Immagini della pagina

ET. 37.]


September 6.

"I have lately met with Sneyd Edgeworth, and happened to tell him a story of a letter to a dead woman (I think your quondam landlady), which came from the land of Bulls. Sneyd wrote home the anecdote to his sister, and Miss Edgeworth has sent to me to get, if possible, a copy of the Irish letter, in order to insert it in a new edition of 'The Bulls!'-I shall be much obliged to you to write to me (if you cannot get hold of the original itself) as much of it as you recollect. A copy of the real original letter would be invaluable. At all events, I am anxious, and particularly request that you would acknowledge to me, in writing, the fact of such a letter having reached the dead woman in Westminster. I assured Sneyd Edgeworth so seriously (which in truth I could do) that the story was genuine, that I feel bound, in respect to my own character, to acquit myself of the possible suspicion of telling a white lie! I trust, therefore, the ludicrous epistle* was too good to have slipt entirely from T. C."

your memory.


[ocr errors]

As the winter approached, Campbell had a new character to support that of patronizing dramatic talent, and the object of his friendly solicitude was every way deserving of encouragement. The lady was Mrs. Allsop, of whose vocal powers he had already expressed his admiration. In concert with his Sydenham friends, by whom she was much respected and pitied, his efforts to awaken public interest in her favor were at length successful: an engagement was obtained for her at Covent Garden; and here follows an interesting account of the first rehearsal :



SYDENHAM, October, 12, 1815.

I went yesterday to the Theatre with Mrs. Allsop, and we had a rehearsal, at which I wish you had been presentalthough, unless you had sat in one of the side-boxes, I believe

* It is addressed, "Hunter No. 5, Floog-street, London."

"June 3, 1810.

"Madam, I have received a letter from London Dated the 5th of May spakeing of your Death and Desireing me to go to London to adminester to the property as the andwrighting do not agred I take to give you this notice to wright to me to undecave, or er this I will be on the London Road the wrighter deceris me to Derect to James Web at Mr. Daniels No. 54, Lecestoer Squair pray wright by Return of post while I am getting Redy for the Jurney we are all well in our Hulhs and believe me your Senceir Cousin John M'Luir."-Copy of the letter given me by Mr. Richardson.-T. C.

it would not have been right for you to have gone. Mrs. W., however, being a privileged matron, went with us, and we were all behind the scenes together. I trod the boards, for mine own part, like a veteran actor, and at times felt almost inspired with the ambition of being a tragedy-king. As the sum and substance of Mrs. A.'s appearance at the rehearsal, it strikes me that she has the nature of a good actress, but is yet as might be well expected quite unacquainted with the business of the stage; and, I am afraid, is not sufficiently sagacious to see the importance of drilling herself, so as to learn the profession. Only conceive her not having her part by heart! One half she read, and had the other so imperfectly, as evidently not to have learnt it with common application. Her part was Rosalind, in "As You Like It."-But let me calm your fears in the first place, as to the indelicacy of her being obliged to disguise in man's attire. The dress will be a surtout and boots, which will be really as modest in appearance as an ordinary well-dressed woman-and infinitely more decent than a fashionably undressed one. She was very nervous. So behold me in my new great coat, with the little Rosalind leaning on my arm, and advancing with timid steps to her débût. The stick of a prompter supplied Charles Kemble's place, who, I believe, was absent from indisposition. But Rosalind made love to him very sweetly-and the tones of her voice are certainly musical, and very like Mrs. Jordan's. Young, the actor, who is Jacquez, watched her attentively, and said to me, "That is a beautiful, melodious tune,"-meaning her voice in recitation, for she did not sing; I know not why. Young said once or twice, "It is the best first rehearsed I ever heard. She reminds me of her mother, Mrs. Jordan, who gave me a pleasure in the drama, that no actor or actress ever produced." -Young was indeed very kind and very cheering. He seems a remarkably gentlemanlike and good being. You would have been grateful to him, I am sure, for the kind way in which he cheered Mrs. Allsop; and, what is of still more consequence, for the handsome offer, which he very diffidently volunteered, of giving her some useful directions about the business of the stage. As he lives with his mother, and his character is very good, I hope she will profit by his acquaintance. The style of his remarks, and the quotation of Mrs. Jordan's manner of playing particular passages, were in a style that struck me forcibly with a conviction of his taste. I consider his acquaintance, and-if it can be got-his theatrical tuition of our friend, as inestimable advantages. Her acting, he told me, was a pretty sketch, but

ET. 37.]



was deficient in strength of coloring and expression. These I know she can reach; but the little witless soul, I am afraid, is not aware of the labor of study and preparation that is necessary to set off natural powers to advantage-and, above all, necessary to her, on account of her unbeautiful, though not uninteresting appearance. She wanted her part evidently-not from fear half so much as from want of study. Though fearful, she has not the stiff, embarrassed air of a raw practitioner. In short, she will certainly do, if she takes the trouble to learn how it may be done. One specimen of her mother's acting which Mr. Young gave, was a sad contrast to the want of expression in hers-it was in the 'adieu' which she bids to Orlando. Mrs. Jordan, he said, kissed and waved her hand, and then at Orlando's departure said: "O coz, coz! how many fifty fathom deep I am in love!" with a sweetness of agony which I cannot pretend to imitate to you on paper. The acting-manager, Fawcet, was very much like a drill-serjeant, and spoke so downright about Rosalind's defects, and what she must do, that Mrs. W. immediately suggested the wise idea of his being in a conspiracy against her! I told her that Fawcet's truths were plain, and must be digested. The stage presented a woful set of figures in rehearsal by daylight. There was a man who played the love-sick shepherd enough to make one sick of love. *




I know not what to tell you that has happened to myself, in return for your interesting account of your travels, and the scenery you have seen; for I am like a clock that is standing still-like a dial in the shade-like Sir Eustace Grey, to whom time was one eternal now-like Lord Byron, to whom all things are nothing*—or like a smoke-jack, when there is no fire and no roast. I understand your descriptions of scenery rather better than I ever understood any portraiture of that kind—but, as you observe, it is not in words to do anything like justice to the prospects of Nature. And now I look back with self-reproach at the remembrance of many sketches of this kind, which I have often sent to you and others. I thought, "poor goose," I was showing it off like a camera obscura-at the time; and the picture existed only in the camera obscura of my own skull! Nevertheless, travelling is very delightful to the traveller-and the effect of scenery upon our minds is felt, and communicated to others, though not in direct pictures of what we see. The pleasure which it inspires is like the expression of a tune without its words. T. C.

* See "The Dream."- Works, p. 474.

With amusing gravity he now turns from acts of private friendship to speculations on a grand scale; and, in a letter to the same lady, divulges a new scheme for paying off the National Debt.

SYDENHAM, Half-past Twelve o'clock, Nov. 3, 1815.

Your account of the two great productions of naturethe Nuns and the Breakwater-amused me not a little. I piously wish that the heads of all the rogues and zealots who ever conspired against the rights of women, and the interests of humanity, in promoting nunneries, could have been gathered together and thrown into one mass to make a breakwater! I feel deeply for the amiable people, whose resignation in affliction forms so much more an agreeable feature in Christianity, than the superstitious austerities of Catholicism.

I have been confined these five days by an influenza, which "I and the Princesses Royal, and some other persons of distinction, have all had severely!" In that time my eyes were so dimmed by the cold, that I could not see to read; so I was hard driven, as you may imagine, for means to amuse myself. Thomas's Latin lessons beguiled some part of the day. I then set him to read English to me; but I saw that he, like most of his age, did not think reading aloud a natural amusement; and, remembering how often I had been myself misused by being obliged to read aloud for the amusement of others, I let him off in compassion, and set myself to building castles for devising means of paying the National Debt. One of my resources was to make salt-water recesses in the Highlands, by shutting up the mouths of the Sea Lochs, so as to lock them in, as by the locks of canals. You may laugh; but this mode of shutting out and in the sea is practicable-to admit the shoals of herrings, and when the Lochs are full to fish them at leisure. If Loch Fyne were thus locked up, it would contain, in the space of one hundred miles, counting it ten broad and ten long, three hundred and six thousand millions of herrings. I have sailed over it for miles, when it was all like one fish to the depth of many fathoms; and certainly containing a herring at least-if not halfa-dozen to the cubic foot. I have allowed the average depth


*See account of his residence at Downie, Loch Fyne, vol. I, page 160-2. The reader will remark that, in fishing on so grand a scale, every herring is to be hooked or netted; the calculator never imagines that a few of the shoal, at least, might possibly escape.-The calculation in the MS. is indistinct,

[ocr errors]

AT. 37.]




to be a hundred yards for a space of ten miles by ten. three hundred and six thousand millions of herrings would make fifteen millions of barrels, which, at a pound a-piece, would be fifteen millions a year. The expense of curing, barrelling, and agency might amount to five millions. That of making breakwaters and barriers to inclose the mouth of the Loch, would be one hundred millions, of which the interest would be five millions per year, and the profits five millions clear for defraying the National Debt!

Lady Charlotte Bury is expected immediately at Sydenham. Her return will, no doubt, make a change for the better in our society; but yet it makes me very sorry to see her change the genial air of the south at this bleak period, and plunge into the temperature of the world's end.

My cousin the heir, now Campbell-Stewart,* of Milton, has arrived from America, and been at Edinburgh. My cousin the clergyman writes to me, that he is very interesting and conciliating in appearance. . . The good priest waited upon him, and mentioned my sisters to him; he gave an apology for not being able to add to the income I allowed them, which was minute and detailed, and very satisfactory. . . . He is ill and consumptive, and going to Italy for his recovery, if not for his grave. He has only a daughter, and a brother who has only a daughter. He wrote me a very long and kind letter, and has allowed my married brother the house of Ascog, a very fine one in Bute, for his residence. T. C.

Resuming his efforts in behalf of Mrs. Allsop, whose first appearance on the London boards had now strengthened her claims to public favor, he writes to conciliate the patronage of Lord Holland.

*This Frederick Campbell-Stewart was grandson of the Poet's Uncle, and brother of the Attorney-General for Virginia, mentioned in the introductory chapter. His late arrival in Scotland is thus accounted for: “All the descendants of our uncle, that I have known, have a mortal aversion to travelling by water. Archibald, his eldest son, declared to me that he would rather forfeit his right to the estates than cross the Atlantic; and I have reason to believe that his children inherit some of their parents' constitutional hydrophobia.. I presume it is indispensable that Frederick, the heir, in order to be qualified for the succession, should go to Britain and take the oath of allegiance; and rather than do this, I think it extremely probable that a proposal will be made, upon conditions sufficiently liberal, to suffer the succession to pass to our family-provided an arrangement to this effect is practicable."-Letter from the Poet's eldest Brother, dated Richmond, Virginia, U.

« IndietroContinua »