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tellectual amusements, for not recollecting his name : as it is my interest however to cultivate the good will of my reader, in the hope that he will strongly recommend my writings to his numerous friends and acquaintances,' I will give him the choice of three names to select from; and if he should fortunately hit upon the right one, I have no doubt it will be some satisfaction to the injured individual. If it were not Scowton, it might have been Richardson, and if wrong in both, we 'll confer the honors upon Gyngell. We gazed with admiration upon the magnificently attired ladies and gentlemen, their faces covered with brick-dust, and their lips, those of the gentlemen I mean, with corked moustaches, while black raven hair hung in graceful profusion down their necks. Here we saw the chieftain of the Castle dance with one of his female vassals, without the slightest affectation of pride or distinction in any of his movements; one moment exchanging the graceful bolero for an Irish jig, and the next elevating at arm's length the active Columbine, whose performances were of course reserved for the pantomime ; here stood a dwarf, under the wing of an Irish giantess, and dark lowering banditti arm-in-arm with the ladies of — Court! There stood the Bleeding Nun, with a fond recollection of the world she had left, regaling herself with her favorite beverage of gin-and-water; while the pot-boy looked on with admiration and wonder, to see how one spirit despatched the other in so brief a period.
The deep-sounding gong at length sent forth its funeral sounds, and called these artists to their vocation. This however was only a lure to induce the people to lose no time, but to be good-natured, and part with their little sixpences at once. This outward stage was no sooner cleared, than up we mounted and paid a shilling each for a front seat: but judge of our confusion, or rather that of Mr. Brunton, who had been so long a disciple of Thespis, that it was impossible for him to escape the lynx-eyed manager, proprietor and money-taker. No, said the multifarious functionary, with an evidently wounded spirit, and with a huskiness in his throat, which seemed the index of profound sensibility, (though justice compels me to say, I believe it arose less from the latter feeling, than from an early use of spirituous liquors) · no, times is bad to be sure, but not so bad as to allow us to take money from our own brethren!'
I immediately retreated, to give way to some other applicants for tickets, and should have been grateful if a trap-door had at that moment opened and engulphed me. I felt the force of 'sauve qui peut,' but did not dare to take advantage of it; I therefore remained, a living monument of alabaster. My friend blushed this once, who never blushed before ;' Scowton, Richardson, or Gyngell, called loudly for an aid-de-camp, who came quickly to the spot, received his orders, darted off in an instant, glancing obliquely at two such distinguished persons, as I presume from his orders he considered us, while we were requested to wait a moment.
Now be it known to those who are unacquainted with the fact, that on all occasions when Royalty honors the theatre with its presence, the manager is always in waiting ; in full court-suit, and with a silver candlestick in each hand, he precedes the royal personages to their box, backing the whole way, like a well-trained horse. Our conductor
appeared, not in a court-suit, it is true, nor with silver candlesticks, but observing all the proper forms and ceremonies, by preceding us in the same way, carrying a large sieve of saw-dust, which he sprinkled before our steps as we descended the platform leading to the most conspicuous and distingue seat that could be procured for us.
The astonishment of the audience at this extraordinary parade is indescribable; and not even the magnificence of the appointments, the splendor of the scenery, and the extraordinary beauty of the poetry, could arrest their attention one moment. They undoubtedly looked upon us as foreign princes travelling incog.
I ought to have mentioned that the preceding summer, I had played a short engagement at the Haymarket Theatre, and thus laid the foun. dation for my speedy return to the metropolis at one of the larger houses. My debut was in the character of (the name is illegible,) in * Lovers' Vows,' in which I had every reason to be satisfied with my reception ; my second part was that of George Barnwell, and then I appeared with my friend Sowerby, in the Doubtful Season,' in which piece he sustained a very prominent character. I have already spoken of the extraordinary acting of Sowerby, and he certainly had the merit of puzzling the critics. There was a wildness and extravagance in his style, which frequently excited the risible muscles, and again there would be a burst of genius, that was hailed with rapture. The judg. ment of Colman as a critic, always ranked high, and he after witnessing his performance in the above play, left the theatre with a doubt he could ill express :
• In short,' said he, ' I was never so much at fault; for he is either the worst actor I ever saw, or decidedly one of the best.'
As Sowerby has once more stumbled on my path, I cannot refrain from relating an anecdote of him, which occurred in Glascow. He was on intimate terms with a Mr. Montgomery, a near relation of the Earl of Gosford, and whose assumed name was Barry. This gentleman had all the advantage and accomplishments appertaining to his position in life. He had · finished at Oxford and was afterward a short time in the army. His qualifications for the stage were by no means equal to his natural and acquired talents. He had a private income of some three hundred pounds a year; and without being parsimonious, had always funds sufficient to protect him against the petty accidents of life. Sowerby, who was the most careless of mortals, frequently borrowed money; and although there was not a particle of meanness in his composition, he almost as frequently neglected to return it. On one occasion, being pressed for twenty pounds, he called upon Montgomery to borrow that sum; but the latter gentleman decidedly refused him ; arguing that the other, though sufficiently honest, was a careless fellow, who never heeded the consequences of breaking his promise to return the money, and that he, Montgomery, had in consequence on one or two occasions suffered serious annoyance. Sowerby pressed his suit with earnestness, but his friend was inflexible. At length he left the house in great dudgeon, but returned within half an hour, apparently indifferent to what had occurred, and said: “Well, if you 'll not advance me any money, I presume you ’ll not object to take a walk
with me.' Certainly not, was the reply. He was muffled up in a great-coat which did not at all accord with the season; but Montgomery knew it was idle to thwart him a second time, and quietly submitted to his eccentricity. They went to the salt-market, at an hour when the place was densely crowded with merchants and men of business; and when they had arrived in the heart of the vast throng, from which there was no possibility of retreat; with a daring fully equal to any of the exhibitions of Rob Roy on the same ground, Sowerby turned quietly round upon his victim, and said, in a calm tone: 'I must have that twenty pounds.' Montgomery, treating it half in jest, half in earnest, again refused. Sowerby then firmly grasped his arm, at the same time renewing his entreaties; but Montgomery, notwithstanding his extreme amiability of disposition, at length was roused into a strong feeling of annoyance, and rebuked him rather sharply. Perhaps there never was a man more sensitively nervous upon any point that could by possibility bring him before the public, more especially when composed of all classes as this was. Sowerby knew this, and played with and tickled his victim like a trout, till he arrived at his object. He then, with a cool determination, which the other knew it was in vain to trifle with, repeated :
• I must have the money, or I'll publicly expose you.' · How!' said Montgomery ; 'what do you mean ?'
. Simply this ! He then partially unbuttoned his coat, and displayed beneath it a harlequin jacket, with all its gay parti-colors, and rich spangles. • You will walk with me in this dress, or lend me the money.'
What was the result? The twenty pounds were immediately advanced. Poor fellows! Both have quitted this earthly scene, to be more justly dealt with! The one died from the effects of over-sensi. bility, arising from the failure of his hopes; the other in sheer insanity, calling out : 'Saddle white Surry for the field to-morrow!'
EDINBURGH: SPEECEIFYING : SCOTTISE HOSPITALITY.
I was engaged by Mr. Henry SIDDONS, then manager of the Edin. burgh Theatre, to sustain the leading characters on Miss O'Neil's first visit to the Scottish metropolis. The night previous to her first performance, the portico in front of the theatre was crowded by porters, who established a regular bivouac, for the purpose of making a rush to secure places the moment the box-office was opened in the morning. We performed there three weeks, and every night the theatre was crowded to suffocation. The cautious Scott was mounted on the highest pinnacle of enthusiasm; and a more delightful time I never passed. My letters of introduction were of a very flattering character, and in all my travels I never met with more genuine hospitality than in Scotland. I established many friendships, which continued as long as circumstances permitted me to cultivate them; and I shall ever think with gratitude of the many acts of kindness I received there. I had previ. ously the good fortune to be known intimately to Colonel Bethune of
Balfour, in Fifeshire, a gentleman of considerable fortune and most agreeable talents. He had retired from the army on succeeding to his patrimony, and now divided his time between Paris, London, Bath, Cheltenham, and his estate ; and a most delightful life he had of it. The moment my engagement was concluded, he insisted upon my giving him a month at Balfour. He was a bachelor on the wrong side,' as it is termed, 'of fifty.' Two old maiden aunts, of the most primitive character, lived with him. Neither of them had ever visited Edinburgh more than once, and had never crossed the border. They were ex. tremely formal and extremely kind. On my arrival at the mansion, about five o'clock, I found I had only time to prepare my toilet and be presented before dinner. I entered the drawing-room and was introduced to the ladies, who had, it appears, previously been made acquainted with my profession; when to my friend's horror, and my own great amusement, one of them, in a formal set manner, requested I would favor them with a speech! I immediately commenced, to their infinite satisfaction, with, · Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,' etc. This became a regular joke, at least with the Colonel ; and upon our dining at Wemys Castle, and other mansions in that most hospitable country, I was regularly asked, in the presence of the ladies, to make a speech.
I will not describe the effect produced upon me on this my first visit to Edinburgh by its singularly romantic appearance. The blending of the modern and the antique, the Grecian and the Gothic, gives to the first glance of the stranger an absorbing interest. I had a letter to WALTER Scott, the great magician, but he was absent, and of course I did not take the liberty of hunting the lion in his den. I had the honor, some time after, of passing three days with him at Abbotsford, through a letter of introduction from one of his earliest friends, WILLIAM ERSKINE, a man of most refined taste, and distinguished as one of the Scottish Judges. I shall have reason to refer to this visit, without need. lessly dwelling upon it now.
THE STAR-SYSTEM; GUY MANNERING IN LONDON, ETC.
OUR London season commenced with a great variety of attraction; and let me remark, that the Drama would never have been in so melancholy a position as it now is, had the same tone of management continued. The first severe blow was given by Elliston, who with all his talent and eccentricity was a great charlatan, and was very honestly entitled to the distinguished appellation of King Humbug,' which he appeared so desirous to obtain. Under his management commenced that ruinous and pernicious system of stars,' which served to annihi. late the ambition of each tyro in the profession, and place all hopes of his advancement in a dim and miserable perspective. A great effort was made to vitiate the public taste; and unhappily, to a certain ex. tent it succeeded.
An audience is no longer induced to visit the theatre for the purpose of enjoying a dramatic festival; but flaming letters and exaggerated pretensions are thrust forward to usurp the undivided favor of the public. The reigning characteristic of taste is fickleness; and I regret to say
that managers, instead of opposing it by all the means in their power, have endeavored to encourage it. We have, for instance, Mr. W. Farren, an admirable actor doubtless, usurping the highest position in an establishment, and exacting from the management such terms as can only be met by placing the other branches of the profession in the humiliating situation of comparative penury and distress; while the unbounded vanity and pretensions of the one, operate to the ruin of all the rest. Will that excellent actor, Mr. FARREN, recollect that there was an artist of the name of Munden, whose talent was of the highest order, although bordering occasionally on caricature, and who was contented to mingle his versatile powers with those of the celebrated names which surrounded him ? He never ventured to dictate to authors, that if such and such a part were written to show off the abilities of another performer, he would not perform in the play! What then becomes of the spirit of emulation, without which no artist can be truly great? The system is, in fact, to recommend one species of excellence, and destroy the sense of all other merit. The genius of the author is necessarily cramped, for he is compelled to write under stipulations and restrictions, that dam up the current of his natural feelings, in the fear that his hopedfor production may be thrown aside, if the leading actor declines the performance of a character, simply because it does not occupy the sole and undivided attraction of the play. Another objection may be very rationally urged, namely: that from the want of that stimulus which can only be excited by surrounding talent, the exclusive actor degenerates into mannerism, and loses all the force and beauty of variety. He of necessity becomes toujours perdrix ; and Sir Peter Teazle and old Cockletop are to be distinguished by the difference of dress, but not by any marked definition of character.
The muse of the Great Unknown had taken at this period a deep root in England, France and Germany. His charming poetry had yielded to the powerful and daring genius of Byron, and he lost not a moment in striking out a new path, unapproachable to any other steps. The magic influence of his pen gave life and being to persons and events hitherto scarcely known by the intervening generations to exist; and all the beautiful fiction of romance interwoven as it was with great historical research, interested the public mind in a manner almost unprecedented. Scissors and paste were put in requisition by the half-dra. matists of the day, and with the aid of those powerful auxiliaries, many a tolerable operatic and melo-dramatic play was dished up from the • Heart of Mid Lothian,' Guy Mannering,' Rob Roy,' etc. What would these dramas have been, if their success had depended upon the genius or great talent of an individual actor ? They would not have been tolerated for a single night. A host of dramatic intellect then lent its support.
Let as take, for example, the play of Guy Mannering: Liston, too well known to require a comment : EMERY, one of the greatest actors the stage ever knew ; with what delight I look back to the recollection of the latter, and of his wonderful powers! His Tyke, in the play of • The School of Reform,' was a master-piece of high tragedy, and the broadest humor; a combination of excellence rarely to be met with.