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the idea of a Roman matron. The father had all the suavity of the old school of gentlemen.
Persons who cannot for a moment disjoin their idea of human dignity from that of station, will perhaps be surprised that I should speak of the dignified manners of a pair who lived by the humble vocation which I have mentioned. It is nevertheless true that the presence and demeanour of this couple might have graced a court ; and though their relationBhip to Mrs. Siddons and John Kemble, of course, enhanced the interest which their venerable appearance commanded, yet I have been assured by those who knew them long before their children became illustrious, that in their humblest circumstances they always sustained an entire respectability. There are some individuals whom no circumstances can render vulgar, and Mr. and Mrs. Kemble were of this description. Besides, in spite of all our prejudices against the player's vocation, irreproachable personal character will always find its level in the general esteem.
Respecting Roger Kemble, Mrs. Siddons's father, I have not been able to make out any very interesting particulars. His wife alleged that he was an unparalleled Falstaff, but I know of no impartial testimony to the same effect. Ward disapproved of his daughter marrying an actor; and when he found that her union with Kemble was inevitable, he was with difficulty persuaded to speak to her. He then forgave her with all the bitterness of his heart, saying, “ Sarah, you have not disobeyed me: I told you never to murry an actor, and you have married a man who neither is nor ever can be an actor." This anecdote has been often mistold, and the same words inaccurately ascribed to Roger Kemble, on his daughter's marriage with Mr. Siddons.
Those who remember Roger Kemble describe him as a man of plain sense and of good-humoured and jocose disposition. His mildness made him more popular at home than his spouse, who, having a brood of high-mettled boys and Solomon's precept respecting the rod incessantly before her eyes, was rather a stern disciplinarian towards her masculine progeny. He was born in the city of Hereford, in 1721, and died in 1802, in his 82d year. When in poor circumstances, he used laughingly to console himself by alleging that he was come of a good house, though decayed. It was handed down in the family, that they were sprung from the Kembles of Wydell, in Wiltshire, a house of undoubted antiquity. I have not been able to prove this descent, even with the aid of my friend
Mr. Young, of the Herald's College. But still I am not inclined to disbelieve the general tradition, that their ancestors had once been wealthy and powerful. Their property, it was said, had been confiscated in Charles's civil war, and their misfortunes consummated by their adhesion to the Roman Catholic faith.
Though the gifted theatrical Kembles have no need of heraldic blazonry, yet still their family, like every other, has a right to its own traditional recollections; and they still cherish the memory of two ancestral members, whose names are not wholly destitute of historical interest. The one was a soldier, the other a martyr.
In the description of the battle of Worcester it is mentioned, that “after the rout of the royal army, the Earl of Cleveland and some others rallied what force they could, though inconsiderable to the number of the republicans, and charged the enemy very gallantly, in Sudbury-street, where Sir James Hamilton and Captain Kemble were both desperately wounded, and others slain. Yet this action,” the chronicler adds, “ did much secure his majesty's march out at St. Martin's gate, who had otherwise been in danger of being taken in the town. For this service, Captain Kemble was rewarded by Charles the Second, after the Restoration, with the gift of a war-horse."
Another ancestral relative, who, I imagine, was the great. grand-uncle of Roger Kemble, was one of the last individuals in England who was publicly put to death for his religion." Some Church of England readers will possibly be shocked, or incredulous, when they are told that this poor man was mus. dered by Christians of their own persuasion : for it is but recently that the bulk of Englishmen have been forced to believe the historical fact, that their Protestant forefathers were nearly as stanch persecutors as the Catholics.
No principle, 80 worthy of growth in the English mind, has taken root in it 80 slowly as a charitable and just spirit towards that body of believers. Even the soul of Milton could not raise itself entirely above intolerant sentiments. He deprecates the persecution of Catholics, but proposes that they should never be allowed the public exercise of their religion; as if, restraining
* It is not true, however, though sometimes asserted, that he was the very last of those who suffered for the Romish faith in England. The Reverend Oliver Plunket, titular bishop of Armagh, was hanged at Ty. burn, 1681, two years after the death of Mr. Kemble : nor was the ceremony of taking
out Plunket's heart and bowels omitted on this disgraceful occasion. Still later, a Father Attwood was sentenced, but reprieved and taken off the hurdle. Father Atkinson, a Franciscan friar, died a prisoner in Hurst çastle, in 1729.
men from worshipping according to their creed were not the essence of persecution.
The martyr to whom I have alluded was the Reverend John Kemble, who, according to the diary of Douay College, was ordained a priest in February, 1625 ; and in the June following was sent upon the English mission; after which, his usual residence was in the diocess of his native county of Hereford. He officiated as a priest for fifty-four years. In the fifty-fifth year after his ordination, and in the eightieth of his age, he was apprehended, and executed on the 2d of August, 1679.
A Mr. Jaby, who claims relationship with Mr. Charles Kemble, about two years ago addressed to that gentleman a letter, which is now before me ; in which he says, that their ances: tral relation, the above priest, was compelled to walk from Lon. don to Hereford at the age of eighty, and that he was there burnt upon
the stones. The manner of death here ascribed to him is, however, a mistake; Mr. Jaby indeed contradicts it himself, by immediately adding, that the same Captain Kemble, the martyr's nephew who behaved so gallantly at Worcester, preserved one of his uncle's hands, which is kept to this day in the Worcester Catholic chapel. It would certainly tell more martyrologically that the old gentleman had suffered by fire, and at this moment it would make no difference to him; but, in point of fact, no part of him was burnt, except his heart. and bowels, after he was hanged, and when it is to be hoped he was insensible. Mr. Jaby says, in the same letter, that his brother possesses a likeness of the martyr, painted in oil, while he was in prison. The old man's fortitude is still a traditional by-word in the place. On his way to execution, he smoked his pipe and conversed with his friends ; and in that county it was long usual to call the last pipe that was smoked in a social company, a Kemble's pipe. I have heard that John Kembte and Mrs. Siddons once paid a visit together to the martyr's tomb; though I know not at what time they made the pilgrimage.
One would have gone far for a sight of their countenances on the spot.
The poor old man was apprehended at Pembridge castle, in the parish of Witchcastle, in Herefordshire, by a Captain Scudamore, of Kentchurch. He was apprized of his pursuers, but refused to abscond, saying, that in the course of nature he must die ere long, and that it would be better for him to die for his religion. He was committed to Hereford jail, but was cruelly and unnecessarily ordered up to London, on pretence
of implication in Titus Oatès's plot; and from thence sent back again to take his trial at Hereford. He was put on horseback for the journey, but his infirmities permitting him only to ride sideways, he was compelled to perform the greater part of it on foot. After his return to Hereford jail he was frequently visited by Captain Scudamore's children, whom he treated to whatever dainties were sent to him by his friends; and when asked why he so petted his captor's children, he said, it was because their father was his best friend. He suffered on the field of Wigmarsh, close by Hereford. His last words from the cart were as follows : “ It will be expected I should say something ; but, as I am an old man, it cannot be much. I have no concern in the plot, neither indeed do I believe that there is any. Oates and Bedloe, not being able to charge me with any thing when I was brought up to London, makes it evident that I die only for professing the old Roman Catholic religion, which was the religion that first made this kingdom Christian ; and whoever intends to be saved must die in that religion. I beg of all whom I have offended, either by thought, word, or deed, to forgive me, as I do heartily forgive all that have been instrumental or desirous of my death.” He then turned to the executioner, and said, “ Honest friend Anthony, do thine office; thou wilt do me a greater kindness than discourtesy.” After his death, Captain Kemble begged off his body, and buried it in the churchyard of Welsh Newton.
Mr. Roger Kemble being, like his ancestors, a Catholic, while his wife was a Protestant, it was arranged that their sons should be bred in the Catholic faith, and the daughters in that of their mother. Some of their children died in infancy, but
* LIST OF THE KEMBLE FAMILY. Roger KEMBLE, born in the city SARAH WARD, born at Clonmell, of Hereford, March 1, 1721. Died in Ireland, September 2, 1735. 1802.
Married R. Kemble, at Cirencester, 1753. Died 1806.
THEIR CHILDREN WERE, 1. SARAH KEUBLE (Mrs. Biddons), born at Brecon, July 5, 1755. Died in London, June 8, 1831.
2. Joan Philip Kembla, born at Prescott, in Lancashire, February 1, 1757. Died at Lausanne, 1823.
3. STEPHEN KEMBLE, born at Rington, in Herefordshire, May 2, 1758. Died 1822.
4. FRANCES KEMBLE, born at Hereford, December 28, 1759. Died at Bath, in 1812.
5. ELIZABETH KUMBLE, born at Warrington, Lancashire, April 2, 1761. Alive in 1834.
three sons and five daughters arrived at adult years. Johm Philip Kemble, the eldest son, was born more than a year after Mrs. Siddons, and proved ultimately the greatest actor of his time on the English stage.
Roger Kemble always declared it to be his wish that his children should not follow his own vocation, and he gave the male part of them, at least, an education that might have made them independent of the stage. The sons were successively sent to the Catholic seminary at Douay, a school at that time inferior to none in Europe in discipline and tuition. They proved both of them aceomplished men, whose acquirements did credit to their seminary.
I have not a doubt that Mr. and Mrs. Roger Kemble were anxious to prevent their children from becoming actors, and that they sought out other means of providing for them; but they made this attempt too late, that is, after their offspring had been accustomed to theatrical joyousness. For parents who are players themselves, it is hardly possible to keep their children from following the same life. The conversationsthe readings-the books of the family--the learning of parts the rehearsals at home—the gayety diffused by the getting-up of comie characters before they are acted, and the imposing dignity of tragic characters--the company-every
thing, indeed, which the children of play-acting parents hear and see, has o tendency to make them more prone to the stage than to any other such plodding and drudging occupations as the most of them would be otherwise destined to pursue.
Stephen Kemble accordingly, when put an apprentice to an apothecary, soon grew weary of the pestle and mortar, and attached himself to an itinerant company. He afterward migrated to Dublin, where his brother John was beginning to establish his fame. Harris, the manager of Covent Garden, anxious to be beforehand with Drury Lane, secretly despatched
6. MARY KEMBLE, born at Stratford-on-Avon, 1763. Died very young. 7. ANNE KIMBLE, born at Worcester, April, 1764. Alive in 1834.
8. CATHERINE KEMBLE, born at Hereford, July 4, 1765. Died very young
9. LUCY KEMBLE, born at Worcester, July 28, 1767. Died young.
10. Henry KEMBLE, born at Leominster, December 29, 1773. Died young.
11. CHARLES KIABLE, born at Brecon, South Wales, November, 1775. Alive in 1834.
12. JANE KEMBLE, born at Warwick, September 30, 1777. Died very young.