« PreviousContinue »
appointed by the manager. Had she been indulged with the liberty of choice, her talents would very probably have earlier excited the public attention. In noticing her appearance, we pronounced an opinion, which some considered as too flattering ; but the event has more than justified our commendation. (See Vol. IV.
p. 226.). During the three first seasons, our heroine had no opportunity of rising in the profession. In the summer of 1800, she was engaged by Mr. Macready at Birmingham, where she was highly successful in some of the most difficult characters in tragedy. The ensuing season at Covent Garden will be distinguished in theatrical annals, for having introduced the surprising talents of Mr. Cooke, to the acquaintance of a London audience. This season also Mrs. Litchfield suddenly einerged from obscurity, at a moment when there seemed so little probability of her advancing in the theatre, that her husband, whose connexions render him altogether independent of the emoluments arising from Mrs. L's engagement, had resolved on withdrawing her from the Covent Garden company. But accident is often the friend of genius, when all o her assistance has been in vain.' We believe her manner of playing Emilia was the occasion of her being thought of for the character of Lady Macbeth. A more extraordinary occurrence never happened in stage history, than the sudden announcement of an actress for one of the most arduous and important characters in Shakšpere, whose name was scarcely known to the most constant attendants at the theatre. The attempt was bold and hazardous, but her success in the character was complete, and she was immediately elevated to the highest honours of the profeso sion. Her engagement expired with the season, but Mr. Harris made a proposal for renewing it, which was accepted, for three years, at a considerable advance of salary.
In the early part of the season, and before this fortunate display of her abilities, Mrs. Litchfield had concluded an engagement with Mr. Colman for the Haymarket theatre, in the hope of meeting with better opportunities of recommending herself to the public notice, than had then fallen to her lot at Covent Garden. They were now no longer needed, and, as the entertainments of the Summer theatre, required very little aid from a tragic actress, she appeared only a few nights on that stage, in Julia, in the Surrender of Calais, and at the end of the season resigned her situation ; the theatre not afford. ing, for the reason above mentioned, those terms which a performer of her rank was entitled to demand.
WH Mr. Lewis's play of Alfonso was last season put into re. hearsal, Mrs. L. received the part of Ottilia, a character composed of
so many dangerous ingredients, that the success of the tragedy depended, in a considerable degree, on the art and skill of the representative. Mrs. L. much increased her reputation by the performance of that character, and the author, in the preface to the second edition, has, in very han:Isome terms, acknowledged the benefit the play derived from her exertions*. In the summer she again visited Birmingham, where her merits are warmly acknowledged. She remained there a month, and then accepted an offer from Mr. Watson, to perform six nights at Cheltenham, at the conclusion of which she renewed her engagement for four nights. The characters she performed at this watering-place were chiefly of the comic cast.
At one of her benefits, she appeared, by way of trial, in the Widow Brady, and with the happiest effect. The farce of the Irish Widow has lately been revived at Covent Garden, in order to introduce Mrs. L, in the principal character, when her performance received the loudest applause from the audience.
Such is the account of Mrs. Litchfield's professional experience. In private life her manners are cheerful and unaffected. She has had four children, of whom the eldest and the last only survive. Mr. Litchfield, though engaged in other pursuits, feels a warm interest in the amusements of the stage. This congeniality is attended with advantages which those for whom home has any charms, will know how to estimate. Orgos nat Taten B1078 yagis, says a Greek writer, and we believe there are few families which enjoy the blessing of domestic happiness with less interruption and alloy.
DERMODY THE POET. MR. EDITOR, As your Mirror has often reflected the genius of the late unfortunate Mr. Dermody, I may conclude that, from respect to his memory, you will be inclined to further any plan to prevent its being injured by misrepresentation. I take the liberty to intreat you will have the kindness to inform the public, who estimated his talents at so high a rate, that, having been favoured with his confidence for the space of fourteen years, half the period of his existence, and having in my possession the only authentic documents that can be obtained, rela. tive to that ingenious poet, in his earlier days, I intend speedily to publish, by subscription, in two volumes, his life and ре sthumous works.
* See vol. XIII, of this work, p. 410.
Being in possession of every circumstance of his varied and extraordinary life, from his cradle to his grave, it will easily be believed, that no other person in this kingdom can have more credible materials for the purpose.
Your obedient servant,
J. G. RAYMOND.
LETTER TO BEN JONSON,
FROM JAMES HOWELL, ESQ.
[MR. EDITOR, 1 The following story has furnished the foundation both for tragedies and romances. It is here told with some variation of circumstances from those which have generally been related. Miss More borrowed some of the incidents of her Percy from the same source; and we find, from this letter, that the subject was recommended to Ben Jonson.
honoured Friend and Fa. Mr. Ben Jonson.
Some hundred and odd years since, there was in France one Capt. Coucy, a gallant gentleman of an ancient extraction, and keeper of Coucy Castle, which is yet standing, and in good repair. He fell in love with a young gentlewoman, and courted her for his wife: there was reciprocal love between them, but her parents understanding of it, hy way of prevention, they shuffled up a forc'd match 'twixt her and one Monsieur Fayel, who was a gaat heir. Capt. Coucy here. upon quitted Fratice in discontent, and went to the wars in Hungary against the Turk, where he received a mortal wound, not far from Buda. Being carried to his lodging, he languished some days; but a little before his death he spoke to an ancient servant of his, that he had many proofs of his fidelity and truth, but now he had a great business to intrust him with, which he conjured him by all means to do; which was, that after his death he should get his body to be opened, and then to take his heart out of his breast, and
it in an earthen pot to be baked to powder, then to put the powder into a handsome box, with that bracelet of hair he had worn long about his left wrist, which was a lock of Madeinoiselle Fayel's hair, and put it among the powder, together with a little.note he had written with his own blood to her; and after he had given him the rites of burial, to make all the speed he could to France, and deliver the said box to Mademoiselle Fayel. The old servant did as his master had commanded him, and so went to France; and coming one day to Mons. Fayel's house, he suddenly met him with one of his servants, and examined him, because he knew he was Capt. Coucy's servant ; and finding him timorous, and faltering in his speech, he search'd him, and found the said box in his pocket, with the note which express'd what was therein : he dismiss'd the bearer with menace that he should come no more near his house. Mons. Fayel going in, sent for his cook, and deliver'd him the powder, charging him to make a little wellrelished dish of it, without losing a jot of it, for it was a very costly thing; and commanded him to bring it in himself, after the last course at supper. The cook bringing in the dish accordingly, Mons. Fayel commanded all to avoid the room, and began a serious discourse with his wife, how, ever since he had married her, he observed she was always melancholy, and he fear'd she was inclining to a consumption, therefore he had provided for her a very precious cordial, which he was well assur’d would cure her: thereupon he made her eat up the whole dish ; and afterwards much importuning him to know what it was, be told her at last, she had eaten Coucy's heart, and so drew the box out of his pocket, and shew'd her the note, and the bracelet. In a sudden exultation of joy, she with a far-fetch'd sigh said, This is a precious cordial indeed ; and so lick'd the dish, saying, It is so precious, that 'tis pity to put ever any meat upon't. So she went to bed, and in the morning she was found stone dead.
This gentleman told me that this sad story is painted in Coucy Castle, and remains fresh to this day.
In my opinion, which veils to yours, this is choice and rich stuff for you to put upon your loom, and make a curious web of.
I thank you for the last regalo you gave me at your Musæum, and for the good company. I heard you censur'd lately at court, that
you have lighted too foul upon Sir Inigo, and that you write with a porcupine's quill dipt in too much gall. Excuse me that I am so free with you, it is because I am in no common way of friendship. Westm. 3 May, 1635.
OLLA PODRID A.
ÆOLIAN HARP. As nothing can be deemed natural but what proceeds from the actual principles of nature, we may safely pronounce the Æolian lyre to be the only natural instrument of emitting harmony. Other instruments sending forth sounds by the assistance of the fingers, or some other mechanical means, are consequently termed artificial. This affords another instance of the old-established adage, that Simplicity is the nearest relative of Beauty, since the Æolian harp is the “ most musical, most melancholy,” and most bewitching of all melodies.
Of the antiquity of this instrument it is difficult to decide : it had slept about an hundred years when Mr. Oswald accidentally discovered the effect of the air upon a harp casually hung amongst the boughs of a tree. Kurcher is the first who mentions it; but he does not (as has been advanced ) ascribe the invention to himselfhe merely describes it, and affirms,* that the reason he is so particular respecting it is, because no one had given any account of it before. It may, in our opinion, boast a very high antiquity. The effect of the wind upon strings placed slantingly, has been observed in most ages, and has always afforded a particular delight. An anecdote from Lucian will illustrate this remark.
“ When the Thracian Bacchanals tore Orpheus piecemeal, r'eport says that his harp was thrown into the river Hebrus, with his bleeding head upon it. The harp, touched with the wind, breathed forth a solemn strain. Still swimming down the l'gean sea, the mournful concert arrived at Lesbos, where the inhabitants taking them
up, buried the head in the spot where, in Lucian's time, stood the Temple of Bacchus, and hung the lyre in the Temple of Apollo.”
It would be impossible not to believe the romantic circumstance of the statue of Memnon, which
at the quivering touch
* De Sympathiæ & Antipathiæ sonorum ratione, b. 9.
PP VOL. XIV.