Page images
PDF
EPUB

upper organs protest that it nips, almost to choking, in the throat; the industrious millions declare that the hands have the exclusive agony of the tight shoe; while some of all parties are of opinion that it is poor Britannia's corn that most requires release. All feel the pressure, and each judges the necessity of a remedy, not in the spirit that embraces an understanding of the whole system, but according to his individual sensations of inconvenience or pain. A tight shoe is much too large for common comprehension; the ordinary mind is not yet sufficiently expansive to apprehend all the delicacies of a pinch.

The "

THAT YOU SHOULD TAKE CARE OF THE PENCE, AND THE POUNDS WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.—The proficient in the art of gathering littles together is universally assumed to be as skilful in the science of taking care of the much. The less is supposed to include the greater. The penny cleverly saved involves the sovereign safely stored; and he who is particularly anxious about a trifle obtains the credit of vigilance and caution in a weighty matter; as the cunning rogue, who is scrupulously honest in returning the halfpenny overpaid, procures the reputation of being conscientious and just to the uttermost farthing. Trust him with a bank-note the next day, he will wrap up his conscience in it with perfect composure; and the man who attaches most value to the halfpenny got, is the same person who will most readily part with the bank-note. His genius consists in taking care of the pence; and the “divinity that doth hedge a king” he transfers to the sovereign. That will always take care of itself; for as every particle of it has cost him an anxiety, he looks upon it as the imperishable monument of his caution and care.

picker up of unconsidered trifles” esteems himself the paragon of prudence. A collector of this class may be said to put his farthings into his purse and his pounds loose into his coat-pocket. The penny saved is a penny got; and as he avoids Waterloo-bridge on account of the toll, he has his pocket picked in the course of a two miles' walk round the Strand. He is too busy with his cunning to be cautious. His concern for trifles will not allow of due watchfulness in affairs of consequence. His hand is so accustomed to grasp the penny, that the smaller pound slips through his fingers. The most saving man of our acquaintance is by far the most expert at losing his money. A dinnerless friend could not extract sixpence from him; but a stranger shall succeed in obtaining his draft on Drummond's for five hundred pounds, providing the security be bad, or at any rate exceedingly suspicious. Good security seems to be his aversion; and the heavier the sum the lighter his notions of risk. He is a very Argus over a penny, but a Cyclops (the one eye at least half-closed) over a golden heap. He is exactly the person to set his house on fire while searching for a saveall. Most people have encountered men of this description ; they are to be seen as frequently as the maxim they admire is quoted. They part, at one fell swoop,” with the hoarded profits of a hundred meannesses. They will even do this consciously; they will be generous on a large scale, though miserly and extortionate in a little bargain. But even in their grander dealings, the ruling penny-passion will display itself. They will yield up the hard-earned thousand, deducting twopence for the postage of the letter that solicited it. Spirit of ! I may not name thee, though thou art gone ; but didst thou not once do even this?

tt

RECORDS OF A STAGE VETERAN.

[Note.— It is with extreme regret that the writer of these papers has heard that some anecdotes inserted in the last article relative to the late Mr. Mathews bave created uneasiness in the mind of a lady whose sorrows need no aggravation. Though wholly at a loss to find what, in those anecdotes, could, even by implication, affect the memory of that excellent man and inimitable artist, it is sufficient to know they have been regarded in that light by his relict to make the writer regret their publication. Anecdotes, the mere currency of conversation, are often told in moments of hilarity; and in penning down such details, an unguarded expression may sometimes accidentally be recorded. Mr. Mathews (exclusively of his high histrionic claims) commanded the respect and love of his fellow.creatures, as a scholar, a gentleman, a man, and a Christian. The writer of these pages admired him living, and venerates his memory. Perhaps the watchful tenacity of affection has “ shaped faults that are not” in the few memorandums contained in the last paper ;- at all events, in disclaiming any intention to raise a smile at the expense of the feelings of Mr. Mathews's family, the writer avows only what is equally due to himself and them.]

An Antediluvian Reminiscence.—Incledon's love of profane jokes was notorious; from his early education (as a Cathedral boy) he derived an extensive acquaintance with the Scriptures, and his quotations were the ebullitions of a heedless, not a heretic nature. He was conversing once with a Scotch gentleman who traced his ancestors back to a period anterior to the Christian era. By the holy Paul," said Charles, you'll tell me next that your d-d ancestors were in the ark with Noah !" "I've no preceese eveedence o' the fac,' replied the Scotchman; “ but I've a shrewd conjecture that they were.' Incledon, who was never at a loss, replied, “ They were in the ark with Noah, were they? Now, Sir, to show you the superiority of my family; at that time, by --, they had a boat of their own.

Keeley in the Provinces.--Chelmsford is decidedly the worst theatrical town in England. Keeley was once unfortunate enough to go thither as a star; the first night he acted to a select few, the second night the numbers were scantier than before, and on the third and last night the auditors were few and far between; the last piece was “The Hundred Pound Note," in which Keeley played the conundrum-making Billy Black; in the last scene he advanced to the lights and said, “ I've one more, and this is a good-un. Why is the Chelmsford theatre like a half moon ?' D'ye give it up? • Because it's never full.'

Knight, Kean, and Kemble.-When John Kemble retired, little Knight wrote a bombastic and eulogistic elegy, commencing and concluding with the lines -

Many shall come, and many shall dare,

But none shall fill the vacated chair." “I know nothing about the chair,” said old Powell,“ but all London agrees that Kean has risen and pushed him from his stool.""

The Young Roscius.- Betty had some fantastic notions in dress, which he indulged despite of the remonstrances of his friends. One summer he sported a pair of indescribables made of children's map pocket handkerchiefs; our readers may see the sort of things we mean, maps of London and its environs, &c., marked up at haberdashers at a penny apiece. A gentleman suggested to the late young Roscius the singularity of such

[ocr errors]

garments. “ My good Sir,” replied Betty, “ you don't perceive the convenience and utility they are of; for instance, as I am driving, I may become doubtful as to my route, undo the gig-apron, there I liave all the information I want upon my thigh.” This Betty called his map-ography.

A few strange Sights. I have seen Wilkinson play Macbeth ; Mathess, Othello; Wrench, George Barnwell; Buckstone, lago; Rayner, Penrud. dock; little Knight, Gossamer; Claremont, Richard; Keeley, Shylock; Liston, Romeo and Octavian ; Reeve, Othello; G. F. Cooke, Mercutio; John Kemble, Archer; Kean, clown in a pantomime; and Young, Shaccabac, in “ Blue Beard;” Tom Moore, the poet, play Peeping Tom; and Kenny, the dramatist, Delaval.

An erudite Manager.-F- whatever his merits may be, or rather may have been, as a manager, has cultivated a very slender acquaintance with either Lindley Murray or Mavor: on one occasion he was arranging a spectacle, and wishing to form his troop in an oblique direction, he gave the word thus —" Right about face, - march,-left shoulders forward. Now forin in an opaque line across the stage." The same grave authority, objecting to the charge for the keep of the elephant then exhibiting at Covent-garden, said, “He can't eat the quantity, I defy him, let his appetite be ever so vociferous.

Bankrupt Dramatist.-When Mr. Colman's affairs in connexion with the Haymarket Theatre were in great embarrassment, some one lamented that he (Mr. C.) could not be relieved from ultimate responsibility by a bankruptcy, as he was not a trader. “Yes I am,” replied George, “ I'm a paper-stainer."

G. F. Cooke a Volunteer. --About the year 1802, volunteering was as “common as camomile,'' and at the Eccentric Club divers members were speaking of the corps to which they were attached. “I," said one, “ am of the Middlesex corps.” “I," cried another," "am of the Fencibles." “What are you, George ?” asked a member of Cooke. One of the Inde fensibles, by roared the inebriated Richard.

An Excuse.-Blanchard was not the most careful of men, and, returning from some provincial engagement, Mrs. B. found amid his linen an odd stocking, marked with initials that were certainly not W. B. Strange doubts arose in her mind, and she at last popped the question—" Where could you possibly have got that odd stocking ?" Blanchard, not at all confused, replied, “I had forgotten my portmanteau, and I borrowed it of a friend of mine who had a wooden leg.

Elegant Epistles.- When Messrs. H— and W—-1 were provincial actors, their treasury ran low. H— addressed the following note to his friend :“ Dear W., -- Lend me a couple of shillings until Saturday, and oblige

“ Yours, “ P.S. On second thoughts, make it three." To this epistle he received the following reply :“ Dear Jack,- I have only one shilling myself, or would oblige,

• Yours, “ On second thoughts, I niust change that for dinner." Mr. and Mrs. Henry Johnston.-When Harry Johnston first beheld Nannette Parker (afterwards his wife) she was the observed of all observers at the Lyceum, then a pantomimic and equestrian theatre, Mr. and Mrs. Parker were so careful of their dark-eyed divinity, that to speak or convey a letter to Miss P. was almost impossible. Johnston adopted a strange mode of attracting her attention. He every evening took a certain place in the boxes ; and in the course of one night would go out,

[ocr errors]

change his dress and bouquet, and return-the colours of his garments and the flowers he wore being an Oriental mode of expressing his love. He succeeded, however. Suett called this “ Harry Johnston's coatship with Miss Parker." One night Miss P. was enacting some character dressed en homme. Mr. J., as usual, had been in and out, “ ringing the changes," when the following jeu d'esprit was handed him by the boxkeeper :

« Your wedding emblems argue ill

With her who now bewitches;
For should you wear the coats, Hal, still,

You'll see who'll wear the breeches." Mr. and Mrs. Johnston proved very attractive their first season of acting together: they were regarded as the handsomest couple in England, and on this account alone drew money. At that period the public felt an intense interest in all relating to theatres and performers. Those times are past, Floranthe."

Mrs. Mountain. — This charming songstress and no less charming woman is still living and in good health. Her maiden name was Wilkinson, and some of her family were celebrated as wire and rope-dancers. She was engaged by Tate Wilkinson (no relative) at York, as a substitute for Mrs. Jordan, when that lady made her metropolitan essay. (1785). About five or six years prior to this, she (then a child) appeared at the Circus with Mrs. Bland, Russell, Mrs. C. Kemble, Mrs. Wybrow, and other children, in a piece by old Dibdin, called “The Boarding-School, or Breaking-up.” This performance was rendered, by the great talent of the children, so effective, that the patent proprietors interfered, and the juvenile company narrowly escaped a gaol. As she commenced, so she concluded her career with an engagement at the Surrey, where she played with Incledon a few nights before she left the stage. About twenty years since, or upwards, she gave an entertainment by herself, which was very profitable in the provinces. She married Mr. Mountain, the well-known leader. As they had no family, the would-be wits of the day made the name subservient to some ridiculous puns, which I need not resuscitate: one of Mr. M.'s, on his own name, is worth recording, as perhaps the farthest fetched pun ever made. The stage-manager, in a peculiarly ill temper, having called to the leader once or twice, and been unheeded, exclaimed pettishly, “ Confound it, Mountain ! Mountain !

piano !" “ Mountain !" exclaimed the offended leader; " d'ye think I'm the Alps, to be softened by vinegar 2"

The late Paulo.- Poor Paulo had, during his laborious life, unfortunately occasion to make his appearance at the Insolvent Debtor's Court. As deprivation of liberty is tantamount to starvation to an actor, it is not to be wondered at that he had protracted the fatal hour by giving bills drawn by a Mr. K -, accepted by Mr. B-, and finally indorsed by poor Paulo to the holders. These bills were dishonoured ; and then came a prison, and application for relief under the Act. Mr. Commissioner properly reprobated the bill-system. Paulo pleaded the peculiarity of a performer's situation, to whom (more than in any profession) liberty is life. " Who is Mr. KM, the drawer?" asked the Commissioner. A harlequin, Sir." “ Who the acceptor ?” “ Pantaloon, Sir." “ And the indorser, clown. I see this is a sort of pantomime trick amongst you : it will pass this once, but must not be encored.

Kean, Pierce Egan, and Oxberry.—The first time the tragedian met the author of “Life in London” was at the Craven's Head Tavern, Drurylane, then kept by Mr. Oxberry. Mr. Egan's name having been casually mentioned, Kean rose, regretted that he had passed an evening under the same roof with so graphic a writer unintroduced, and stretching out his Dec.-VOL. XIV. NO. CLXXX.

2 L

hand, said, " I am Edmund Kean." After the preliminary of shaking hands, the following sparring dialogue occurred :

P. Egan. I can account for our not meeting; for the first year you came out I wasn't a Keanite.

Kean. I can't presume to be angry at that, though I am proud to hear, by implication, that you are one now.

P. E. But I saw you play one particular part, and that made me a proselyte.

K. I'll bet you 501. I name that part.

P. E. Perhaps you may. It wasn't Richard : I've seen that played much better than you will ever play it.

K. For 501. I name by whom.-(A pause.)-- George Frederick Cooke. P. E. Yes.

K. I perfectly agree with you. Now I'll tell you what character made you a Keanite--Othello.

P. E. Yes.
K. The best part I ever did or ever shall play.

The evening passed, of course, in conviviality; and an intimacy arose between the actor and author that ceased only with the life of the former. Mr. Egan subsequently dedicated his “ Life of an Actor" to Kean.

Graves of Genius.—Mrs. Jordan sleeps at St. Cloud; Astleys (father and son) in the Cemetery of Père la Chaise ; John Edwin (the Liston and Mathews combined of his day) at St. Paul's, Covent-garden ; Kemble (John) at Lausanne ; Suett in the ground of St. Paul's Cathedral; Kean (without a stone to mark the spot) in Richmond churchyard; Elliston in St. John's Church, Waterloo-road; old Johanna at Bathwick (old) churchyard; Macklin lies under the chancel of St. Paul's, Covent-garden; in which churchyard his once boon companion Tom King rests; Tom D'Urfey in St. James's

, facing the gate in Jermyn-street; Joe Miller in the ground in Portugal-street; John Palmer (the Joseph Surface) at Wootton, near Liverpool ; Quin, at the Abbey Church, Bath; Wilks, near Macklin, not far from the grave of Wycherly in the church of St. Paul (Covent-garden), where, nearly a century and a half since, Joe Haynes was consigned to earth.

Elliston and a Country Actor.-Elliston coming down for a single night to act at Birmingham, (then his own theatre,) scarcely knew a member of his own company. The play was “ The Wonder," and the representative of Colonel Briton was woefully imperfect. Elliston reprimanded him harshly: to the manager's great astonishment, the actor retorted with a torrent of abuse, and the assurance that if Elliston added another word he would kick him into the pit! Those who casually knew the then lessee of Drury might imagine that he discharged the actor on the spot. No such thing: he rushed to B -, then stage-manager, and asked who the performer was. “Mr. A-" "A great man,-a very great man, Sir," said Elliston. “ He threatened to kick me, the lessee of Drury-lane : such a man as that must go to London, Sir; he mustn't waste his energies here.” He there and then engaged the actor for Drury-lane theatre.

John Kemble and Kean.- Great elaboration of " finish" is often fatal to the fame that it was intended to enhance. Kean was, in acting, what Wilson was on canvass; he depended on striking, and cared not how coarsely his colours were laid on if the “effect” was produced; but Kemble was (and Charles Kemble is) a Leonardo da Vinci ; and his attention to details made much of his acting appear studied, when it was only refined. Surely a painting, large as life, is not the worse for its minuter points being executed as charily as a miniature ?

Theatres Church Property.- Astley's theatre belongs to the See of Canterbury; Sadler's Wells was the property of the Monks of St. John,

« PreviousContinue »