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THE MANAGER'S NOTE-BOOK.-NO. 1.
We have been fortunate enough not only to receive some leaves from the manager's book, but the promise of many more. The devotion of the manager in question to the theatrical profession, his acknowledged activity of research, and his unquestionable resources, render the acquisition most valuable. We lay them before our readers as they reach us, without regard to any historical or biographical order, certain that they will afford our friends—at least those who have any theatrical feeling-abundance of amusement and information.
Our first communication is of Mrs. Clive; we suppose a remark beyond those which preface her letters would be useless-all the rest is known.
Her father, William Raftor, of Kilkenny, was attorney to James the Second. The property of his father went to the crown, which his son James (the actor) tried to regain, but in vain. Catharine Raftor was born in 1711; she was servant to a Miss Eleanor Knowles, who lodged at a fan-maker's, in Church Row, Houndsditch. Beard frequented a club, at the Bell, opposite, and heard Kitty singing, while performing her daily duty of washing down the steps of the door. He was charmed with her natural grace and simplicity; he lost no time in communicating with his friend, Harry Carey, who took her under his tuition, and brought her out at Drury Lane Theatre, in April, 1728, in Ismenes, the page in “ Mithridates,” where she appeared in boy's clothes, and introduced a song with great success: she continued in the theatre at a very low salary, and only sung between the play and farce. In 1731 Coffey produced his “ Devil to Pay;" Miss Raftor was the Nell, and she surprised and delighted the town by her performance, and at once established herself as the greatest performer in her line, and remained without a rival for upwards of thirty years.
In 1732 she married George Člive, a lawyer, brother to Baron Clive. Their union was far from a happy one; they very soon separated, and from the time they parted, although they both lived to a very advanced age, they never once met; and she said, very late in life, that he used her very ill, but it was so long ago she had quite forgot it. Her character remained unimpeachable to the day of her death.
She quitted Drury Lane for Covent Garden for a season or two, and, in 1744, published a pamphlet—“ The Case of Mrs. Clive.” She shortly after made up her differences with the managers, and returned to Covent Garden Theatre in December, 1744. The following season she rejoined Garrick, and continued with him, at Drury Lane, till she took leave of the stage.
When Garrick heard that she intended retiring, he sent Hopkins, the prompter, to ascertain if such was her determination, but her high spirit would not condescend to give an answer to such a messenger. He then sent his brother George to her ; for he did not like to encounter her-he was in fear of her-she was too much for him. George was received much in the same way as the prompter; she however told him if his brother wished to know her mind he should have come himself. Garrick went to her ; their interview was short, but curious. He said all the handsome things about her great merit, &c., and entreated her to remain a year or two longer, which very civil suggestion she answered with a contemptuous look and a decided negative. Upon which Davy put an unfortunate question—" What may you be worth ?” She very sharply replied, “ As much as yourself.” Really!" said the little manager, smiling. “ Yes,” was her answer; “ for I know when I have enough, which you never will. I hate hypocrisy,” said she," and notwithstanding you have asked me to continue, I know you would light up candles for joy at my quitting, if it did not cost you anything.” They parted good friends, and she took leave of the public, at her farewell benefit, on the 24th of April, 1769. The play was “ The Wonder,” in which Garrick played Don Felix, Flora by Mrs. Clive (a part which by her acting became more prominent in the comedy than Violante); “Lethe" followed, in which she played the Fine Lady. After the play she addressed the audience in the following lines, written by Mr. Walpole, her friend and neighbour :
“ With glory satiate, from the bustling stage,
Still in his prime—and much about my age-
When Pow'r's full goblet he forbore to quaff,
For thirty years he had but made them laugh.
If I repent—I'll come again and please you." If ever there was a true Comic Genius she was one. She had neither person nor beauty to recommend her; she had a pleasing voice, with a great taste for singing ; but Burgh says her fine singing was abominable, her “ Tho' late I was a Cobbler's Wife” delightful. She had a facetious turn for humour peculiar to herself. Taylor, in his Records, says she was coarse, rude, violent in temper, and cared for nobody. After quitting the stage she passed a life of ease and independence at Strawberry Hill. At her several benefits she produced some little temporary pieces, which
Nov. – VOL. LI. NO. CCIII.
were only then played : among them were The Rehearsal; or, Boys in Petticoats”—“Every Woman in her Humour”-“A Sketch of a Fine Lady returning from a Route,” &c. &c. She acted “ Zara" upon one of those occasions, but it by no means added to her reputation as an actress; another time she attempted “ Bayes,” which was a complete failure: she was urged on by Cibber to this act, out of revenge to Garrick.
In 1784 she visited Drury Lane Theatre to see Mrs. Siddons, of whom she said, in her peculiar way, “ It was all truth and daylight."
She was particularly attached to Miss Pope, who was her pupil, and in constant correspondence with her : the following is one of her communications :
“ Twickenham, October ye 17, 1784. “MY DEAR Popy,—The Jack I must have, and I suppose the cook will be as much delighted as a fine lady with a birth-day suit. I send you walnuts which are fine, but pray be moderate in your admiration, for they are dangerous dainties; John has carried about to my neighbours above six thousand, and he tells me there are as many still left; indeed it is a most wonderful tree. Mrs. Prince has been robbed at two o'clock at noon, of her gold watch and four guineas, and at the same time our two justices of three and sixpence a-piece; they had like to be shot for not having more. Everybody inquires after you, and I deliver your comps. Poor dear Mrs. Hart is dead -well spoken of by everybody; I pity poor old Mary that is left behind. “ Adieu, my dear Popy, yours ever,
“ C. CLIVE. “ The Jack must carry about six or seven and twenty pounds. The waterman shall bring the money when I know what.”
Mrs. Clive died at her cottage Strawberry Hill, on the 7th of December, 1785, and was buried in Twickenham churchyard. On the outside of the church is a white marble tablet, erected by Miss Pope, her friend and pupil, in 1791, on which is the following inscription :
“ SACRED TO THE MEMORY
And heav'nly plaudits hail the virtuous dead." On the western verge of Twickenham, towards Teddington, is the elegant cottage occupied for many years by the late Mrs. Clive, and since the residence of the Misses Berry. An urn has been placed in the shrubbery, on which are the following lines by Mr. Walpole, afterwards the Earl of Orford :
“Ye smiles and jests still hover round,
This is mirth's consecrated ground ;
The next item in the “ Leaves” is a very curious and interesting memoir of Smith-an actor who, not very complimentarily to the rest of his profession, was always and uniformly distinguished as Gentleman Smith.
William Smith, generally called Gentleman Smith, was the son of a grocer in the city; he was brought up at Eton, and from thence went to St. John's College, Cambridge, but his conduct not pleasing his superiors, he was compelled to leave, upon which he gave up all idea of entering into holy orders, for which he was intended. An unlucky case of intoxication required concessions which he would not submit to: the fact was, that being pursued by one of the Proctors, he snapped an unloaded pistol at him.
Thus situated, his affairs being a little deranged from extravagance, and his father's failure in business, he resorted to the stage for a livelihood. He was engaged by Rich, and appeared at Covent Garden Theatre in Theodosius, in the play of that name, on the 1st of January, 1753, in which he was so successful, that the tragedy was acted on that and the three following nights. He was announced as a young gentleman, who had never appeared on any stage before.
He was tall, well formed, and possessed a handsome face, not however capable of strong expression; his deportment was elegant and graceful; and, in spite of a disagreeable voice, he was a pleasing actor. His judgment and experience rendered him unrivalled in many parts, and he was allowed to excel Garrick in “ Kitely;" he was the original Charles in the “ School for Scandal,” which part has suffered considerably since his departure from the stage.
From his early school intimacy with Lord Sandwich he became acquainted with his Lordship's sister, the widow of Thelland Courtney, Esq., to whom he was married in May, 1754, at which the family were highly indignant. Smith waited on his brother-in-law, and proposed, as they considered it was a disgrace to the family that one of its relatives should be on the stage, to quit the profession, if allowed a sum equal to what it brought him. This Lord Sandwich declined, and Smith continued his calling with honour and profit.
The Hon. Mrs. Smith died in 1762, and her property went to the daughters of her first busband. Some time after he married a second wife, with good property, who survived him.
* This cottage, which was called Little Strawberry Hill, was occupied by Alderman Wood and his family for some years.Ed.
Fox-hunting and horse-racing were his delight: in the great Newmarket week he was scarcely ever absent. He has several times attended the race in the morning, and played the same evening at Drury Lane. In one instance, the race being delayed near an hour, he did not get to the theatre till the third act of the “ School for Scandal ” had commenced, in which he was to have played Charles, having had relays of horses on the road, and in one hour rode eighteen miles.
He remained at Covent Garden Theatre two-and-twenty years, which he quitted in May, 1774. In a dispute with Colman, in 1773, he wrote thus :-“ All that has passed between us must be mutually and entirely forgotten, or we must go out and settle our differences like men and gentlemen." In May, 1774, he went to France. In one of his letters he
his Rosamond is with him (Mrs. Hartley), and that his wife never hinted a suspicion of the connexion, but the tongue of scandal will not let her return to Covent Garden.
In a public journal of the 31st of May, 1774, was inserted this :
"The following is said to be part of a letter written by a gentleman to his wife previous to his elopement with a beautiful actress :
“My dear Love,-You and I have long lived happy together, and be assured at this very moment I love you more than any woman in the world. When you hear of the little excursion I am going to make with Mrs. Hbe not alarmed; it is a sudden impulse of passion which I own I have not had the courage to resist. There is something so bewitching and enchanting in beauty, that it baffles our strongest resolutions; but it is an infatuation that will on be over. You must pardon me this one slip, and believe me when I declare, that though a momentary gust of passion may hurry me into trifling indiscretions, I never can find real felicity and true happiness but in your arms.
“I am, my dear Love,
“ • Your ever affectionate,
Dorer, May 27, 1774.”” September 22nd, 1774, he made his first appearance on the Drury Lane stage in “ Richard the Third,” and remained at that theatre until he took leave of the stage on the 9th of June, 1788, in his favourite part of Charles. He stated in his farewell address to the audience, that he had been thirty-five years in their service. During his theatrical life he never acted out of London during the summer recess, except once at Dublin and once at Bristol.
He acted Macbeth on the 10th of March, 1774, and announced the speaking of an Epilogue on his intention of retiring from the stage:
“Full thirty-five campaigns I've urged my way,
Under the ablest generals of the day ;