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sound, that, during the first thirty-four nights of his performance at the Haymarket, the receipts were computed at no less than 45001.
FIRST FEMALE ACTORS.
The received tradition is, that Mrs. Saunderson, who belonged to D'Avenant's company, was the first English actress. She performed Ianthe, in the “ Siege of Rhodes," when it was first acted as a regular drama, on the opening of the Duke's Theatre, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, in April, 1662; on which occasion, painted scenery was also, for the first time, introduced upon the English stage. The part of Ianthe had, indeed, been performed as early as 1656, when that entertainment was first produced at Rutland House, by a Mrs. Colman; but at that time, through dread of the ruling powers, the dialogue was cut short, and entirely spoken in recitative, so that it was rather (as it was called) a “musical entertainment” than a play. Mr. Malone, however, asserts that the first woman who appeared in any regular drama on a public stage, performed the part of Desdemona ; but he has not been able to ascertain who the lady was. In order to claim precedence of Mrs. Saunderson, she must necessarily have
played that character before April, 1662; and the only mention which we find of the performance of “ Othello," from the period of the Restoration, until that time, is in the MS, of Sir Henry Herbert, from which it appears that “ Othello” was performed by the Red Bull Company (who afterwards opened Drury Lane, and obtained the title of His Majesty's Servants), at their new Theatre, in Vere Street, Clare Market, on Saturday, December 8, 1660, for the first time that winter. From this, Mr. Malone concludes that it was on that day, that an actress first appeared on the English stage. On the opening of Drury Lane Theatre, in 1663, Desdemona was acted by Mrs. Hughes ; but it does not appear whether that lady had previously performed with the company at the Red Bull, or in Vere Street.
In proof that Desdemona was the first character performed by a female, Mr. Malone quotes, from a “ very scarce miscellany," a prologue, written by Thomas Gordon, to introduce the first woman that came to act on the stage, in the tragedy called the “ Moor of Venice." The following extract from the prologue will shew the necessity of the innovation, and the plea put forward to justify its adoption :
“ Our women are defective, and so siz'd,
You'd think they were some of the guard disguis’d;
When you call Desdemona, enter Giant." The following passage from a “ Prologue to the King,” in Jordan's Royal Arbor, is to the same purpose : “ For, doubting we should never play again,
We have play'd all our women into men,
QUIN AND GARRICK.
In the agreement between these celebrated performers, in 1746, to assist each other with their abilities in several select plays, Quin laid his hand upon Shakspeare's “ Henry IV.” and called upon Garrick to give him his assistance, by exerting his talents in Hotspur; “ 'For you know, David,” saith he, “ Falstaff is so weighty, that he cannot do without a lever.” The other complied, though very reluctantly; for he well knew that the portion of Hotspur, best suited to his animated style of acting, would be exhausted
in the first scene of the part. The veteran Quin, by this piece of histrionic maneuvring, surprised the caution of Garrick, who was the most juvenile and unsuspecting of the two.
In the “ Merchant of Venice," this malevolent Jew should undoubtedly wear a large red cross, the senate of Venice having passed an edict, that no Israelite should appear upon the Rialto, without the emblem or badge above specified. This was done to mortify the Jews, many of whom, in consequence, quitted their territory to avoid its infliction.
ADMITTANCE BEHIND THE SCENES,
The custom of admitting strangers behind the scenes appears to be abolished by Queen Anne. In “ A Letter in answer to some queries relating to the stage,” published during her reign, it appears, that her majesty was pleased to send a strict and solemn order, prohibiting whatsoever was offensive on the stage, and all other disorders and ill customs: such as admitting masks, and gentlemen's being behind the scenes, &c., which order, according to royal direction,
was read before the audience; and both the order and actor were hissed off the stage.
MANY excelling comedians have been gifted with this natural talent. Mr. Rymer, that great critic, tells us, that Mr. Mountford was so excellently gifted in this way (if it may be called excellence), that when he was train bearer to Chancellor Jefferies, in the reign of King James II., at an entertainment given to the most eminent lawyers, his master ordered him to come before him, and plead a feigned cause, which he performed with great eloquence; and, in his pleading, to the admiration of all present, assumed the manner and voice of several of the best pleaders then at the bar, and even of some of those who were present at the entertainment.
On one occasion, Mr. Sheridan was tonly insulted on the stage, at Dublin, to which he replied with spirit and propriety. A ringleader was so exasperated by the reply, that he rushed behind the scenes, uttered the abuse which passion suggested, and received the