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for escape.

earnestly to be excused; for, to say the truth, I had been forewarned how eagerly any notorious person was pursued for exhibition. Miss Monkton solemnly promised me to keep her word, and assured me that I need never fear meeting a crowd at her house. The appointed Sunday evening came. I went to her very much in undress at the early hour of eight, on account of my little boy, whom she desired me to bring with me, more for effect, I suspect, than for his beaux yeux. I found with her, as I had been taught to expect, three or four ladies of my acquaintance; and the time passed in agreeable conversation, till I had remained much longer than I had apprehended. I was of course preparing speedily to return home, when incessantly repeated thunderings at the door, and the sudden influx of such a throng of people as I had never before seen collected in any private house, counteracted every attempt that I could make

I was therefore obliged, in a state of indescribable mortification, to sit quietly down, till I know not what hour in the morning; but for hours before my departure, the room I sat in was so painfully crowded, that the people absolutely stood on the chairs, round the walls, that they might look over their neighbours' heads to stare at me; and if it had not been for the benevolent politeness of Mr. Erskine, who had been acquainted with my arrangement, I know not what weakness I might have been surprised into, especially being tormented, as I was, by the ridiculous interrogations of some learned ladies, who were called Blues, the meaning of which title I did not at that time appreciate, much less did I comprehend the meaning of the greater part of their learned talk. These profound ladies, however, furnished much amusement to the town for many weeks after, nay, I believe I might say for the whole winter. Glad enough was I at length to find myself at peace in my own bed-chamber.

“I was, as I have confessed, an ambitious candidate for fame, and my professional avocations alone, independently of domestic arrangements, were of course incompatible with habitual observance of parties and concerts, &c. I therefore often declined the honour of such invitations. As much of time as could now be stolen from imperative affairs was employed in sitting for various pictures. . I had frequently the honour of dining with Sir Joshua Reynolds, in Leicester-square. At his house were assembled all the good, the wise, the talented, the rank and fashion of the age. About this time he produced his picture of me in the character of the Tragic Muse. In justice to his genius, I cannot but remark his instantaneous decision of the attitude and expression of the picture. It was, in fact, decided within the twinkling of an eye. When I attended him for the first sitting, after more gratifying encomiums than I can now repeat, he took me by the hand, saying • Ascend your undisputed throne, and graciously bestow upon me some good idea of the Tragic Muse. I walked up the steps, and instantly seated myself in the attitude in which the Tragic Muse now appears. This idea satisfied him so well, that without one moment's hesitation he determined not to alter it. When I attended him for the last sitting, he seemed to be afraid of touching the picture; and, after pausingly contemplating his work, he said, “ No, I will merely add a little more colour to the face. I then begged him to pardon my presumption in hoping that he would not heighten that tone of complexion so deeply accordant with the chilly and concentrated musings of pale melancholy. He most graciously complied with my petition ; and, some time afterward, when he invited me go and see the picture finished, and in the frame, he did me the honour to thank me for persuading him to pause from heightening the colour, being now perfectly convinced that it would have impaired the effect: adding, that he had been inexpressibly gratified by observing many persons strongly affected in contemplating this favourite effort of his pencil. I was delighted when he assured me that he was certain the colours would remain unfaded as long as the canvass would keep them together, which, unhappily, has not been the case with all his works : he gallantly added, with his own benevolent smile, And, to confirm my opinion, here is my name ; for I have resolved to go down to posterity on the hem of your garment.' Accordingly, it appears upon the border of the drapery. Here ended our interview ; and shortly afterward, his precious life.* Her gracious majesty very soon procured my dear little boy admittance to the Charter-house ; and the king, who had been told that I used white paint (which I always detest), sent me, by my friend Sir Charles Hotham, a condescending message, to warn me against its pernicious effects. I cannot imagine how I could be suspected of this disgusting practice.

“ Sir Joshua often honoured me by his presence at the theatre. He approved very much of my costumes, and of my hair without powder, which at that time was used in great profusion, with a reddish-brown tint, and a great quantity of pomátum, which, well kneaded together, modelled the fair ladies' tresses into large curls like demi-cannon. My locks were generally braided into a small compass, so as to ascertain the size and shape of my head, which, to a painter's eye, was of course an agreeable departure from the mode. My short waist, too, was to him a pleasing contrast to the long stiff stays and hoop petticoats which were then the fashion, even on the stage, and it obtained his unqualified approbation. He always sat in the orchestra ; and in that place were to be seen, O glorious constellation ! Burke, Gibbon, Sheridan, Windham, and, though last, not least, the illustrious Fox, of whom it was frequently said, that iron tears were drawn down Pluto's gloomy cheeks. And these great men would often visit my dressing-room, after the play, to make their bows, and honour me with their applauses. I must repeat, O glorious days ! Neither did his royal highness the Prince of Wales withhold this testimony of his approbation.

* Mrs. Siddons is a little mistaken. Sir Joshua lived several years longer. The portrait was exhibited in 1784. Sir Joshua died in 1792

« Garrick's conduct towards me was by these gentlemen attributed to jealousy; and Mr. G. A. Stevens was heard to say, in reference to the clamorous applause of my first night, . If Garrick could hear this, it would turn him upon his face in his coffin. This expression, though a compliment to myself, I take to be as unjust as it was shocking. For my own part, I never could give credit to such a notion ; for it is utterly inconceivable that he should have seen any thing in an untaught, unpractised girl to excite such a feeling ; and, as I have already observed, I really think it was merely for the pleasure of mortifying others that he distinguished me. Cruel, cruel pleasure !

My door was soon beset by various persons quite unknown to me, whose curiosity was on the alert to see the new actress, some of whom actually forced their way into my drawing-room, in spite of remonstrance or opposition. This was as inconvenient as it was offensive ; for, as I usually acted three times a week, and had, besides, to attend the rehearsals, I had but little time to spend unnecessarily. One morning, though I had previously given orders not to be interrupted, my servant entered the room in a great hurry, saying, Ma'am, I am very sorry to tell you there are some ladies below, who say they must see you, and it is impossible for me to prevent it. I have told them over and over again that you are particularly engaged, but all in vain ; and now, ma'am, you may actually hear them on the stairs.' I felt extremely indignant at such unparalleled impertinence; and before the servant had done speaking to me, a tall, elegant, invalid-looking person presented herself (whom, I am afraid, I did not receive very graciously), and after her four more, in slow succession. A very awkward silence took place; when presently the first lady began to accost me, with a most inveterate Scotch twang, and in a dialect which was scarcely intelligible to me in those days. She was a person of very high rank: her curiosity, however, had been too powerful for her good-breeding. You must think it strange,' said she, 'to see a person entirely unknown to you intrude in this manner upon your privacy; but you must know, I am in a very delicate state of health, and my physician won't let me go to the theatre to see you, so I am to look at you here.' She accordingly sat down to look, and I to be looked at, for a few painful moments, when she arose and apologized; but I was in no humour to overlook such insolence, and so let her depart in silence.

“I had very soon the honour of reading to their majesties, in Buckingham House, and it occurred frequently.* One could not appear in the presence of the queen except in a dress not elsewhere worn, called a sack or negligée, with a hoop, treble ruffles, and lappets, in which costume I felt not at all at my

When I arrived at Buckingham House, I was conducted into an ante-chamber, where I found some ladies of my acquaintance; and, in a short time, the king entered from the drawing-room, in the amiable occupation of drawing the Princess Amelia, then scarce three years old, in a little cane chair. He graciously said something to one of the ladies, and left the lovely baby to run about the room. She happened to be much pleased with some flowers in my bosom, and, as I stooped down that she might take them, if so disposed, I could not help exclaiming to a lady near me, · What a beautiful child !—how I long to kiss her! when she instantly held her little hand to my mouth to be kissed : so early had she learned this lesson of royalty. Her majesty was extremely gracious, and more than once during the reading desired me to take some refreshment in the next room. I declined the honour, however, though I had stood reading till I was ready to drop, rather than run the risk of falling down by walking backwards out of the room (a ceremony not to be dispensed with), the flooring, too, being rubbed bright. I afterward learned from one of the ladies who was present at the time, that her majesty had expressed herself surprised to find me so collected in so new a position, and that I had conducted myself as if I had been used to a court. At any rate, I had frequently personated queens.

ease.

* She was this year appointed preceptress in English reading to the princesses. The appointment exacted no farther employment than these occasional readings; but I believe it was without emolument.

“ Afterward I had the honour of attending their majesties at Windsor also. The readings there were arranged in the apartments of my dear and honoured friend Lady Harcourt, whom I had lately seen as the hostess of Nuneham, doing the honours of her splendid mansion, when the king and queen and several of the younger branches of the royal family came, while I was on a visit there. They were so delighted with their loyal and noble host and hostess, and so charmed with all they saw, that their attendants were sent back to Windsor for what was necessary for three days, and even then they were loath to depart. One may imagine the usual style of magnificence in which they lived, from the circumstance that they were but little deranged by the unexpected arrival even of royal guests."

During the summer recess of 1784, Mrs. Siddons visited Edinburgh, and acted eleven times, to the delight of her Scottish audiences. Her reception in Scotland was worthy of a land already enlightened by philosophy and the Muses, and in which the very lowest class were now so far emerged from the old fanaticism, that we shall soon find them crowding in multitudes around the great actress's hotel, in their enthusiasm to

see her.

What a pleasing contrast is here presented to the gloomy temper of the Scotch, with regard to stage entertainments, that had exhibited itself in times not long gone by. Only seventeen years were elapsed since the date of an admonition and exhortation by the reverend Presbytery of Edinburgh, to all within their bounds, declaring themselves at this time loudly called upon, in one body and with one voice, to expostulate, in the bowels of love and compassion, against the encouragement given to the play-house, and denouncing the sin of seeing a play with as much awful solemnity as if they had been denouncing the crime of murder. Well-meaning as those mistaken kirkmen might be, it is disgusting to see them garnishing this medley of cant and ignorance with the holy and beautiful language of Scripture. They blindly asserted that the Christian church had been at all times hostile to the stage, forgetting, or not knowing, that stage-entertainments had sprung out of the church itself ; and, with equal falsehood, implying that there was no Christian church in the days of Shakspeare. There were sermons printed by Scottish divines within the

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