Imatges de pÓgina



"Bellini? Je voudrais bien le chanter.


'Au revoir si tôt qui possible, au plus tard le 12 "Mai. Avec toute amitié et respect, "Votre humble,

“WILHELMINe Schroeder Devrient.

N'avez vous pas faire traduire Romeo de

"Monsieur Monsieur Bunn,

"Directeur du Théâtre Royal, Drury Lane,


Though I am not accountable for her bad French, I had to suffer for her bad conduct; for she began her engagement (pardon the Hibernianism) by breaking it, being unable to make her appearance before the 15th. Owing to this circumstance, occasional indisposition, and an impression always uppermost in the mind of a foreigner that the receipts were enormous, the original conditions of her contract were, towards the last few days of its period, departed from, and by mutual consent she was to be paid a clear FOURTH of each night's receipts. Her share for performing on Monday the 17th July produced her only 321. 10s.!! and on the following morning, the last of the season, when the advertisement and bills announcing her to appear in Fidelio and the last act of Romeo had been many hours distributed over the town, this letter, signed, but not written, by her, was received by me:


"Je le dois à la dignité de l'art que j'exerce, et à 66 mon propre honneur, de vous dire nettement, que


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pour une somme telle qui j'ai reçue hier je ne "me présenterai pas à la scène aujourd'hui. Si vous " voulez donc que je joue ce soir, je ne le ferai qu'après "avoir reçu de vous la garantie sûre d'un revenu "de cent livres! La conviction dont je crois devoir me flatter d'avoir constamment fait tous mes efforts "pour satisfaire le public devant lequel j'ai eu l'honneur de jouer, me fait croire que la demande que "je vous adresse ici sera jugée juste et convenable




par tout le monde, surtout par quiconque sait que "ce ne fut pas la premèire fois hier que j'ai reçu une somme bien au-dessous de celle fixée dans "notre contrat. Je vous prie, Monsieur, de me "faire savoir votre decision le plutôt possible. Si "vous consentirez à ma demande, je ne manquerai pas de jouer, mais en commençant par le dernier "acte de Romeo, et en finissant avec Fidelio. "WILHELMINE SCHROEDER DEVRIENT.




"Le 18 Jul. 1837."

I told the reader in a preceding chapter, that players were a very funny set of people, and surely my assertion will be borne out by this letter, which sets off by saying that the writer owes it to the dignity of her art to depart from the agreement by which she was exercising that art, and, not satisfied with the 327. 10s. for a night's performance paid her under that agreement, to demand 1007. My reply was a very simple affair, merely stating that I should not pay her a farthing more than her agreement



warranted, leaving the public, in case of her absence, to decide between us. Being determined on not deviating a jot to the right or to the left, she gave way and fulfilled her duty, but a more brazen instance of what the multitude call a "try-on" never was attempted on a manager.

I will now leave it to any dispassionate reader to determine, whether the deserter's back under the lash of the drummer is not almost a preferable state of existence, when compared with the life of a manager under the afflictions of such a season as this. Taglioni was engaged on unheard-of terms to "back up" Malibran's "off-nights," and the ink which signed the contract was scarcely dry, beforethe astounding intelligence was received of the death of her whose engagement led to the other. The hiatus was filled up, as well, perhaps, as it could be, by Madame Schroeder Devrient, and the further deficiency might have been supplied by Madame Pasta, if her performance had not been prohibited—a prohibition felt doubly severe, as happening at the very time that the licenses to all the minor theatres in the Lord Chamberlain's jurisdiction had been extended -thus cutting our throats with a two-edged sword. But ours was a patent theatre! that was some cOMFORT! Then the fortuitous attraction of Mr. Charles Kemble's retirement rendered a reduction of the prices absolutely necessary in the middle of a season, after all contracts based upon the former prices had been made for that season: and finally, the death



of the King, the accession of her Majesty, and the dissolution of Parliament, with all the excitement attendant on such events, literally distracted people's attention from theatrical pursuits, and wofully thinned the ranks of those who might otherwise have been disposed to pay us a visit. With all these drawbacks, despite all the attractions that were given, the season terminated in a loss: yes, as in all such cases, to be poor, and to seem poor, are held to be irreconcilable; so, on the 18th of July, after the termination of Madame Devrient's labours, poor Malibran's hôtel garni, Mr. John Cooper, bobbed on before the public in his capacity of stage manager, and thanked them for the patronage they had bestowed upon our exertions. It is not possible to conceive a greater degree of humbug than thanking people for what they have not done-for that is the actual meaning of most of the speeches which wind up the season of a London theatre. It seemed to me latterly so broad a farce, that, though as fond as any one of a good laugh, I would rather not enjoy it at my own expense, and the practice was therefore discontinued with me. But I see it still put in force by some of my lively survivors, without an atom more of truth in the declaration than used to be embodied in the intellectual valedictions of Mr. John Cooper. The bard "who drew Achitophel" has written,

""Tis easy conduct when exchequers flow,
"But hard the task to manage well the low;"



the truth of which is so applicable to theatrical matters, one would think that, in addition to a playwright, the author of this couplet had been a manager.



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