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rulous old man, with his full share of that vanity which is almost inseparable from the profession. He was also a staunch laudator tem. poris acti, and consequently a sore decryer of all existing talent. I also remember having met INCLedon there. Almost at the first sight of him, I discovered his foible, and was profuse in my praise of his talent. He was evidently flattered by the notice of even such a tyro as my. self. He was at once upon his hobby, and thundered out a verse of the · Lads in the Village ;' and looking at Blissett, exclaimed : 'Well, what do you think of that ?' The flattering reply was : · Ropy, my boy, Ropy, was good, once.' It is needless to say, that the whole evening was consumed on one side by self-adulation, and on the other by repeated bickerings.
And now the eventful period of my life draws nigh; the moment that was 'to make me or undo me quite.' Mr. Bartley applied to Mr. Dimond the manager to allow me to appear on the night allotted for his benefit. The consequence was, a mighty struggle in the mind of the potentate. He hesitated; "it was breaking the regulations of the establishment ;' : an appearance, without the recommendation of a London minister of state, was infringing upon the rules, and opening a door for democracy to creep in at,' He would hear me ;'" liked my appearance ;' and if this hitherto insurmountable barrier could be got over, it should be, in my favor.'
The morning came. I was not so much alarmed as I ought to have been. A confidence in my own extraordinary powers led me into the presence of a disciple of Garrick with perfect sang froid. He heard me and was much pleased, I felt that he ought to be so. Alonzo, in Pizarro, was the part allotted me. The night came. A crowded theatre and the glare of lights brought conviction to my mind that I had indeed assumed the hazard of the die ; sacrificed a profession, hopes of fortune, and all for what ? To paint my face, and make corked moustachios! I commenced in Spanish, and lost Spanish' by the event; for my god-father unfortunately died, during my wild ex. cursion ; and having been made acquainted with my vagaries, instead of leaving me ten thousand pounds, willed me only two. This was my first sacrifice for the stage.
Happy enthusiasm of youth! superior to all sordid feelings! What was wealth, compared with the glory that lighted the pathway before me! To have my name posted at the corner of every street and figuring upon every lettered post ; to hear from the lips of beauty • Romeo, Mr. ABBOTT ! to listen in anticipation to the future applause of an audience. a London audience; to revel amidst the raptures of the press; the bouquets, the sprigs of myrtle gently conveyed in perfumed and embossed paper; all this floated before my mind in clouds of incense.
I appeared. The applause was such as I verily believe only an English audience can give. Their smiles foster talent, however ob
scure, and their plaudits encourage it, however timid. No chains of icicles are thrown around you; your early path is one of roses. All this was mine ; and I was in the seventh heaven. The second night came Henry in Speed the Plough,' by the Young Gentleman who was so favorably received in Alonzo ;' in print - positively in print! Let me drop a veil, lest I excite too violent emotions in the reader's breast.
I had now fairly drawn the sword and thrown away the scabbard. I moved air-borne, exalted above vulgar men. And now for the reali. zation of all my hopes ! Mr. Dimond sent for me; was very much gratified ; saw considerable promise; and in some years to come, I might hope to become a good actor. In years to come!'— my spirits were congealed - below freezing-point. But this was not all; this was only the stepping-stone to the long gradation of mortifications an actor must encounter, in mounting the slippery path of doubtful fame. In those days it was foolishly imagined that before the actor taught others, he should be educated himself, and that he had to pass through a long and painful ordeal, before he could be cleansed from those impurities of pronunciation which will long cling to persons even of the highest education, but which ought never to be tolerated upon the stage, at least by those who view it as an honorable pursuit, and capable, when not perverted, of leading the mind to pure and high gratification. It is too late, and I may venture to assert too ridiculous, to talk of vindicating the stage. What is the stage not capable of producing? There you may witness the most soul-stirring passions, passions and feelings exhibiting the most sublime emotions, and leading the spectator to the consummation of virtue and the detestation of vice; where the love of country is implanted in the heart, and historical events of by-gone ages are brought before you with all the magic charm to be derived from a representation aided by correctness of costume, and splendid illustrations of scenery; where the graceful proportions of architecture recall the simplicity and magnificence of Greece and Rome, and the fascinations of music soothe the cares of mankind with heaven-borne melody. Did I reflect thus then ? I fear not.
But where was I ? Oh! with Mr. Dimond. Dimond offered me an engagement for the ensuing season. Even now I feel the throbbings of my heart ! I grasped the chair; he smiled — stocks were up. He gently insinuated that Rome was not built in a day; that Titian, Raphael, Sir Joshua Reynolds, were not able to paint pictures simply because they held a brush in their hands; that a man to depict passions must study the passions ; that the labor of years would still leave me years to labor; and that no art, however humble, but would in the end leave something for the artist to accomplish. How different from the intuitive spirit of modern criticism !' These Solons prove daily that education is unnecessary for the critic. What is it to these mighty potentates, if by one dash of their goose-quill they annoy the feelings of an actor who at least possesses the merit of studying and understanding his author ? But let that actor
be a gentleman ; let him fly the pestilential vapour of a bar-room ; let him refuse to take a drink ;' and he must be written down, for "he is not of our quality. But a truce with digressions, more parti. cularly when they lead one into such unseemly society.
Mr. Dimond was a gentleman, both by manners and bearing; but he had been a pupil of Garrick, and had possibly imbibed some of the parsimonious feelings of his illustrious master. He at length came to the point; he offered me one guinea per week! I was a most loyal subject, but I did not wish to see the royal countenance on so small a scale. I hesitated; he gave me until the following day for decision, which brought with it an increase of four shillings per week one pound five shillings! The hope of riches had fled like the inconstant wind; but glory re. mained, and my mind gradually became reconciled. I was my own banker, and in about the same situation with many others of modern days; but although I was not enabled to draw' professionally, I had a kind father, whom I victimised at pleasure. I returned home, to the great delight of all, and was received as the Prodigal Son. The evening passed mid tears and smiles; and before we separated for the night, I had instructed them in the mysteries of Shakspeare, and gave the philosophic abstractions of Hamlet and the insane wanderings of Ophelia, with a taste and judgment very gratifying to my own feelings, but I have no doubt with a bombast worthy of the veriest school-boy that ever spouted by admeasurement. I was again tempted to relinquish my loved pursuit, and return to my legal studies; but as the time drew near for the reöpening of the Bath Theatre, there came back all my desires; and finding it vain to oppose my wishes any longer, I obtained an unwilling consent to follow my inclinations. My frail bark was on the sea, with. out rudder or compass to guide it ; left to the mercy of the rude storms of life, and without half the tossings I deserved for my folly. A consciousness of my temerity came over me when I had fairly embarked in my enterprise, and all my boasted promise vanished into nothing. More puerile efforts never graced the début of an aspirant; and but for the extreme forbearance of a most indulgent public, I should have been destroyed, as Rome was saved, by the cackling of geese! A burning sense of shame and mortification came over me: I felt that I could not return home so disgraced in my own self-esteem. I rallied, persevered, and before the close of the season was engaged for the following year, and at an increase of salary. There was a strictness in the discipline of the Bath Theatre that I have rarely seen equalled and never excelled. Mr. Charlton was the stage-manager, and with the exception of the birch, was held in as much awe as the celebrated Dr. Busby of Westminster. In the duties of his office he was never known to smile but once, and that was in his sleeve; but in private he was a most agreeable and social man. His son, caught by the Roscius mania, had a short time before me made his appearance in the character of Achmet in Barbarossa : but although his success was sufficiently flattering, he was wise enough to withdraw from the toils and anxieties of so precarious a profession as that of an actor, and is now a clergyman in Lon. don, with all the advantages of a lucrative benefice, obtained not by interest but the more gratifying result of an estimable character.
There was during the early part of my career an actor of the name of LOVEGROVE, who made a most successful début in London in the character of Lord Ogleby, and retained his position until death prematurely deprived the stage of an ornament. Mr. Rae also appeared in Bath, and with all the advantages of patronage. He accidentally forgot to mention that he had assisted in lighting Hymen’s torch; and several old maids, a class both numerous and influential in that city, took a deep interest in his success; and one of these antiques became the mother - be it not irreverently spoken- of the following offspring :
‘Bath long had mourn'd her favorite son,
In person he was handsome, and in manners refined and gentlemanlike, although perhaps rather affected. He was fortunate in his career, and held a prominent situation in Drury-Lane Theatre, of which establishment he became stage-manager. His talent was unquestionably mediocre.
I was not satisfied at this time with treading one thorny path, but took it into my head to write a series of essays, which were published by my friend Mr. Meyler, a very influential person, and proprietor and editor of the Bath Herald. I was rather a favorite with him, for I always made it a point to laugh at his jokes and compassionate his gout. He ushered my essays into the world under the title of The Contemplator ;' the Contemplator, by a boy of eighteen!! I never heard of their having been translated into any foreign language; but I do not hold myself responsible for the want of taste here exemplified. I had the honor of dedicating them by permission to the Lady WILLOUGHBY D'ERESBY, the hereditary High Chamberlain of England; and the amiable character and position of this lady rendered it sufficiently flattering to my vanity.
THE UNFORTUNATE CONWAY.
I FIND I have neglected to mention an actor who stood sufficiently forward, both by his position and his misfortunes, to be entitled to a respectful notice; I mean Mr. Conway. He was said to be the illegitimate offspring of a distinguished nobleman; but whether his own pride prevented his making advances, and he was resolved to lay the foundation of his own fame and fortune, or whether he met with a check upon his own natural feelings from one who was bound to support him, I know not; but gifted as he was with a commanding person, a most gentlemanlike deportment, and advantages peculiarly adapted for the stage, it is no wonder that the histrionic art held forth inducements and hopes of obtaining a brighter position than any other career open to him, without the aid of pecuniary means, and the patronage which was withheld from him. He made his appearance in 1813, the season previous to Kean, in the character of · Alexander the Great.' He met with a very flattering reception, and produced a great effect upon the fair sex. Indeed the actors, who are upon these occasions lynx-eyed, could not avoid
their remarks upon a certain Dutchess, who never missed one of his performances, and appeared to take the deepest interest in his success.
Conway was upward of six feet in height. He was deficient in strong intellectual expression, yet he had the reputation of being very handsome. His head was too small for his frame, and his complexion too light and sanguine for the profound and varied emotions of deep tragedy. There was a tinge of affectation in his deportment, which had the effect of creating among many a strong feeling of prejudice against him. His bearing was always gentlemanlike, and with the exception of a slight superciliousness of manner, amiable to every body; and his talent, though not of the highest order, was still sufficiently prominent to enable him to maintain a distinguished position. And yet this man, with so little to justify spleen, was literally, from an unaccountable prejudice, driven from the stage by one of the leading weekly journals, edited by a gentleman whose biting satire was death to those who had the misfor. tune to come under his lash. In complete disgust, he retired from the boards, and filled the humble situation of prompter at the Haymarket. Theatre, but afterward left for the United States, where he became a great favorite. But the canker was at his heart. He again quitted the stage, and prepared himself for the church. But there again he was foiled. The ministers of our holy religion refused to receive him, not from
any moral stain upon his character, but because he had been an
What is to become of the priesthood, who in the early periods were the only actors, and selected scriptural subjects for representation ? He left in a packet for Savannah, overwhelmed with misery and disappointment. Ushered into the world by a parent who would not acknow. ledge him ; driven out of it in the belief that he was the proscribed of heaven. At the moment they were passing the bar at Charleston, he threw himself overboard. Efforts were made to save him; a settee was thrown over for him to cling to, until they could adopt more deci. sive measures for his rescue. He saw the object; but his resolution was taken. He waved his hand, and sunk to rise no more. I have reason to believe that the gentleman to whom I have alluded, as having made such fearful use of his editorial powers, felt bitterly when the news of his ill-timed death arrived. He also is now no more. Poor Conway! had he possessed more nerve, he might still have triumphed over the unkindness of his fate :
Who has not known ill fortune, never knew
When ruin some loose scoundrel brings
Upon your honest fame,
Nor clears the branded shame.
He does the best he can,
That's due unto a gentleman !