impassioned never
made suit to a lady; one so tender never watched over her; one
so courteous never did her offices of courtesy; the _gentleman_
was never forgotten. He was never a restless gentleman, like
Lewis, nor a reserved or languid one, like Charles Kemble. All the
qualities that go to the making of one were conspicuous in his Duke
Aranza,--self-command, kindness, dignity, good humour, a dash of
satire, and true amatory fire. The only fault of Elliston's low
comedy was that he could not get rid of his gentility. The only
fault of his real gentlemen was that he dressed them uniformly.
Summer or winter, day or night, they were always in blue coats, white
waistcoats, and white knee-breeches.

Leigh Hunt loved the actor; Charles Lamb reverenced the man,--that
is the actor also: for Robert William, wherever he might be, was in
presence of an audience; it was his nature to be artificial; or he
was so great an artist that all things in his bearing seemed natural;
that is natural to him, Robert William Elliston. When he seemed
to be enacting the "humbug," he was perfectly consistent, without
being the thing at all. Young Douglas Jerrold saved the Surrey with
his "Black-eyed Susan," and Elliston thought such service worthy
of being acknowledged by the presentation of a piece of plate. The
anxious author wondered in what form Mr. Elliston would make the
gift; but Mr. Elliston only asked him, if he, the author, could not
get his friends to do him this service? He was not joking. He thought
the young fellow's friends ought to be proud of him, and ought to
manifest their pride by endowing him with testimonial plate,--towards
which he, Robert William, had largely contributed by starting the

[Illustration: (R. W. Elliston)]

Of his lofty remonstrances with audiences, his magnificence of matter
and of manner, the awe with which he inspired the humbler actors
of his company by believing in his own lofty manner,--there are
samples enough to fill a volume. The "bless you, my people!" which
he uttered as George IV., in the coronation procession, sprung, it
was said, from a vinous excitement; but it was thoroughly in his
manner. He would have believed in the efficacy of a sober benediction
of the pit! He outlived his fame, as he did his fortune; his powers
to act well failed, but not his acting. He was imposing to the last;
and, perhaps beyond that limit, if we might accept that gracefully
fantastic sketch which Charles Lamb has addressed to his shade,--the
"joyousest of once embodied spirits!"

There were few actors on the stage for whom Elliston had more regard
than he had for the veteran, Hull. In 1807, worn out with a career
which dated from 1759, heavy, useful, and intelligent Hull played his
last character, the Uncle, in "George Barnwell," and he died soon
after. Mason had a good opinion of him, for in consigning the Chief
Bard, in "Caractacus," to be played by him, the poet remarked:--"Any
instruction from me will be unnecessary; your own taste and judgment
will direct you." To Hull is owing the establishment of the Covent
Garden fund for the benefit of decayed actors. He proposed that
sixpence in the pound should be contributed weekly from each actor's
salary, and that such contributors only should have claim upon the
fund. From this proposal issued the two "funds,"--once so useful,
and now so rich. Hull never acted so well as during the Lord George
Gordon riots, when a mob assembled in front of his house, roared
for beer, and threatened dire results, if the roar was unheeded.
Hull appeared on the balcony, bowed thrice, assured the "ladies and
gentlemen" that the beverage should be immediately forthcoming, and
in the meantime asked them for "their usual indulgence."

To the last century, too, and to this, belong Holman, Munden, and
Dowton. All began their careers as tragedians. Holman was graceful,
but in striving to be original fell into exaggeration, and excited
laughter. His London course only lasted from 1784 to 1800, when he
wandered abroad with his daughter, whose mother was a grand-daughter
of the famous Lady Archibald Hamilton, the daughter of the sixth Earl
of Abercorn. Thus a family, into which had married the daughter of
Miss Santlow, "famed for dance," gave to the stage the Miss Holman,
who soon ceased to figure there.

Munden was the most wonderful of grimaciers. He created laughter
on the London stage, from 1790, when he appeared at Covent Garden,
as Sir Francis Gripe, to 1823,[97] when he quitted it, in good
condition, financially, as Sir Robert Bramble and Dozey. It was said
of him that he lost half his proper effect, by the very strength of
his powers. The breadth of his acting is now hardly conceivable, so
farcical was its character. Of another trait of his disposition, an
incident, on his farewell night, affords an illustration. As he was
bowing, and retiring backwards, from the audience, and wishing to
avoid coming into collision with the wings, he once or twice asked
in a whisper, of those standing there:--"Am I near?" "Very!" answered
Liston, "nobody more so!"

Dowton, who came to us in 1796, as Sheva, backed by a recommendation
from Cumberland, retired less richly endowed than Munden. He was
most felicitous in representing testy old age, but especially
where extreme rage was combined with extreme kindness of heart;
and he acted the opposite of this just as felicitously--as they
will acknowledge who can remember both his Sir Anthony Absolute and
his Dr. Cantwell, the composure and rascality of which last are
exasperating in the very memory of them.

Willy Blanchard, who opens the period commencing with the year 1800,
was as natural as Dowton; but he was a mannerist, always walking the
stage with his right arm bent, as if he held it in a sling. I find
him often preferred to Fawcett, whom I remember as a superior actor,
to whom some stern critics denied all feeling--but they had not seen
his Job Thornberry; and of whose famous Caleb Quotem they could say
no more than that the actor of it was a speaking harlequin.

Mathews, who first appeared in London, at the Haymarket, in 1803, as
Jabal to Elliston's Sheva, was as superior to Dowton in many parts as
he was to Bannister in a few. As a mimic he has never been excelled
in my remembrance. Through the whole range of lower comedy he was
supreme; and his _M. Malet_ showed what power this great artist
could exercise over the most tender feelings. No comedian ever
compelled more hearty laughter, or, when opportunity offered, as in
_M. Malet_, more abundant tears.

Liston, who followed him at the Haymarket, in 1805, making his
_début_ as Sheepface, belonged rather to farce than comedy. Like
Suett he excited more laughter than he ever enjoyed himself. He
suffered from attacks of the nerves, and, in his most humorous
representations, was the more humorous from his humour always
partaking of a melancholy tone. He seemed to be comic under some
great calamity, and was only upheld by the hilarity of those who
witnessed his sufferings, and enjoyed his comedy under difficulties.
Perhaps he had a settled disappointment in not having succeeded in
tragedy; or some remorse, as though he had killed a boy when, under
the name of Williams, he was usher at the Rev. Dr. Burney's, at
Gosport; as he subsequently was at the old school in St. Martin's.
However this may be, he ever and anon wooed the tragic muse, with a
comically serious air, and on three several occasions I trace him
playing, for his benefit, Romeo, Octavian, and Baron Wildenheim! It
was more absurd than Mrs. Powell's mania for acting Hamlet.

Two years later, in 1807, appeared Young, as Hamlet, at the
Haymarket, and Jones, as Goldfinch, at Covent Garden. If the word
"respectable" might be used in a not disparaging sense, I would
apply it to Young, who was always worthy of respect--whether he
played Hamlet, Rienzi, which he originated, Falstaff, or Captain
Macheath. He belonged to the Kemble school, but he never delivered
soliloquies in that ludicrous, self-approving style which I find
laughingly noticed by the critics, as a great blot in John Kemble's
acting. Young had more natural feeling, and he liked to play with
those who could feel in like manner--whereas I have read of John
Kemble that, in a love scene, he was not only coldly proper himself,
but insisted on the same coldness of propriety in the lady who
played his mistress. As for airy Jones, I have only space to remark,
that he acted rakes, at night, and taught clergymen to read their
prayers decently, by day! Jones was a naturally serious man; but his
combination of callings was something incongruous.

Of other actors, mention will be made incidentally in other places.
There are some ladies of the time before Edmund Kean who will
receive, or have received, like notice--my eye falls but upon three
others, of whom I need make record here. One is that beautiful
Louisa Brunton--member of a gifted family, who, in the bud of her
brilliant promise, was "erept the stage" by honourable love, and
died but the other day--Countess of Craven. The other lady is
Miss Duncan, subsequently Mrs. Davison, the original Juliana to
Elliston's Duke Aranza; and who, when she came upon the town as
Lady Teazle, satisfied her audiences that Miss Farren had a worthy
successor, and that Mrs. Jordan's possession of certain characters
must thenceforth be surrendered. The dramatic life of this admirable
actress commenced as soon as she could walk, and lasted almost with
her natural life. I have a Margate bill before me, of the year 1804,
where the bright and gifted young actress, the "Little Wonder," as
Miss Farren called her, was playing high comedy. The music there was
led by Frederic Venua, who, at the distance of threescore years,
still delights his friends with the memories of that period, and
with its music, in the rendering of which, Time has strengthened and
improved the hand of the artist.

With a passing notice of a survivor of all these--coming on the
stage near fourscore years ago, with the honoured name of Betterton,
and leaving it, or dying on it, but the other day, as Mrs. Glover,
I close this section of my labour. From youth to old age she acted
appropriate parts, and acted all in a way that would require Cibber,
Hazlitt, and Leigh Hunt to describe, analyse, and grow pleasantly
fanciful upon. Her life was one of self-denial, unmerited suffering,
and of continual gratification to others. She was the support of
three generations, the evidences of which she bore in her face,--in
its beautiful expression of a felicity it knew not wherefore.

With a pleasanter name, a more finished actress, or a truer woman, I
could not bring this chapter to a close. The list which follows by
way of supplement, will enable the reader to trace what the poets
were doing for the drama, and who the actors were that carried out
their intentions,--between the commencement of the century and the
night when Edmund Kean flashed upon the town.


1801.--_Drury Lane._

"Deaf and Dumb" (Holcroft; from the French). De l'Epée, Kemble;
Theodore, Miss De Camp; St. Alme, C. Kemble; Mdme. Franval, Miss Pope.

"Julian and Agnes" (Sotheby). Julian, Kemble; Agnes, Mrs. Siddons.

"Adelmorn" (_Monk_ Lewis). Adelmorn, C. Kemble; Innogen, Mrs. Jordan.

1801.--_Covent Garden._

"Poor Gentleman" (Colman, Jun.). Sir Robert Bramble, Munden; Ollapod,
Fawcett; Emily, Mrs. Gibbs.

"Pérouse" (Fawcett). Kanko, Farley; Umba, Mrs. Mills.

"Blind Girl" (Morton). Sligo, Johnstone; Clara, Mrs. H. Johnstone.

1801-2.--_Drury Lane._

"Lovers' Resolutions" (Cumberland). Worthiman, J. Bannister;
Mapletoft, Suett; Mrs. Mapletoft, Miss Tidswell.

1801-2.--_Covent Garden._

"Integrity" (Anonymous). Herman, H. Siddons his first appearance;
Albert Voss, Brunton; Julia, Miss Murray.

"Folly as it Flies" (Reynolds). Peter Post Obit, Munden; Georgiana,
Mrs. Gibbs.

"Alfonzo" (_Monk_ Lewis). Orsino, Cooke; Ottilia, Mrs. Litchfield.

"Cabinet" (T. Dibdin). Prince Orlando, Braham; Lorenzo, Incledon;
Curvoso, Emery; Floretta, Signora Storace.

1802-3.--_Drury Lane._

"Hear Both Sides" (Holcroft). Fairfax, Dowton; Eliza, Mrs. Jordan.

"Hero of the North" (Dimond). Gustavus, Pope; Frederica, Mrs.

"Marriage Promise" (Allingham). Merton, C. Kemble; Emma, Mrs. Jordan.

1802-3.--_Covent Garden._

"Delays and Blunders" (Reynolds). Henry Sapling, Lewis; Lauretta,
Mrs. H. Siddons.

"Tale of Mystery" (Holcroft). Romaldi, H. Johnston; Francisco,
Farley; Fiametta, Mrs. Mattocks.

"Family Quarrels" (T. Dibdin). Charles, Braham; Foxglove, Incledon;
Mrs. Supplejack, Mrs. Davenport.

"John Bull" (Colman, Jun.). Job Thornberry, Fawcett; Peregrine,
Cooke; Hon. Tom Shuffleton, Lewis; Mary, Mrs. Gibbs.

1803-4.--_Drury Lane._

"Wife of Two Husbands" (Cobb). Carronade, Bannister, Jun.; Montenero,
Kelly; Eugenia, Mrs. Mountain.

"Hearts of Oak" (Allingham). Ardent, Dowton; Fanny, Mrs. Harlowe.

"Caravan" (Reynolds). Arabbo, Dignum; Rosa, Miss De Camp.

"Soldier's Daughter" (Cherry). Governor Heartall, Dowton; Widow
Cheerly, Mrs. Jordan.

"Sailor's Daughter" (Cumberland). Varnish, Russell; Julia, Mrs. H.

1803-4.--_Covent Garden._

"Raising the Wind" (Kenney). Diddler, Lewis; Sam, Emery.

"English Fleet in 1342" (Dibdin). Valentine, Braham; Fitzwalter,
Incledon; Katherine, Signora Storace.

"Valentine and Orson" (T. Dibdin). Valentine, Farley; Orson, Dubois;
Eglantine, Mrs. St. Leger.

1804-5.--_Drury Lane._

"Matrimony" (Kenney, from the French). Delaval, Elliston; Clara, Mrs.
Jordan; Lisetta, Mrs. Bland.

"Land We Live In" (Holt). Melville, Elliston; Robert, Mathews; Lady
Lovelace, Mrs. Jordan.

"Honeymoon" (Tobin). Duke Aranza, Elliston; Juliana, Miss Duncan;
Volante, Miss Mellon.

1804-5.--_Covent Garden._

"Blind Bargain" (Reynolds). Giles, Emery; Mrs. Villars, Mrs. Gibbs.

"School of Reform" (Morton). Tyke, Emery; General Tarragon, Munden;
Ferment, Lewis; Julia, Miss Brunton.

"To Marry or Not to Marry" (Mrs. Inchbald). Sir Oswin, Kemble; Lord
Danberry, Munden; Lady Susan, Mrs. Glover.

"Who Wants a Guinea" (Colman, Jun.). Solomon Gundy, Fawcett;
Oldskirt, Simmons; Mrs. Glastonbury, Mrs. Mattocks.

1805-6.--_Drury Lane._

"Weathercock" (Allingham). Tristram Fickle, Bannister.

"School for Friends" (Miss Chambers). Matthew Daw, Mathews; Lady
Courtland, Miss Pope.

"Travellers" (Cherry). Koyan, Braham; Celinda, Mrs. Mountain.

"Forty Thieves" (Colman, Jun.). Ali Baba, Bannister; Morgiana, Miss
De Camp; Cogia, Mrs. Bland.

1805-6.--_Covent Garden._

"Rugantino" (_Monk_ Lewis). Rugantino, H. Johnston.

"Delinquent" (Reynolds). Delinquent, Kemble; Nicholas, Liston.

"We Fly by Night" (Colman, Jun.). Bastion, Munden.

"Hints to Husbands" (Cumberland). Lord Transit, C. Kemble.

"Edgar" (Manners). Edgar, Miss Smith; Emma, Miss Brunton.

1806-7.--_Drury Lane._

"Vindictive Man" (Holcroft). Goldfinch (from the "Road to Ruin"), De
Camp; Charles, Bartley.

"Tekeli" (Theodore Hook). Tekeli, Elliston; Christine, Mrs. Bland.

"Mr. H----" (Charles Lamb). Mr. H----, Elliston.

"False Alarms" (Kenney). Sir Damon, Wroughton.

"Curfew" (Tobin). Fitzharding, Elliston; Florence, Miss Duncan.

"Adelgitha" (_Monk_ Lewis). Lothair, Elliston; Adelgitha, Mrs. Powell.

1806-7.--_Covent Garden._

"Town and Country" (Morton). Reuben Glenroy, Kemble; Rosalie Somers,
Miss Brunton.

1807-8.--_Drury Lane._

"Faulkener" (Goodwin). Faulkener, Elliston; Countess Orsini, Mrs.

"World" (Kenney). Index, Mathews; Lady Bloomfield, Mrs. Jordan.

"Jew of Mogadore" (Cumberland). Nadab, Dowton; Zelma, Mrs. Mountain.

1807-8.--_Covent Garden._

"Blind Boy" (Hewetson). Edmund, Mrs. C. Kemble; Kalig, Farley.

"Wanderer" (C. Kemble, from Kotzebue). Sigismond, C. Kemble.

"Begone Dull Care" (Reynolds). Modern, Lewis.

1808-9.--_Drury Lane._

"Venoni" (_Monk_ Lewis, from Monvel). Venoni, Elliston.

"Man and Wife" (Arnold). Sir Willoughby and Lady Worrett, Dowton and
Mrs. Harlowe.

Theatre burnt down 24th February 1809. The Company played at the
Opera House and the Lyceum during the remainder of the season.

1808-9.--_Covent Garden._

Theatre burnt down 19th September 1808, after the play of "Pizarro."
The Company acted at the Opera House, where the only new piece of any
merit that was produced was the "Exile" (Reynolds). Daran, by Young,
from the Haymarket.


The Drury Lane Company continued at the Lyceum without producing any
novelty of mark.


Covent Garden opened at increased prices for admission on the 18th of
September. No new piece deserving of record was produced throughout
the season.


The Drury Lane Company played at the Lyceum, but without bringing
forward any piece of particular merit. The same may be said of
Covent Garden, where, however, the season was rendered memorable
and profitable by the run of "Blue Beard" and "Timour the Tartar,"
with horses. Before these Shakspeare, and all other of the tuneful
brethren, gave way.


The Drury Lane Company were still at the Lyceum, where they
produced Moore's "M.P.," the more successful "Devil's Bridge,"
by Arnold, with Braham as Count Belino, and Mrs. Dickens as the
Countess Rosalvina.[98] The greatest success was with a piece called
"Quadrupeds," altered from the "Tailors, or a Tragedy for Warm
Weather," and intended to ridicule the equestrian performances at
Covent Garden. The corresponding season at Covent Garden saw no new
piece which is now remembered; but it is remarkable as the one in
which an elephant made its first appearance as an actor--after which
Mrs. Siddons withdrew, but not on that account, from the stage.

1812-13.--_Drury Lane._

The season opened on the 10th of October 1812, in the present house,
built by Wyatt. Mr. Whitbread and a committee erected the house,
and purchased the old patent rights, by means of a subscription of
£400,000. Of this, £20,000 was paid to Sheridan, and a like sum to
the other holders of the patent. The creditors of the old house took
a quarter of what they claimed, in full payment; and the Duke of
Bedford abandoned a claim of £12,000. With the remainder of the sum
subscribed, the house was established--Elliston, Dowton, Bannister,
Rae, Wallack, Wewitzer, Miss Smith, Mrs. Davison, Mrs. Glover, Miss
Kelly, and Miss Mellon, leading. Except Coleridge's "Remorse," which
was acted about a score of times, they brought out no new piece.[99]
Covent Garden was equally unproductive, its most profitable drama
being "Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp" (Aladdin, Mrs. C. Kemble;
Kazrac, Grimaldi). In the next season, as in this, Covent Garden had
a stronger company, with John and Charles Kemble, Conway, Terry,
Mathews,[100] and a troop of vocalists, than Drury Lane possessed.
At the latter house, neither new pieces nor new players succeeded,
till, on the 20th of January 1814, the playbills announced the
first appearance of an actor from Exeter--whose coming changed the
evil fortunes of the house, scared the old, correct, dignified, and
classical school of actors, and brought back to the memories of those
who could look back as far as Garrick the fire, nature, impulse, and
terrible earnestness--all, in short, but the versatility of that
great master in his art.

While Kean is dressing for Shylock, I will briefly notice a few
incidents connected with both sides of the curtain, and which chiefly
belong to that part of the century when he was not yet known in


[88] That is, the next season; the "Roman Father" was produced 24th
February 1750.

[89] It was Lewis's father who quited business for the stage.

[90] His success over Mossop was only in one part, a comedy character
utterly unfitted for the latter.

[91] Some valuable remarks on this subject will be found in the
article "Lewis Hallam, the Second," by Edward Eggleston in Brander
Matthews' and Laurence Hutton's "Actors and Actresses of Great
Britain and the United States": New York, 1886.

[92] Tate Wilkinson says she played Calista, and sang a song after
the tragedy.

[93] It is generally held that Wilkinson himself gave her the name of

[94] Should be 1794-95.

[95] I do not know any reason for saying that he was in want.

[96] Should be 1796. The date was 25th June.

[97] 1824, 31st May.

[98] Mrs. Lefanu's "Prejudice" may be added.

[99] That is, no new piece of any importance.

[100] There were at Covent Garden also Young, and Mrs. Jordan.




Early in the present century, Mr. Twiss published his _Verbal Index
to Shakspeare_; and this led to an attack upon the poet and the
stage, as fierce, if not so formidable, as the onslaught of Prynne
and the invective of Collier. The assailant, in the present case,
was an anonymous writer, in the _Eclectic Review_, for January 1807.
As an illustration of the feeling of dissenters towards the bard
and players generally, this attack deserves a word of notice. The
writer, after denouncing Mr. Twiss as a man who had no sense of the
value of time, in its reference to his eternal state; sneering at
him as one who would have been more innocently employed in arranging
masses of pebbles on the sea shore; and bewailing "the blind devotion
which fashion requires to be paid at the shrine of Shakspeare,"
professes to recognise "the inimitable excellences of the productions
of Shakspeare's genius;" and then proceeds to illustrate the sense of
the recognition, and to pour out the vials of his wrath, after this

"He has been called, and justly, too, the 'poet of Nature.' A slight
acquaintance with the religion of the Bible will show, however, that
it is of human nature in its worst shape, deformed by the basest
passions, and agitated by the most vicious propensities, that the
poet became the priest; and the incense offered at the altar of his
goddess will continue to spread its poisonous fumes over the hearts
of his countrymen till the memory of his works is extinct. Thousands
of unhappy spirits, and thousands yet to increase their number, will
everlastingly look back with unutterable anguish, on the nights and
days in which the plays of Shakspeare ministered to their guilty
delights. And yet these are the writings which men, _consecrated_ to
the service of Him who styles Himself the Holy One, have prostituted
their pens to illustrate! such this writer, to immortalise whose
name, the resources of the most precious arts have been profusely
lavished! Epithets amounting to blasphemy, and honours approaching to
idolatry, have been and are shamelessly heaped upon his memory, in
a country professing itself Christian, and for which it would have
been happy, on moral considerations, if he had never been born. And,
strange to say, even our religious edifices are not free from the
pollution of his praise. What Christian can pass through the most
venerable pile of sacred architecture which our metropolis can boast,
without having his best feelings insulted, by observing, within a few
yards of the spot from which prayers and praises are daily offered to
the Most High, the absurd and impious epitaph upon the tablet raised
to one of the miserable retailers of his impurities? Our readers who
are acquainted with London, will discover that it is the inscription
upon David Garrick, in Westminster Abbey, to which we refer. We
commiserate the heart of the man who can read the following lines,
without indignation:--

    'And till eternity, with power sublime,
    Shall mark the mortal hour of hoary time,
    Shakspeare and Garrick like twin stars shall shine
    And earth irradiate with a beam divine.'

"'_Par nobile fratrum!_' your fame _shall_ last during the empire of
vice and misery, in the extension of which you have _acted_ so great
a part!"

There is much more in this style, and it seems rather over-strained,
however well meant. I must confess, too, that the writer had some
provocation to express himself strongly, not in the writings of
Shakspeare, nor in Twiss's Concordance, but in the meanness and
blasphemy which Mr. Pratt, or Courtenay Melmoth, infused into his
wretched epitaph on Garrick's monument. Charles Lamb has hardly gone
further in attacking the monument itself. "Taking a turn the other
day, in the Abbey," he says, "I was struck with the affected attitude
of a figure which I do not remember to have seen before, and which,
upon examination, proved to be a whole length of the celebrated Mr.
Garrick. Though I would not go so far, with some good Catholics
abroad, as to shut players altogether out of consecrated ground,
yet I own I was not a little scandalised at the introduction of
theatrical airs and gestures into a place set apart to remind us of
the saddest realities. Going nearer, I found inscribed, under this
harlequin figure, a farrago of false thoughts and nonsense."

Such falsehood and nonsense helped to bring the stage into disrepute;
and the pulpits, for seven or eight years, often echoed with
disparaging sentiments on the drama--and quotations from Shakspeare.
Nevertheless, those who never worked, as well as those who were
over-worked, needed amusement; and what was to be done?

"The devil tempts the industrious; idle people tempt the devil,"
was a saying of good Richard Baxter. Good men took it up in 1815.
Well-intentioned preachers denounced the stage, and recommended
rather an unexceptionable relaxation; the sea side, pure air, and all
enjoyments thereon attending. But, while audiences were preached down
to the coast, and especially to Brighton, there were zealous pastors
at the latter place, who preached them back again. One of these, the
Rev. Dr. Styles, of Union Street, Brighton, did his best to stop
the progress of London-on-sea. He left the question of the stage
for others to deal with; but, in his published sermons, he strictly
enjoined all virtuously-minded people to avoid watering-places
generally, and Brighton in particular, unless they wished to play
into the devil's hands. He denounced the breaking up of homes, the
mischief of minds at rest, and the consequences of flirting and
philandering. He looked upon a brief holiday as a long sin,--at the
sea side; and, with prophecy of dire results attending on neglect of
his counsel, he drove, or sought to drive, all the hard workers, in
search of health and in the enjoyment of that idle repose which helps
them in their search, _back_ to London! Then, as now, England stood
shamefully distinguished for the indecorum of its sea-coast bathers;
but, with certain religious principles, whereby to hold firmly, the
good doctor does not think that much ill may befall therefrom; and he
sends all erring sheep with their faces towards London, and with a
reference to Solomon's Song, above all things!--bidding them to wait
for the south wind of the Holy Spirit to blow over their spices!

On the other hand, good men in France were then seeking to render
theatrical amusements universally beneficial; and a pamphlet, by
Delpla, suggested a few reforms which evoked notice in this country.
In some respects, the project was a development of that proposed
in England, in 1732, when the idea of turning Exeter Change into
a theatre and college was first started. M. Delpla held, that the
public required stage exhibitions, but that they did not always
know what was good for them. He thought that in every country there
ought to exist a theatrical board, or censorship, composed, not of
government officials, but of poets, reviewers, retired actors, and
men of letters generally. There would then be, he thought (poor
man!), a reconstruction of theatrical literature: the beautiful,
preserved; the exceptionable, omitted; and the instructive, imported.
Historic truth was never to be departed from; local costume was to be
strictly observed; _dénouements_, in which virtue looked ridiculous,
or vice seemed triumphant, were to be severely prohibited; and poets,
critics, and ex-actors were to be charged with this responsibility!
M. Delpla considered that, by such means, the theatre and the pulpit
would be on a level, as public instructors; or, if any difference
could be between them, the greater efficiency of instruction would
rest with the stage. If they were simply equal, the writer concluded
that bishops themselves would show their exemplary presence in the
side boxes!

The French Government only adopted that part of M. Delpla's project
which spoke of a censorship; but as the censors were not competent
persons,--poets, critics, actors, literary men,--but "officials,"
they often came to grief. Their greatest calamity I may notice here,
though it befell them at a later period, when a new law rendered
the old censorship more stringent. To the authorised officials two
well-known dramatic writers sent a new tragedy for examination
and approval. It was returned in a few days, with 1500 erasures.
The authors were required to modify 300 lines, replace 500 words,
shorten 12 scenes, and change a score of names, all of which, in
the original, was considered obnoxious to public tranquillity,
political order, and dramatic propriety. On receiving the corrected
manuscript, the rebuked authors addressed the following note to the
censors:--"Gentlemen, we have the honour to acknowledge the receipt
of our censured manuscript, with an accompanying letter. We agree
with you in thinking that the passages marked for erasure may be of
that perturbative character which you suppose; but as we do not dare
to cut or modify the verses of Pierre Corneille, we prefer foregoing
the representation of 'Nicomède' at the 'Théâtre Français.'"

But let us get back to our own theatres, and to the manners of
audiences, between the commencement of this century and the coming of
Edmund Kean. Such manners are most strikingly illustrated by the O.
P., or _old price_ riots of 1809. In ten months a new Covent Garden
Theatre had risen, at an expense of £150,000. Smirke had taken for
his model the Acropolis of Athens, and in a narrow, flat street,
had built, or hidden, his imitation of the mountain fortress of the
Greeks. The house was unnecessarily large, and attendant costs so
heavy, that the proprietors raised the price of admission to the
boxes from 6s. to 7s., and to the pit, from 3s. 6d. to 4s. They had
also converted space, usually allotted to the public--the third tier,
in fact--into private boxes, at a rental of £300 a year for each. The
pit and box public resolved to resist, and the gallery public having
a grievance in its defective construction,--the view being impeded by
solid divisions, and the _run_ of the seats being so steep that the
occupants could see only the legs of the actors at the back of the
stage,--joined the insurrection.

The house opened on the 18th of September 1809, with "Macbeth," and
the "Quaker." The audience was dense and furious. They sat with their
backs to the stage, or stood on the seats, their hats on, to hiss and
hoot the Kemble family especially; not a word of the performance was
heard, for when the audience were not denouncing the Kembles, they
were singing and shouting at the very top of their then fresh voices.
The upper gallery was so noisy, that soldiers, of whom 500 were in
the house, rushed in to capture the rioters, who let themselves down
to the lower gallery, where they were hospitably received. The sight
of the soldiers increased the general exasperation. "It was a noble
sight," said the _Times_, "to see so much just indignation in the
public mind;" and that paper scorned the idea that the prices were to
be raised, to pay such vanities as were exhibited by Mrs. Siddons and
John Kemble, who were on the stage "with clothes on their backs worth

Such was the first of nearly seventy nights of riot, out of which
the public issued with a cry of "victory," but under a substantial
defeat. In alluding to this matter, it is only necessary to notice
the additions to, or the variations in, the riot--in the conduct of
which the proceedings of the first night were imitated, with this
exception, that the insurrectionists did not enter the theatre till

First came the introduction of placards and banners, for furnishing
pins to affix one of which, in front of the boxes, a lady received
an ovation; then speeches were made against the exorbitant salaries
of the Kembles, and prisoners were made of the speakers; magistrates
appeared on the stage to read the Riot Act, and the public, preparing
to rush on the stage itself, were deterred by the sudden opening of
all the traps.

The proprietors then assembled partisans by distributing _orders_,
and this introduced fighting. Between the combats, post-horns
confounded the confusion. Pigeons were let loose--symbols that the
public were pigeoned, and Kemble, compelled at last to come forward,
only gave double fury to the storm, by asking "what they wanted,"
and, on being told, by replying that such demand was not reasonable,
and they would think better of it! Lawyers addressed the house from
the boxes, encouraging the rioters, and, in allusion to the expensive
engagements of Catalani and others, declared that "the British
stage should not be contaminated by Italian depravity and French
duplicity"--at which declaration the modest and candid public flung
some highly-seasoned aspersions at the immoral private-boxes, and
retired, cheering.

Watchmen's rattles and "artillery whistles" next added to the storm
which tore the public ear. Placards increased. Cheers were given
for the British Mrs. Dickons, and groans for Madame Catalani. The
very name seemed to give birth to cat-calls. The actors in no way
interrupted the uproar. The _Times_ remarked that this was kind, as
the public had so often sat without interrupting them.

Kemble made stiff-necked speeches, and the house called him "fellow"
and "vagrant," said his head was "full of _a-ches_," declared they
would obey King George and not King John, and protested that they
would be sung to by "native nightingales, not foreign screech-owls."
The boxes looked like booths, so hung were they with placards and
banners--the most loudly cheered of which former was one which
announced that the salaries of the Kembles and Madame Catalani
amounted, for the season, to £25,575. "Mountain and Dickons, no Cats,
no Kittens!" Such is a sample of the O. P. row--the first series of
which ended by Kemble announcing, on the sixth night, that Catalani's
engagement had been cancelled, and that the house would be closed
until the accounts of the proprietors had been examined by competent
gentlemen. "Britons who have humbled a prince will not be conquered
by a manager!"--in that form was reply made by huge placard; and,
next day, the _Times_ told the public that they would not be bound by
the report of the examiners of the accounts, as the people had no
voice in the choice of arbitrators.

The report appeared in a fortnight. In few words, it amounted to
this:--If the present prices were reduced, the proprietors would
lose three-fourths per cent. on their capital; but as the reporters
could not even guess at the possible profits, the award was null.
Meanwhile, the _Times_ suggested that it would be better to reduce
the exorbitant salaries. There was Mrs. Siddons with £50 per night!
Why, the Lord Chief Justice sat every day in Westminster Hall, from 9
to 4, for half the sum.

The house re-opened on the 4th of October, with the "Beggar's Opera,"
and "Is he a Prince?" The war was resumed with increase of bitterness
in feeling, and of fury in action. Jewish pugilists, under the
conduct of Dutch Sam, were hired to awe and attack the dissentients.
The boxer, Mendoza, distributed orders, by dozens, to people who
would support the pugilists. The speech-makers were dragged away in
custody, and Bow Street magistrates sat, during the performances,
ready to commit them to prison-companionship with the worst class of
thieves; and they lent Bow Street runners to the managers, and these
runners, armed with bludgeons, charged and overwhelmed the dauntless
rioters in the pit. Dauntless, I say; for, on a succeeding night,
they fell upon the Jews in great number, and celebrated their triumph
in a bloody fray, by hoisting a placard with the words, "And it came
to pass that John Bull smote the Israelites sore!"

The incidents present themselves in such crowds, that it is hardly
possible to marshal them. Among them I hear the audience called a
"mob," from the stage; and I see Lord Yarmouth and Berkley Craven
fighting in the pit, on the part of the managers; and there are
"middies" and "gallant tars," or people so attired, addressing the
house, in nautical and nonsensical, and rather blackguard style, from
upper boxes and galleries; and Brandon is rushing in to point out
rioters, and rushing out to escape them; and gentlemen, with "O. P.,"
in gold, on their waistcoats, laugh at him; and there is up above an
encounter between two boxes, the beaten party in which slide down the
pillars to the tier below; and, suddenly, there is a roar of laughter
at an accident on the stage. Charles Kemble, in Richmond, has
stumbled in the fight, with Mr. Cooke as Richard, and fallen on his
nose, and the house is as delighted as if he had been their personal

Then the ear is gratefully sensible of a sudden _hush!_ and the
voices of the actors, for once, are heard; but it is not to listen to
them the house is silent. A gentleman in the boxes has begun playing
"_Colleen_" on the flute; the piece goes on the while, but it is only
the instrumentalist who is listened to and cheered. Then, there is an
especially noisy night, when rows of standing pittites are impelled
one row over the other, in dire confusion. Anon, we have a night
or two of empty houses; the rioters seem weary, and the managers'
friends do not care to attend to see a Jubilee procession in honour
of George III., in which the cars of the individualised four
quarters of the globe are drawn by scene-shifters and lamplighters,
in their own clothes!

Because the public were thus kept away, the proprietors thought they
had gained a victory, and on the first appearance of a Mrs. Clark,
in the "Grecian Daughter," Cooke alluded, in a prologue, to the late
"hostile rage." This little scrap of exultation stirred the house to
fury again; and when Charles Kemble died as Dionysius, the half-price
rioters shouted as if one of their most detested oppressors had

Then came the races up and down the pit benches, while the play
was in progress; and the appearance of men with huge false noses,
making carnival, and of others dressed like women, who swaggered
and straddled about the house, and assailed the few bold occupants
of private boxes in terms of more coarseness than wit. Then, too,
was introduced the famous O. P. war dance in the pit, to see which
alone,--its calm beginning, its swelling into noise and rapidity, and
its finale of demoniacal uproar and confusion, even Princes of the
Blood visited the boxes; and having beheld the spectacle, and heard
the Babel of roaring throats, laughed, and went home.

Not so the rioters; these sat or danced till they chose to withdraw,
and then they went in procession through the streets, howling before
the offices of newspapers which advocated the managerial side, and
reserving their final and infernal serenade for John Kemble himself,
in front of his house, No. 89 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury.

The lack of wisdom on the part of the management was remarkable. The
introduction of Jewish pugilists into the pit had been fruitless
in good; and now I find them and other questionable-looking people
admitted to the boxes. Of course, increase of exasperation followed.
The rioters celebrated the jubilee of their row on its fiftieth
night. Ladies who came wearing O. P. medals were cheered as if they
had been goddesses, and gentlemen who had lost hats in the previous
night's fray came in cotton night-caps, or with kerchiefs round their
heads. The pit was in a frenzy, and so was the indefatigable Brandon,
who captured two offenders that night, one of whom he charged with
calling "Silence!" and the other with "unnaturally coughing!" The Bow
Street runners also carried off many a prisoner, half-stripped and
profusely bleeding, to the neighbouring tribunal; and altogether the
uproar culminated on the jubilee night.

The acquittal of leading rioters gave a little spirit to some after
displays; but it led to a settlement. Audiences continued the affray,
flung peas on the stage to bring down the dancers, and celebrated
their own O. P. dance before leaving; but, at a banquet to celebrate
the triumph of the cause in the acquittal of the leaders, Mr.
Kemble himself appeared. Terms were there agreed upon; and on the
sixty-seventh night, a banner in the house, with "We are satisfied"
inscribed on it, proclaimed that all was over.

After such a fray the satisfaction was dearly bought. The 4_s._ rate
of admission to the pit was diminished by 6_d._, but the half-price
remained at 2_s._ The private boxes were decreased in number, but
the new price of admission to the boxes was maintained. Thus, the
managers, after all, had more of the victory than the people; but it
was bought dearly. In a few years the prices were lowered, but the
audiences, except on particular occasions, were not numerous enough
to be profitable. In fact the house was too large. The public could
not hear with ease what was uttered on the stage, and spectacle
was more suited to it than Shakspeare or old English comedy;--and
huge houses, high prices, and exorbitant salaries, soon brought the
British Drama to grief in the patented houses. Into this melancholy
question I do not wish, however, to enter. I have only noticed the O.
P. affair, as it marks an improvement in the manners and customs of
our audiences. In the preceding century, at Lincoln's Inn Fields and
Old Drury, rioters on less provocation went more desperate lengths.
Destruction even by fire was often resorted to by them. In the O. P.
matter, the insurrectionists did not even break a bench. Mixed with
the fury of fight there was an under-current of fun. The combatants
declared that they would attain their end by perseverance. They
persevered, and did _not_ attain it!

I have previously shown that the second George did not dislike to
witness an insurrection of a theatrical audience. The third George
was of a more placid temperament, and not only laughed at clowns
who swallowed sausages, but at allusions to his own agricultural
tendencies, which he accepted with a half-delighted: "I! I! good;
they mean _my_ sheep!" or some equally bright exclamation. As
_guests_, he did not invite actors to his house; but his eldest son
was more, and unnecessarily, condescending.

When Prince of Wales, and subsequently as Prince Regent, actors and
managers were not unfrequently invited to Carlton House. The former
seem to have appreciated their position better than the latter,
at least as far as we may learn from instances afforded by the
elder Bannister and the younger Colman. Charles Bannister told Mr.
Adolphus, who had questioned him as to the Prince's bearing, whether
it resembled that of Prince Hal, amid his boon companions? "The
Prince never assumed familiarity with us, though his demeanour was
always most gracious. We public performers sat all together, as all
guests took their places, according to their rank; our conversation
was to ourselves, and we never mixed in that of the general party,
further than to answer questions. At proper moments, with inimitable
politeness, he would suggest that he should be pleased with a song,
and the individual selected received his highest reward in praises
which his royal highness bestowed with an excellent judgment, and
expressed with a taste peculiar to himself."

When the younger Colman obtained a day-rule from the King's Bench, in
1811, to dine at Carlton House, whither he was conveyed by the Duke
of York, dramatic literature was not so pleasantly represented as
the stage had previously been in the persons of Charles Bannister
and his comrades. The guest behaved like a boor, the host still
like a gentleman. Among the offensive queries put by the former to
the Duke, was--"Who is that fine-looking fellow at the head of the
table?" The Duke urged him to be silent, lest he get into a scrape.
Colman would not be anything but ruffianly, and raising his voice, he
exclaimed,--"No! no! I want to know who that fine square-shouldered
magnificent-looking, agreeable fellow is, at the end of the table!"
The Duke remonstrated; saying, "You know it is the Prince." "Why,
then," said George, "he is your elder brother! I declare he doesn't
look half your age. Well! I remember the time when he sang a good
song, and as I'm out for a lark, for one day only, he will not
refuse an old playfellow, if he is the same good fellow that he used
to be." The Prince, with more condescension than was warrantable,
laughed, and then sang a song, which, being done, Colman roared out
applause at the magnificent voice, and with a round oath, expressed
his determination to engage the singer for the next season at his own
theatre! Peake, who tells the story in fuller detail, in his _Memoirs
of the Colman Family_, adds that the Prince was not offended, and
that Colman was, subsequently, his guest. If so, the former had
forgotten, since Charles Bannister's days, that propriety which the
actor so justly admired.

To the list of pieces by which this chapter is preceded, I direct the
attention of those who desire to know the character of our stage
literature half a century ago. I will not go so far as Gifford, who,
on contemplating a similar list, remarked: "All the fools in the
kingdom seem to have risen up and exclaimed, with one voice,--LET US
WRITE FOR THE THEATRES!" But the censure of Leigh Hunt is almost as
strong, when he says, that being present at the comedies of Reynolds
and Dibdin, he laughed heartily at the actors; but, somehow or
other, never recollected a word of the dialogue! The truth is, that
the actors, tragic as well as comic, were superior to the authors,
especially to those who wrote parts expressly for them, and composed
tipsy grimacers for Munden, and chatterers for Fawcett, and voluble
gentlemen for Lewis; and, let the scene of the play be in what remote
part of the world it might, always introduced an Irishman, because
Johnstone was there, ready and richly able, to play it. The authors
thus depended on the actors, and not on themselves; and this was so
much the case that Leigh Hunt remarked, that the loss of Lewis would
be as rheumatism to Reynolds; and the loss of Munden, "who gives
such agreeable variety of grin, would affect him little less than
lock-jaw!" The old sentimental comedy was bad enough, and we rejoice
to this day that Goldsmith overthrew it; but he was followed by
writers who mingled sentiment and farce together, who extorted tears,
exacted rude laughter, and violated nature in every sense. With all
this, however,--vapid in the reading, as some of these productions
now appear, they reflected, with great distortion, no doubt, the
manners of the times, and suggested, with some awkwardness, how those
manners might be improved. The more obtrusively loyal such writers
affected to be, the more loudly their _clap-traps_ were applauded.
The absence of servile sentiment, and the suspicion of the author
being led by liberal principles in politics, could only bring down
upon him condemnation. Poor Holcroft, who went through so many
painful varieties of life, and who was a radical before the radical
era, was one of the ablest writers of what was then called comedy,
but he often failed, because of his politics, and was then taunted
for his failure, and that by brother dramatists. "Holcroft has done
nothing for literature," says Charles Dibdin; "because, perhaps,
he has done little for morality, less for truth, and nothing for
social order!" Holcroft belongs, indeed, to two centuries; but if
the Administration had hanged him, as they wished to do, in 1794,
when he took his trial for high treason, the author of the _Road to
Ruin_ would not have added his adaptation of "Deaf and Dumb," and the
very first of melodramas, the "Tale of Mystery," to the list of his
deserved successes.

The younger Colman justified the writing of nonsense, by metrically

    "If we give trash, as some poor critics say,
    Why flocks an audience nightly to our play?"

Nevertheless, there were authors who, in the French phrase, had
frequently to "sup at the 'Bagpipes,'" like the minor French
playwright, Dancourt, who was accustomed to failure, but who used
to find solace under the catastrophe by supping joyously with his
friends, at an inn with the above sign. One night, his candid
daughter was present at the first representation of one of Dancourt's
little comedies. At the close of the second scene, the sibilations
commenced, and mademoiselle thereupon turned gaily to her sire, with
the pleasant remark, "Papa, you are going to sup to-night at the
'Bagpipes!'" The Regent Duke of Orleans was less tender towards a
dramatist who bitterly complained to him, not merely that his piece
had been hissed, but that he had been horsewhipped by some of the
audience, who disliked the coarse raillery of his satire. "Well,"
said the Duke, having listened to the complaint, "what is it you
now want?" "Justice," answered the author. "I think," replied his
highness, coolly, "I think you have had that already!"

English managers found authors quite as unreasonable. Early in
the present century, there existed a writer of tragedies, named
Masterton. Failing to get any of them represented, he printed one,
the "Seducer," in 1811;--promising to publish all his rejected
pieces, if his specimen tragedy obtained approval. His object, of
course, was to shame the managers. Like most of the authors of this
century, Mr. Masterton took Otway for his model,--but he did it after
this wise--

    "Beware, Olivia, of the wiles of man!--
    You've seen one suck an orange in the street;
    And when he's feasted, fling the rind away?
    So will a man, who has despoiled a woman,--
    When all's ta'en from her, cast her in the dirt."

Hayley was angry enough when the public damned his "Eudora," which
act he thought, manifested only the bad taste of the public, seeing
that his play had received the sanction of Lieutenant-General
Burgoyne; but if Hayley knew little of practical triumphs of temper,
and exhibited small discretion in printing his rejected tragedy, he
at least showed that his tragedy was free from such nonsense as we
find in Mr. Masterton's.

The two authors who most strongly contrast with each other as to
their feelings under a disagreeable verdict, were Charles Lamb and
Godwin. The former was present on the night that his farce, "Mr.
H.," was played, and he heartily joined in the shower of hisses with
which it was assailed by the audience. This was in juster taste than
the conduct of Godwin, who sat in the pit, stoically indifferent,
in all appearance, to the indifference of the audience to his
tragedy--"Antonio." As the act-drop descended, without applause or
disapprobation, the author grimly observed that such was exactly the
effect he had laboured to produce. And as the piece proceeded amid
similar demonstrations of contemptuous indifference, "I would not for
the world," said poor Godwin, "have the excitement set in too early."

I question, however, if anything superior to "Antonio" was produced
between 1800 and the first appearance of Edmund Kean. Soon after that
event came Sheil, Maturin, Proctor, and a greater than any of them,
Sheridan Knowles. Sheil wrote his tragedy, "Adelaide," expressly
for Miss O'Neill; everything was sacrificed to one character,--and
"Adelaide" proved a failure. The poem, however, contained promise
of a poet. There was originality, at least there was no servile
imitation, in the style, which was not indeed without inflation, and
thundering phrases and conceits,--but there was, withal, a weakness,
from which, if the writer ever extricated himself, it was only to
fall into greater defect. The story is romantic, and something after
the fashion of the day, in which there was an apotheosis for every
romantic villain. Such a villain is Lunenberg, who, as he remarks
in an early part of the play, had lured Adelaide's unsuspecting

    "And with a semblance of religious rites,
    Abused thy trust, and plunged thee into shame."

This sorry rascal treats the lady so ill that she is driven to
take poison, and Lunenberg, after fighting her brother Albert, and
heroically running on his sword, dies with sentimental phrases in his
mouth of pure and hallowed happiness to come, and with the prophecy
that "when the sound of heaven shall raise the dead," he and Adelaide
would "awake in one another's arms," which is a very bold image, to
say the least of it.

Adelaide herself is so feeble a personage, in nothing superior to
the heroines of the Leadenhall Street romances of the time, that she
fails to win or to exact sympathy. How very silly a young lady she
is, may be seen by her dying speech to the villain who had deceived
her by a false marriage--

                                "When I am dead,
    As speedily I shall be, let my grave
    Be very humble in that mournful spot.
    I pray thee, sometimes visit it at eve,
    And when you look upon the fading rose
    That grows beside a pillar down the aisle,
    And watch it drooping in the twilight dews,
    Then think of one who bloomed a little while,
    E'en as that sickly rose, and bloomed to die."

There is more here of the small sweets of Anna Matilda than of the
pathos and harmony of Otway, or the vigour of Lee.

Whatever promise this first tragedy gave, there was nothing of
realisation in the author's next tragedy, the "Apostate." In this
piece, Hermeya, the Moslem hero, renounces his faith, for love of
the Christian lady Florinda, who is so perplexed between love and
duty, even more than he between love and patriotism, that she at
length finds expression for her condition in the unusually majestic
line--"This is too much for any mortal creature!"--a line which
was echoed by more than one critic. "Adelaide" was feeble; the
"Apostate," in place of being stronger, was only furious. There was
the bombast of Lee, but none of his brilliancy; the hideousness of
his images without anything of their grand picturesqueness. Florinda,
looking on at the execution of Hermeya, exclaims--

    "Lo! they wrench his heart away:
    They drink his gushing blood!"

--and when a compassionate gentleman requests that the lady may be
removed, she sets forth this series of screaming remarks:--

    "You shall not tear me hence; No!--Never! never!
    He is my lord!--My husband!--Death!--'twas death!
    Death married us together!--Here I will dig
    A bridal bed, and we'll lie there for ever!
    I will not go!--Ha! You may pluck my heart out,
    I will never go!--Help!--Help!--Hermeya!
    They drag me to Pescara's cursed bed!
    They rend the chains of fire that bind me to thee!

--and so, screaming, she dies. Not thus, despite some raving, was
Belvidera frantic, calling on Jaffier;--and the audience failed to
see a second Otway in Lalor Sheil.

It has hardly fared better with Maturin, who wrote especially for
Edmund Kean. The year 1816 produced this new dramatic writer, and
also a new actress of great promise, in Miss Somerville, who made her
first appearance at Drury Lane, in Maturin's tragedy of "Bertram, or
the Castle of St. Aldobrand," which was played for the first time
on May the 9th. The plot is of the romantic school. Imogine, loving
and loved by an exiled ruffian (Bertram), marries, in his absence,
Bertram's enemy, St. Aldobrand, in order to save her sire from ruin.
Bertram, the outcast, is wrecked near the castle of the wedded pair;
and of course the old lovers encounter each other. From this time,
with some hesitations of decency, all goes wrong. Imogine forgets her
duty to her husband, whom Bertram kills, after seducing his wife.
He, moreover, treats the lady very ungallantly; and Imogine, gaining
nothing by her lapse from righteousness of life, goes mad, and dies;
whereupon, Bertram, finding the world emphatically unpleasant, kills
himself, with considerable self-exultation that he, captain of a
robber band, who had lived with desperate men in desperate ways,--

                  "Died no felon's death;
    A warrior's weapon freed a warrior's soul!"

There is no moral to this piece; but there is some beauty of
language, with a load of bombast, and an old-world amount of fierce
sentiment and grotesque horrors. Among the last may be enumerated,
Bertram sitting with the body of the murdered Aldobrand; and Imogine
sitting with that of her child,--who had been a good angel, of
the best intentions, but never in time to save his mother from
mischief. The German element--in story, style, speech, and minute
stage-directions--prevails throughout the piece, which had a greater
success than it deserved.

If Maturin, in this tragedy, followed the German model rather than
strove to imitate the touching melody of Rowe, and the unaffected but
energetic tenderness of Otway,--he brought back to the stage some
of the grosser features of the dramas of the preceding centuries,
which lowered the standard of woman, and made her not less eager to
be won than dishonest lovers were to woo. The same villainous spirit
marked the epilogue, furnished by the Hon. George Lamb (afterwards
Viscount Melbourne). In it, the villainous Bertram was covered with
the dignity of a hero; and of woman, generally, it was said by the
writer, that--"Vice, on her bosom, lulls remorseful care."

As in the case of Sheil, Maturin's second tragedy, "Manuel," did not
fulfil even the small promise of his first; and, after "Bertram,"
"Manuel" was found insipid,--but more pretentious, roaring, and
bombastic. The interest of the play hangs on one incident. Manuel's
son is reported as slain in battle; but Manuel accuses his kinsman,
and once heir, before that son was born (De Zelos), of having
murdered him. Trial by battle ensues, between Torrismond, son of De
Zelos, and a stranger, who offers himself as champion of Manuel. This
champion (Murad) is vanquished: and he confesses to have been the
murderer, at the instigation of De Zelos; but, having been uneasy in
his mind ever since, he had come to risk and render his own life, by
way of expiation. The instigator stabs himself; Manuel dies; and of
course there is no wedding for Victoria, the daughter of the latter,
and her lover (Torrismond), the son of De Zelos.

A droll, minor incident, in this tragedy, is that in which De Zelos,
when hiring the assassin, and very much desiring to be unknown,
gives him a dagger, with the owner's name upon the haft. Thereby, of
course, he is ultimately known and betrayed; and it was suggested,
that the incident might have authorised the writer to call his
tragedy a comedy, and to give it the name of the "Absent Man." For
violation of nature, common sense, and I may add, sound, this
tragedy of Maturin's equals anything of the kind produced in the
earliest ages of the drama. To Edmund Kean, in the very bloom of
his fame and best of his strength, was raving, like the following,
consigned. De Zelos has just died,--hiding his face,--probably
ashamed of the whole business, whereupon Manuel exclaims,

    "False!--False!--ye cursed judges!--do ye hide him?
    I'll grasp the thunderbolt! rain storms of fire!
    There!--There!--I strike! The whizzing bolt hath struck him.
    He shrieks! His heart's blood hisses in the flames!
    Fiends rend him! lightnings sear him! hell gapes for him!
    Oh! I am sick with death! (_Staggering among the bodies._)
    Alonzo! Victoria!--I call, and none answer me!
    I stagger up and down, an old man, and none to guide me:
    Not one! (_Takes Victoria's hand._) Cold! cold! That was an ice-bolt!
    I shiver! It grows very dark! Alonzo! Victoria!--Very--very
    dark! (_Dies._)"

There is no such nonsense as this in the tragedies of Proctor,
Milman, or Sheridan Knowles. "Mirandola," "Fazio," and "Virginius,"
will never want readers; and "Virginius," especially, will never
want an audience, if it be but fittingly represented. The principal
character in "Virginius" was written expressly for Edmund Kean;
but mere and lucky accident conveyed it to Mr. Macready, who found
therein golden opportunity, and knew how to avail himself of it. To
the former, with a sketch of whose career I close my contributions
towards a History of the English Stage, may be happily applied the
lines of the French poet:--

                      "Ce glorieux acteur,
    Des plus fameux héros fameux imitateur;
    Du théâtre Anglais, la splendeur et la gloire,
    Mais si mauvais acteur dedans sa propre histoire."




"It is, perhaps, not generally known," says Macaulay, when closing
his narrative of the death of the great Lord Halifax, in 1695, "that
some adventurers who, without advantages of fortune or position,
made themselves conspicuous by the mere force of ability, inherited
the blood of Halifax. He left a natural son, Henry Carey, whose
dramas once drew crowded audiences to the theatres, and some of whose
gay and spirited verses still live in the memory of hundreds of
thousands. From Henry Carey descended that Edmund Kean who, in our
own time, transformed himself so marvellously into Shylock, Iago,
and Othello."

This reminds me of an anecdote of Louis Philippe, when Duke of
Orleans, who happened one day to speak of Louis XIV. as "my august
ancestor." The remark was made to a young clerk in his household,--a
future novelist and dramatist, Alexandre Dumas. This gentleman
opened his eyes in amazement, knowing that the duke was legitimately
descended from the brother of the "Grand Monarque." The duke,
however, was thinking of the inter-marriages between members of his
family and the illegitimate descendants of Louis XIV.; but he noticed
the surprise of Dumas, and then calmly added:--"Yes, Dumas; _my
august ancestor, Louis XIV.!_ to descend from him, only through his
bastards, is, in my eyes at least, an honour sufficiently great to be
worth boasting of!"

In like manner Edmund Kean might have boasted of his descent from
George Saville, Marquis of Halifax; but I think he was prouder of
what he had achieved for himself through his genius, than of any
oblique splendour derived to him from the author of the _Maxims_ and
the great chief of the Trimmers,--if, indeed, he knew anything about

A posthumous son of Henry Carey, well known as George Saville Carey,
inherited much of his father's talents. After declining to learn
the mystery of printing, he tried that of playing; produced little
effect, but by singing, reciting, and above all by his imitations,
lived a vagabond life, and managed to keep his head above water, with
now and then a fearful dip into the mud below, for forty years; when
paralysis depriving him of the means to earn his bread, he contrived
to escape further misery here by strangling himself.[101] He was a
man of great genius not unmixed with a tendency to insanity.

He was cursed in one fair and worthless daughter, "Nance Carey,"
whose intimacy with Aaron Kean,--a tailor,--or as some say, Edmund
Kean, a builder, but at all events brother to Moses Kean, a tailor,
and as admirable a mimic as George Carey himself,[102]--resulted in
her becoming the mother of a boy, her pitiless neglect of whom seems
to have begun even before his birth.

[Illustration: (Edmund Kean)]

Whether that event took place in an otherwise unoccupied chamber in
Gray's Inn, which had been lent to her vagabond father, or in a poor
room in Castle Street, Leicester Square, or in a miserable garret in
Ewer Street, Southwark,--for all of which there are respective
claimants, Miss Carey's son had a narrow escape from being born in
the street. But for Miss Tidswell, the actress, and another womanly
gossip or two, this would have happened. It seemed all one to "Nance
Carey," who having performed _her_ part in this portion of the play,
deserted her child, and left him to the cruelty, caprice, or humanity
of strangers.

Little Edmund Kean, born in 1787, or in the following year,[103]
for the date is uncertain, had a hard life of it from the first.
In a loving arm he never was held,--a loving eye never looked down
upon him. Had he not been a beautiful child, perhaps the charity of
Miss Tidswell and of whomsoever else extended it to him, would have
failed. It is certain that they took the earliest opportunity of
deriving profit from him; and before he was three years old, Edmund
Kean figured as a Cupid in one of Noverre's ballets at the Opera
House. He owed his election to this dignity to his rare personal
beauty, an endowment which went for nothing in his subsequent
appointment, when four or five years of age, to act as one of the
imps attendant on the witches in "Macbeth." John Kemble was then
supreme at Drury Lane, and, of course, little conscious that among
the noisy and untractable young imps, the wildest by far would prove
to be, what Mrs. Siddons would have called, one of those new idols
which the public delight to set up, in order to mortify their old

One night the goblins fell over one another in the cavern-scene,
Edmund going down first, out of weakness, or of mischief. This led
to the dismissal of the whole troop; and some good Samaritan then
sent young Kean to school. In Orange Court, Leicester Square, was
the fountain whence he drew his first and almost only draught of
learning. In that dirty locality may be found the shrine of three
geniuses. There, Holcroft was born, Opie was housed, and Edmund Kean

Thereafter comes Chaos; and it is only by glimpses that the
whereabout of the naturally-gifted but most unhappy lad can be
detected. A little outcast, with his weak legs in "irons," day and
night, he sleeps between a poor married couple whose sides are hurt
by his fetters. Miss Tidswell takes him, ties him to a bedpost,
to secure his attention, teaches him elocution, and corrects him
a little too harshly, though out of love. He dances and tumbles
at fairs and in taverns, performs wonderful feats, is kicked and
starved, thrives nevertheless,--and conceives that there is something
within him which should set him above his fellows in hard work and
lean fare. And then, when he is becoming a bread-winner, he is
claimed by his evil genius, Nance Carey.

His mother has been a stroller; she is a vagabond still; tramps the
country with pomatums, and perfumes, and falballas, and her son is
her pack-horse;--and the bird, to boot, that shall lay golden eggs
for her. He is savage at having to plod through mud and dust, but
he has a world of his own beyond it all; and he not only learns
soliloquies from plays, but recites them in gentlemen's houses. To
the audiences there, he goes confident but sensitive; proud and
defiant, even when wounded by many a humiliation. By reciting,
selling the wares in which Nance Carey dealt, and exhibiting in every
possible and impossible play and posture, at fairs, he earned and
received some small but well-merited wage. "She took it _all_ from
me!" cried the boy, in his anguish and indignation.[104]

A London Arab leads an easier life. It was a dark and hard life to
Edmund,--Miss Tidswell occasionally appeared to do him a kindness, to
give him bread, and more instruction for the stage. Of his father,
we hear nothing save his rascal gallantry with Miss Carey; of his
mother, nothing but her rapacity; of his uncle, Moses Kean, only that
Miss Tidswell turned his wooden leg to account. When her young pupil,
studying Hamlet, had to pronounce the words, "Alas, poor Yorick!"
she first made him say, "Alas, poor uncle!" that the memory of the
calamity the latter had suffered might dispose Edmund's face to

And then he is abroad again; not easily to be followed. His sensitive
pride renders him hasty to take offence, and then he rushes from some
friendly roof, and disappears, sinks down some horrible gulf, issues
not purified, nor softened, nor inclined to give account of himself.
A more sober flight took him to Madeira as a cabin-boy, whence he
returned, disgusted with Thalatta. Finally, he runs the round of
fairs again, and starves and has flashes of wild jollity, as such
runners have; and pauses in his running at Windsor. He was just then
the property of crafty old Richardson, and at Windsor Fair made such
a local reputation by his elocution, that King George sent for him,
and so enjoyed a taste of his quality that the young player carried
away with him the bright guerdon of two guineas,--either to his
manager or his mother, I forget which.

I think, however, this speaking in presence of royalty was the
getting the foot on the first round of the slippery ladder which he
was so desirous to ascend. He spoke a speech or two at some London
theatres, when benefit nights admitted of extraordinary performances;
and he now went the round of country theatres, and not of country
fairs. It was not a less weary life; he starved as miserably as
before, and he began to find a means of reinvigoration in "drink."
Had his labour been paid according to its worth, the devil could not
have flung this temptation in his way. "A better time will come by
and by," said the poor stroller, who was always promising to himself,
or to others, a happy period in which all would be right.

In the course of his wanderings he played at Belfast. Mrs. Siddons
passed that way too, and acted Zara and Lady Randolph. Edmund Kean,
not then, I believe, nineteen, played Osmyn and Young Norval. In
the first part I think he was imperfect, and the Siddons shook her
majestic head at the apparent cause. Nevertheless, her judgment was,
that he played "well, _very_ well; but there was too little of him
wherewith to make a great actor!"

If painstaking could do it, he was resolved to be one. No amount of
labour to this end daunted him. However poor the task entrusted to
him, he did his utmost for it. When playing some worthless fifth-rate
character at the Haymarket, a generous colleague remarked:--"Look at
the little man, he is trying to make a part of it."

I find by the bills of the Haymarket Theatre, which Mr. Buckstone
kindly placed at my disposal, that Dubbs, in the "Review" to
Fawcett's Caleb Quotem, was about the best character he played.
Considering that he was at this time under twenty, his position was
not a very bad one; but it seemed to him to promise no amendment--and
he again passed to the country, to play first business, and to be
hungry three or four days out of the seven.

He could not earn enough to enable him to travel from one place of
engagement to another. He journeyed on foot, and when he came to a
river, swam it (particularly when a press-gang was near), as readily
as an Indian would have done. In some towns his Hamlet was not
relished, but his Harlequin filled the house. The Guernsey critics
censured his acting, on the ground that he would rudely turn his
back on the audience, and make no more account of them than if they
were the fourth side of a room in which he was meditating! When the
Guernsey pit hissed him in Richard III., his cry, pointedly addressed
to them:--"Unmannered dogs! Stand ye, when I command!" rendered them
silent. He tried the same trick, and not without effect, when the
pit of Drury Lane was hissing him, not for being a bad actor, but an
immoral man.

"Who is that shabby little man?" said Mary Chambers, a young
Waterford girl, who had been a governess, and who was going through
her probationary time as an actress in Gloucester. "Who the devil is
she?" asked Kean, after being soundly rated by her, for spoiling her
performance through his unsettled memory. She was what Kean never
thoroughly knew her to be--his good genius--worth more than all the
kinsfolk he had ever possessed, including Miss Tidswell, who once
gave him a home and the stick. The imprudent young couple, however,
fell in love; they married; and the manager paid his congratulations
to them, by turning them out of his company.[105]

They loved, slaved, and starved. The misery of their lives is
unparelleled, except by the heroic uncomplainingness with which
it was endured by Mrs. Kean. _His_ industry was really intense;
his study of every character he had to play careful, earnest,
conscientious; and after acting with as much anxiety as if he had
been performing before a jury of critics, he would return to his
miserable home, saddened, furious, and unsober. "I played the part
finely; and yet they did not applaud me!"

Gleams of good fortune occasionally lit up their path. An engagement
at Birmingham, at a guinea a week to each, was comparative wealth
to them; and there Kean found the applause for which he sighed. His
Octavian was preferred to Elliston's; and Stephen Kemble told him
that his Hotspur and Henry IV. were superior to those of his brother,
John Kemble. Kean thought of London. "If I could only get there, and
succeed! If I _succeed_, I shall go mad!"

There was much to be suffered by Kean and his wife before that
triumph came. For lack of means, they have to walk from Birmingham
to Swansea. Two hundred miles, and that poor lady may be a mother
before she accomplishes half of them! They wend painfully on, pale,
hungry, and silent; twelve miles a day; not asking alms, but not
above receiving that hospitality of the poor which is true, because
self-denying, charity. Needing many things, and obtaining none of
those she most needed, Mrs. Kean reached Bristol more dead than
alive. A cast in a boat, more weary suffering, a son born, and an
audience at Swansea who preferred Bengough, an elephantine simpleton,
with large unmeaning eyes, to Edmund--tells the outline of his tale
before they crossed from Wales to Waterford.

Soon in this troop, under Cherry, at Waterford, there were two men,
destined to be at the very head of their respective vocations, as
player and dramatic poet--Edmund Kean and Sheridan Knowles. At
present they are only strolling players. The training of the two men
had been totally different. Kean was "Nobody's Son," and had passed
through the misery, degradation, and blackguardism attendant on such
a parentage--his genius not slumbering, but ready to flash, like the
diamond, when light and opportunity should present themselves.

Knowles, on the other hand, was the son of a scholar and a trainer of
scholars. He came of a literary race. His sire compiled a dictionary;
Sheridan, the lexicographer, was his uncle; Richard Brinsley, his
cousin. At an early age he was removed from his native city, Cork, to
London, where the boy wrote boyish plays, and the youth grew up in
friendship with Hazlitt, Coleridge, and Lamb. Then he went into the
world, to fight his fight, and at four and twenty, that is, in 1808,
I find him a tolerable actor, on the old Dublin stage in Crow Street,
and a very acceptable guest at firesides where merit, wit, and a
harmonious voice were appreciated. Subsequently he joined the troop
of vivacious Cherry, in Waterford. There he met with the little,
bright-eyed, swarthy young man, who was Richard in the play, and
Harlequin in the pantomime, on the same evening; who, in short, could
do anything and did everything well. For him, Edmund Kean, Knowles
wrote his first serious play, a melo-dramatic tragedy, "Leo, the
Gipsey;" and in that piece Kean achieved so notable a triumph, that
he would have chosen it for his first appearance in London, but that,
luckily for him, he had lost the copy.

Edmund seems to have worked steadily in the ancient Irish city. Of
the general business I can say nothing, except that Mrs. Kean played
a Virgin of the Sun, at a time when the character least suited her;
but for a reminiscence of a benefit night, I take half a page from
Mr. Grattan.

"The last thing I recollect of Kean in Waterford, was the performance
for his benefit. The play was Hannah More's tragedy of "Percy," in
which he of course played the hero. Edwina was played by Mrs. Kean,
who was applauded to her heart's content. Kean was so popular, both
as an actor, and from the excellent character he bore, that the
audience thought less of the actor's demerits than of the husband's
feelings; and besides this, the _débutante_ had many personal friends
in her native city, and among the gentry of the neighbourhood, for
she had been governess to the children of a lady of good fortune,
who used all her influence at this benefit. After the tragedy, Kean
gave a specimen of tight-rope dancing, and another of sparring
with a professional pugilist. He then played the leading part in a
musical interlude, and finished with Chimpanzee, the monkey, in the
melo-dramatic pantomime of La Pérouse, and in this _character_ he
showed agility scarcely since surpassed by Mazurier or Gouffe, and
touches of deep tragedy in the monkey's death scene, which made the
audience shed tears."

What cause broke the connection of the Keans with Cherry, I do not
know; but the former were one day without an engagement, and among
the separations that ensued was that of Kean and Knowles. They were
both to find what they thirsted for in London; but for the former
many were the trials, and terrific the ascent, before he was to
reach that pinnacle which he occupied so gloriously and so briefly.

From Waterford, Edmund and his wife took with them no more than they
had brought, except an additional son, the day of whose birth was a
happy day in the mother's calendar of sorrows. They suffered, and
the children with them, all that humanity could suffer and yet live.
I find them at Dumfries, depending for food and shelter upon the
receipts at an "entertainment," given by Kean, in a room at a tavern.
There was _one_ auditor, and he paid sixpence! There were even worse
disappointments than these; and, under their accumulation, I do not
wonder that Kean broke into curses at his perverse destiny; or that
Mrs. Kean, looking at her children, prayed to God that He would
remove them and her!

And so from town to town they pursued their hapless pilgrimage.
_He_ sometimes driven to fury and to drink; she only asking for
death to her and the two younger sufferers. Now and then a divine
charity enabled them to rest and refresh; and _once_, a divine by
profession, in a country town, forbade them the use of a school-room,
because they were actors! The reverend gentleman himself, probably,
thought it very good amusement to listen to his own boys enacting the
"Eunuchus" of Terence.

Famine, rage, drink, and tears, mark the way of the wanderers. Brief
engagements enabled them to exist, just to keep themselves out of
the grave; and then came vacation and want to let them slip back
again to the very brink of that grave. Amid it all, Kean _did_
succeed in making a reputation. Passing through London he saw John
Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, in Wolsey and Constance--and he registered
a vow that _he would_ be there a great actor, too! And so again to
the country, to work hard, gain little, and wait; but also to enjoy
some antepast of metropolitan triumph at Exeter, where his success
was great, but not remunerative; where, with a greatcoat flung over
his stage-dress, he might too often be seen at the bar of the tavern
near the theatre, and where he enlarged his means by teaching dancing
and fencing, elocution and boxing--or "a word and a blow," as some
wag styled the latter two accomplishments. Exeter foretold that he
would not have to wait long, but all the prophetic patronage of
Exeter did not furnish him with means to get to Dorchester by any
other process than on foot, and with his son Charles on his back. The
poor sick little Howard, the elder son, had to be conveyed thither
by his mother. Howard had shown some promise of histrionic talent
already, and he helped to win a little bread for the family before
he died. For this, perhaps, the father loved him; and toiled on till
the tide came in his affairs which promised to raise him at its flood
to highest fortune. That tide began to flow, after Dr. Drury had
seen him act, and reported well to the Drury Lane Committee of his
acting; it was running fast in the same direction when Kean saw a
gentleman, in the boxes at Dorchester, so attentive to his playing,
that Edmund acted to him alone, as Booth had done in his day, but
under other influences, to Mr. Stanyan, the judicious gentleman from
Oxford. Kean's gentleman was Arnold, stage-manager from Drury Lane,
and he commenced negotiations with Kean for an engagement, before
they parted for the night. The poor player rushed home, hysterical
with agitation and delight, and all his good impulses uppermost.
He announced the glad intelligence to his wife, with the touching
comment--"If Howard only get well, we shall be all happy yet!"

Howard died, and Kean played, danced, sorrowed, and hoped--for the
time at which he was to go up to London was at hand; and thither
they went at the close of the year 1813. When that season of 1813-14
opened, Drury was in a condition from which it could be relieved
only by a genius;--and there he stood, in that cold hall, a little,
pale, restless, dark-eyed man, in a coat with two or three capes, and
nobody noticed him. In Cecil Street, his family was living on little
more than air; and he was daily growing sick, as he stood, waiting
in that hall, for an audience with the manager; and subject to the
sneers of passing actors. Even Rae, handsome and a fool, affected
not to know him, though they had played together, when Rae's mother
was matron at St. George's Hospital, and they had acted together at
the Haymarket, in 1806, when Rae led the business, and Kean was but
a supernumerary. Arnold treated him superciliously, with a "_young
man!_"--as he condescended to speak, and put him off. Other new
actors obtained trial parts, but there was none for that chafed,
hungry, restless little man in the capes. Even drunken Tokely, like
himself, from Exeter, could obtain a "first appearance," but Kean was
put off. Stephen Kemble played Shylock, and failed! why not try a
new actor? The Committee did so, and Mr. Huddart, from Dublin, went
on as Shylock, and was never heard of more. And the poor stroller
looked through the darkness of that miserable passage the while, and
murmured, "Let me but get my foot before the floats, and _I'll_ show

The permission came. Would he,--no, he _must_ play Richard. "Shylock,
or nothing!" was his bold reply. He was afraid of the littleness of
his figure,--which he had heard scoffed at, being exposed in the
"trunks" of Glo'ster. He hoped to hide it under the gown of Shylock.
The Jew, or nothing! The young fellow, he was not yet six and twenty,
was allowed to have his way.

At the one morning rehearsal he fluttered his fellow-actors, and
scared the manager, by his independence and originality. "Sir, this
will never do!" cried Raymond, the acting manager. "It is quite an
innovation; it cannot be permitted." "Sir," said the poor, proud man,
"I wish it to be so;" and the players smiled, and Kean went home,
that is, to his lodgings, in Cecil Street, on that snowy, foggy, 26th
of February 1814,[106] calm, hopeful, and hungry. "To-day," said he,
"I must _dine_."

Having accomplished that rare feat, he went forth alone, and on
foot. "I wish," he remarked, "I was going to be shot!" He had with
him a few properties which he was bound to procure for himself, tied
up in a poor handkerchief, under his arm. His wife remained, with
their child, at home. Kean tramped on beneath the falling snow, and
over that which thickly encumbered the ground,--solid here; there
in slush; and, by and by, pale, quiet, but fearless, he dressed in
a room shared by two or three others, and went down to the wing by
which he was to enter. Hitherto no one had spoken to him, save Jack
Bannister, who said a cheering word; and Oxberry, who had tended to
him a glass, and wished him good fortune. "By Jove!" exclaimed a
first-rater, looking at him, "Shylock in a black wig! Well!!"

The house could hold, as it is called, £600; there was not more
than a sixth of that sum in front. Winter without, his comrades
within;--all was against him. At length, he went on, with Rae, as
Bassanio, in ill-humour; and groups of actors at the wings, to
witness the first scene of a new candidate. All that Edmund Kean ever
did, was gracefully done; and the bow which he made, in return to
the usual welcoming applause, was eminently graceful. Dr. Drury, the
head-master of Harrow, who took great interest in him, looked fixedly
at him as he came forward. Shylock leant over his crutched stick,
with both hands; and, looking askance at Bassanio, said: "Three
thousand ducats?" paused, bethought himself, and then added: "Well?"
_He is safe_, said Dr. Drury.

[Illustration: (Edmund Kean as Shylock)]

The groups of actors soon after dispersed to the green-room. As they
reached it, there reached there, too, an echo of the loud applause
given to Shylock's reply to Bassanio's assurance that he may take
the bond. "I _will be_ assured I may!"--later came the sounds of the
increased approbation bestowed on the delivery of the passage ending
with, "and for these courtesies, I'll lend you thus much moneys."
The act came to an end gloriously; and the players in the green-room
looked for the coming among them of the new Shylock. He proudly kept
aloof; knew he was friendless, but felt that he was, in himself,

He wandered about the back of the stage, thinking, perhaps, of the
mother and child at home; and sure, now, of having at least made a
step towards triumph. He wanted no congratulations; and he walked
cheerfully down to the wing when the scene was about to take place
between him and his daughter, Jessica, in his very calling to
whom:--"Why, Jessica! I say"--there was, as some of us may remember,
from an after night's experience, a charm, as of music. The whole
scene was played with rare merit; but the absolute triumph was
not won till the scene (which was marvellous in his hands) in the
third act, between Shylock, Solanio, and Salarino,--ending with
the dialogue between the first and Tubal. Shylock's anguish at his
daughter's flight; his wrath at the two Christians who make sport
of his anguish; his hatred of all Christians, generally, and of
Antonio in particular; and then his alternations of rage, grief, and
ecstasy, as Tubal relates the losses incurred in the search of that
naughty Jessica, her extravagances, and then the ill luck that had
fallen upon Antonio;--in all this, there was such originality, such
terrible force, such assurance of a new and mighty master,--that the
house burst forth into a very whirlwind of approbation. "What now?"
was the cry in the green-room. The answer was, that the presence
and the power of the genius were acknowledged with an enthusiasm
which shook the very roof. How so select an audience contrived to
raise such a roar of exultation, was a permanent perplexity to Billy

They who had seen Stephen Kemble's Shylock, and that of Huddart,
this season, must have by this time confessed that the new actor had
superseded both. He must himself have felt, that if he had not yet
surpassed Cooke, and Henderson, and Macklin, he was tending that
way; and was already their equal. Whatever he felt, he remained
reserved and solitary; but he was now sought after. Raymond, the
acting manager, who had haughtily told him his innovations "would
not do," came to offer him oranges. Arnold, the stage manager, who
had _young-manned_ him, came to present him, "sir!" with some negus.
Kean cared for nothing more now, than for his fourth and last act;
and in that his triumph culminated. His calm demeanour at first; his
confident appeal to justice; his deafness, when appeal is made to him
for mercy; his steady joyousness, when the young lawyer recognises
the validity of the bond; his burst of exultation, when his right
is confessed; his fiendish eagerness, when whetting the knife:--and
then, the sudden collapse of disappointment and terror, with the
words,--"Is _that_--the LAW?"--in all was made manifest, that a noble
successor to the noblest of the actors of old had arisen. Then, his
trembling anxiety to recover what he had before refused; his sordid
abjectness, as he finds himself foiled, at every turn; his subdued
fury; and, at the last (and it was always the crowning glory of his
acting in this play), the withering sneer, hardly concealing the
crushed heart, with which he replied to the jibes of Gratiano, as
he left the court,--all raised a new sensation in an audience, who
acknowledged it in a perfect tumult of acclamation. As he passed to
his dressing-room, Raymond saluted him with the confession, that he
had made a hit; Pope, more generous, avowed that he had saved the
house from ruin.

And then, while Bannister was dashing through Dick, in the
"Apprentice," I seem to see the hero of the night staggering home
through the snow, drunk with delicious ecstasy, all his brightest
dreams realised, and all his good impulses surging within him. He may
be in a sort of frenzy, as he tells of his proud achievement; but, at
its very wildest, he exclaims: "Mary, you shall ride in your carriage
yet!" and, taking his son Charles from the cradle, swears he "shall
go to Eton;" but therewith something overshadows his joy, and he
murmurs, "If Howard had but lived to see it!"

That poor wife and mother must have enjoyed, on that eventful night,
the very brightest of the few gleams of sunshine that fell upon her
early, hapless life. Thenceforth, there was never to be misery or
sorrow in that household again! Poor lady! She did not, perhaps,
remember that Edmund had said, "_If_ I succeed,--it will drive me

But not yet: all was triumph for awhile; and worthily it was won.
His audiences rose, from one of a £100 to audiences of £600; and £20
a week rewarded efforts, for far less than which he subsequently
received £50 a night. He was advanced to the dignity of having a
dressing-room to himself. Legislators, poets, nobles, thronged his
tiring-room, where Arnold took as much care of him, as if on his life
hung more than the well-being of the theatre. Friends flocked to him,
as they are wont to do, where there is an opportunity of basking in
pleasant sunshine, imparted by genius. And old Nance Carey turned up,
to exact £50 a year from her not too delighted son, and to introduce
a Henry Darnley, who _would_ call Edmund, "dear brother!"

Some years later, in 1829, Moore was talking with Mrs. Kean of
this critical period in Edmund's career. The poet suggested, that
some memorial of his first appearance should be preserved. "Oh!"
exclaimed Mrs. Kean; "will you write his life? You shall have half
the profits;" adding, as she probably remembered the dark time which
had come upon her since the sunshine,--"if you will only give me a

But success was not to be considered as achieved, by playing one
character supremely well. Kean had, in the general memory, shaken
Macklin from his supremacy in Shylock. He was now summoned to show
himself worthy of being the successor of Garrick,--by acting Richard
III. A few nights before he played that part, it was performed at
Covent Garden, by John Kemble; and a short time after Kean had
triumphed, it was personated by Young; but Kemble could not prevent,
nor Young impede, the triumph of the new actor, who now made Richard
his own, as he had previously done with Shylock.

His Richard settled his position with the critics; and the criticism
to which he was subjected was, for the most part, admirably and
impartially written. He is sometimes spoken of as "this young man;"
at others, "this young gentleman." "Even Cooke's performance," says
one, "was left at an immeasurable distance." A second adds, "it was
the most perfect performance of any that has been witnessed since
the days of Garrick." Of the grand effects followed by a storm of
applause, a third writes that "electricity itself was never more
instantaneous in its operation." They are, however, occasionally
hypercritical. The able critic of the _Morning Chronicle_ objected
that in the young man's Richard "too great reliance was placed on
the expression of the countenance, which is a language intelligible
only to a part of the house;" and a contemporary thought that when
the young gentleman, as Richard, crossed his hands behind his back,
during his familiar colloquy with Buckingham, the action was
altogether _too natural_! Others point to attitudes which Titian
might have painted. Such use of eye, and lip, and muscle, had never
had anything comparable to it since the best days of Garrick. Even
Sylvanus Urban aroused himself, and declared, that Mr. Kean's success
had given new interest to the biography of Richard III.

Indeed, this second glory was greater than the first, for the
difficulties were greater, and they were all surmounted. Joyous and
sarcastic in the opening soliloquy; devilish, as he passed his bright
sword through the still breathing body of Lancaster; audaciously
hypocritical, and almost too exulting, in the wooing of Lady Anne;
cruelly kind to the young Princes, his eye smiling while his foot
seemed restless to crush the two spiders that so vexed his heart;--in
representing all this there was an originality and a nature which
were entirely new to the delighted audience. Then they seemed to
behold altogether a new man revealed to them, in the first words
uttered by him from the throne.--"Stand all apart!" from which period
to the last struggle with Richmond, there was an uninterrupted
succession of beauties; even in the bye-play he found means to extort
applause, and a graceful attitude, an almost silent chuckle, a
significant glance,--even so commonplace a phrase as "Good night, my
lords," uttered before the battle of the morrow, were responded to by
acclamations such as are awarded to none but the great masters of the

The triumph was accumulative, and it was crowned by the tent-scene,
the battle, and the death. Probably no actor ever even approached
Kean in the last two incidents. He fenced with consummate grace and
skill; and fought with an energy that seemed a fierce reality.

Rae had sneered at the "little man," but Rae now felt bound to be
civil to the great tragedian, and referring to the passage of arms in
"Richard III.," he, having to play Richmond, asked, "Where shall I
hit you, sir, to-night?" "Where you can, sir," answered Kean; and he
kept Richmond off, in that famous struggle, till Rae's sword-arm was
weary with making passes.

His attempt to "collar" Richmond when his own sword had fallen from
him was so doubtful in taste that he subsequently abandoned it;[107]
but in the faint, yet deadly-meant passes, which he made with his
swordless arm, after he had received his death-blow, there was the
conception of a great artist; and there died with him a malignity
which mortal man had never before so terribly pourtrayed. Young, in
his dying scene of Richard used to fling his sword at Richmond, a
trick which the critics very properly denounced.

They who said that Mr. Kean's figure and voice were against him,
unconsciously exalted the genius which had triumphed over the
difficulties of Shakspeare and Cibber's Richard. They who accepted
rather than rejoiced in his triumph, called him "The Fortunate
Actor!" They did not know that under slavery, starvation, and every
disadvantage but despair, Kean had silently and solitarily studied
these characters, and had come to conclusions which he hoped would
enable him to achieve a success which, _if_ accomplished, he was,
after all, afraid would drive him mad.

At this time, 1814, Moore speaks of "poor Mr. Kean," as being "in the
honeymoon of criticism;" and then the bard speaks disrespectfully of
the critics. "Next to the pleasure," he says, "of crying a man down,
your critics enjoy the vanity of writing him up; but when once up,
and fixed there, he is a mark for their arrows ever after."

His other characters this season were Hamlet, when to John Bannister
was assigned the first of the two Grave-diggers, whom he had restored
to the stage from which they had been abolished by Garrick; Othello,
to the Iago of Pope; and Iago, to the Othello of Sowerby, Pope,
Rae, and Elliston; Miss Smith, who refused to play the Queen, in
"Richard," being his Desdemona. He also acted Luke, in "Riches"
("City Madam"), to the Lacy of Wallack; and the Lady Traffic of Mrs.
Edwin. Of these, he was always inclined to think Hamlet his best
character. He had, perhaps, studied it more deeply than the others,
and Mrs. Garrick took such especial interest in his representation
of it, that on comparing it with her husband's, she saw only one
great defect,--in the closet scene. Garrick was severer with the
Queen of Denmark than Kean, and Mrs. Garrick persuaded him, though
unconvinced by her, to throw more sternness into this celebrated
scene. The good old lady merited _some_, yet not _such_ concession;
but then she invited Kean to Adelphi Terrace, and sent him fruit from
Hampton, and made him a present of Garrick's stage-jewels. The young
man was in a fair way of being spoiled, as Pope said of Garrick,
when thinking of the laborious, but splendid time of his friend and
favourite, Betterton.

Tenderness to Ophelia, affection for his mother, reverential awe of
his father, and a fixed resolution to fulfil the mission confided to
him by that father, were the distinct "motives," so to speak, of his

The critics especially dwell on the tender vibration of his voice
when uttering the word "father" to the Ghost; they approve of his
sinking on one knee before the solemn spirit, and they are lost in
admiration of his original action when, instead of keeping the Ghost
off with his sword, when he bids it, "go on," he pointed it back at
his friends to deter them from preventing his following the visionary
figure. This, and another original point, have become stage-property.
I allude to the scene in which he seems to deal so harshly with
Ophelia. At the close of it, Kean used to return from the very
extremity of the stage, take Ophelia's hand, kiss it with a tender
rapture, look mournfully loving upon her, with eyes full of beautiful
significance, and then rush off. The effect never failed, and the
approbation was tumultuous.

Gracefully and earnestly as his Hamlet[108] was played, it yielded
in attractiveness to his Othello, which despite some little
exaggeration of action, when told to beware of jealousy, was,
perhaps, the greatest of his achievements. In the tender scenes, and
love for Desdemona was above all other passion, even when for love
he jealously slew her, he had as much power over his "bad voice," as
his adversaries called it, as John Kemble over his asthmatic cough,
and attuned it to the tenderness to which he had to give expression.
In the fiercer scenes he was unsurpassable, and in the great third
act none who remember him will, I think, be prepared to allow that he
ever had, or is ever likely to have, an equal.

John Kemble himself said of Kean's Othello:--"If the justness of
its conception had been but equal to the brilliancy of execution
it would have been perfect; but," added the older actor, with some
sense, perhaps, of being disturbed by the younger player, "the whole
thing is a mistake; the fact being that Othello was a slow man,"--to
be moved, he was; but being moved, swift and terrible in moving to
consequent purpose.

Iago, curiously enough, was not so welcome a part to Kean as Othello.
Its characteristic was the concealment of his hypocrisy, and in the
delineation of such a part Kean was usually unrivalled. Some of his
admirers considered his Iago as fine as his Richard, but he never
played the two with equal care and equal success. On the other hand,
he was pleased with the strong _oppositions_ in the character of
Luke, but his audiences were not satisfied in the same degree, and it
fell out of his repertory. He of course thought them in the wrong;
lamented on the few competent judges of acting, and limited these to
lawyers, doctors, artists, critics, and literary men. He was then the
(often unwilling) guest of noblemen who, I doubt not, were excellent
judges too; but Kean thought otherwise: "They talk a great deal," he
said, "of what I don't understand,"--politics, and equally abstruse
matters; "but when it comes to plays, they talk such nonsense!"

I am not about to follow this actor through his score of seasons,
but as a sample of his value to the treasury of Drury Lane, at this
time, and therefore to the stage, I may just make record of the fact
that in this first season, he played Shylock fifteen times, Richard
twenty-five, Hamlet eight, Othello ten, Iago eight, and Luke four;
and that in those seventy nights, the delighted treasurer of Drury
Lane struck a balance of profit to the theatre, amounting in round
numbers to £170,000.[109] Previous to the appearance granted to him
so tardily, there had been one hundred and thirty-nine nights of
continual loss. Mr. Whitbread, a proprietor, might well say of him
that "he was one of those prodigies that occur only once or twice in
a century."

In this same season, Kemble stood his ground against Kean in the
one character played by both--Hamlet; but two new actors--tall,
earnest, handsome, but ungainly Conway, from Dublin, and Terry, from
Edinburgh--only took a respectable position. The Othello of the
first, and the Shylock of the second, were never heard of after Kean
had played and made them his own.

In Kean's second season, he added to his other characters, Macbeth,
which had some magnificent points, but in which Kemble had personal
advantages over him: Romeo, which continues the traditional glory of
Barry; Reuben Glenroy and Penruddock, in neither of which he equalled
Kemble; Zanga, played in a style which made the fame of Mossop pale,
and shook Young and Kemble from an old possession; Richard II.,
in an adaptation by Merivale,[110] acted with a new grace to the
expression of melancholy; Abel Drugger, concerning which he answered
the legendary--"I know it," to the "you can't play it," of Mrs.
Garrick; Leon, performed with moderate success, and Octavian, with
rare sweetness, but not with such rare ability as to make John Kemble

Kean also acted his first original character, Egbert, in the tragedy
of that name,[111] by Mrs. Wilmot. His prestige suffered a little
in consequence, for Egbert was condemned on the first night. He had
compensation enough in Zanga. As one who stood among the crowd in the
pit passage heard a shout and clamour of approbation within, he asked
if Zanga had not just previously said, "Then lose her!" for that
phrase, in the country, when uttered by Kean, used to make the walls
shake; and he was answered that it was so. I remember having read
that some one was with Southey, when the "Revenge" was played, and
that when Zanga consummated his vengeance in the words, "Know then
'twas I"--lifting up his arms, as he spoke, over the fainting Alonzo,
and seeming to fill the theatre--the same image was simultaneously
presented to the minds of the two friends. "He looks like Michael
Angelo's rebellious Archangel!" thought one. "He looks like the
Arch-Fiend himself," said the other.[112]

Covent Garden struggled nobly, with its old and strong company,
against the single power of Kean at the other house; but found
its best ally in a new actress. On the 13th of October 1814,[113]
Miss O'Neill made her first appearance in Belvidera. It is not
my intention to do more than record the names of the players who
made their _début_ after the coming of Edmund Kean, but there is
something so singular in the lucky chance which led to Miss O'Neill's
well-merited fortune, that I venture to tell it in the words of
Michael Kelly.[114]

Let me first remark that, no doubt, some of us are old enough to have
seen, as many of us have heard, of Miss Walstein, that "sort of Crow
Street Bonaparte," who struggled so bravely, though so briefly, at
Drury Lane against Miss O'Neill, when the latter carried the town
by her superior charms and talents. Miss O'Neill was furnished by
her undoubtedly great rival with the means of supplanting her. Had
not Walstein been arrogant, the famous Juliet of our infantine days
might never have sighed on the Covent Garden balcony. Her first step,
however, was made on the stage at Crow Street, and Miss Walstein
unwittingly helped her to obtain a secure footing. The story is thus
told by garrulous Mike Kelly:--"Miss Walstein, who was the heroine of
the Dublin stage, and a great and deserved favourite, was to open the
theatre in the character of Juliet. Mr. Jones received an intimation
from Miss Walstein that without a certain increase of salary, and
other privileges, she would not come to the house. Mr. Jones had
arrived at the determination to shut up his theatre sooner than
submit to what he thought an unwarrantable demand, when Mac Nally,
the box-keeper, who had been the bearer of Miss Walstein's message,
told Mr. Jones that it would be a pity to shut up the house; that
there was a remedy if Mr. Jones chose to avail himself of it. 'The
girl, sir,' said he, 'who has been so often recommended to you as a
promising actress, is now at an hotel in Dublin with her father and
brother, where they have just arrived, and is proceeding to Drogheda,
to act at her father's theatre there. I have heard it said by persons
who have seen her, that she plays Juliet extremely well, and is very
young and very pretty. I am sure that she would be delighted to have
the opportunity of appearing before a Dublin audience, and if you
please I will make her the proposal.' The proposal was made, and
accepted; and on the following Saturday, 'the girl,' who was Miss
O'Neill, made her _début_ on the Dublin stage as Juliet.[115] The
audience was delighted; she acted the part several nights, and Mr.
Jones offered her father and brother engagements on very liberal
terms, which were thankfully accepted. In Dublin," adds Kelly, "she
was not only a great favourite in tragedy, but also in many parts of
genteel comedy. I have there seen her play Letitia Hardy; she danced
very gracefully, and introduced my song, 'In the rough Blast heave
the Billows,' originally sung by Mrs. Jordan, at Drury Lane, which
she sang so well as to produce a general call for its repetition from
the audience. She was in private life highly esteemed for her many
good qualities. Her engagement in Dublin wafted Miss Walstein from
Dublin, where she had been for many years the heroine of Crow Street,
to Drury Lane, where she made her appearance as Calista, in 'The Fair
Penitent,' on the 15th November 1814, but only remained one season."

It would seem as if Drury Lane were weary by this time of its
success, for early in 1815-16 that excellent actor, Dowton, who
disliked seeing Kean's name in large type, tried to extinguish him
by playing Shylock! The Kentish baker's son could play Sheva and
Cantwell, and many other parts admirably; but Shylock!--No, let us
pass to more equal adversaries; in a contest between whom, Kean did
fairly extinguish his antagonist. In this season Kean acted all
his old and many new parts, among the latter, Shakspeare's Richard
II.,[116] Bajazet, Duke Aranza (in which Elliston had the better of
him), Goswin ("Beggars' Bush"), Sir Giles Overreach, and Sforza.
Among these, Sir Giles stands pre-eminent for its perfectness, from
the first words, "Still cloistered up," to the last convulsive breath
drawn by him in that famous _one_ scene of the fifth act, in which,
through his terrible intensity, he once made so experienced an
actress as Mrs. Glover faint away,--not at all out of flattery, but
from emotion.

Now, Sir Giles had been one of Kemble's weaknesses; and he affected
it as he might have done Coriolanus. He had played it since Mr.
Kean had come to London, but as no comparison could be drawn, his
performance was accepted, as even an indifferent but honest effort
by a great artist deserves to be. But after Edmund Kean had added
another rose to his chaplet, by his marvellous impersonation of Sir
Giles, Kemble played it again, as if to challenge comparison. I am
sorry to say it, but John Kemble was hissed! No! It was his Sir Giles
that was hissed. Two nights later he acted Coriolanus, the merits
of which were acknowledged with enthusiasm by his audience. But he
never ventured on Sir Giles again! In this last character, all the
qualities of Kean's voice came out to wonderful purpose, especially
in the scene where Lovel asks him,

    "Are you not moved with the sad imprecations
    And curses of whole families, made wretched
    By your sinister practices?"

to which Sir Giles replies:--

                                "Yes, as rocks are
    When foamy billows split themselves against
    Their flinty ribs; or as the moon is moved
    When wolves with hunger pined, howl at her brightness."

I seem still to hear the words and the voice as I pen this passage;
now composed, now grand as the foamy billows; so flute-like on the
word "moon," creating a scene with the sound; and anon sharp, harsh,
fierce in the last line, with a look upward from those matchless
eyes, that rendered the troop visible, and their howl perceptible
to the ear;--the whole serenity of the man, and the solidity of his
temper, being illustrated less by the assurance in the succeeding
words than by the exquisite music in the tone with which he uttered
the word "brightness."

It was on the night he played Sir Giles for the first time in London,
that Mrs. Kean, who seems to have been too nervous to witness his new
essays, asked him what that hanger-on at the theatres, Lord Essex,
had thought of it. You know the jubilant reply:--"D---- Lord Essex,
Mary! The pit rose at me!"

But to Sir Giles were not confined Kean's triumphs of this year.
He created the part of Bertram, in Maturin's tragedy of that
name; and he alone stands associated with the part. It suited him
admirably,--for it is full of passion, pathos, wild love, and
tenderness. One great point made by the actor (whose Imogine was Miss
Somerville, afterwards Mrs. Bunn) was in the exquisite delivery of
the words, "God bless the child!" They have made many a tear to flow,
and he acquired the necessary pathos and power by first repeating
them at home, while he looked on his sleeping boy; and I do not know
a prettier incident in the life of this impulsive actor. Would there
were more of them!

In the season of 1816-17 John Kemble withdrew, full of honours,
though his laurels had been a little shaken. As opponents to the now
well-established actor at Drury Lane, two gentlemen were brought
forward, Mr. Macready, from Dublin, and Mr. Junius Booth, from
Worthing. The former is the son of the respectable actor and dramatic
author, whose abandonment of upholstery, in Dublin, did something
towards giving to the stage the son who long refined and adorned it.
Mr. Macready made all the more progress by not coming in contrast,
or comparison with Kean. He was of the Kemble school, but with ideas
of his own, and he made his way to fame, independently. But Booth
was so perfectly of the Kean school that his Richard appeared to be
as good as his master's. Indeed, some thought it better. Whereupon,
Kean counselled the Drury Lane management to bring him over to
that theatre. It was done. They played in Othello,--the Moor, by
Kean; Iago, by Booth. The contact was fatal to the latter. He
fell ingloriously, even as a Mr. Cobham had done before him in an
audacious attempt on Richard; but both gentlemen became heroes to
transpontine audiences.

Kean's other achievements this season were his fine interpretation of
Timon, after Shakspeare's text, "with no other omissions than such
as the refinement of manners has rendered necessary;" his creation
of Maturin's "Manuel," and his last triumph over Kemble, in doing
what the latter had failed to do, stirring the souls, raising the
terror, and winning the sympathy of his audience by one of the most
finished of his impersonations,--Sir Edward Mortimer. Oroonoko,
Selim, and Paul were the other characters newly essayed by him during
this season. The last two were for his benefit,[117] and therewith he
closed a season,--the last very fruitful in great triumphs, but not
the first in the chronicle of his decline.

He was now the oft-invited guest of people with whom he did not
particularly care to associate. Moore chronicles his name as one
of the guests with Lord Petersham, Lord Nugent, the Hon. William
Spencer, Colonel Berkeley, and Moore, at an "odd dinner," given
by Horace Twiss, in Chancery Lane, in 1819, in "a borrowed room,
with champagne, pewter spoons, and old Lady Cork." Lord Byron
was reluctant to believe in him, but after seeing him in Richard,
he presented the actor with a sword, and a box adorned by a
richly-chased boar-hunt; when Lord Byron had seen his Sir Giles, he
sent to the player a valuable Damascus blade. His compliments, at
Kean's benefit, took the shape of a fifty-pound note; and he once
invited him to dinner, which Kean left early, that he might take the
chair at some pugilistic supper!

[Illustration: Mr. Weston as Dr. Last.]


[101] Henry Carey hanged himself. I am not aware that his son
committed suicide.

[102] "I was born in the year 1787, and if anybody asks you who
was my mother, say Miss Tidswell, the actress; my father was the
late Duke of Norfolk, whom they called _Jockey_. I am not the son
of Moses Kean, the mimic, nor of his brother, as some people are
pleased to assert, though I bear the same name. I had the honour of
being brought up at Arundel Castle till I was seven years old, and
there they sometimes, I do not know why, called me _Duncan_! After I
quitted Arundel Castle, I was soon put upon the stage by my mother.
The very first part in which I appeared was the Robber's Boy in the
'Iron Chest,' when it was originally brought out at Drury Lane in
1796.... I was at Arundel Castle a few years ago, and, as I showed to
the people who had charge of it, I knew every room, passage, winding
and turning in it. In one of the large apartments hung a portrait of
the old Duke of Norfolk, and the man who was with me said, 'You are
very like the old Duke, sir.' And well he might. I am his son!"

The above is said to have been taken down from Kean's words by a
gentleman who showed it to Payne Collier. Kean named his first boy
_Howard_, in support of the Norfolk legend.--_Doran MS._

[103] Miss Tidswell gives the date as 17th March 1789; but there can
be little doubt that 1787 is the correct year.

[104] In _Notes and Queries_, 4th series, iii. 535; Kean's real name
is said to have been Carter.--_Doran MS._

[105] At Stroud, in Gloucestershire, July 17, 1808. The bride and her
sister Susan, witness, wrote their names Chambres.--_Doran MS._

[106] 26th of January (second edition).

[107] Dyce called him "a pot-house Richard."--_Doran MS._

[108] When Rae played Hamlet in 1806, at the Haymarket, Kean was his
Rosencrantz.--_Doran MS._

[109] There is a cipher too many here. In the 2d edition the sum is
given as £17,000. Barry Cornwall says, "Upwards of £20,000."

[110] The adaptation was by Wroughton.

[111] The name of the tragedy was "Ina."

[112] Barry Cornwall relates a precisely similar circumstance, to
which Dr. Doran probably refers.

[113] Miss O'Neill played Juliet on the 6th October (corrected in 2d

[114] Miss O'Neill (Lady Becher) died 29th October 1872, aged 80.

[115] After Miss O'Neill married Becher and left the stage, she
affected not even to know at what time the play began, and once, when
some one quoted a line from one of her popular parts, she pretended
not to know from whence it came. So says Payne Collier, but I know
she went to see Kate Terry's Juliet, and that she sent to her the
praise of "one who had played Juliet."--_Doran MS._

[116] I see no reason to suppose that it was not Wroughton's
alteration that was performed this season also.

[117] He played Achmet and Paul for his benefit. He played Eustace
de St. Pierre ("Surrender of Calais") for the first time during this

[Illustration: J. B. BOOTH.]



Between the last-named period, and the time when Edmund Kean played
Virginius, there is but one character in which he produced any
extraordinary effect, namely King Lear. This sustained, but I do
not think it increased, his glory. His other characters only seem
to glide past, and disappear. Such are Richard, Duke of York, in a
compilation from several of Shakspeare's plays; Barabas, in Marlowe's
"Jew of Malta," the heaviness of which he relieved by a song, sweetly
warbled; Selim, in Dimond's melodramatic "Bride of Abydos;" Young
Norval, in which he was graceful and affecting; King John, which
did not disturb the repose of Kemble; and Alexander the Great,
which could as little stir the dead sleep of Verbruggen. Something
more effective was his Brutus, in Payne's compilation. The scene of
his simulated folly was skilfully played; that with the son whom
he condemns to death, full of tenderness and gravity. He could not
sustain Miss Porter's "Switzerland," and he would not support Mr.
Bucke's "Italians." Soane literally measured him for Malvesi, in the
"Dwarf of Naples," and misfitted him grievously. Mr. Twiss had no
better success with the "Carib Chief," in which Kean played Omreah;
and my recollections of his Rolla are not so agreeable as those which
I have of Young, and even Wallack. Well do I remember his Coriolanus,
for which he was physically unfitted; but only a great actor could
have played the scene of the candidateship, and that of the death, as
Kean did--who, however, gave more pleasure to the followers of the
Kemble school by this performance, than he did to his own. He made up
for all, by the grandeur, the touchingness, and the sublimity of his
King Lear. It was throughout thoroughly original in conception and in
execution, and by it he maintained his pre-eminency, and sustained,
as I have said, without increasing his old glory. He did not quite
realise his own assertion: "I will make the audience as mad as I
shall be."

His laurels were menaced. Frederick Yates came from the camp, and
flashed a promise in tragedy which moved the hearts of playgoers,
who saw his later devotion to comedy with early regret, but an
ultimate delight. Mr. Macready was steadily rising from melodrama
to the highest walks of tragedy, and his golden opportunity came
in Virginius. Hitherto, Kean had been shaking the secondary actors
of the old Kemble type into fits of jealousy, fear, disgust, and
admiration. Expressly for him did Knowles write the "Virginius,"
which gave a lasting celebrity to Mr. Macready. Already, however, had
a play on the subject, by Soane, been accepted at Drury Lane, and
in the Roman father Kean was for the first time designedly opposed
to the younger actor, He utterly failed; while Mr. Macready, in the
part written expressly, and by an able hand, for Kean, won a noble
victory. Kean might have said as the captured French Marshal said to
Marlborough:--"Change sides with me, and I'll fight it out again, to
a very different issue."

A range through his principal parts, and a running salute of
thundering puffs on the part of Elliston, heralded his visit to
America in 1820. He played at Liverpool before embarking, and like
George Frederick Cooke, had a hit at the audience before he left
them. They were the coldest people, he said, in whose presence he
had ever acted. That was true: but though Liverpool was chary of
approbation, it had applauded ungrateful Edmund more cordially than
any other actor.

From his first trip to America he brought back much solid gold,
a detestation of the Boston people, who would not patronise the
theatre at an unfashionable season of the year, and one of the
toe-bones of Cooke, over whose translated and mutilated remains he
raised the monument of which I have already spoken.

Some ill-health he brought back with him too; but he rallied, drank,
relapsed, and struggled into strength again. It was wasted on Miss
Baillie's "De Montfort;" though parts of this were played in his
grandest style. He seemed conscious that something was expected of
him by the public, and he flung himself, as it were, at everything.
He played Hastings to the Jane Shore of a Miss Edmiston--whose
success was predicted by aristocratic poets, and who is now, I
believe, painfully "strolling." With Sir Pertinax he did not move
the dead Macklin as his Shylock may have done; though it was better
played, save in the accent, than any living actor could have played
it. His Osmond gave some dignity to the "Castle Spectre," and his
Wolsey but little to "Henry VIII."

For Miss Tidswell's farewell benefit, after forty years of useful
subalternship, he attempted Don Felix. He would have done more for
her had he been asked; for in his breadless, boyish days, she had
beaten, taught, fed, and clothed him--till Nance Carey claimed him
for her own, and stole _all_ his earnings. Edmund's good impulses
made him fail in affection to this parent. Thinking of Miss Tidswell,
he used to say--"If she wasn't my mother, why was she kind to me?"

For his own benefit, in this season of 1821-22, he played the Roman
actor, Octavian, and Tom Tug--the songs in which last part he sang
with great feeling. The whole proceeds of this benefit he gave to the
fund for the starving Irish. It was not exactly like Mrs. Haller's
charity, who gives her master's wine to the sick poor; but, that
virtue, which is said to begin at home, might have sent the amount in
a different direction.[118]

In November 1822 he played out the first of his two great struggles
with Young at Drury Lane. Since Quin and Garrick, or Garrick and
Barry, no conjunction of great names moved the theatrical world like
this. Both men put out all their powers, and the public profited
by the magnificent display. Kean and Young acted together Othello
and Iago, Lothair and Guiscard, Jaffier and Pierre, Alexander and
Clytus, Posthumus and Iachimo, eliciting enthusiasm by all, but by
none so much as by Othello and Iago. The two great wrestlers won
equal honour; but that was not enough for one of them. "How long,
sir," said Kean to Elliston, the manager, "how long am I to play with
that--_Jesuit_, Young?"

Certainly, if he feared competition with experienced actors, Kean
was very encouraging to beginners. "You are the best Iago I ever
played to," he once remarked to an earnest, youthful gentleman
at Edinburgh. The latter smiled; and Kean asked him _wherefore_?
"Because, sir," was the answer, "I know of seven poor Iagos, to whom
you have kindly said the same thing!"

In a revival of _Shakspeare's_ "King Lear," Kean showed good
taste, sublime acting, and an appreciation of opportunity for
self-distinction. He was not always equally in the vein, but on some
nights he excelled all he had done before. Genest says, that "his
personal appearance was better than Kemble's or Young's, and his
manner more natural. In the mad scenes he seemed to copy Murphy's
account of Garrick." The only drawback I have heard of to this
noble, and last of his noble and complete performances was, that he
was neither tall enough nor strong enough to carry off the body of
Cordelia (Mrs. W. West).

He might have begun a fresh career, however, from this new
starting-point, had he been so minded. But this success did not brace
him to new effort, except a quietly ineffectual one to make the world
forget the Stranger of John Kemble. His failing strength was probably
the chief cause of his avoiding or refusing to appear in the same
piece with Mr. Macready, of whom he rather rudely remarked--"He is no
actor, sir; he is a player!"

But the satirist himself was fast ceasing to be either. He had never
recovered from the madness which he prophesied would follow his
success in London. Gradually he lost all self-control, plunged into
terrible excesses, courted rather than fell into evil company, took
tribute, indeed, most willingly of the noble and intellectual who
heaped rich gifts upon him, but he scorned or feared their society.
He affected to feel that they invited him simply to stare at him, and
that they would have despised him as a poor actor. He had not common
sense enough to see that when the noble and intellectual opened their
doors to him they rendered graceful homage to his genius,--and I
have heard that where he _did_ accept such homage, and was himself
subdued to the refinements of the society where it was liberally, yet
delicately rendered, his easy bearing was that of a man who had not
lost his self-respect, and his manners and conversation emphatically

But this was under restraint, and to be thus "charming" was irksome
to Edmund Kean; by this time it had become almost impossible, and he
could charm only those on whom the magic was not worth expending.
He had not broken his word to his wife--that she should ride in her
carriage, nor to his son--that he should go to Eton,--but he had not
made the first happier, nor the second the more attached to him. His
home, indeed, was broken up, and in the season of 1824-25, after
failing in the poor melodramatic part of Masaniello, came out the
great scandal--that he loved his neighbour's wife better than his
own. All its necessary consequences followed,--a fierce, an almost
ruffianly hostility on the part of his audiences, damage to his
fortune, and irretrievable ruin to his reputation.[119] Reckless
and defiant as he was, he was glad to endure exile, for such was his
voyage to, and sojourn in, America during this and the following year.

Let me notice that he bore himself in presence of a cruel audience,
with an almost ferocious courage. His pride was greater than his
humiliation. As at Drury, he applied every strong epithet in his
part to the howling pit, so, when running his erratic course through
the minor theatres, he could treat audiences that were ignorant, as
well as insolent, with strong terms and lofty contempt. He had one
night played Othello to a "Coburg" public. Iago was acted by Cobham,
the performer who had once vainly attempted to dethrone him, by
acting Richard at Covent Garden, to a house, however, which would
not listen to him to the end. The New-Cut costermongers adopted him;
they applauded him, on this particular night, more than they did the
great Kean, who received £50 for condescending to exhibit himself in
Othello. Nevertheless, at the fall of the curtain, there was such
an uproar in front, apparently a call for Kean, that he came slowly
forward, and bluntly asked, "What do you want?" A thousand voices
answered, "You! you!" Well, said Kean, after a slight peroration, "I
have played in every civilised country where English is the language
of the people; but I never acted to an audience of such unmitigated
brutes as you are!" He walked slowly off as Cobham, to a shout for
him from the sweet voices of his Lambeth-marsh patrons, rushed on
the stage, proud and radiant, to tell Edmund's "unmitigated brutes"
that they were the most enlightened and liberal audience that had
ever sat as judges of acting, and that the happiest night of his
life was that on which he had the opportunity of telling his friends
and admirers that incontrovertible truth. A cry that might have been
heard across St. George's Fields proclaimed him to be "a trump!"--and
Cobham won the honours of the night!

Kean, as before recorded, betook himself again to America. Since
his previous visit to the Northern States he was greatly changed;
but that the seeds of insanity were in him at the earlier period, a
passage from Dr. Francis's _Old New York_ will mournfully show. Some
hospitable friends exerted themselves to render his earlier stay
agreeable, and this is an incident of the time--one out of many:--

"A few days after, we made the desired visit at Bloomingdale. Kean,
with an additional friend and myself, occupied the carriage for a
sort of philosophical exploration of the city on our way there.
On the excursion he remarked, he should like to see our Vauxhall;
we stopped, he entered the gate, asked the doorkeeper if he might
survey the place, gave a double somerset through the air, and in
the twinkling of an eye stood at the remote part of the garden. The
wonder of the superintendent can be better imagined than described.
Arriving at the Asylum, with suitable gravity he was introduced to
the officials, invited to an inspection of the afflicted inmates,
and then told if he would ascend to the roof of the building a
delightful prospect would be presented to his contemplation; many
counties, and an area of sea, rivers, and lands, mountains, and
valleys, embracing a circuit of forty miles in circumference. His
admiration was expressed in delirious accents:--'I'll walk the ridge
of the roof of the Asylum,' he exclaimed, 'and take a leap! it's
the best end I can make to my life;' and forthwith started for the
western gable end of the building. My associate and myself as he
hurried forward seized him by the arms, and he submissively returned.
I have ever been at a loss to account for this sudden freak in his
feelings; he was buoyant at the onset of the journey; he astonished
the Vauxhall doorkeeper by his harlequin trick, and took an interest
in the various forms of insanity which came before him. He might have
become too sublimated in his feelings, or had his senses unsettled
(for he was an electrical apparatus) in contemplating the mysterious
influences acting on the minds of the deranged, for there is an
attractive principle, as well as an adhesive principle, in madness;
or a crowd of thoughts might have oppressed him, arising from the
disaster which had occurred to him a few days before with the Boston
audience, and the irreparable loss he had sustained in the plunder of
his trunk and valuable papers, while journeying hither and thither on
his return to New York. We rejoiced together, however, when we found
him again safely at home at his old lodgings at the City Hotel."

That the fit had not decreased by lapse of time, another extract from
the same volume will amply demonstrate. Kean was not so satisfied
with the success he achieved professionally, as he was of a visit to
an Indian tribe who had enrolled him among their chiefs. It was a
freak which he took seriously, as will be seen by what follows:--

"Towards the close of his second visit to America, Kean made a tour
through the northern part of the State, and visited Canada; he fell
in with the Indians, with whom he became delighted, and was chosen
a chief of a tribe. Some time after, not aware of his return to
the city, I received at a late hour of the evening a call to wait
upon an Indian chief, by the name of Alantenaida, as the highly
finished card left at my house had it. Kean's ordinary card was
_Edmund Kean_, engraved; he generally wrote beneath, '_Integer vitæ
scelerisque purus._' I repaired to the hotel, and was conducted
upstairs to the folding-doors of the hall, where the servant left
me. I entered, aided by the feeble light of the room; but at the
remote end I soon perceived something like a forest of evergreens,
lighted up by many rays from floor-lamps, and surrounded by a stage
or throne; and seated in great state was the chief. I advanced, and
a more terrific warrior I never surveyed. Red Jacket or Black Hawk
was an unadorned simple personage in comparison. Full dressed, with
skins tagged loosely about his person, a broad collar of bear-skin
over his shoulders, his leggings with many stripes, garnished with
porcupine quills; his moccasins decorated with beads, his head
decked with the war-eagle's plumes, behind which flowed massive black
locks of dishevelled horse-hair, golden-coloured rings pendant from
the nose and ears, streaks of yellow paint over the face, massive
red daubings about the eyes, with various lines in streaks about the
forehead, not very artistically drawn. A broad belt surrounded his
waist, with tomahawk; his arms with shining bracelets, stretched out
with bow and arrow, as if ready for a mark. He descended his throne,
and rapidly approached me. His eye was meteoric and fearful, like
the furnace of the Cyclops. He vociferously exclaimed, ALANTENAIDA,
the vowels strong enough. I was relieved, he betrayed something of
his raucous voice in imprecation. It was Kean. An explanation took
place. He wished to know the merits of the representation. The Hurons
had honoured him by admission into their tribe, and he could not now
determine whether to seek his final earthly abode with them, for
real happiness, or return to London and add renown to his name by
performing the Son of the Forest. I never heard that he ever after
attempted in his own country the character. He was wrought up to the
highest pitch of enthusiasm at the Indian honour he had received,
and declared that even old Drury had never conferred so proud a
distinction on him as he had received from the Hurons."

I shall not soon forget that January night of 1827, on which he
reappeared at Drury Lane, in Shylock. A rush so fearful, an audience
so packed, a reconciliation so complete, acting so faultless, and
a dramatic enjoyment so exquisite, I never experienced. Nothing was
heeded,--indeed, the scenes were passed over, till Shylock was to
appear; and I have heard no such shout since, as that which greeted
him. Fire, strength, beauty;--every quality of the actor seemed to
have acquired fresh life. It was all deceptive, however. The actor
was all but extinguished, after this convulsive, but seemingly
natural effort. He lay in bed at the Hummums' hotel, all day, amusing
himself melancholily with his Indian gewgaws, and striving to find a
healthy tonic in "cognac." While immolating himself, he still clung
to a hope of rescue; and he strove to create one more new character,
Ben Nazir, in Mr. Colley Grattan's tragedy of that name. His power of
memory was gone; but he had a fatuitous idea that he had mastered his
part, and this is how he figured in it, as told by the author of that
hapless drama, himself. The picture has been often exhibited; but it
must needs be looked upon once more:--

"He did at length appear. The intention of the author, and the
keeping of the character, required him to rush rapidly on the
stage, giving utterance to a burst of joyous soliloquy. What was
my astonishment, to see him, as the scene opened, standing in the
centre of the stage, his arms crossed, and his whole attitude one
of thoughtful solemnity. His dress was splendid; and thunders of
applause greeted him from all parts of the house. To display the one,
and give time for the other, were the objects for which he stood
fixed for several minutes, and sacrificed the sense of the situation.
He spoke; but what a speech! The one I wrote, consisted of eight or
nine lines; _his_, was of two or three _sentences_,--but not six
consecutive words of the text. His look, his manner, his tone, were
to _me_ quite appalling; to any other observer, they must have been
incomprehensible. He stood fixed; drawled out his incoherent words,
and gave the notion of a man that had been half hanged and then
dragged through a horse pond. My heart, I confess it, sank deep in
my breast. I was utterly shocked. And as the business of the play
went on, and as _he_ stood by, with moveless muscle and glazed eye,
throughout the scene which should have been one of violent, perhaps
too violent exertion,--a cold shower of perspiration poured from
my forehead, and I endured a revulsion of feeling which I cannot
describe, and which I would not for worlds one eye had witnessed. I
had all along felt that this scene would be the touchstone of the
play. Kean went through it like a man in the last stage of exhaustion
and decay. The act closed; a dead silence followed the fall of the
curtain; and I felt, though I could not hear, the voiceless verdict
of 'damnation.' ... When the curtain fell, Mr. Wallack, the stage
manager, came forward, and made an apology for Kean's imperfection
in his part, and an appeal in behalf of the play. Neither excited
much sympathy; the audience was quite disgusted. I now, for the
first time during the night, went behind the scenes. On crossing
the stage towards the green-room, I met Kean, supported by his
servant and another person, going in the direction of his dressing
room. When he saw me, he hung down his head, and waved his hand, and
uttered some expressions of deep sorrow, and even remorse. 'I have
ruined a fine play, and myself; I cannot look you in the face,' were
the first words I caught. I said something in return, as cheering
and consolatory as I could. I may say, that all sense of my own
disappointment was forgotten, in the compassion I felt for him."

The descent now was rapid, but it was not made at one leap.
Penniless, though he might have been lord of "thousands," he caught
at an offer to provide for his son by a cadetship; but the son
refused to accept the offer--as such acceptation would have exposed
his mother to worse than the destitution of her earlier days--before
hope of a bright, though closing future, had died away. To lose her
son was to lose the best friend she had; for she had none now in
her faithless and suicidal husband. Edmund Kean heard of his son's
determination to go on the stage, in order to support his mother,
with grim dissatisfaction, and, I should hope, some sense of reproach
and abasement. They parted in anger, it is said, as far as the father
was concerned; the more angry, perhaps, that in his temporary wrath
he cast off the son whom he, in his heart, must have respected.

Consequently, the season of 1827-28, at Drury Lane and Covent Garden,
had a singular incident to mark them;--the struggle of the son to
rise, at the former; the struggle of the father not to fall, at the
latter. Mr. Charles Kean opened the season, in Norval. Mr. Cole, in
his biography of the son, quotes a letter, written by a friend of the
father, to the latter, in which the writer, who watched the attempt,
remarks:--"The speech, 'My name is Norval,' he hurried, and spoke as
though he had a cold, or was pressing a finger against his nose."

The attempt, in short, was unsuccessful; so had that of many an
aspirant been who subsequently reaped triumphs at his will; and Mr.
Charles Kean might find consolation. The attempt, at all events,
enabled him to fix his foot on the first step of the giddy ascent;
and, let it be said, he owed the possibility of doing so entirely to
his father's name. So young a man, without a great name, would have
found no access to Drury open to him; and I like to think, that if he
missed the fortune which his half mad, yet kindly impulsive father
had promised him, he owed to that father the foundations on which he
raised another. He inherited a great name and a great warning.

While the son was anxiously and painfully laying those foundations,
the sire was absolutely electrifying audiences at Covent Garden by
old flashes of his might, or disappointing them by his incapacity,
or his capricious absence. He reminded me of Don Juan, who, though
he went with open eyes recklessly to destruction, flung off the
fiends who at last grasped him, with a fearful, but vainly expended
energy. On one night, when he played Othello to Young's Iago, the
Cassio of Charles Kemble, the Roderigo of Farley, and the Desdemona
of Miss Jarman, I saw strong men clamber from the pit, over the lower
boxes, to escape suffocation, and weak men, in a fainting condition,
passed by friendly hands towards the air, in the same way. I remember
Charles Kemble, in his lofty, bland way, trying to persuade a
too-closely packed audience to fancy themselves comfortable, and to
be silent, which they would not be till _he_ appeared, who, on that,
and some after nights, could subdue them to silence or stir them into
ecstasy, at his will.

To those who saw him from the front, there was not a trace of
weakening of any power in him. But, oh ye few who stood between the
wings where a chair was placed for him, do you not remember the
saddening spectacle of that wrecked genius--a man in his very prime,
with not merely the attributes of age about him, but with some of the
infirmities of it, which are wont to try the heart of love itself.
Have you forgotten that helpless, speechless, fainting mass bent up
in that chair; or the very unsavoury odour of that very brown, very
hot, and very strong brandy-and-water, which alone kept alive the
once noble Moor? Aye, and _still_ noble Moor; for when his time came,
he looked about as from a dream, and sighed, and painfully got to his
feet, swayed like a column in an earthquake, and in not more time
than is required for the telling of it, was before the audience, as
strong and as intellectually beautiful as of old;--but only happy in
the applause which gave him a little breathing space, and saved him
from falling dead upon the stage.

During a few nights of another year or two, he acted under the
exacting conditions of a nature that had been violated. He gained
a little strength from his island home in Bute, and even acted in
Glasgow, Cork, and Dublin with his son, in whose success he took a
father's part. Thrice he essayed fresh study, and once he nearly
conquered; his Virginius, in Knowles's play, was superbly affecting,
in fragmentary passages, but he tried it at too late a period, not
of his natural life, but of his professional career. Richard II. was
magnificently got up for him, but as the curtain was about to rise,
it was discovered that he was not in the house--and days passed
before he emerged into the world and decency. His last essay in a new
part was in "Henry V.;" but he broke down, addressed the audience
deprecatorily, muttered something about being the representative of
Shakspeare's heroes, and lamented, at little more than forty, what
Macklin did not plead till he was past ninety--his decaying memory.

Now and then the town saw him, but his hold on it was nearly gone.
He was now at the Haymarket; and then, uncertainly, at Drury Lane;
and again at the Haymarket in 1832, where I saw him for the last
of many times, in Richard. The sight was pitiable. Genius was not
traceable in that bloated face; intellect was all but quenched in
those once matchless eyes; and the power seemed gone, despite the
will that would recall it. I noted in a diary, that night, the above
facts, and, in addition, that by bursts he was as grand as he had
ever been,--that though he looked well as long as he was still, he
moved only with difficulty, using his sword as a stick. I find, and
perfectly remember, that there was a murmur of approbation at the
pause and action of his extended arm, as he said--"In the deep bosom
of the ocean,--BURIED!"--as if he consigned all lowering clouds to
the sea. At--"The dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;" the action was
so expressive as to elicit a round of applause; and in the last of
the lines--

    "Why what a peevish fool was he of Crete,
    Who taught his son the office of a fowl,
    And yet for all his wings, the fool was drowned,"

the playful yet fiendish sarcasm was delivered with marvellous
effect. His words, after "Die, prophet, in thy speech,"--"For this
among the rest was I _ordained_," seemed like a devilish joke after a
burst of fury. In--

    "Villains, set down the corse, or by St. Paul,
    I'll make a corse of him that disobeys,"--

his voice was scarcely distinguishable; but his old attitude of
leaning at the side scene, as he contemplated Lady Anne, was as full
of grace as ever,--save that the contemplator had now a swollen and
unkingly face. Then--

    "Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
    That I may see my shadow as I pass,"--

was sportive in accent as in the very action of saluting; and there
was a world of argument and resolution in the delivery of the simple
words--"The tower?--_Aye_; the TOWER!" The chuckle at "So much for
_Buck_ingham!" I always considered wanting in dignity, but it brought
a roar of applause. In the scene with the Mayor and Buckingham, he
displayed talent unsurpassable;--the scarcely-subdued triumph that
lurked in his eyes, as he refused the crown; his tone in "Call him
again;" his acceptance of the throne, and his burst of joy, when he
had dismissed the petitioners, were perfect in their several ways;
but he was exhausted before the fifth act, and when, after a short
fight, Richmond (Cooper) gave him his death-wound in Bosworth Field,
as he seemed to deal the blow, he grasped Kean by the hand, and let
him gently down, lest he should be injured by a fall.

The end was at hand. He could no longer even venture, after the play,
to Offley's symposium, in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, that
lively singing-room, with a window looking into the mouldiest of
churchyards,--where, however, slept some noble actors. To and from
Richmond he occasionally travelled,--a feeble bundle of humanity,
that seemed to lie unconsciously in one corner of his carriage. But,
I think, conscience was there, too, and rage, and remorse,--that
a life had been so wasted, and mighty powers, almost as divine as
the poet's, so irretrievably abused. He aroused himself to make his
last appearance, as it proved, on the stage, in conjunction with his
son, in Othello, Mr. Charles Kean playing Iago. The night was the
25th of March 1833. Edmund Kean was so shattered in frame, that he
had scarcely strength to pass over him the dress of the Moor; so
shattered in nerve, that he dreaded some disaster. Brandy gave some
little heart to the greatly fallen actor, but he anxiously enjoined
his son to be ever near him, in case of some mischance, and he went
through the part, dying as he went, till after giving the sweet
utterance, as of old, to the celebrated "Farewell," ending with
"Othello's occupation's gone!" he attempted to utter the next speech,
and in the attempt fell on his son's shoulder, with a whispered moan,
"I am dying,--speak to them for me!" The curtain here descended on
him for ever, and the rest was only slow death, with intervals of
hope. He, the faithless, and now helpless, husband sent a note,
which sounds as a cry of anguish, to that good Mary Chambers of old,
who had had the ill-luck to listen to his wooing. But, having so
listened, she would not now be deaf to the wail of the man who said
that he had gone wrong in judgment, not in feeling; in head, not in
heart, and who cried, "Come home; forget and forgive!" She went, and
forgave; an angel could not, however, have forgotten all; but she
acted as if she had, and the true-hearted young partner of his early
miseries was the gentle alleviator of his last sufferings. She stood
by him till, on the 15th of May, death came upon the unconscious
man after some old tag of Octavian had passed his restless lips, of
"_Farewell, Flo--, Floranthe!_"

_Come home!_ was the dying actor's cry to his wife. Dead; there was
no home for the widow; for creditors took possession of it, and its
contents. To such end had come the humble and hapless wedding of
Mary Chambers and Edmund Kean at Gloucester, the brief glory after
long suffering,--sorrow and want at the end as at the beginning;
with him, an added shame; with her, uncomplainingness. Yes, and
consolation. The happiness she lacked with her husband was vouchsafed
to her through her son, and the union of the two strolling players at
Gloucester was thus not altogether barren of good and happy fruits.

And over the grave of one of the greatest of actors something may
be said in extenuation of his faults. Such curse as there can be in
a mother's indifference hung about him before his birth. A young
Huron, of whose tribe he subsequently became a member, could not
have lived a more savage,--but certainly enjoyed a more comfortable
and better-tended boyhood. Edmund Kean, from that very time of
boyhood, had genius, industry, and ambition,--but, with companionship
enough to extinguish the first, lack of reward sufficient to dull
the second, and repeated visitations of disappointment that might
have warranted the exchange of high hopes for brutal despair,--he
nourished his genius, maintained his industry, and kept an undying
ambition under circumstances when to do so was a part of heroism.
Compare his young and hard and blackguard life with the disciplined
boyhood of Betterton, the early associations of Booth, the school
career of Quin, the decent but modest childhood of Macklin, the
gentlemanly home of the youth Garrick, the bringing up of Cooke, and
the Douay College life of the Kembles. Kean was trained upon blows,
and curses, and starvation, and the charity of strangers. It was
enough to make all his temper convert to fury, and any idea of such
a young, unnurtured savage ever becoming an inheritor of the mantle
worn by the actors I have named, would have seemed a madness even to
that mother who soon followed him in death, Nance Carey. But Edmund
Kean cherished the idea, warm in his bosom, never ceased to qualify
himself for the attempt, studied for it while he starved,--and when
about to make it, felt and said that success would drive him mad. I
believe it did; but whether or not, I can part from _the_ great actor
of my young days only with a tender respect. I do not forget the many
hours of bright intellectual enjoyment for which I, in common with
thousands, was indebted to him, and, in the contemplation of this
actor's incomparable genius, I desire to forget the errors of the man.

Over his remains, in Richmond churchyard, a plain tablet arrests the
eye. I never look at it without a crowd of memories of the old and
brilliant scene he for awhile adorned, nor without thinking of the
words of Lesingham, in the Elizabethan drama:--

            "Oh! what our wills will do,
    With over-rash and headlong peevishness,
    To bring our calm discretion to repentance!"


I leave the history of the great players who rivalled or succeeded
Edmund Kean, to other chroniclers. They belong--the _great_
players--to a vocation which is next in dignity to that of the
poet. In the far off Ionian Islands, Demodocus first inspired his
countrymen with that taste for dramatic representation which has
overrun the world. Five centuries later, Thespis invented tragedy;
and after seven centuries more had elapsed, and there was a new
dispensation upon earth, and heathenism was fiercely fighting out
its last struggle with Christianity, the stage yielded two of the
noblest martyrs to the faith, in the persons of the then renowned
actors,--Genesius of Rome, and Gelasinus of Heliopolis.

Looking, recently, at the old patent granted by Charles II. to
Killigrew and Davenant (now in Drury Lane Theatre), I could not help
remarking, that the parchment for which so many hundreds of thousands
of pounds had been given, was now virtually worthless, save for the
superb portrait of Charles, within the gigantic initial letter of his
name. When that patent for two theatres was granted, London was less
populous than Manchester is now; and as the population increased,
theatres (beginning with that in Goodman's Fields) sprung up in spite
of the patent or Lord Chamberlain. The latter granted licenses to a
few, with great restrictions. At the Lyceum, for instance, not even
a tragedy could be produced unless there were at least five songs
or concerted pieces in each act; and the tragedy even then must be
called a _burletta_. The licenser's powers did not extend to St.
George's Fields, where political plays forbidden on the Middlesex
side of the river were attractive merely because they were forbidden.

Subsequently, at the minor theatres, plays, which could only be
legally acted at the patent houses, were performed, without being
converted into burlettas. The proprietors of the patents prosecuted
the offenders; but the levying of penalties (£50 nightly) against
Englishmen, for producing or acting in Shakspeare's plays, seemed
so absurd, that after some toying with the question, in 1842,
the government brought forward the bill of 1843, which passed
both houses, after Lord Campbell had deprived it of some tyrannic
authority it conferred upon the Lord Chamberlain. A "free trade"
principle was thereby introduced. The patent houses lost all their
privileges, save that of being exempt from a yearly renewal of
license to act; and the legitimate drama could be performed in any
licensed theatre. At Sadler's Wells, for instance, it was long and
worthily upheld by Mr. Phelps, without fear of every actor therein
incurring a penalty of £300 weekly, as when he played every night,
contrary to law.

Since 1843, then, the term of "Their," or "Her Majesty's Servants,"
is a mere formality, as there is no especial company now privileged
to serve or solace royalty. Mr. Webster, who occupies Garrick's
chair, in the management of the Theatrical Fund, tells me, that
Baddeley was the last actor who wore the uniform of scarlet and gold,
prescribed for the "gentlemen of the household," who were patented
actors; and that he used to appear in it at rehearsal. He was proud
of being one of their "Majesties' servants;"--a title once coveted
by all nobly-aspiring actors. They were sometimes nearest to the
desired end when they seemed farthest off. "Have you ever heard,"
asks Garrick, in an unpublished letter to Moody, then at Liverpool,
"of a Mrs. Siddons, who is strolling about somewhere near you?" Four
months later, Garrick brought her out at Drury Lane. That space of
time intervened, between the periods when Edmund Kean was starving
and triumphing. And now, in the green-room of Drury Lane Theatre,
the busts of Mrs. Siddons and Kean face each other; while that of
Shakspeare, opposite Garrick, seems to smile on all three,--_his_
great interpreters, as well as THEIR MAJESTIES' SERVANTS.

[Illustration: Mr. Foote as Sir Thomas Lofty.]


[118] Buckstone told me that, when young, he starved with a company
at Hastings, and that Kean relieved them by leaving his yacht and
playing for them two nights, gratis. Mr. York, of Penzance, told
us that Kean came with his yacht into Mount's Bay, and that he
acted superbly Richard, Othello, and Sir Giles, at the Penzance
Theatre,--which is now a carpenter's shop. 1871.--_Doran MS._

[119] Alderman Cox was as much to blame as Kean. Kean, in 1824,
writing to Mr. Vizell (?) says: "I imagine Mrs. Cox's age to be about
forty-five. When she first flapped her ferret eyes and affections on
me, I was about twenty-seven."--_Doran MS._


  Abington, Mrs., 102;
    account of her career, 102-108;
    her _début_, 103;
    her marriage, 104;
    her qualities as an actress, 104;
    Reynolds's comic muse, 105;
    and Walpole, 105;
    as Lady Teazle, 105;
    as Widow Belmour, 107;
    her original characters, 107;
    her death, 108; her manner and mannerisms, 258;
    the "Abington" cap, 258.

  Accidents at the theatre, 32, 40.

  Actors' loyalty, 38.

  Aikin, F., 128.

  Aikin, James, 128;
    his duel with J. P. Kemble, 197.

  Amateurs, noble, 45, 52;
    at Drury Lane, 30, 31.

  Arnold, S. J., 372.

  Audience on the stage, 44.

  Audiences of the last half of the 18th century, 30.

  Authorship at a low ebb, 348.

  Baddeley, Robert, 85;
    fights a duel with George Garrick, 85;
    his original characters, 136;
    bequeaths a cottage to the Drury Lane Fund, 136;
    his twelfth cake, 137;
    and Foote, 137;
    the last actor who wore the uniform of "Their Majesties' Servants,"

  Baddeley, Mrs., 85;
    her death, 86.

  Baillie, Joanna, 10.

  Bannister, Charles, 309.

  Bannister, John, 37, 310;
    an admirable actor in every line, 310;
    his career, 310-312;
    his great part of Walter in "The Children in the Wood," 311;
    his original characters, 312;
    portraits of him, 312;
    as first grave-digger, 382.

  Barry, Mrs., accidentally stabs Palmer, 140.

  Barry, Mrs. Elizabeth, 294.

  Barry, Spranger, 260.

  Barsanti, Miss (Mrs. Daly), 82.

  Barton, Fanny (See Mrs. Abington), 102.

  Beard, John, 11.

  Behn, Aphra, 280.

  Belfille, Mrs., 94.

  Bellamy, George Anne, and the King of Denmark, 36;
    account of her career, 88-94;
    her birth, 88;
    her early career, 90;
    her appearance as Monimia, 90;
    carried off by Lord Byron, 90;
    and Mr. Metham, 91;
    her lovers, 91, 92;
    her powers as an actress, 92;
    her varying fortunes, 93;
    her farewell to the stage, 93.

  Benefits, 294.

  Bensley, William, 256;
    as Eustace de St. Pierre, 129;
    his excellences, 130;
    his retirement, 130.

  Bentley, Richard, dramatist, 3;
    his "Wishes," 42.

  Beresford, Mrs., 95.

  Betterton, his dress as Hamlet, 248.

  Betty, Master William Henry West, 239;
    account of his career, 239-247;
    his birth, 239;
    appears at Belfast when only eleven years of age, 240;
    his popularity in Ireland, 240;
    his popularity in Scotland, 240;
    praised by Home for his Norval, 241;
    in the provinces, 241;
    his first appearance in London, 242;
    the frantic excitement caused, 242;
    as Selim, 243;
    presented with Garrick's seal, 244;
    flattery from the House of Commons, 244;
    the mania declines, 245;
    retirement from the stage, 245;
    return to the stage, 245;
    his comparative failure, 245;
    his final retirement, 246;
    critical account of him, 246.

  Bickerstaffe, 296.

  Blanchard, William, 323.

  Bland, Dorothy (see Jordan, Mrs.)

  Boaden, James, 4;
    and Mrs. Powell, 4.

  Booth, Barton, his dress as Cato, 249.

  Booth, Junius Brutus, 392;
    his rivalry with Kean, 392.

  Brand, Hannah, 9, 95.

  Brent, Miss, singer, 11.

  Brereton, William, 129;
    and Mrs. Siddons, 174;
    his madness, 175;
    his death, 175.

  Brereton, Mrs. (afterwards wife of John Kemble), 175, 194.

  Brooke, Frances, dramatist, 8.

  Brown, Anthony, dramatist, 19.

  Browne, Dr., 276.

  Brunton, Miss, 95.

  Brunton, Louisa (Countess of Craven), 221, 325.

  Bulkley, Mrs., 135;
    her self-assertion, 135;
    her career, 136.

  Bullock, 297.

  Bunn, Mrs., 392.

  Burgoyne, General, dramatist, 5.

  Byron, Lord, his present to Kean, 394.

  Canning, George, 118.

  Canning, Mrs., wife of S. Reddish, 118.

  Carey, George Saville, 359.

  Carey, Henry, 359.

  Carey, Nance, 360.

  Cargill, Mrs., as Macheath, 11.

  Carlisle, Lord, his tragedy, 28.

  Catalani, Madame, and the "O. P." riots, 340.

  Catley, Anne, 86.

  Cautherley, 118.

  Centlivre, Mrs., 14.

  Chambers, Mary (wife of Edmund Kean), 366.

  Chapman, 299.

  Charlotte, Queen, at the theatre, 39.

  Cherry, 263.

  Cibber, Colley, 15, 260.

  Cibber, Mrs., 47.

  Cibber, Theophilus, and his benefit, 296.

  Clarence, Duke of, 39.

  Cobham, Mr., 393, 402.

  Colman, George, the younger, 5;
    his furious attack on Kemble in the preface to the "Iron Chest," 209;
    his "John Bull," 229;
    his ruffianly conduct at Carlton House, 346.

  Congreve, 286.

  Conway, W. A., 385.

  Cooke, George Frederick, 223;
    account of his career, 223-238;
    theatricals at school, 224;
    early struggles, 225;
    quarrel with John Kemble, 225;
    his first appearance in London, 226;
    rivalry with Kemble, 226, 229;
    as Richard III., 226;
    his irregularities, 227, 228, 230;
    his failure in Hamlet, 228;
    his success in Sir Pertinax, 228;
    his apologies to audiences, 231;
    his visit to America, 231;
    his eccentricities there, 231, 233;
    his success, 231;
    his second marriage, 232;
    his mental intoxication, 234;
    his last appearance, 235;
    his death, 235;
    his excellence as an actor, 235;
    compared with Kemble, 236;
    removal of his body, 236;
    his skull, 237;
    his monument, 238.

  Cooke, Thomas, a dishonest dramatist, 290-294.

  Cooper, the last of the Kemble school, 210.

  Cork theatre, the, 50-51.

  Costume, dramatic, 248.

  Covent Garden Theatre burnt, 205, 329;
    rebuilt, 337;
    the "O. P." riots, 337-345.

  Cowley, Mrs., 7.

  Craven, Lady, authoress, 53, 54.

  Crawford, Mrs., 162, 165;
    her costume as Lady Randolph, 254, 255.

  Crouch, Mrs., 254.

  Cumberland, Richard, 3, 27;
    his "Jew," 7;
    and Sheridan, 27, 28.

  Curtis, Mrs. (sister of Mrs. Siddons), 163, 176.

  Daly, Richard, Dublin manager, 83.

  Daly, Mrs., 82, 83.

  Darby, Miss (Robinson, Mrs.), 108.

  Davison, Mrs., 325.

  De Camp, Miss, 10, 216;
    her youthful experience as a dancer, 216;
    her appearance at Drury Lane, 216;
    plays Macheath, 217;
    her marriage with Charles Kemble, 217;
    her retirement from the stage, 217;
    returns to the stage for one night, 218;
    her characteristics, 218;
    as an authoress, 219.

  Deighton, actor, 264.

  Delpla, 335.

  Denmark, King of, at the play, 35.

  Dennis, John, 14.

  Derby, Lord, and Miss Farren, 100.

  Dexter, 59; his carelessness, 60.

  Dibdin, Tom, 262, 348.

  Dickons, Mrs., 340.

  Digges, West, Edinburgh manager, 124;
    his death, 129.

  Dodd, James, 134;
    his great powers as an actor, 134;
    as Abel Drugger, 134;
    as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, 134;
    his death, 135.

  Dowton, 323;
    as Dr. Cantwell, 323;
    as Sir Anthony Absolute, 323;
    as Shylock, 389.

  Drama denounced by the _Eclectic_, 331.

  Drury, Dr., 371.

  Drury Lane, opening of new theatre, 213;
    burned down, 329;
    rebuilt, 330.

  Dryden's prologues, epilogues, and dedications, 280-283.

  Ducis, French author, 24.

  Duncan, Miss (Mrs. Davison), 325;
    as Juliana in the "Honeymoon," 325.

  _Eclectic Review_ on the stage, 332.

  Edinburgh theatre, the, 123.

  Edmiston, Miss, as Jane Shore, 398.

  Edwin, John, his popularity, 128;
    O'Keeffe's obligations to Edwin's acting, 128;
    his original characters, 128;
    his death, 128.

  Elliston, Robert William, 317;
    account of his career, 317-321;
    his birth, 317;
    with Tate Wilkinson at York, 318;
    his success in London, 318;
    as Sir Edward Mortimer, 318;
    his large experience of management, 318;
    his Hamlet, 318-319;
    his versatility, 319;
    his abilities, 319;
    as Duke Aranza, 319;
    his loftiness, 320.

  Epilogues, 273.

  Esten, Mrs., 95, 211, 252.

  Etherege, 285.

  Farren, Miss Elizabeth (Lady Derby), account of her career, 96-101;
    her origin, 96;
    her first appearance, 97;
    as Lady Hardcastle, 97;
    as Lady Townly, 97;
    her qualities as an actress, 98;
    her original characters, 98;
    her farewell to the stage, 100;
    her marriage to Lord Derby, 100;
    her children, 101.

  Fawcett, John, 323, 348;
    as Job Thornberry, 323;
    as Caleb Quotem, 323.

  Fielding, Henry, 16, 289;
    his nonchalance, 17.

  Fitzgerald, Percy, his "Lives of the Kembles," 176 _n._

  Fitzhenry, Mrs., 264.

  Flecnoe and his critics, 12.

  Foote, Samuel, 137;
    in Edinburgh, 124;
    and Henderson, 147.

  Francis, Dr., 232, 403.

  Francis, Miss (see Mrs. Jordan).

  Freemasons at the play, 298.

  French audiences, 55, 56, 60.

  Garrick, David, 275;
    and Sheridan, 5;
    and "The Chinese Festival," 33;
    his costume in various parts, 250;
    his tomb, 333.

  Garrick, Mrs., and Edmund Kean, 382.

  Garrick, George, 85.

  Gay, John, 14.

  George III. at the theatre, 38, 41, 345;
    fired at by Hatfield, 40.

  George IV. and actors, 346.

  Glover, Mrs., 326;
    a good actress and a good woman, 326.

  Godwin, 351.

  Goldsmith and his "Good-natured Man," 21.

  Goodfellow, actor, 300.

  Grattan, Colley, on Edmund Kean, 407.

  Greatheed's "Regent," 27.

  Green, Mrs., 84.

  Griffiths, Mrs., 8.

  Grimaldi, Joseph, 245.

  Hale as Charles I., 253.

  Hallam killed by Macklin, 67.

  Hamilton, Lady, 58.

  Hamilton, Mrs., actress, 264.

  Harcourt, Lord, on Mrs. Siddons, 172, 173.

  Hardy, French dramatist, 26.

  Harlequin, a speaking, 44.

  Hartley, Mrs., actress, 85.

  Hayley, 4, 351.

  Haymarket, loss of life at, 39, 40.

  Henderson, John, 251, 256;
    account of his career, 144-151;
    his first appearance at Bath, 144;
    his descent, 145;
    his first appearance in London, 146;
    his success, 146;
    as Shylock, 146;
    waiting on Foote, 147;
    his high aims, 148;
    creates a great sensation as Hamlet, 148, 149;
    his public readings, 149;
    as Falstaff, 150, 152;
    as Æsop, 150;
    his carefulness, 150;
    his death, 151.

  Hill, Aaron, 13, 289.

  Hippisley, 299.

  Holcroft, Thomas, dramatist, 5, 349.

  Holland, Charles, 47;
    and Miss Pope, 306.

  Hollingsworth, a provincial actor, 59.

  Holman, 322.

  Home, John, 3, 276.

  Hoole, as a dramatist, 25.

  Huddart, 373.

  Hull, Thomas, 321;
    establishes the Covent Garden Fund, 321.

  Hunt, Leigh, 320, 348.

  Inchbald, Mrs. Elizabeth, 8.

  Ireland's forged play of "Vortigern," 201.

  Jephson, R., his plays, 3;
    and Horace Walpole, 3.

  Jerrold, Douglas, and Elliston, 320.

  Johnstone, John, 133.

  Jones, Richard, 324, 325.

  Jordan, Mrs., 177, 312;
    account of her career, 312-17;
    her birth, 312;
    her early experiences, 313;
    her versatility, 313;
    her appearance in London, 313;
    her parts, 314;
    as Lady Contest, 314;
    her connection with the Duke of Clarence, 314;
    her excellence as a comedian, 315;
    reputed marriage with Ford, 315;
    her retirement, 316;
    her sad death, 316;
    her children ennobled, 317.

  Kean, Charles, 409;
    becomes an actor, 409, 410;
    plays with his father on the last appearance of the latter, 414;
    his goodness to his mother, 416.

  Kean, Edmund, 315;
    his monument to G. F. Cooke, 237;
    his carelessness in costume as Orestes, 256;
    his origin, 358;
    claimed to be the son of the Duke of Norfolk, 360 _n._;
    his birth, 361;
    as a Cupid at three years old, 361;
    as an imp in "Macbeth," 361;
    his early struggles, 362;
    plays before the king, 364;
    plays with Mrs. Siddons, 364;
    his marriage, 366;
    his privations, 366, 367, 370;
    programme of his benefit at Waterford, 369;
    his success at Exeter, 371;
    engaged at Drury Lane, 372;
    his first appearance, 373;
    plays Shylock, 373;
    account of his triumph, 374-377;
    as Richard III., 379, 412;
    the critics on his Richard, 379;
    description of his Richard, 379-382;
    characteristics of his Hamlet, 382, 383;
    his Othello, perhaps his greatest part, 384;
    his Iago, 384;
    his enormous drawings, 385;
    saves Drury Lane from bankruptcy, 385;
    characters played in his second season, 386;
    as Zanga, 386;
    his Sir Giles Overreach, 390;
    as Bertram, 392;
    his contest with J. B. Booth, 393;
    as Timon, 393;
    as King Lear, 395, 400;
    as Brutus in "Brutus," 396;
    as Coriolanus, 396;
    plays at Liverpool, 397;
    his visit to America in 1820, 397;
    his struggle with Young, 399;
    his dissipation, 400, 401;
    the scandal of the Cox case, 401;
    hooted by his audiences, 401, 402;
    again visits America, 402;
    Dr. Francis's account of his eccentricities there, 403;
    admitted a member of the tribe of the Hurons, 405;
    Alantenaida, 406;
    his return to England, 406;
    his breakdown, 407;
    his hopeless failure in Ben Nazir, 407;
    his last attempt at a new character, 412;
    his last appearance, 414, 415;
    his death, 415;
    extenuating circumstances, 416, 417.

  Kean, Mrs., and Moore, 378.

  Kemble, Anne, 163, 176.

  Kemble, Charles, 210, 211, 212, 263, 411;
    first appearance in London, as Malcolm, 213;
    as Laertes, 213;
    as Cassio, 213;
    as Faulconbridge, 213;
    in Macduff, 213;
    as Edgar, 213;
    as Jaffier, 214;
    as Hamlet, 214;
    compared with Young, 214, 215;
    a bad Falstaff, 215;
    a perfect Mercutio, 215;
    as Young Mirabel, 215;
    his Benedick, 216;
    his wife, 216;
    his departure from the stage, 218;
    he returns for a few nights, 218;
    as a reader, 219;
    an author, 219;
    his deafness, 219.

  Kemble, Mrs. C., 10, 216;
    her youthful experience as a dancer, 216;
    her appearance at Drury Lane, 216;
    plays Macheath, 217;
    her marriage with Charles Kemble, 217;
    her retirement from the stage, 217;
    returns to the stage for one night, 218;
    her characteristics, 218;
    as an authoress, 219.

  Kemble, Elizabeth, 157, 176, 192.

  Kemble, Fanny, 218.

  Kemble, Frances, 157, 176, 192.

  Kemble, Henry, 212.

  Kemble, John M., 219.

  Kemble, John Philip, 57, 220-222, 260;
    his defence of Miss Phillips, 50;
    account of his career, 189-210;
    his birth and early life, 189;
    as an author, 190;
    first appearance in London, as Hamlet, 191;
    as Macbeth, 193;
    as Lear, 193;
    married to Mrs. Brereton, 194;
    becomes manager of Drury Lane, 196;
    as Henry V., 197;
    duel with James Aikin, 197;
    becomes part proprietor of Covent Garden, 198;
    his assiduity, 199;
    in the "Castle Spectre," 199;
    as Rolla, 199;
    Pitt's opinion of him, 199, 200;
    his best characters, 200, 203;
    his Roman parts, 200, 209;
    and the Irelands' forged play of "Vortigern," 201;
    his Charles Surface, 204;
    the princely conduct of the Duke of Northumberland when Covent
        Garden Theatre was burned, 205;
    as Othello, 206;
    as Hamlet, 206;
    his successful parts, 208;
    his failure in Colman's "Iron Chest," 209;
    his farewell to the stage, 210, 392;
    his death, 210;
    his costume in various parts, 251, 255;
    specially attacked by the "O. P." rioters, 337-345.

  Kemble, Roger, father of John Philip Kemble, 154;
    plays in London, 154.

  Kemble, Mrs. Roger, 154.

  Kemble, Sarah (see Mrs. Siddons).

  Kemble, Stephen, 191, 210, 211, 373;
    manager at Edinburgh, 211;
    as Othello, 211;
    as Falstaff, 211;
    his death, 212.

  Kemble family specially attacked by the "O. P." rioters, 338.

  King, Thomas, 54;
    as a speaker of prologues, 279;
    his original characters, 301, 302;
    his retirement, 302;
    his love of play, 302.

  Knowles, Sheridan, 352, 357, 367;
    his training, 368;
    an actor, 368;
    an author, 368.

  Lamb, Charles, 320, 334, 351.

  Lee, Sophia, 9.

  Lessingham, Mrs., actress, 62.

  Lewes, Lee, 129.

  Lewis, "Monk," 11.

  Lewis, William, 251, 263, 348;
    his dress as Earl Percy, 256;
    his original characters, 303, 304;
    as the Copper Captain, 303, 304;
    his death, 303;
    his excellence in Morton and Reynolds's comedies, 304.

  Licences, 418.

  Liston, John, 324;
    the peculiarity of his comic acting, 324;
    his desire to play tragedy, 324.

  Litchfield, Mrs., 309.

  Liverpool audience, 59.

  Macklin, Charles, 4;
    his "Man of the World," 6;
    account of his career, 63;
    his parentage, 63, 65;
    his great age, 64;
    as Monimia at the age of nine, 65;
    his first appearance, 66;
    as Snip, 67;
    kills Hallam, 67;
    his marriage, 68;
    his Shylock, 68-70, 75;
    his "Henry VII.," 70;
    Pope's opinion of him, 70;
    in Dublin, 71;
    as Mercutio, 71;
    his opinion of Garrick and Barry as Romeo, 71;
    his retirement from the stage to keep a tavern, 72;
    his "British Inquisition," 72;
    his reappearance on the stage, 73;
    as Sir Archie Macsarcasm, 73;
    as Macbeth, 73;
    his daughter, 72, 81, 82;
    as Sir Pertinax Macsycophant, 73;
    failure of his memory, 74;
    his death, 76;
    his characteristics, 76;
    his objection to Garrick, 77;
    antagonism with Quin, 77;
    his character, 80;
    his original and principal characters, 80;
    his costume in various parts, 250.

  Macklin, Mrs., 68.

  Macklin, Miss, 72, 81;
    her death, 82.

  Macready, W. C., 392, 400;
    his Virginius, 396, 397.

  Mason, William, 3.

  Masterton, dramatist, 350.

  Mathews, Charles, 323;
    his extraordinary ability as a mimic, 323;
    his M. Malet, 323.

  Mattocks, Mrs., 308;
    her career, 308, 309;
    her characters, 309.

  Maturin, 354-357.

  Melmoth, Mrs., actress, 265.

  Miller, James, dramatist, 19.

  Milman, 357.

  Mistakes on the stage, 263.

  Mitchell and his "Highland Fair," 25.

  Montagu, Mrs., actress, 61.

  Moody, John, 130;
    as Major O'Flaherty, 131, 132;
    the best Irish actor of his time, 131;
    Churchill on Moody, 132;
    a market gardener, 132;
    his original characters, 133.

  Moore and Mrs. Kean, 378.

  More, Hannah, 7.

  Mossop, Henry, 259;
    and the Major, 48.

  Motteux, P. A., 288.

  Munden, Joseph S., 322, 348;
    his wonderful powers of grimace, 322;
    the breadth of his acting, 322;
    his parsimony, 323.

  Murphy, Arthur, 4, 289.

  Murray, Charles, actor, 267.

  O'Neill, Miss, 221, 387;
    her first opportunity, 388.

  "O. P." riots, 337-345.

  Opera, progress of, 10.

  Otway, 283.

  Owen, John, actor, 267.

  Owenson, 130.

  Palmer, John, 139;
    account of his career, 139-143;
    accidentally stabbed by Mrs. Barry, 148;
    his endeavours to open the Royalty Theatre, 140;
    his original characters, 140;
    his coolness, 140;
    his death on the stage, 141, 142;
    the original Joseph Surface, 142.

  Parsons, William, 137;
    his impudent "gagging," 37;
    a great comedian, 138;
    as Foresight, 138;
    as Skirmish, 138;
    as Corbaccio, 138;
    his last character, 138;
    his death, 139;
    story about his wife, 139.

  Patents, 418.

  Phelps, Samuel, his worthy support of the legitimate drama, 419.

  Phillips, Miss (Mrs. Crouch), 50.

  Plays, list of, from 1800 to 1813, 327-330.

  Pope, Alexander, 14;
    on Macklin's Shylock, 70.

  Pope, Mrs. (Miss Younge), 102.

  Pope, Miss, 74, 304;
    account of her career, 304-308;
    her retirement, 304;
    her original parts, 305;
    Churchill's opinion of her, 305, 306;
    her love affair with Holland, 306;
    her last illness and death, 308.

  Powell, George, and the _Spectator_, 294.

  Powell, Mrs., actress, 58.

  Powell, Thomas, a nervous author, 20.

  Pritchard, Mrs., 172.

  Proctor, B. W. (Barry Cornwall), 352, 357.

  Prologues, 273.

  Purvor, Grace (Mrs. Macklin), 67.

  Pye, poet laureate, 2.

  Quin, James, 47, 259, 263;
    and "Fatal Retirement," 19;
    antagonism with Macklin, 77;
    his carelessness in costume, 253.

  Rae, 372, 374.

  Raymond, 373.

  Reddish, Samuel, 115;
    account of his career, 115-122;
    his first appearance, 116;
    his characters, 116;
    as Edgar in "King Lear," 117;
    as Posthumus, 117;
    accidentally stabs Smith, 117;
    his marriage, 118;
    his loss of memory, 118;
    his sad mental condition, 119;
    his last appearance, 119;
    in a lunatic asylum, 121;
    his death, 122.

  Reddish, Mrs., 118.

  Reynolds, Frederic, 348.

  Riot at Drury Lane, 33.

  Riots, 51.

  Robinson, Mrs. ("Perdita"), 108;
    account of her career, 108-114;
    her marriage, 108;
    as Juliet, 109;
    her excellences, 109;
    as Perdita, 109;
    her amour with the Prince of Wales (George IV.), 110, 111;
    her death, 111;
    her character, 111;
    her taste in dressing, 112.

  Romantic drama, 11.

  Ross, David, 122;
    his indolence, 122;
    the first patentee in Edinburgh, 123;
    as Barnwell, 124;
    his death, 125.

  Rowe, Nicholas, and his "Biter," 12.

  Sainville, Monsieur and Madame, 101.

  Satchell, Miss, as Desdemona, 211.

  Saurin, French dramatist, 18, 23.

  "School for Scandal," 5.

  Settle, Elkanah, 14.

  Shadwell, 287.

  Sheil, Lalor, 352, 354.

  Shenstone, 276.

  Sheridan, R. B., 5, 27, 277;
    and "The Castle Spectre," 12;
    end of his connection with Drury Lane, 330.

  Shuter, Edward, 61.

  Siddons, Mrs., 152, 220-222, 262;
    account of her career, 153-188;
    her birth, 153;
    her parentage, 154;
    on the stage as a child, 155;
    her strolling experiences, 155, 156;
    her marriage, 157;
    engaged by Garrick, 158;
    her failure in London, 159;
    a great favourite in Bath, 160;
    her second appearance in London, 160;
    her triumphant success, 160, 161;
    as Jane Shore, 161;
    as Calista, 161;
    as Belvidera, 162;
    as Zara, 162;
    and Mrs. Crawford, 162;
    her enemies, 163, 170, 175;
    in Ireland, 163, 166;
    as Isabella in "Measure for Measure," 164;
    as Constance, 164;
    as Lady Randolph, 165;
    appointed preceptress to princesses, 165;
    her portrait by Reynolds, 166;
    in Scotland, 166;
    her enthusiastic reception, 167;
    as Margaret of Anjou, 171;
    as Lady Macbeth, 171;
    her great triumph, 171;
    as Desdemona, 176;
    not successful as Rosalind, 177;
    as Hermione, 178;
    as Ophelia, 178;
    as a comedian, 179;
    her opinion of Greatheed's "Regent," 180;
    as Queen Katherine, 181;
    as Volumnia, 182;
    in "Edwy and Elgiva," 182;
    in "Edward and Eleanora," 182;
    faints while playing Arpasia, 183;
    her robe takes fire, 184;
    her retirement, 185;
    her last appearance, 186;
    her high character, 187;
    her death, 188;
    her costume, 251, 252;
    specially attacked by the "O. P." rioters, 337-345

  Siddons Henry, 228.

  Siddons fever, the, 167.

  Smith, Miss (Mrs. Bartley), 382;
    a rival to Mrs. Siddons, 221.

  Smith, "Gentleman," 125;
    stabbed by Reddish, 117;
    his career, 125;
    his original characters, 125;
    his remarkable marriages, 126;
    his retirement, 126.

  Somerville, Miss (Mrs. Bunn), 392.

  Southerne, 15, 284.

  Sowerby, 382.

  Spiller's benefit for himself and his creditors, 295.

  Stage costume, 248-258.

  Stage tricks, 258.

  Strollers, 267, 268.

  Strolling managers, 268.

  Styles, Rev. Dr., 335.

  Suett, Richard, 245;
    and his collection of wigs, 254;
    his great powers as a comedian, 302;
    his love of drink, 303.

  Talma, 24.

  Terry, Daniel, 385.

  Theobald, Lewis, 14.

  Tidswell, Miss, 362, 398.

  Tokely, 373.

  Tracy, dramatist, 16.

  Tricks, stage, 258.

  Twiss's _Verbal Index to Shakespeare_, 331.

  Vanbrugh, Sir John, 15.

  Walker, Thomas, 10.

  Wallace, Lady, 9.

  Wallack, 396.

  Walpole, Horace, as a dramatist, 22;
    on theatrical genius, 1, 2;
    on Miss Younge's acting, 3;
    on the "School for Scandal," 5;
    on the "Man of the World," 6;
    on the Delavals' amateur performances, 31;
    on the "Wishes," 42;
    on the "Miniature Picture," 53;
    on Mrs. Abington, 105;
    on Mrs. Siddons, 169, 174, 206;
    on Kemble, 206; on John Bannister, 311;
    on Mrs. Jordan, 314.

  Walpole, Sir Robert, 37.

  Walstein, Miss, 387;
    strikes for higher salary, 388.

  Webb, Mrs., 96.

  Wells, Mrs. (Mrs. Sumbell), 95, 265.

  Whalley. Dr., 26.

  Whitelock, Mrs. (sister of Mrs. Siddons), 94.

  Wignell, actor, 266, 274.

  Wilkinson, Tate, 126;
    his extraordinary power as a mimic, 127;
    patentee at York, 127.

  Wilson, Mrs., 94.

  Woodward, Henry, 299;
    his dress as Mercutio, 249.

  Wycherley, 285.

  Yates, Frederick, 396.

  Yates, Richard, 299;
    his characteristics as an actor, 125;
    his parsimony, 125.

  Yates, Mrs., her career, 86-88;
    as Medea, 87;
    in strong-minded heroines, 87;
    her Violante, 87;
    her death, 88.

  Young, Charles Mayne, 260, 324;
    his costume in various parts, 257;
    of the Kemble school, 325;
    his great contest with Kean, 399.

  Young, Dr. E., 276, 287.

  Younge, Miss, 3, 177;
    her withdrawal from the stage, 102.







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Edited by A. H. BULLEN, B.A.

NOTE.--Many of the poems in this collection are from unique books
preserved in the British Museum, the Bodleian Library, the Royal
College of Music, and Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps' Library at Hollingbury
Copse. Others are printed, for the first time, from MSS. The Editor
has been careful to include only such songs as are "choicely good."

Small 4to, Two Volumes, handsomely bound in half-German calf, gilt
top, price 36s. _net_.

Also 100 copies on fine super royal 8vo paper.

The Life of Benvenuto Cellini.



With Portrait and Eight Etchings by F. LAGUILLERMIE.

Also Eighteen reproductions of the Works of the Master, printed in
Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

500 copies of this Edition printed for England and 250 for America.

NOTE.--A book which the great Goethe thought worthy of translating
into German with the pen of _Faust_ and _Wilhelm Meister_, a book
which Auguste Comte placed upon his very limited list for the perusal
of reformed humanity, is one with which we have the right to be
occupied, not once or twice, but over and over again. It cannot
lose its freshness. What attracted the encyclopædic minds of men
so different as Comte and Goethe to its pages still remains there.
This attractive or compulsive quality, to put the matter briefly,
is the flesh and blood reality of Cellini's self-delineation. A man
stands before us in his _Memoirs_ unsophisticated, unimbellished,
with all his native faults upon him, and with all his potent energies
portrayed in the veracious manner of Velasquez, with bold strokes and
animated play of light and colour. His autobiography is the record
of action and passion. Suffering, enjoying, enduring, working with
restless activity; hating, loving, hovering from place to place as
impulse moves him; the man presents himself dramatically by his deeds
and spoken words, never by his pondering or meditative broodings. It
is this healthy externality which gives its great charm to Cellini's
self-portrayal, and renders it an imperishable document for the
student of human nature.


In Three Volumes, demy 8vo, Roxburghe binding, gilt top, price 54s.

Also large paper copies, royal 8vo, with Portraits in duplicate.






Edited and Revised by R. W. LOWE from Author's Annotated Copy.

With Fifty Copperplate Portraits and Eighty Wood Engravings.

NOTE.--The following are some of the chief features of this new
edited and revised edition of Dr. Doran's well-known work.

It is illustrated for the first time with fifty newly engraved
copperplate portraits of the leading and best known actors and
actresses, all of which are printed as India proofs.

There are also fifty-six illustrations, newly engraved on wood,
printed on fine Japanese paper, and mounted at the head of each
chapter, as well as some twenty or more character illustrations,
also newly engraved on wood, and printed with the text at end of the

There are numerous new and original footnotes given, as well as a
copious and exhaustive Index to each volume.

Besides the demy 8vo edition, a limited number will be printed on
royal 8vo, fine deckle-edged paper, with a duplicate set of the fifty
portraits, one on Japanese paper and the other on plate paper, as
India proofs.

Each of these copies will be numbered.

_A Bibliography of Theatrical Literature._

In demy 8vo, 400 pages, cloth, price 18s. _net_. Also, One Hundred
Copies on fine deckle-edge royal 8vo paper, each numbered.







NOTE.--There is as yet no Bibliography of the general literature
of the stage. Plays have been catalogued many times, and some
of our greatest bibliographers have directed their attention to
Shakespearian literature; but no attempt has been made to give
even the baldest catalogue of the large and curious mass of books
relating to the History of the Stage, the Biography of Actors and
Actresses, the Controversy regarding the Influence of the Stage, the
numerous curious Theatrical Trials, and the many scandalous attacks
on the personal character of celebrated performers. In the last two
classes especially there are many curious pamphlets dealing with
the strangest scandals, and often containing the most disgraceful
accusations, of which no account is to be found except in the
originals themselves, which, having been in many cases suppressed,
are of extreme rarity.

The present work is intended to supply in some measure the want
which has been felt by all writers on theatrical subjects, as well
as by all collectors of theatrical books. It consists of about 2000
titles, the great majority of which are taken directly from the works
described. These will be arranged alphabetically, with exhaustive
cross-references. Notes regarding each actor and actress will be
given, and also an account of the occurrences to which particular
works refer, special attention being paid to the less known and more
curious pamphlets. Thus, it is hoped, the work will have a historical
as well as bibliographical value, and will form a History of the
Stage, especially in those details of which regular histories take
little or no cognisance. Plays will be excluded, except where they
have prefaces, &c., of historical or controversial interest; and
of Shakespeariana, only such works will be included as relate to
the performance of Shakespeare's plays or the representation of his
characters by particular actors.

Quotations of prices at recent famous sales will be given, and the
rarity of scarce books will be pointed out.

Third Edition, newly Revised and Corrected, and greatly Enlarged,
in 2 vols. medium 8vo, cloth, Three Hundred Engravings and Twelve
Full-Page Plates, price 21s.




Allen's Indian Mail.

"Valuable, interesting, and instructive, the work teaches how
dangerous it is to condemn what is not understood, or to criticise
what is imperfectly realised. Liberality of judgment should be the
motto of mankind in these days of intelligence and enlightenment, and
a study of the mysterious will clear the path in this direction from
many of the notions conceived in intolerance and nurtured in hardness
of heart. Read, gentle reader, and be wise!"

_Uniform with_ A. H. BULLEN'S "_Lyrics from the Song-Books of the
Elizabethan Age_."

Post 8vo, hand-made paper, 500 copies, each numbered, price 10s.
6d. _net_. Also 250 copies, large paper, in half-German calf, each



Edited by A. H. BULLEN.

The Spectator.

"With what pleasure would Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt, or Charles Lamb
have taken into their hands this new edition of the Elizabethan
song-book, 'England's Helicon;' and how gladly would they acknowledge
the influence of sixty years, the advance in taste, themselves its
leaders, which will win for such a book delight and admiration,
rather than 'patronage!' The book consists of a collection of lyrical
and pastoral poems, and the modern editor, who, one need hardly say,
has done his work with perfect care and taste, has prefaced the poems
with an introduction telling us all we want to know about almost
every one of them."

Imperial 8vo, half-bound crushed morocco, price 21s.




With Sixty Illustrations from the Designs of WILHELM VON KAULBACH,
and Twelve India Proof Steel Engravings by JOSEPH WOLF.

NOTE.--One of the specialities of the present edition consists in
the illustrations, faithfully engraved by English artists from
the designs of Kaulbach, as well as twelve clever full-page steel
engravings by Augustus Fox, from the drawings of Joseph Wolf.

Saturday Review.

"We are more concerned with the engravers' skill, the veracity with
which Kaulbach's rich fancy and racy humour are reproduced, together
with the congenial spirit of Mr. Wolf's clever drawings, and in
these essential particulars the present edition is worthy of warm



_The Elizabethan Dramatists_.

This is the first instalment towards a collective edition of the
Dramatists who lived about the time of Shakespeare. The type will be
distributed after each work is printed.

One of the chief features of this New Edition of the Elizabethan
Dramatists, besides the handsome and handy size of the volumes, will
be the fact that _each Work will be carefully edited and new notes
given throughout_.




Elizabethan Dramatists.

"If it be true, as we are told on high authority, that the greatest
glory of England is her literature, and the greatest glory of English
literature is its poetry, it is not less true that the greatest glory
of English poetry lies rather in its dramatic than its epic or its
lyric triumphs. The name of Shakespeare is above the names even of
Milton and Coleridge and Shelley; and the names of his comrades in
art and their immediate successors are above all but the highest
names in any other province of our song. There is such an overflowing
life, such a superb exuberance of abounding and exulting strength,
in the dramatic poetry of the half century extending from 1590 to
1640, that all other epochs of English literature seem as it were
but half awake and half alive by comparison with this generation
of giants and of gods. There is more sap in this than in any other
branch of the national bay-tree; it has an energy in fertility which
reminds us rather of the forest than the garden or the park. It is
true that the weeds and briars of the underwood are but too likely to
embarrass and offend the feet of the rangers and the gardeners who
trim the level flower-plots or preserve the domestic game of enclosed
and ordered lowlands in the tamer demesnes of literature. The sun is
strong and the wind sharp in the climate which reared the fellows and
the followers of Shakespeare. The extreme inequality and roughness
of the ground must also be taken into account when we are disposed,
as I for one have often been disposed, to wonder beyond measure
at the apathetic ignorance of average students in regard of the
abundant treasure to be gathered from this widest and most fruitful
province in the poetic empire of England. And yet, since Charles Lamb
threw open its gates to all comers in the ninth year of the present
century, it cannot but seem strange that comparatively so few should
have availed themselves of the entry to so rich and royal an estate.
Mr. Bullen has taken up a task than which none more arduous and
important, none worthier of thanks and praise, can be undertaken by
any English scholar."

Volumes now Ready of the _new Edited_ and _Complete_ Editions of the
Elizabethan Dramatists.

Post 8vo, cloth. Published price, _7s. 6d. per volume net_; also
large fine-paper edition, medium 8vo, cloth.

_The following are Edited by_ A. H. BULLEN, B.A.:--

  =THE WORKS OF GEORGE PEELE.=             Two Volumes.
  =THE WORKS OF JOHN MARSTON.=             Three Volumes.
  =THE WORKS OF THOMAS MIDDLETON.=         Eight Volumes.

_Others in active preparation._


=Athenæum.=--"Mr. Bullen's edition deserves warm recognition. It
is intelligent, scholarly, adequate. His preface is judicious. The
elegant edition of the Dramatists of which these volumes are the
first is likely to stand high in public estimation.... The completion
of the series will be a boon to bibliographers and scholars alike."

=Saturday Review.=--"Mr. Bullen has discharged his task as editor
in all important points satisfactorily, his introduction is well
informed and well written, and his notes are well chosen and
sufficient.... We hope it may be his good fortune to give and ours
to receive every Dramatist, from Peele to Shirley, in this handsome,
convenient, and well-edited form."

=The Spectator.=--"Probably one of the boldest literary undertakings
of our time, on the part of publisher as well as editor, is the fine
edition of the Dramatists which has been placed in Mr. Bullen's
careful hands; considering the comprehensiveness of the subject, and
the variety of knowledge it demands, the courage of the editor is

=Notes and Queries.=--" ... Appropriately, then, the series Mr.
Bullen edits and Mr. Nimmo issues in most attractive guise is headed
by Marlowe, the leader, and in some respects all but the mightiest
spirit, of the great army of English Dramatists."

=The Academy.=--"Mr. Bullen is known to all those interested in such
things as an authority on most matters connected with old plays.
We are not surprised, therefore, to find these volumes well edited
throughout. They are not overburdened with notes."

=Scotsman.=--"Never in the history of the world has a period been
marked by so much of literary power and excellence as the Elizabethan
period; and never have the difficulties in the way of literature
seemed to be greater. The three volumes which Mr. Nimmo has issued
now may be regarded as earnests of more to come, and as proofs of the
excellence which will mark this edition of the Elizabethan Dramatists
as essentially the best that has been published. Mr. Bullen is a
competent editor in every respect."

=The Standard.=--"Throughout Mr. Bullen has done his difficult work
remarkably well, and the publisher has produced it in a form which
will make the edition of early Dramatists of which it is a part an
almost indispensable addition to a well-stocked library."

=Pall Mall Gazette.=--" ... If the series is continued as it is
begun, by one of the most careful editors, this set of the English
Dramatists will be a coveted literary possession."

=Daily Telegraph.=--"The introduction to this new edition of Marston
is of exceeding interest, and is honourable to the earnest spirit in
which Mr. Bullen is steadfastly pursuing the object set before him in
this notable series."

_Standard Historical Works._

_Twelve Volumes, demy 8vo, cloth, uncut edges, price £5, 5s. net;
also in Tree calf, gilt top, Rivière's binding._


The Right Hon. Edmund Burke.



Carefully Revised and Collated with the Latest Editions.

NOTE.--The publication of this COMPLETE LIBRARY EDITION of the
Writings and Speeches of a great Writer and Orator, whose works
have been so frequently quoted of late in the British Houses of
Parliament, the publisher feels may be opportune to many readers
and admirers of one of the greatest of the sons of men. Viewed in
the light of the present age, how great is our admiration of that
foresight which foretold, and that wisdom which would have averted,
the storms which menaced the peace and well-being of his country! His
public labours present a continuous struggle against the stupidity,
the obstinacy, and the venality of the politicians of his day.

So long as virtue shall be beloved, wisdom revered, or genius
admired, so long will the memory of this illustrious exemplar of
all be fresh in the world's history; for human nature has too much
interest in the preservation of such a character ever to permit the
name of EDMUND BURKE to perish from the earth.


  Vindication of Natural Society.

  The Sublime and Beautiful.

  Observations on a Late Publication on "The Present State of the

  Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents.

  Reflections on the Revolution in France.

  Thoughts on French Affairs.

  Thoughts and Details on Scarcity.

  Hints for an Essay on the Drama.

  An Essay towards an Abridgment of the English History.

  Papers on India.

  Articles of Charge against Warren Hastings.

  Speeches in the Impeachment of Warren Hastings.

  Miscellaneous Speeches.


  Index, &c.

Medium 8vo, fine paper, with Four Etched Portraits, &c., cloth, 21s.

The Autobiography of Edward,



By SYDNEY L. LEE, B.A., Balliol College, Oxford.

Notes and Queries.

"Lord Herbert's autobiography is an absolute masterpiece, worthy of
the place assigned it by Mr. Swinburne among the best one hundred
books. Quite fascinating are the records of adventure Lord Herbert
supplies, and the book, when once the preliminary statement of
pedigree, &c., is got over, will be read to the last line by every
reader of taste. A new lease of popularity is conferred upon it by
the handsome and scholarly reprint Mr. Lee has given to the world.
The volume itself belongs to the series of library reprints of
Mr. Nimmo, which are simply the most attractive of the day. Mr.
Lee, meanwhile, has executed in the most scrupulous, careful, and
competent manner the task of editing."

Medium 8vo, fine paper, with Four Etched Portraits, &c., cloth, 21s.

The Life of William Cavendish,





Saturday Review.

"The book is, without doubt, a pleasant one. In the midst of the
stony-hearted Restoration, its naive enthusiasm, its quaint and
embroidered eloquence, its flavour of a bygone day, give it a curious
charm. It is like a Shirley flourishing on into the age of Shadwell
and Etherege."

The Scotsman.

"It has a distinct value as a contemporary picture of the life, modes
of thought, and habits of a great Royalist nobleman, who played a
prominent part in some of the most memorable episodes of English

Medium 8vo, fine paper, with Ten Etched Portraits, &c., cloth, Two
Volumes, 42s. _net_.


By his Widow, LUCY.



"Is an excellent edition of a famous book. Mr. Firth presents
the 'Memoirs' with a modernised orthography and a revised scheme
of punctuation. He retains the notes of Julius Hutchinson, and
supplements them by annotations--corrective and explanatory--of his
own. Since their publication in 1805, the 'Memoirs' have been a kind
of classic. To say that this is the best and fullest edition of them
in existence is to say everything."

Medium 8vo, fine paper, Roxburghe binding, gilt top, and Two
Etchings, price 15s.

A Chronicle History of the Life and Work of William Shakespeare.


By F. G. FLEAY, M.A.

From Professor A. W. Ward's Preface to the Second Edition of
Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus."

"Mr. Fleay's new Life of Shakespeare will, in my opinion, before long
be acknowledged as one of the most important works on the history of
the Elizabethan drama which this age has produced."

Extract from a Letter to the Author from Dr. H. H. Furness.

"The man himself was always unreal to me, and I never could bring
myself to believe that he ever really existed. But your book has left
upon me the impression, as deep as it is strange, that such a man did
really live, and that he belonged to the noble army of workers.

"I had confidence in you and followed holding your hand, at times
lost in wonder and admiration over the miraculous memory and
indefatigable research of my guide."

Copyright Edition, with Ten Etched Portraits. In Ten Vols., demy 8vo,
cloth, £5, 5s. _net_.

Lingard's History of England.

MARY IN 1688.


This New Copyright Library Edition of "Lingard's History of England,"
besides containing all the latest notes and emendations of the
Author, with Memoir, is enriched with Ten Portraits, newly etched by
Damman, of the following personages, viz.:--Dr. Lingard, Edward I.,
Edward III., Cardinal Wolsey, Cardinal Pole, Elizabeth, James I.,
Cromwell, Charles II., James II.

The Times.

"No greater service can be rendered to literature than the
republication, in a handsome and attractive form, of works which time
and the continued approbation of the world have made classical....
The accuracy of Lingard's statements on many points of controversy,
as well as the genial sobriety of his view, is now recognised."

The Tablet.

"It is with the greatest satisfaction that we welcome this new
edition of Dr. Lingard's 'History of England.' It has long been a
desideratum.... No general history of England has appeared which
can at all supply the place of Lingard, whose painstaking industry
and careful research have dispelled many a popular delusion, whose
candour always carries his reader with him, and whose clear and even
style is never fatiguing."

The Spectator.

"We are glad to See that the demand for Dr. Lingard's _England_
still continues. Few histories give the reader the same impression
of exhaustive study. This new edition is excellently printed, and
illustrated with ten portraits of the greatest personages in our

Dublin Review.

"It is pleasant to notice that the demand for Lingard continues to be
such that publishers venture on a well-got-up library edition like
the one before us. More than sixty years have gone since the first
volume of the first edition was published; many equally pretentious
histories have appeared during that space, and have more or less
disappeared since, yet Lingard lives--is still a recognised and
respected authority."

The Scotsman.

"There is no need, at this time of day, to say anything in
vindication of the importance, as a standard work, of Dr. Lingard's
'History of England.' ... Its intrinsic merits are very great. The
style is lucid, pointed, and puts no strain upon the reader; and
the printer and publisher have neglected nothing that could make
this-what it is likely long to remain--the standard edition of a work
of great historical and literary value."

Daily Telegraph.

"True learning, untiring research, a philosophic temper, and the
possession of a graphic, pleasing style were the qualities which the
author brought to his task, and they are displayed in every chapter
of his history."

Two Volumes, 8vo, Sixty-four Portraits, Roxburghe binding, gilt top,
price 30s. _net_.




With Sixty-four Portraits Engraved by EDWARD SCRIVEN.


"The 'Memoirs of Grammont,' by Anthony Hamilton, scarcely challenge
a place as historical; but we are now looking more at the style than
the intrinsic importance of books. Every one is aware of the peculiar
felicity and fascinating gaiety which they display."

T. B. Macaulay.

"The artist to whom we owe the most highly finished and vividly
coloured picture of the English Court in the days when the English
Court was gayest."

Medium 8vo, fine paper, Eighty-eight Illustrations, cloth, gilt top,
price 21s. _net_.





_Author of "Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne."_

With Eighty-eight Illustrations.

Daily Telegraph.

"That is the best and truest history of the past which comes nearest
to the life of the bulk of the people. It is in this spirit that Mr.
John Ashton has composed 'Old Times,' intended to be a picture of
social life at the end of the eighteenth century. The illustrations
form a very valuable, and at the same time quaint and amusing,
feature of the volume."

Saturday Review.

"'Old Times,' however, is not only valuable as a book to be taken
up for a few minutes at a time; a rather careful reading will repay
those who wish to brush up their recollections of the period. To
some extent it may serve as a book of reference, and even historians
may find in it some useful matter concerning the times of which it
treats. The book is in every respect suited for a hall or library
table in a country house."




_Member of the French Academy_.

Authorised Translation. Seven Volumes 8vo, cloth, £4, 4s. _net_.

(_Published by_ Messrs. W. BLACKWOOD & SONS, _Edinburgh_.)



  The Roman Empire after the Peace of the Church.

  Monastic Precursors in the East.

  Monastic Precursors in the West.

  St. Benedict.

  St. Gregory the Great--Monastic Italy and Spain in the Sixth and
  Seventh Centuries.

  The Monks under the First Merovingians.

  St. Columbanus--The Irish in Gaul and the Colonies of Luxeuil.

  Christian Origin of the British Isles.

  St. Columba, the Apostle of Caledonia, 521-597.

  St. Augustin of Canterbury and the Roman Missionaries in England,

  The Celtic Monks and the Anglo-Saxons.

  St. Wilfrid establishes Roman Unity and the Benedictine Order,

  Contemporaries and Successors of St. Wilfrid, 650-735.

  Social and Political Influence of the Monks among the Anglo-Saxons.

  The Anglo-Saxon Nuns.

  The Church and the Feudal System--The Monastic Orders and Society.

  St. Gregory, Monk and Pope.

  The Predecessors of Calixtus II.


"Whatever the Count touches he of necessity adorns. He has produced
a great and most interesting work, full of curious facts, and lit up
with most noble eloquence."

Freeman's Journal.

"Of the translation, we must say it is in every respect worthy the
original. The nervous style of the author is admirably preserved. It
is at the same time spirited and faithful."


"No library of English history will be complete without these glowing
pictures of the 'Monks of the West.'"

NOTE.--Very few sets of this important and well-known work are now
left for sale.

The Lives of the Queens of Scotland,



With Portraits and Historical Vignettes.

Eight Volumes, post 8vo, cloth, £4, 4s. _net_. Also in full calf and
half calf bindings.

(_Published by_ Messrs. W. BLACKWOOD & SONS, _Edinburgh_.)


  Life of Margaret Tudor, Queen of James IV.

  Life of Magdalene of France, First Queen of James V.

  Life of Mary of Lorraine, Second Queen of James V.

  Life of the Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox.

  Life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland.

  Life of Elizabeth Stuart, First Princess Royal of Great Britain.

  Life of Sophia, Electress of Hanover.

English Review.

"Miss Strickland has not only been fortunate in the selection of her
subject, but she has sustained to the full her high reputation for

The Standard.

"In 'The Queens of Scotland' Miss Strickland prosecutes her original
task with as careful research as in her first work, and with
undiminished spirit and unaltered delicacy."

The Guardian.

"We discern freedom and ease of manner, a judicious selection of
materials, an evenly balanced judgment, and the sobriety and decision
which are the fruits of wide historical knowledge."

Blackwood's Magazine.

"Every step in Scotland is historical; the shades of the dead arise
on every side; the very rocks breathe. Miss Strickland's talents as
a writer, and turn of mind as an individual, in a peculiar manner
fit her for painting a historical gallery of the most illustrious or
dignified female characters in that land of chivalry and song."

NOTE.--Very few sets of this delightful work are now left for sale.


Royal 8vo, cloth, gilt top, Illustrations engraved in colours, price
42s. _net_.

The Frenchwoman of the Century.



Illustrations in Water Colours by ALBERT LYNCH. Engraved in Colours

=Morning Post.=--"Graceful and light as is this book by M. Octave
Uzanne, the clever author of 'The Fan' and 'The Sunshade, Muff, and
Glove,' and other works marked by a rare originality, it affords a
more complete insight into the ideas of the women of France of this
century and of the influence exercised by them than is apparent on
the surface. An idea can be formed of the prodigality and luxury
that prevailed at the Court of the First Empire by 'a serio-comic
document' circulated in 1807 as 'an account of the annual expense
of a female fop of Paris.' Its different items amount to the sum
of 190,000fr., or £7600 sterling. The women of fashion of a later
period are not less well photographed. There are some sparkling pages
on those of 1830, at the time when Balzac discovered and sang 'La
Femme de Trente Ans,' 'whose beauty shines with all the brightness
of a perfumed summer.' Speaking the truth always, but with native
gallantry seeking to conceal its harshness, M. Uzanne tells his
countrywomen of to-day that 'the woman of this end of the century
reigns despotically still in our hearts, but has no longer the
same happy influence on our spirits, our manners, our society.' To
account for this, as indeed in writing of the moral aspect of all
the different social phases that come within his scope, the author
reasons of cause and effect with an able lucidity that skilfully
avoids dulness. The illustrations are, without exception, artistic
and _spirituelle_, and contribute to make of this elegantly bound
work, a veritable 'volume de luxe,' which worthily continues the
series of productions from M. Uzanne's brilliant and facile pen."

Royal 8vo, cloth, gilt top, 31s. 6d. _net_.


Illustrations by PAUL AVRIL.

=Standard.=--"It gives a complete history of fans of all ages and
places; the illustrations are dainty in the extreme. Those who wish
to make a pretty and appropriate present to a young lady cannot do
better than purchase 'The Fan.'"

=Athenæum.=--"The letterpress comprises much amusing 'chit-chat,'
and is more solid than it pretends to be. This _brochure_ is worth
reading; nay, it is worth keeping."

Royal 8vo, cloth, gilt top, 31s. 6d. _net_.

The Sunshade, Muff, and Glove.


Illustrations by PAUL AVRIL.

=Art Journal.=--"At first sight it would seem that material could
never be found to fill even a volume; but the author, in dealing
with his first subject alone, 'The Sunshade,' says he could easily
have filled a dozen volumes of this emblem of sovereignty. The
work is delightfully illustrated in a novel manner by Paul Avril,
the pictures which meander about the work being printed in various

_Charming Editions, Illustrated with Etchings, of Standard Works,
suitable for presentation. Crown 8vo, handsomely bound, either in
cloth or parchment bindings, price 7s. 6d. per volume._

Essay by JOHN H. INGRAM; and Fourteen Original Etchings, Three
Photogravures, and a Portrait newly etched from a lifelike
Daguerrotype of the Author. In Four Volumes.

=2. WEIRD TALES.= By E. T. W. HOFFMAN. A New Translation from the
German. With Biographical Memoir by J. T. BEALBY, formerly Scholar
of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. With Portrait and Ten Original
Etchings by AD. LALAUZE. In Two Volumes.

STERNE. In Two Vols. With Eight Etchings by DAMMAN from Original
Drawings by HARRY FURNISS.

With Two Portraits and Four Original Drawings by A. H. TOURRIER,
Etched by DAMMAN.

Revised and Corrected from the Arabic by JONATHAN SCOTT, LL.D.,
Oxford. With Nineteen Original Etchings by AD. LALAUZE.

JOHNSON. In One Vol. With Portrait of BECKFORD, and Four Original
Etchings, designed by A. H. TOURRIER, and Etched by DAMMAN.

=7. ROBINSON CRUSOE.= By DANIEL DEFOE. In Two Vols. With Biographical
Memoir, Illustrative Notes, and Eight Etchings by M. MOUILLERON, and
Portrait by L. FLAMENG.

=8. GULLIVER'S TRAVELS.= By JONATHAN SWIFT. With Five Etchings and
Portrait by AD. LALAUZE.

JONATHAN SWIFT. In One Vol. With Five Etchings and Portrait by ED.

=10. THE HISTORY OF DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA.= Translated from the
Notes (including the Spanish Ballads), and an Essay on the Life and
Writings of CERVANTES by JOHN G. LOCKHART. Preceded by a Short Notice
Illustrated with Sixteen Original Etchings by R. DE LOS RIOS. Four

BRADY. Illustrated with Eight Original Etchings by R. DE LOS RIOS.
Two Volumes.

=12. ASMODEUS.= By LE SAGE. Translated from the French. Illustrated
with Four Original Etchings by R. DE LOS RIOS.

=13. THE BACHELOR OF SALAMANCA.= By LE SAGE. Translated from the
French by JAMES TOWNSEND. Illustrated with Four Original Etchings by

=14. VANILLO GONZALES;= or, The Merry Bachelor. By LE SAGE.
Translated from the French. Illustrated with Four Original Etchings

French of LE SAGE by TOBIAS SMOLLETT. With Biographical and Critical
Notice of LE SAGE by GEORGE SAINTSBURY. New Edition, carefully
revised. Illustrated with Twelve Original Etchings by R. DE LOS RIOS.
Three Volumes.

The Times.

"Among the numerous handsome reprints which the publishers of the
day vie with each other in producing, we have seen nothing of
greater merit than this series of volumes. Those who have read these
masterpieces of the last century in the homely garb of the old
editions may be gratified with the opportunity of perusing them with
the advantages of large clear print and illustrations of a quality
which is rarely bestowed on such reissues. The series deserves every

Royal 8vo, cloth extra, printed in colours and gilt top, price 12s.

_An elegant and choicely Illustrated Edition of_


With Prefatory Memoir by GEORGE SAINTSBURY,

And One Hundred and Fourteen Coloured Illustrations by V. A. POIRSON
(Illustrator of "Gulliver's Travels").

Saturday Review.

"Goldsmith's immortal tale is here delightfully illustrated in
colour, and there is a prefatory memoir by Mr. George Saintsbury,
full of delicate criticism and careful research. The illustrations
are sketchy, fresh, merry, and in colours perfectly harmonious. Such
a book is a boon to the cultivated reader of every age."

The Guardian.

"A new edition of the 'Vicar of Wakefield' naturally appears with
every fresh variety of the arts of priming or illustration. M.
Poirson showed so keen an appreciation of the peculiar humour of
'Gulliver's Travels,' that it was only to be expected that he should
try his hand at an even more popular book. Mr. Saintsbury has
prefixed an excellent critical memoir, and altogether, if Goldsmith
could have chosen the garb in which he would best like his Vicar
to appear, his ideas would probably have jumped with those of the
present publisher."

The Graphic.

"They are indeed some of the most excellent specimens of artistic
colour-printing now to be seen; and the book is a wonder of
cheapness, seeing it is sold at the low sum of 12s. 6d."

A New and Beautiful Edition of the Imitation of Christ.

In demy 8vo, with Fifteen Etchings, bound in full white parchment,
gilt top, price 21s. _net_.

The Imitation of Christ.


Translated from the Latin by Rev. W. BENHAM, B.D., _Rector of St.
Edmund, King and Martyr, Lombard Street, London._

The text and quaint borders printed in brown ink on fine vellum
paper, and illustrated with Fifteen Etchings by L. FLAMENG and CH.
WALTNER, from designs by J. P. LAURENS and HENRY LEVY, printed on
Japanese paper, make this, for presentation purposes, one of the most
beautiful editions at present to be had.


"We have not seen a more beautiful edition of 'The Imitation of
Christ' than this one for many a day."

Magazine of Art.

"This new edition of the 'Imitation' may fairly be regarded as a work
of art. It is well and clearly printed; the paper is excellent; each
page has its peculiar border, and it is illustrated with fifteen
etchings. Further than that the translation is Mr. Benham's we need
say nothing more."

Second Edition, post 8vo, cloth elegant, gilt top, price 5s.

Carols and Poems.


Edited by A. H. BULLEN, B.A.

NOTE.--120 copies printed on fine medium 8vo paper, with Seven
Illustrations on Japanese paper. Each copy numbered.

Saturday Review.

"Since the publication of Mr. Sandys's collection there have been
many books issued on carols, but the most complete by far that we
have met with is Mr. Bullen's new volume, 'Carols and Poems from
the Fifteenth Century to the Present Time.' The preface contains an
interesting account of Christmas festivities and the use of carols.
Mr. Bullen has exercised great care in verifying and correcting
the collections of his predecessors, and he has joined to them two
modern poems by Hawker, two by Mr. William Morris, and others by Mr.
Swinburne, Mr. Symonds, and Miss Rossetti. Altogether this is one of
the most welcome books of the season."

Two Very Funny and Humorously Illustrated Books by


Crown 8vo, cloth, gilt top, with One Hundred Illustrations, price 5s.


=The Times.=--"Many of the smaller drawings are wonderfully spirited;
there are sketchy suggestions of scenery, which recall the pregnant
touches of Bewick; and the figures of animals and of human types
are capital, from the row of roosting fowls at the beginning of the
chapter to the dilapidated tramp standing hat in hand."

=Court and Society Review.=--"After looking at the pictures we
found ourselves reading the book again, and enjoying Pomona and
her reading, and her adventure with the lightning rodder, and her
dog-fight as much as ever. And to read it twice over is the greatest
compliment you can pay to a book of American humour."

=Art Journal.=--"Mr. Stockton, the author, and Mr. Frost, the artist,
have here gone hand in hand to produce the most humorous of stories
with the best results."

=Morning Post.=--"It will be welcomed in its new dress by many who
have already made the acquaintance of Euphemia and Pomona, as well as
by many who will now meet those excellent types of feminine character
for the first time."

=Saturday Review.=--"The new edition of 'Rudder Grange' has a hundred
illustrations by Mr. A. B. Frost; they are extremely good, and worthy
of Mr. Stockton's amusing book."

Small 4to, One Hundred and Twenty Illustrations, price 6s.



  _The Fatal Mistake--A Tale of a Cat._

  _Ye Æsthete, ye Boy, and ye Bullfrog._

  _The Balloonists._

  _The Powers of the Human Eye._

  _The Crab-Boy and His Elephant._

  _The Old Man of Moriches._

  _The Bald-headed Man._

  _The Mule and the Crackers._

  _The Influence of Kindness._

  _Bobby and the Little Green Apples._

  _The Awful Comet._

  _The Tug of War._

  _The Ironical Flamingo._

  _&c. &c. &c._

=Standard.=--"This is a book which will please equally people of
all ages. The illustrations are not only extremely funny, but they
are drawn with wonderful artistic ability, and are full of life and

"It is far and away the best book of 'Stuff and Nonsense' which has
appeared for a long time."

=Press.=--"The most facetious bit of wit that has been penned for
many a day, both in design and text, is Mr. A. B. Frost's 'Stuff and
Nonsense.' 'A Tale of a Cat' is funny, 'The Balloonists' is perhaps
rather extravagant, but nothing can outdo the wit of 'The Powers of
the Human Eye,' whilst 'Ye Æsthete, ye Boy, and ye Bullfrog' may
be described as a 'roarer.' Mr. Frost's pen and pencil know how to
chronicle fun, and their outcomes should not be overlooked."

=Graphic.=--"Grotesque in the extreme. His jokes will rouse many a



In Five Vols. crown 8vo, cloth, 30s.






NOTE.--_This New Edition is printed from the last Edition of his
Works, revised and edited by John Forster, and is published by
arrangement with the Proprietors of the Copyright of Walter Savage
Landor's Works._

The Times.

"The abiding character of the interest excited by the writings
of Walter Savage Landor, and the existence of a numerous band of
votaries at the shrine of his refined genius, have been lately
evidenced by the appearance of the most remarkable of Landor's
productions, his 'Imaginary Conversations,' taken from the last
edition of his works. To have them in a separate publication will be
convenient to a great number of readers."

The Athenæum.

"The appearance of this tasteful reprint would seem to indicate
that the present generation is at last waking up to the fact that
it has neglected a great writer, and if so, it is well to begin
with Landor's most adequate work. It is difficult to overpraise
the 'Imaginary Conversations.' The eulogiums bestowed on the
'Conversations' by Emerson will, it is to be hoped, lead many to buy
this book."


"An excellent service has been done to the reading public by
presenting to it, in five compact volumes, these 'Conversations.'
Admirably printed on good paper, the volumes are handy in shape,
and indeed the edition is all that could be desired. When this has
been said, it will be understood what a boon has been conferred on
the reading public; and it should enable many comparatively poor men
to enrich their libraries with a work that will have an enduring


Metal Tips carefully prepared for placing on the Corners of Books to
preserve them from injury while passing through the Post Office or
being sent by Carrier.

Extract from "The Times," April 18th.

"That the publishers and booksellers second the efforts of the Post
Office authorities in endeavouring to convey books without damage
happening to them is evident from the tips which they use to protect
the corners from injury during transit."

1s. 6d. per Gross, _net_.

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THIS Book-case will be found to be made of very solid and durable
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_Full Height, 5 ft. 11-1/2 in.; Width, 3 ft. 8 inch; Depth of Shelf,
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  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.
  Bold text is denoted by =equal signs=.
  The oe ligature has been replaced by 'oe' or 'OE'.

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  Except for those changes noted below, misspelling by the author,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, has been retained. For example,
  gravediggers, grave-diggers; head-dress, headdress; riband, ribbon;
  ill luck, ill-luck; tragic, tragical; somerset; essay.

  See the Note at the front of the book:  This etext is derived from
  #216 of the 300 copies printed. The duplicates of the portraits have
  been removed.

  p. vii 'Counttess' replaced by 'Countess'.
  p. 21  'eat nor' replaced by 'ate nor'.
  p. 60  'Oroonoko' replaced by '"Oroonoko"'.
  p. 62  'to so many' replaced by 'to so many eras.'.
  p. 93  'Westminister' replaced by 'Westminster'.
  p. 163 'ex-hairdesser' replaced by 'ex-hairdresser'.
  p. 197 'Sedaine' replaced by '"Sedaine"'.
  p. 229 'dénoûment' replaced by 'dénouement'.
  p. 336 'dénoûments' replaced by 'dénouements'.

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