Slike stranica

dependent on my success. As a parting service to my father I acted one week at Newcastle, adding the Stranger and Othello to my list of characters, and with a heavy heart, under the depressing uncertainty of prospect in the venture I was about to make, I took leave of my family and friends, and bade adieu to the town in which my residence from my first entrance was one unbroken record of encouragement and kindness. At the last moment, the night before my departure, my father seemed to have regretted the course he had adopted, and asked me if it was not possible to break off with the Bath management; but my word was pledged, and could not be retracted. Just before setting out on my journey I received the offer of a very lucrative engagement for a fortnight from H. Johnston, who had taken the Glasgow Theatre, which I gladly accepted. By coach and mail, I made the best of my way to Bath, where, on my arrival, I got a flutter at the heart on seeing my name in large letters in the playbills to appear as Romeo on the 26th of December (1814). This sort of nervous emotion at the sight of my name posted upon the walls never left me to the latest moment of my professional career, and I have often crossed over to the other side of the street to avoid passing by a playbill in which it might be figuring.

NOTE.-Edward Nevil Macready, born at Birmingham, May 29th, 1798, joined as a volunteer, at the age of sixteen, the 2nd battalion of the 30th Regiment, then serving in Holland under Lord Lynedoch, and in the following year fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. All the officers of his company having been killed or disabled early in the day of the great battle, he commanded it through great part of the action and personally led it on at different periods of the day, when only an ensign; and the gallantry he displayed on this occasion procured his promotion without purchase to a lieutenancy. His next active service was in the Mahratta war, when he took part in the siege and capture of the strong hill fort of Asseerghur, although at the time labouring under so severe an illness that it was with the greatest difficulty he could obtain leave to share in the attack. On General Sir John Wilson's appointment as Commander-in-chief in Ceylon, Captain Macready accompanied him as military secretary, which post he filled for a period of eight or nine years. At a farewell dinner given to the general, on his leaving the island, the governor, Mr. Stewart Mackenzie, in his speech paid a gratifying tribute to the services and character of the military secretary, as distinguished by the essential qualities of an intelligent officer and a gentleman. In addition to this public testimony to his abilities and worth, he received a private acknowledgment of the esteem in which he was held, in the form of a valuable gold box, in the name of "his friends," a title which comprehended




every officer then in Ceylon. On obtaining an unattached majority he left the 30th Regiment, in which he had endeared himself to all, and withdrew from active service. In 1840 he married Miss Rolls, and accepted the appointment of A.D.C. offered him by Mr. Stewart Mackenzie, then Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. On leaving this post he spent some years in foreign travel. He died very suddenly on the 4th of November, 1848.

Major Macready was the author of "A Sketch of Suwarrow and his last Campaign." Mrs. Edward Macready designed and published, in 1839, a series of spirited etchings of Macready in some of his principal characters and scenes.-ED.


1814-1815.-Description of Bath in 1814-Appearance in Romeo, &c.— Actors more sensitive to criticism than other artists-Proposed engagement with Harris at Covent Garden declined-Performances at Dublin--Visit to London-Comparison of Kean and Cooke in Richard III.-Mistake of "points" in acting-Kean in Richard III. at Drury Lane-Supper with Kean-His powers of conversation and mimicry-Miss O'Neill in Juliet at Covent Garden.

AMID the revolutions of the times which my life has witnessed, few places can have undergone more extreme changes than the city of Bath. At this time its winter season was to the fashionable world the precursor of that of the London spring. Houses, lodgings, boarding-houses, were filled; rooms in the hotel must be engaged at an early date. The hotels, of which there were several, were of the first order, but conspicuous among them were the York House and the White Hart. The tables d'hôte at these houses were frequented by military and naval officers, men of fortune of the learned professions, and graduates of the Universities. The company was in general most agreeable, and the dinners excellent, usually, with wine and dessert, standing at half a guinea per head. Each day a little after noon the Pump Room, a sort of exchange for news and gossip, was literally crammed full with its throng of idlers. Monday and Thursday evenings were given to balls (usually crowded) at the great rooms; Wednesday and Friday to those (not so well attended) at the lower rooms; Tuesday to Ashe's concert, at which the leading vocalists were engaged; and Saturday to the theatre, where again was a réunion of the votaries of fashion. Now all has disappeared. At about three o'clock the pavement of Milsom Street would be so crowded




with gaily dressed people, and the drive so blocked with carriages, that it was difficult to get along except with the stream. I have of late years looked down the same street at the same hour and counted five persons! The Lower Crescent was a Sunday promenade between morning and afternoon service, presenting the same conflux of visitors. The life of the London world of fashion was here on a reduced scale, and the judgment of a Bath audience was regarded as a pretty sure presage of the decision of the metropolis. It is not therefore to be wondered at, if, distrustful as I seem constitutionally to have been, I should have approached this trial with something like trepidation. But "aièv dpiσtevew”* ἀριστεύειν was my motto, and with that resolve I went determinedly to work.

A neat little drawing-room opening into the bed-room, No. 5, Chapel Row, Queen Square, was my new home. I felt its loneliness, nor did my introduction to the performers at the rehearsal tend at all to inspirit me. Being announced as "a star," without having the London stamp, I was looked upon with a supercilious coldness, as if challenging my right to take such precedence before my fellow-actors. The stage manager, Mr. Charlton, was a very kind gentleman, and, enforcing all my directions, enabled me to get through all my rehearsals very smoothly. The romance of Aladdin,' expensively got up, was the afterpiece, which on a Christmas night would ensure a full audience, and every part of the theatre was crowded to overflowing. My reception, if I had wanted heart, was hearty enough to give it; but though dejected and misgiving in the contemplation of my task, I was on my entry into the lists always strung up to the highest pitch, and, like the gladiators in the arena, resolute to do or die. The applause increased in each scene, until in the encounter with Tybalt it swelled into prolonged cheering, and, to use a homely phrase, I then found myself firm in the saddle. The end of the tragedy was a triumph, and I returned to my little homely lodging, to write off to my family the news of my success.

Romeo and Juliet' was repeated, and followed by 'Hamlet,' The Earl of Essex,' 'Orestes,' &c. The newspapers, with one exception, were lavish in their praise. The dissenting critic "Ever to excel."-ED.


based his objections on my disqualifications for a great actor in my want of personal attractions, "by which Nature had interposed an everlasting bar to my success ;" and on my performance of Beverley, in 'The Gamester,' with which the audience were deeply affected several ladies, some in hysterics, being obliged to leave the boxes-he observed that it would have been altogether excellent, if not perfect, "but for the unaccommodating disposition of Nature in the formation of my face." I have no doubt I winced under the occasional lash of my Zoilus, for there is not in all creation a creature so sensitive as the poor player." Is there not something to be said in palliation of his weakness? He leaves no trace of his life's work. The poet, as his imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, turns them to shape, which remains a lasting monument of his genius; the painter, upon the wall or canvas, fixes imperishably the dreams of his fancy; the sculptor, in the various attitudes of his life-like image, conveys to future times the thought and feeling that had burned within him; the player, with conceptions as glowing, heightening the poet's thought and realising his visions of glory, imprints his graceful and picturesque illustrations, his probing studies of the human heart, upon the light sands of time, impressions which the next wave obliterates. The more enduring arts leave in their works the champions of their fame to live and delight and instruct, when the cavils against them are heard no more. The player's triumph is momentary, passing as the rapturous applause that attests its merit dies away. 'Feeble tradition is his memory's guard," and, with so brief and uncertain a hold upon the sympathies of his fellow-men, is it to be wondered at if he should be more keenly alive than others to the censures that may seem to endanger his popularity? In compliments, however, far and near, invitations, troops of friends, and all the flattering evidences of unanimous success, there were sufficient assurances of the position I had taken in public opinion to set me above the reach of harm from his strictures.

The report of what was passing at Bath was speedily carried to the London theatres, and my old and kind friend Mr. Fawcett, the stage manager of Covent Garden Theatre, was despatched by Mr. Harris to see me act and bring him the particular relation of my abilities, views, and pretensions. He was

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