« AnteriorContinuar »
of his debts ; adding withala pension of 2001. per annum while he continued in England. But the bountiful intentions of that Prince had not all the designed effect, for Wycherly was ashamed to give the Earl of Mulgrave, whom the King had sent to demand it, a full account of his debts. He laboured under these difficulties. until his father died; and then too the estate that descended to him was left under very uneasy limitations, since, being only a tenant for life, he could not raise money for the payment of his debts. However, he took a method of doing it which few suspected to be his choice; and this was, inaking a jointure. He had often declared that he was resolved to die married, though he could not bear the thoughts of living in that state again : accordingly, just at the eve of his death, he married a young gentlewoman with 15007. fortune, part of which he applied to the uses. he wanted it for. Eleven days after the celebration of these nuptials, on the 1st of January, 1715, he died, and was interred in the vault of Covent-garden church.
BARTON BOOTH, With a very classical and highly improved judgment, possessed all the natural powers of an actor in a very eminent degree. “ He was of a middle stature, five feet eight; his form rather inclining to the athletic, though nothing clumsy or heavy ; his air and deportment naturally graceful, with a marking eye, and a manly sweetness in his countenance,
“ His voice was completely harmonious, from the softness of the flute to the extent of the trumpet: his attitudes were all picturesque : he was noble in his designs, and happy in his execution *.”
To this testimony Aaron Hill (a writer of great theatrical knowledge) adds, “ It was this actor's peculiar felicity to be heard and seen the same, whether as the pleased, the grieved, the pitying, the reproachful, or the angry. One would be almost tempted to borrow the aid of a very bold figure, and, to express this excellence the more significantly, beg permission to affirm, that the blind might have seen him in his voice, and the deaf have heard him in his visage.
* Victor's History of the Theatre.
Though Booth, from the possession of these qualifications, must by attending to them, have necessarily reached the top of his profession, it was not till the production of Çato that he gained his eminence; and as the manner by which he obtained this part shews ingenuity and address on his side, as well as judgment on the side of the managers, we shall here relate it.
When Mr. Addison carried this admirable tragedy to the green-room, he, of course, as the author, read it first to the players: but being a man of uncommon bashfulness and diffidence, after this he desired Cibber would supply his place, who read it so much to the satisfaction of the author, that he requested him to perform the part of Cato.
Cibber, though otherwise a vain man, knew his own forte too well to risk his reputation in a character so much out of his way; he therefore preferred the part of Syphax, whilst Wilks took that of Juba. Cato, however, still remained undisposed of, till they both agreed that Booth would be the most likely representative, from figure, voice, and judgment, of this virtuous Roman: but Wilks, fearing that Booth would think himself injured in being cast for so venerable a character, (he being then a young man,) had the good nature to carry the part to his lodgings himself; to inform him of its importance; and to persuade him, if necessary, to accept it. Booth, who told this anecdote to Victor, said, “ that he sunk the importance of the character, and seemed to accept it entirely at the manager's desire; which condescending behaviour, with his performance of the part so much to the delight and admiration of the audience, gave both Wilks and Cibber the greatest pleasure.” However, when the consequences began soon after to appear, viz. a reputation and interest to obtain a special licence from the Queen to be included as fourth manager of the theatre, this pleasure was converted into remorse and disappointment, and ended with one of the managers (Dogget) retiring in disgust from the stage for eyer.
The parts which Booth principally distinguished himself in, beside Cato, were Pyrrhus, Othello, Brutus, Lear, Marc Antony, Aurengzebe, Jaffier, the Ghost in Hamlet, &c.
THE LONDON THEATRES..
27. "Travellers. Koyan, Mr. BRAHAM (his Ist appearance this season)-Three and the Deuce.
29. World.-Blue Beard.
31. Jobu Bull Dan (for that night only), Mr. De Camp.--Blue Beard. NOVEMBER
1. Cabinet. Count Curvoso, Mr. Penley.--Three Weeks after Marriage.
2. She Stoops to Conquer. Young Marlow, Mr. De Camp. Blue Beard.
3. Country Girl.-Ib.
8. Haunted Tower. Edward, Mr. Russell; Lady Elinor (1st time), Miss Lyon; Adela (1st time), Mrs. Mountain.-Mayor of Garrat.
9. No performance, on account of the preparations for the new play of The Siege of St Quintin.
10. [NEVER ACTED.} THE SIEGE OF ST. QUINTIN; or, Spanish Heroism. The Overture and Music composed and selected by Mr. Hook. Spaniards. Emanuel Philip (Duke of Savoy), Mr. Putnam ; Count Egmont (second in command), Mr. Elliston; Theodore (his son), Master Wallack; Everard (the military Minstrel), Mr. Braham ; Bertrand, Mr. De Camp; Alvarez, Mr. Ray. Adriana (wife of Egmont), Mrs. H Siddons-English. Sir Leinster Kildare, Mr. Johnstone , Captain MʻIntyre, Mr. Maddocks; Jack, Mr. Penley; Serjeant Sturdy, Mr.Cooke; Soldiers, Mr. Gibbon and Mr. Dignum.-French. De Courcy (governor of the castle), Mr. Raymond; Laroche, Mr. Smith; Rosa de Valmont, Miss Ray; Margaret, Miss Tidswell.-Spoil'd Child. Little Pickle (1st time), Miss Kelly.
19. Ib.-Of Age To-Morrow. Sophia, and Maria (1'st time), Mrs. Mathews, and Mrs. Mountain.
21. John Bull. Sir Simon Rochdale, Mr. Penley; Dan, Mr. Mathews -Blue Beard.
29. Duenna-Mayor of Garrat.
The Siege of St. Quintin, of which the following is the plot, was written, hastily of course, to benefit, aud be benefited by, the cause in which the Spanish nation is at present so gloriously engaged. We do not ihink that the object has been successfully attained, The Spaniards have, it is true, in this siege, the advantage over the French, but it is by a paltry stratagem, viz. by getting possession of the pass-word, and so finding their way into the VOL. IV.
MRS. WOFFINGTON, The origin of Miss Woffioyton, as is well known, was very humble, Her mother, on the death of her father, kept a small grocer's shop (commonly called in Ireland a'huckster's shop). upon Ormond-quay; and under this inauspicious circumstance did a woman, who afterwards delighted nations, and attracted the highest private regards, begin her career in life. What first gave rise to the accomplishment of so great a change, the following circumstance will explain.
There was a Frenchwoman, of the name of Madame Violante, who took up an occasional residence in Dublin about the year 1728. This woman was celebrated for exhibiting great feats of grace and agility on the tight rope, &c. &c. ; and, as she supported a-good private character, her exhibitions were much resorted to at that time by people of the best fashion. Violante varied her amusements to the floatiug caprices of taste ; and, as “: The Beggar's Opera” was then the rage, all over the three kingdoms, she undertook to get up a representation of this celebrated piece with a company of children, ory as they were called in the bills of that day, “Lilliputian Actors.” Woffington, who was then only in the tenth
as her Macheath; and such was the power of her infant talents, not a little perhaps aided by the partialities in favour of the
opera, that the Lilliputian Theatre was crowded every night, and the spirit and address of the little hero the theme of every theatrical conversation.
Here was not only an early and accidental decision of her genius for the stage, but for her future excellence in breeches parts ; as, had not the character of Macheath, been assigned her, it is more than probable, she would have gone on in the usual line of acting, without ever being celebrated as the best male rake of her day.
A commencement so favourable got her an, engagement a few years afterwards at Smock-alley Theatre, Dublin, where she soon fulfilled every expectation that was formed of her: and so little did her humble birth, and early, education, bow down her mind to her situation, that her talents were found evidently to lie in the representation: of females of high rank and dignified deportment. Her person was suitable to such an exhibition, being of size above the middle stature, elegantly formed, and, though, not an absolute beauty, had a face full of exo:
year of her