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timony" that she had been in no respect the occasion of his having missed a benefit in Ireland ; but, on the contrary, that he owed her the highest obligations of friendship.The calamitous alienation of Brereton's mind that took place not long subsequent, inclines me to judge of his actions at this period with some allowance. That there was, however, a regular conspiracy, got up to insult her, in London, was made but too plain by the sequel; and it is only to be regretted that its unknown agents had not been branded with shame in the flagrancy of their guilt. It must be owned, that the artificers of calumny had a difficult object of attack in Mrs. Siddons. Against her character, as a wife and mother, scandal itself could not whisper a surmise; and it was equally hopeless to impugn her genius as an actress. But they spread abroad that she was avaricious, uncharitable, and slow to lend her professional aid to unfortunate fellow-players. Two specific charges alone of this kind could be alleged, and they were both met and refuted by the clearest demonstration. Digges testified that she had performed for him, as an act of charity, in Ireland. His miserable wife could only say for herself, that she had believed the misstatement to which she had given currency; and Brereton made the declaration which I have quoted.

" I had left London,” says Mrs. Siddons, in her Memoranda, “ the object of universal approbation ; but, on my return, only a few weeks afterward, I was received, on my first night's appearance, with universal opprobrium,—accused of hardness of heart, and total insensibility to every thing and everybody except my own interest. Unhappily, contrary winds had for some days precluded the possibility of receiving from Dublin such letters as would have refuted those atrocious calumnies, and saved me from the horrors of this dreadful night, when I was received with hissing and hooting, and stood the object of public scorn. Amid this afflicting clamour I made several attempts to be heard, when at length a gentleman stood forth in the middle of the front of the pit, impelled by benevolent and gentlemanly feeling, who, as I advanced to make my last attempt at being heard, accosted me in these words : For heaven's sake, madam, do not degrade yourself by an apology, for there is nothing necessary to be said.' I shall always look back with gratitude to this gallant man's solitary advocacy of my cause : like. Abdiel, faithful found ; among the faithless, faithful only he. His admonition was followed by reiterated clamour, when my dear brother appeared, and carried me away from this scene of insult. The instant I quitted it, I

ness.

fainted in his arms; and, on my recovery, I was thankful that my persecutors had not had the gratification of beholding this weakness. After I was tolerably restored to myself, I was in. duced, by the persuasions of my husband, my brother, and Mr. Sheridan, to present myself again before that audience by whom I had been so savagely treated, and before whom, but in consideration of my children, I would have never appeared again. The play was the • Gamester,' which commences with a scene between Beverley and Charlotte. Great and pleasant was my astonishment to find myself, on the second rising of the curtain, received with a silence so profound that I was absolutely awe-struck, and never yet have I been able to account for this surprising contrast ; for I really think that the falling of a pin might have been then heard upon

the stage.” On Mrs. Siddons's second entrance this night, she addressed the audience in these words : “ Ladies and gentlemen,—The kind and flattering partiality which I have uniformly experienced in this place, would make the present interruption distressing to me indeed, were I, in the slightest degree, conscious of having deserved your censure.

I feel no such conscious. The stories which have been circulated against me are calumnies : when they shall be proved to be true, my aspersors will be justified. But, till then, my respect for the public leads me to be confident, that I shall be protected from una merited insult."

“ The accusations which had been brought against me," she continues, “ were pride, insolence, and savage insensibility to the distresses of my theatrical associates ; and, as I have observed already, even the winds and waves combined to overwhelm me with obloquy; for many days elapsed before I could possibly receive from Dublin those letters which, when they did arrive and were published, carried conviction to the public mind. The most cruel of these aspersions accused me of having inhumanly refused, at first, to act for the benefit of poor Mr. Digges, and of having at last agreed to do so upon terms so exorbitant as had never before been heard of. A letter from himself, however, full of grateful acknowledgments, sufficed to clear me from the charge, by testifying that, so far from having deserved it, I had myself arranged the affair with the manager, and had acted Belvidera under the most annoying and difficult circumstances.

“Here ended my disgrace and persecution; and from that time forth the generous public, during the remainder of the season, received my entrée each succeeding night with shouts,

timony" that she had been in no respect the occasion of his having missed a benefit in Ireland ; but, on the contrary, that he owed. her the highest obligations of friendship.” The calamitous alienation of Brereton's mind that took place not long subsequent, inclines me to judge of his actions at this period with some allowance. That there was, however, a regular eonspiracy, got up to insult her, in London, was made but too plain by the sequel; and it is only to be regretted that its unknown agents had not been branded with shame in the flagrancy of their guilt. It must be owned, that the artificers of calumny had a difficult object of attack in Mrs. Siddons. Against her character, as a wife and mother, scandal itself could not whisper a surmise; and it was equally hopeless to impugn her genius as an actress. But they spread abroad that she was avaricious, uncharitable, and slow to lend her professional aid to unfortunate fellow-players. Two specific charges alone of this kind could be alleged, and they were both met and refuted by the clearest demonstration. Digges testified that she had performed for him, as an act of charity, in Ireland. His miserable wife could only say for herself, that she had believed the misstatement to which she had given currency; and Brereton made the declaration which I have quoted.

" I had left London,” says Mrs. Siddons, in her Memoranda, " the object of universal approbation; but, on my return, only a few weeks afterward, I was received, on my first night's appearance, with universal opprobrium,—accused of hardness of heart, and total insensibility to every thing and everybody except my own interest. Unhappily, contrary winds had for some days precluded the possibility of receiving from Dublin such letters as would have refuted those atrocious calumnies, and saved me from the horrors of this dreadful night, when I was received with hissing and hooting, and stood the object of public scorn. Amid this afflicting clamour I made several attempts to be heard, when at length a gentleman stood forth in the middle of the front of the pit, impelled by benevolent and gentlemanly feeling, who, as I advanced to make

my

last attempt at being heard, accosted me in these words : • For heaven's sake, madam, do not degrade yourself by an apology, for there is nothing necessary to be said. I shall always look back with gratitude to this gallant man's solitary advocacy of my cause : like • Abdiel, fuithful found; among the faithless, faithful only he. His admonition was followed by reiterated clamour, when my dear brother appeared, and carried me away from this scene of insult. The instant I quitted it, I

ness.

fainted in his arms; and, on my recovery, I was thankful that my persecutors had not had the gratification of beholding this weakness. After I was tolerably restored to myself, I was induced, by the persuasions of my husband, my brother, and Mr. Sheridan, to present myself again before that audience by whom I had been so savagely treated, and before whom, but in consideration of my children, I would have never appeared again. The play was the • Gamester,' which commences with a scene between Beverley and Charlotte. Great and pleasant was my astonishment to find myself, on the second rising of the curtain, received with a silence so profound that I was absolutely awe-struck, and never yet have I been able to account for this surprising contrast ; for I really think that the falling of a pin might have been then heard upon the stage.”

On Mrs. Siddons's second entrance this night, she addressed the audience in these words : “ Ladies and gentlemen,—The kind and flattering partiality which I have uniformly experienced in this place, would make the present interruption distressing to me indeed, were I, in the slightest degree, conscious of having deserved your censure. I feel no such conscious

The stories which have been circulated against me are calumnies : when they shall be proved to be true, my aspersors will be justified. But, till then, my respect for the public leads me to be confident, that I shall be protected from una merited insult."

“ The accusations which had been brought against me," she continues, were pride, insolence, and savage insensibility to the distresses of my theatrical associates ; and, as I have observed already, even the winds and waves combined to overwhelm me with obloquy; for many days elapsed before I could possibly receive from Dublin those letters which, when they did arrive and were published, carried conviction to the public mind. The most cruel of these aspersions accused me of having inhumanly refused, at first, to act for the benefit of poor Mr. Digges, and of having at last agreed to do so upon ierms so exorbitant as had never before been heard of." A letter from himself, however, full of grateful acknowledgments, sufficed to clear me from the charge, by testifying that, so far from having deserved it, I had myself arranged the affair with the manager, and had acted Belvidera under the most annoying and difficult circumstances.

“ Here ended my disgrace and persecution ; and from that time forth the generous public, during the remainder of the season, received my entrée each succeeding night with shouts,

huzzas, and waving of handkerchiefs, which, however gratisying as testimonials of their changed opinion, were not sufficient to obliterate from my memory the tortures I had endured from their injustice, and the consciousness of a humiliating vocation.

I believe that, in spite of preponderating applause, her entrée for several evenings afterward, was met with attempts to insult her. She made her reverence, and went on steadily with her part: but her manner was for a time perceptibly damped; and she declared to one of her friends, that, for many a day after this insult, all her professional joy and ambition drooped in her mind, and she sickened at the thought of being an actress.

On the 3d of November, 1784, she appeared, for the first time, in Franklin's tragedy of the “ Earl of Warwick," as a heroine distinguished in English history, namely, Margaret of Anjou.*

This play, by Franklin, was an unavowed translation of La Harpe's Comte de Warwick ; in which the French author, says Mr. Boaden, had the mortification to see the tender interest of his piece frittered away. For the translator's concealment of his original, I have no apology to offer ; but, of the alleged tender interest of that original, I confess myself unable to perceive a' trace: and Mr. Boaden, I conceive, is as much mistaken in eulogizing the French tragedy as in confounding its author with the Colonel La Harpe who was tutor to the Emperor of Russia. The Gallic poet, with equal defiance of nature and history, represents the beautiful Lady Elizabeth Woodville as enamoured of the old iron-sheathed Earl of Warwick, and refusing King Edward's hand from her preference of the graybeard. He also makes Margaret of Anjou assassinate with her own hand the Earl of Warwick. This is rather too bad ; as every schoolboy in England may be supposed to know, that Edward the Fourth made a romantic lovemarriage with Lady Elizabeth Woodville ; that Warwick was old enough to be the father of the said Elizabeth ; and that the tough old king-maker died fighting in the cause of Queen Mar. garet. Indifferent as the French play may be, however, I grant

that the English translator has not made it better : and no information that I have ever received respecting Mrs. Siddons ever struck me with so much surprise as to learn, from unquestionable authority, that she made an imposing and electrifying

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* Earl of Warwick, Smith ; King Edward, Palmer ; Lady Elizabeth Grey, Miss Kemble; Margaret of Anjous Mrs. Siddons.

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