图书图片
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

first visit to Ireland.---Little did I imagine when returning to this country, from motives, which at least did not disgrace my heart, that more misery was in store for me, still less did I suppose (that after a three months anxious attendance on the sick and dying bed of an only and beloved sister-that a mean advantage would be taken of those moments, when grief robbed reason of her influence, to leave me destitute in a strange-land.--I am now doubly called upon not to suffer my private feelings to check the native energies of my mind; I am called upon to act, not think-those claims are strong, which do include a suffering only parent, and a dear motherless boy, entrusted to my care and protection. Could I forget these sacred claims, I should think myself the most abject of human beings, and well deserving the treatment I have met.

I would, on my own account, that you should s nothing extenuate,” nor will I, on the part of my oppressors,

set down ought in malice.”—The Liberty of the Press, I do not well understand, having never inquired into its merits, nor ever supposing I should have cause to ascertain its limits. The principle virtues of woman, should be in the performance of domestic duties, and a timidity which shrinks from public retrospection, yet there are cases in which timidity would be. come a vice.

There is certainly a material difference between that fame which follows the exercise of talent, and a notoriety obtained by confidence; one is the reward of merit, the other frequente ly reflects disgrace, yet it is possible for a delicate mind to be compelled to immerge from its usual restraint, to guard against the lash of undeserved oppression.

It is by no means my wish to intrude long on your atten. tion, on the contrary, it is painful to me that such an intrusion should be at all needful. But my opinion (perhaps it is an absurd one,) is, that a public character is equally responsible to the public for its professional conduct, as a child is to its parent, for its private practice; it is the liberality of the pub. lic, which bestows fame, and it is a duty incumbent on the receiver, to preserve that fame from all innovation,

d I imagine when returning to ch at least did not disgrace my store for me, still less did I hs anxious attendance on the

and beloved sister-that a of those moments, when grief to leave me destitute in a alled upon not to suffer my energies of my mind; I am e claims are strong, which and a dear motherless boy, n. Could I forget these the most abject of human ent I have met.

If I am wrong I must lament it, but the intention of giva ing offence, is not amongst the number of my errors; my own opinion has also been strengthened by the judgment of others; “ people are ignorant (say they) of the cause of your sudden dismissal from the Theatre, it is by numbers supposed to be the effect of your own caprice; if you place any value on the public favour, you ought to give them an opportunity of judging fairly between you; it is a compliment they deserve, and one you are equally bound to pay, both to them and your. self.”—Granted— Thus, then, it is.

A few months ago, Mr. M‘Nally, by order of Mr. Jones, made proposals to me for this Winter, informing me that Miss Smith was also engaged.

you should " nothing my oppressors,

6 set of the Press, I do not nto its merits, nor ever rtain its limits. The

the performance of shrinks from public

timidity would be

Guided rather by my private concerns, than my public ca. pacity, supposing the Book I had published would enable me to acquit myself of all my former embarrassments; and not conceiving any thing so very terrible in the idea of a division of business, particularly as I had Mr. Jones's word of honour, that nothing should be offered disagreeable to me in the way of my profession, I wrote my answer, made some few needful stipulations; amongst the rest, that the character of Elwina, in the Tragedy of Percy, should be my opening part, the foilowing was the first letter I received from Mr. Crampton :

between that fame notoriety obtained the other frequentlicate mind to be Eraint, to guard

MADAM, Mr. M'Nally has laid your letter before me; as acting Pro. prietor, I beg leave to explain the object of your engagement, to prevent all future embarrassment.

Miss Smith is in possession of the youthful Tragedy, and stands so high in public estimation, that to dispossess her would be injurious to the Theatre, and to her successor; there is, however, as you observe, scope for you most plays require two Actresses of talent. I wish to be quite explicit, therefore can best explain myself by saying, that Mrs. Mason's line is what I am most desirous to fill; without limiting your talents or confining you to that alone; serious Comedy would naturally fall into your hands, viz. Mrs. Malfont, Mrs. Woodville, &c. In Tragedy, probably, such as Queen

atten. ch an intrusion rhaps it is an ly responsible

on your

child is to its y of the pub. bent on the

le

6

Elizabeth, Roxana, Volumnia, Queen in Hamlet, &c. I
mention this sketch to satisfy you as to the general line of
business, which if you will undertake, I have no doubt you
will execute with success. The Theatre will open for the
ensuing Winter on the first of November, it would therefore
be necessary to be present some days previous,

Your answer will oblige,
Your humble Servant,

JOHN CRAMPTON.

[merged small][ocr errors]

This passage is also in his second letter, “I can have no objection to your playing a few opening characters, if you desire it, (though I must say, I should advise against Belvi. videre and Isabella, as they are considered among Miss Smith's first performances.)

Your talents are already known to a Dublin audience, and I think I could advance your object and fame, more by selecting certain characters at first of equal consequence; in the course of a season many parts of great importance will naturally fall to you, while others probably beneath your talents may require your support. All due care will be taken of you, for I am well aware, that in supporting the performer, you advance the

I spoke of sentimental Comedy, for there are in many of our modern Comedies, characters that require tragic powers.”

concern.

accepted the engagement, and returned full of pleasing hopes, full of sanguine expectations, that my second visit would make up for all the pain of my first, I found too soon, my situation would prove disagreeable to me, that I had been lured hither under false pretences; though from what motive I could not, nor can yet conceive, as it is very evi. dent my services could not be wanted, where two young women of acknowledged talent, and established favourites were already in possession of the business. It was an odd speculation, as a moment's consideration must have convinced the Proprietors, that I, (who had, with only two years practice, led the entire Tragic department of the Theatre, should return with three years improvement to increase my value) to hold a second or third situation.

There are two species of art, art direct, and art equivocal;

art direct is (I imagine) practised by those who do not un. derstand it so thoroughly, as to veil it sufficiently to prevent detection.

-, Queen in Hamlet, &c. I. you as to the general line of dertake, I have no doubt you e Theatre will open for the ovember, it would therefore days previous, will oblige, - humble Servant,

JOHN CRAMPTON.

Art equivocal, is that, which leaves a doubt on every sub. ject, and every doubt furnishes a pretence, by which all other doubts may with good management be cleared-of such doubts are Mr. Crampton's letters to me filled. I found on my arrival, that near four months had not been sufficient to prepare the Tragedy of Percy for me, and that the choice of even one opening part, was more than I might presume to ex

ct; and further observation only served to convince me that little comfort was to be expected, and that my engage. ment was in every sense an equivocal one.

nd letter,

I can have no
opening characters, if you
hould advise against Belvi.
e considered among Miss
our talents are already

I think I could advance
Fecting certain characters

course of a season mapy urally fall to you, while lents may require your n of you, for I am well ormer, you advance the omedy, for there are in acters that require tra

Mr. Crampton informed me that Miss Smith was in possession of the youthful Tragedy, but he did not say, that those Tragedies in which there was a matronly part of conse. quence, and no youthful one, that Miss Smith was in, or would take possession of those also. He observed that most Plays required two Actresses of talent; but forbore to men. tion, that where there was a play in which two Actresses of talent were required, the counterpart was in possession of Miss Walstein. He explained himself by saying, it was Mrs. Mason's line, for which he most particularly wanted me, but he did not tell me Mrs. Mason (when here) played pert Girls, and affected fine Ladies, and I had always heard her spoke of as a Tragedy Actress only. Mrs. Mason also performed the parts of Lady Randolph and Mrs. Ilaller, but these were not deputed to me.

-turned full of pleasing

that my second visit first, I found too soon, le to me, that I had ces; though from what ive, as it is very evi-d, where two young established favourites ness. It was an odd z must have convinced

only two years pracut of the Theatre, nent to increase my

He promised that all due care should be taken of me, yet his care was shewn, in endeavouring to force me to the per. formance of characters I was utterly incapable of. And when I professed my inability, and refused to degrade my. self, disgrace the Theatre, and insult the Public, my discharge it appears was meditated.

1

The privilege of objecting to a disagreeable part is no very extraordinary one, much less to parts which are diametrically opposite to an engagement,

and art equivocal;

Why I in particular was singled out, to exercise an arbi. trary and unlawful government upon, I know not. Some in the Theatre will rehearse a character once or twice, and find. ing it ill-suited to their ability or inclination, will decline it; others, even after performance, will throw it up. Some there are who receive salaries, and refuse every part, or more pro. perly speaking, never play at all. But these are rich people, and to riches, Managers pay all due deference. But in re. venge for the temporary restraint laid upon their inclinations, they levy contributions on those who cannot boast such in. fluence; public merit, or private worth, are matters) of lit. tle import, Money, Money, is every thing!

M

Oh Gold! Gold! Gold! thou dost so aptly steal all golden qualities o’ the heart, that it were wisdom to despise thee.

I received a letter from Mr. Crampton, in which he took due pains to impress on my mind the honour he conferred in writing to me, as he was not in the habit of answering the letters of performers at length. He spoke of guarding against rebellion, threatening me with the penalty of the law, in case of future complaint.

Not conceiving myself a subordinate character in my pro. fesssion-unaccustomed to, and incapable of bearing a state of warfare, I thought it best to put an end to our arrangements in peace and quietness- I wrote to Mr. Crampton for that purpose, told him, that as it was evident we had mistook each other, it would be most advisable to enter into a mutual compromise, and separate, when it would best suit the convenience of each, as it would be better to part friends, than live enemies. I received po answer but an order to perform the Widow Belmour on the Saturday following-a mandate I received with much pleasure, as my poor Sister's mind had been disturbed by the altercation, and her last moments might have been embittered by the fear of my being left in an unpleasant situation; had it indeed been so, I fear my charity would not have extended to forgiveness.

In a few hours after this mandate she expired: and a few moments after that awful period, a note containing the threat

« 上一页继续 »