« AnteriorContinua »
Bensley having been sent to learn the sense of the house, was not suffered to speak. Macklin then advanced in the dress of Shylock, and humbly supplicated to be heard; but a general uproar took place, and he was forced to retire. He next appeared in his own clothes, but the attempt was fruitless. Messrs. Miles and Sparks seemed to be the leaders of the opposition, and the latter stood up upon his seat with a written paper, anxious to communicate its contents to the house, but he was not suffered to read it. During this time, successive embassies were despatched from the manager, in the persons of Messrs. Bensley, Woodward, Reinbold, and Clark; but all to no purpose: nothing would satisfy them but the appearance of Mr. Colman. Macklin was on and off the stage every two minutes, but could not get leave to speak. He soon learned, by the delivery of a written paper, that it was the sense of the company he should never play there again. This he received with an affectation of contempt, at which the house was exceedingly incensed, and declared, that unless Mr. Colman would come forth, they would tear up the benches.
Soon afterwards Mr. Bensley brought in a board, on which was written in chalk, in large characters, "At the command of the public, Mr. Macklin is discharged:" a roar of applause ensued. An attempt was then made to perform She Stoops to Conquer; but the cry was still for Mr. Colman to confirm the written declaration in person. To pacify them, Mr. Fisher made his appearance, but was hooted off. Matters now became very serious. The ladies were desired to withdraw, and the gentlemen in the pit and the boxes united. On their beginning to tear up the seats, Mr. Colman advanced. The house became quiet; and the manager began by observing that, as "this was his first appearance on any stage, he hoped for their indulgence." This seasonable piece of wit conciliating the general furor, he told them with an audible voice, that "it was the intent of the proprietors of that theatre to comply with the commands of the public, even to the minutest particulars," and asked them, "if it was their pleasure that Mr. Macklin should be discharged?" The whole, as with one voice, cried "Yes!" Mr. Colman replied, "he is discharged;" and begged to know" whether it was their pleasure that the play of She Stoops to Conquer should be performed."—" No, no, no," was the universal cry. "Since this is the case," replied Mr. Colman, "the money must be returned, for it is not in our power to perform any
other," and then retired. However, the house still seeming dissatisfied, a fresh attempt was made to perform it, but in vain; the clamour continued, and nothing remained but for Mr. Lewis to give out the opera of Love in a Village, which put an end to the altercation about eight o'clock.
Macklin now went to law with his adversaries, Lee, James, Aldus, Miles, and Clark, and substantiated his losses. On the 11th May, 1775, the court proceeded to state the judge's report, in order to pronounce judgment against the offenders; and after it was determined that they should make Macklin a reasonable compensation in damages, for two years' salary, at 100%. each; two benefits, at 2001. each; and the whole of his expenses out of pocket; Macklin generously relinquished the whole of his damages upon the following terms: "To have his law expenses reimbursed him; the gentlemen to take one hundred pounds' worth of tickets for his daughter's benefit, one hundred pounds' worth of tickets for his own benefit, and one hundred pounds' worth of tickets for the benefit of the theatre, on the first night of his being reinstated in his employment."
After this he occasionally performed, and paid a visit to Dublin during Mr. Daly's management. On the 27th of November, 1788, while representing the character of sir Pertinax Macsycophant, in his own comedy of The Man of the World, he suddenly lost his recollection, and addressed the audience, informing them, that unless he found himself more capable, he should not again venture to solicit their attention. After this, however, he appeared again, and in the middle of the character of Shylock, for his own benefit, May 7, 1789, his memory failed twice in the same manner, and part was finished by Mr. Ryder. Finding himself now wholly incapable of performing, he retired with regret from the stage, and about four years after, by the advice of his friends, his two pieces, The Man of the World, and Love à la Mode, were, under the superintendence of Mr. Murphy, first printed and offered to the public by subscription; when the large contributions of several distinguished characters amounted to upwards of 1500 pounds, which, under the direction of Dr. Brockelsby, John Palmer, Esq. and Mr. Longman, trustees, was laid out (agreeable to the proposals) in purchasing an annuity of 2001. for Mr. Macklin, and of 751. for Mrs. Macklin (his second wife), in case she survived him. This great master of the stage (who latterly became very languid
and defective in memory), died July 11, 1797, and his remains were interred at the north side of Covent-garden church. As an actor, the censure bestowed on him by Churchill was just: but his very defects were in his favour in the representation of Shylock and in his own plays of the Man of the World, and Love à la Mode. He had an extraordinary harsh set of features, and an unprepossessing countenance, which occasioned Quin to say of him, "If God writes a legible hand, that fellow is a villain!”
LIFE OF WILLIAM WARREN,
Continued from the Mirror for May last, and concluded, page 284.
AFTER an interruption of many months, which nothing but unavoidable necessity could justify, we resume the biography of Mr. Warren. Our readers will remember that we left him comfortably seated at his father's fire-side at Bath, on his return from his third sally in pursuit of theatric adventure. Hitherto his stage history had been nothing but a tissue of hard struggle, and though not of griping penury, certainly of continual embarrassment and frequent distress. We are now to follow him through a train of events better suited to his deserts, to his establishment in the situation he now holds with so much credit to himself, advantage to the theatre, and satisfaction to the society with which he has incorporated himself, his family and his fortunes, for life.
He had been about six weeks at home, and completely fitted out again by his parents, when he was introduced by Bignell to Incledon, Blanchard, Powell and some others of the leading metropolitan actors, who were then engaged at the Bath theatre. Their acquaintance soon ripened into a friendly regard for the young man's interests, and they not only earnestly conjured him not to return to the walk in which he had moved, but joining their interests together, wrote to Collins and Davis, the managers of a circuit of respectable country theatres which comprehended Salisbury, Southampton and Winchester, recommending him for an engagement. To this application the managers returned for answer, that their fixed company was full; but that if Warren would come and take his chance with them till summer, they would then give him a situation, several of their performers being engaged to
join the royalty theatre in London at that time. This invitation was gladly accepted by our hero, who resolved to lose no time in setting out to take advantage of it; so once more leaving his father's house, plentifully supplied with genteel clothes of every kind, he took the road, as was usual with him, on foot, to Salisbury. Arrived at that city, it was his good fortune to meet Dowton, one of the best players in his line the British stage has to boast of, and, what does not always happen, as good a man as player:-Warmly benevolent, and friendly, and steadfast in his friendships, he received and treated Warren with great kindness, got him lodged in the same house with himself, and with himself messed him, and arranged every thing for him in the most comfortable manner. For some time our hero was obliged to take up with such characters as could be spared him. Some were good, some bad; but being of a contented turn of mind, and convinced of the fair and friendly intentions of the managers, he took the bad with as much cheerfulness as the good, having even then, the good sense to perceive a truth in which his uniform experience has since confirmed him, viz. that the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of an actor are restiveness, ill temper, and discontent, while cheerful acquiescence, and industry, as they prove a regard for the general interests of the managers and company, never fail to inspire them with a reciprocal consideration, and to place them at last in the best situa→ tion compatible with their talents; while the turbulent, the discontented, the restless and the capricious, however gifted, rarely fail to live in uneasiness, incessant struggle, precarious circumstances, and contempt, and, at the close of life, to die in abject poverty. Had Warren been one of those discontented fellows, he would be at this day, in all probability, but a poor despised stroller in England.
At this time an incident occurred in which our hero had a share, and which gave rise to an important alteration in the laws of England respecting the rights and privileges of actors. A person who had a dispute with the proprietor, informed against the Salisbury theatre, under the old statute, commonly called the vagrant act, which, though not repealed, had long been considered a mere dead letter; but was now revived and made the instrument of a base scoundrel's vengeance. The prosecution was laid for the performance of Holcroft's comedy of "Seduction" and the comedy "He would be a Soldier,"-in both of which Warren performed
the law was written and could not be evaded, and the proprietor was fined: but so flagrant an act of injustice, cruelty, and despotism raised not only abhorrence, but a generous spirit of opposition to the law the affair was brought before parliament, the old statute was repealed, and a protecting act was passed, by which justices of peace were forbidden to refuse a license to, and enjoined to protect any manager who should choose to establish a theatre.
For the mind of a good man there can hardly be a more pleasing employment than that of contemplating the progress of a young person of integrity in his journey through life, and tracing him step by step in the gradual advancement acquired by persevering industry and virtue as well as talent. It is for this reason we feel, and think our readers will also feel pleasure in accompanying our hero in his rise from a beggarly share of four or five shillings a week with old Biggs, through his various pecuniary revolutions, till with the company into which we have now brought him, sufficiency, nay relative affluence, and circumstances which old Cosey would call comfortable, began to reward his honest labours. In a circuit from Salisbury to Chichester, from Chichester to Cirencester, from Cirencester to Newport, in the Isle of Wight, where there is a most beautiful theatre, the company playing upon shares, succeeded so well as to improve the plight of Warren's purse, and make him easy: And at Winchester, where there is a noble theatre, and where the company were joined by Wordsworth and by Blisset (the father of our Doctor Dablancour) just arrived from Bath, he improved it still further by an excellent benefit.
The new theatre at the beautiful town of Southampton now received our company, among whom Warren was placed in a very respectable line of business. Here he played Clifford in the Heiress, Macduff, Alonzo, and, with these, much comic business. The company was now excellent, being joined by Messrs. Incleden, Martyr and Moss; and Warren's allotment averaged three guineas a week, of which, as he was by no means extravagant, and was in a cheap town, he was able to lay a considerable share apart, after living comfortably. It may surprise, if it does not amuse the reader, to hear that Mr. Johnson, the player, and Warren, had two neat well furnished rooms between them, for four shillings sterling a week, and had an excellent dinner every day at the Three Ton's tavern for six pence a piece. A trip to Portsmouth, where, the place being full, they had a very profitable season,