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time they were exercised, however, seems to have been at the end of the eighteenth century.
To-day, actors and actresses very properly move in the best society; personally, I never had any prejudice against them, having been proud to know a great number of people connected with the stage-Mr. and Mrs. Wigan, Sir Henry Irving, Miss Ellen Terry, Mr. Toole, Sir Squire and Lady Bancroft, Mr. and Mrs. Kendal, Sir George Alexander, and Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree amongst the number,-all clever and delightful in their different
In old days, however, a large number of people looked upon actors and actresses as a different race of beings, and whenever by chance they saw any theatrical celebrity in the streets, would watch their movements closely, and apparently be much disappointed at not perceiving any eccentricity in their walk or manner, hoping that after a few steps the actor would invert himself and proceed for the rest of his journey on his hands, or that upon calling a cab he would spring in head foremost through the window and disappear like a harlequin.
Though from the early days of the English stage the English aristocracy appears to have had a keen appreciation of the actresses, some of whom, like my ancestress, Mrs. Oldfield, had a regular social position of a peculiar kind, it was not for about half a century after the English drama had become an established institution that any of them took an
actress from the stage for the purpose of making her his wife. The squires in this case had precedence of the knights; and the antiquary, Martin Folkyes, led the way, by espousing Lucretia Bradshaw—an actress of unimpeachable character, the original Corinna in the "Confederacy." This marriage took place in 1713, and there was not a happier match in England than that of the antiquary and the actress. A Knight of the Garter followed, with an earl's coronet, and in 1735 the great Lord Peterborough acknowledged his marriage with that daughter of sweet sounds, Anastasia Robinson. Her father had been a painter who, it was said, came of the family of Lane, who in the troublous days of the Civil War befriended Charles II. The daughter of Lord Waldegrave, Lady Henrietta Herbert, married young Beard, the actor. This was thought "low," and another knight's daughter was less censured for marrying her father's footman. The "Beggar's Opera" gave two coronets to two Pollys. Lavinia Fenton, the original Polly at Lincoln's Inn in 1728, became Duchess of Bolton a few years later. Her portrait in character, by Hogarth, was purchased by the National Gallery at the sale of the Leigh Court pictures in June 1884 for 800 guineas. I wonder what has become of another similar portrait of her exhibited at the South Kensington Museum in 1867? About half a century later Edward Atkyns, of good Norfolk family, married Miss Walpole, and in 1813 no less a man than Lord Thurlow took as
wife Mary Catherine Bolton, who was scarcely an inferior Polly to the original one; Lady Thurlow was a model wife. The squires once more took their turn when Sheridan married Miss Lindley; but before the eighteenth century closed, Miss Farren gave her hand to the "proudest earl in England," the Earl of Derby.
Miss Farren's name-it is not, I believe, generally known-was in reality "Farran," at least it was spelt so in the register by Margaret Farran, a sister of the bride and a witness. The marriage took place at Lord Derby's house in Grosvenor Square.
In 1807 a knight and two squires took two ladies from the stage. In that year Mr. Heathcote married the beautiful Miss Searle, and Earl Craven married Louisa Brunton.
In the middle of the last century I recall five ex-actresses who had married men of rank or note. One was the widowed Countess of Essex who, before her marriage with the fifth Earl, had been Miss Stevens. Though she rests at Kensal Green there is a monument to her memory at Watford where she is not buried. Which makes the inscription upon it the more curious—
"Rest undisturbed within this peaceful shrine
Till Angels wake thee with a note like thine."
Another was Miss Foote, who had married the Earl of Harrington. She was the daughter of the Manager of the Exeter Theatre, and six years previous to her marriage had recovered £3000