Imatges de pÓgina


parts to study, and no parts to play-having no vanity to indulge in, and no personal ambition to gratify, he is enabled to devote his exclusive attentention to the onerous and arduous duties of the cabinet, and if he does not, he deserves to be pelted. I have suffered much more abuse for faults it was alleged I had committed, than for any I ever did commit: but inwardly convinced that my desire, however luckily or unluckily carried out, was to advance the profession and amuse the public, I have been enabled for many years to afford a smile at the efforts of the petty rogues who have been spitting their spite at me. I endured much more of this precious contumely on the present occasion, than during the whole previous years of my management. First of all, because my opponent had procured "the voice of the public press;" and secondly, because I could not, with safety to the theatre, and with any feeling of common decency to the respected and influential journals long established, put all the newly sprung up rabble on the free list, and thus secure their "voices." I was content, therefore, or, if not content, obliged, to submit to their abuse. I did not, however, let it deter me from my duty, or from directing all my efforts towards the gratification of the people. Amongst other pursuits, I was bent on securing, if possible, the services of Mr. Liston, (whose secession from the Olympic led to Farren's burthensome engagement there,) deserv

*The various observations made on Mr. W. Farren in these



edly the most popular comedian, whose popularity has been made, and enjoyed, by a London audience. What talent has there been in the remembrance of modern playgoers, what is there, and what is there likely to be, at all comparable with this extraordinary artist? Who, besides Liston, is capable of setting an audience in a roar of laughter before he

volumes, have only reference to what I consider the ruinous nature of the demands invariably preferred by him; privately, he is respected by all who know him, and by none more than his quondam manager, Monsieur Bunn, arising out of an intimacy of many years with himself and brothers. Though the insertion of the following letter may subject me to a charge of vanity, I prefer incurring it to the omission of so gratifying a testimony of the good fellowship long existing between his excellent brother, Percy Farren, and myself:





"I have known you upwards of eighteen years. On every occasion “which brought us together as managers or actors, my experience has invariably found the courtesy of a gentleman united with the 66 straight-forwardness of a man of business. The destruction of the "Brunswick Theatre, in proving to me the real goodness of your heart, "also proved your personal estimation of myself. Circumstances pre"vented my accepting the proffered mark of (may I say?) friendship; "but it will never be forgotten. It is my nature to be deeply grate"ful for even a show of kindness, and my principle always to acknow"ledge it. In our present relative situations, the most suspicious could "not SUSPECT me of a motive in doing so. Though I have left the profession, I like Now and THEN to see plays. That pleasure will "not be diminished by the belief that the freedom of doing so is not "sent by the lessee to a retired manager and actor, but by Alfred "Bunn to his old acquaintance and well-wisher,

"Wednesday October 1, 1837.
"46, Stamford-street.




opens his mouth, and throwing them into convulsions after he has opened it? I have had occasion, in a former part of this work, to refer to the want of judgment and tact Mr. Liston as well as * other performers are perpetually guilty of; nor will my admiration of his or their abilities be any bar to my expression of such error wherever I find it; but "the judgment must be weak, and the prejudice strong" indeed, that could deny to this inimitable actor all the humorous glories of his art. It has been a habit since this period, (1837,) on either theatre commencing its campaign, to circulate a report of the probability of Mr. Liston's return to the


* I will give you an additional instance of such being the fact, to the one cited at page 185. When Mr. Liston refused to play in The Good-looking Fellow, I wanted him to play in a new farce by Buckstone, called The Christening, which has since been so successful at the Adelphi; he refused, preferring the quieter but unattractive farce of Pleasant Dreams by Mr. C. Dance, in which he appeared twelve nights, to an average of 1307. per night, and for appearing in which he received 207. per night. This was his ground of refusal :

"Sunday, March 4, 1834.


"As was said of She Stoops to Conquer,' Mr. Buckstone's Farce "is a barrel of gunpowder; and I do not deem it prudent, therefore, "to commence with that: the failure of the piece would be the failure "of the engagement altogether, a result which, I suppose, neither of us "desires.


Pray let the copyist send me as much of the part in Mr. Dance's "farce as he has written out.

"To A. Bunn, Esq."

"Yours, &c.


stage; but as his character is a guarantee for his word, I may as well subjoin a reply to an offer I made him to perform during this season of 18371838:




"I gratefully acknowledge your obliging invita"tion to Drury Lane Theatre, and also the very “liberal terms which accompany your offer of an engagement. Having, however, decided never to re-appear on the stage, I am compelled to de"cline it.



"With mine, Mrs. Liston begs you to accept her "thanks, compliments, and good wishes.

Believe me, my dear Sir,


"Penn, near Beaconsfield,
"Sept. 14, 1837.

"To A. Bunn, Esq.

"Theatre Royal Drury Lane,


Very truly your obliged

Early in this season our youthful Sovereign, having taken the drama under her especial patronage, gave it the countenance of her presence by coming in state to each theatre. Drury Lane Theatre may boast of having been the first place of public entertainment in which "the fair-haired daughter of the Isles" was received as Queen with


the heartfelt welcome of hundreds of her subjects, anxious to pay becoming homage to one

"Good without effort, great without a foe."

The prices on this occasion were raised from the unrequiting standard to which they had been reduced, to the scale—no higher—at which they formerly stood; thereby securing the respectability of the audience, and putting about 1507. more into the treasury than the reduced prices could do; and the following return of the contents of the theatre will let the reader into the secret of what Drury Lane Theatre will hold :


Amount of the receipts on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's first state visit to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Wednesday, November 15, 1837 :—


Box, P. S.

O. P.

Pit, P. S.

O. P.



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Box tickets

Private Boxes, exclu

sive of annual ones,

£. s. d.

43 1 0

32 18


65 5 6

72 19 6

46 8 0

17 0

277 12 0

246 19 6

138 4 6

4 11 0

58 16 0

Total £726 3 0


£. s. d.

14 0 0

16 19 6

1 11 6

0 16 0


35 7 6

0 15 0

36 2 6

£762 5 6

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