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follows : “ Mrs. Siddons not only is, but looks older than when she was last before us. But in this single observation every thing inauspicious to her efforts is included and exhausted.”
The same compliment was paid to her acting in London in 1816, when, at the command of the Princess Charlotte, she reappeared on the stage for a few nights. Her royal highness was unfortunately prevented by illness from enjoying the gratification which she had bespoken; but the general report of public opinion was, that Mrs. Siddons showed neither abatement of skill nor relaxation of spirit in her acting. *
As Miss Siddons grew up, and required to mix in the world, Mrs. Siddons found her abode at Westbourne rather too retired. She therefore gave it up; and in 1817 took the lease of a house, pleasantly situated, with an adjoining garden and small green, at the top of Upper Baker-street, on the right side
During the same year she did me the honour of dining wi my house, in Sydenham, and it was to me a memorable day, from the ludicrous, though happily temporary distress that attended it. Mrs. Siddons, much as she loved fame, detested being made a show of when she paid visits of mere personal friendship; and, when she promised to dine with Mrs. Campbell and myself, it was on a distinct understanding that she was to meet only our own family. I was particularly anxious to keep my word on this point, and forbore to invite any of my friends, much as many of them would have been gratified by seeing her. About noon there arrived two strangers, American gentlemen. One of them was the brother of Washington Irving, and they both brought me letters of introduction from Sir Walter Scott. I was very happy to see them, but felt no small alarm, when, from a servant having come into the room and babbled something about Mrs. Siddons and dinner, my American guests discovered what I wished them not to know. “Ha! Mrs. Sid. dons,” they exclaimed ; " then we will stop and dine with you also.”“Well, gentlemen,” I said, “ to-morrow or next day, or any other day in the year, I shall be delighted to receive you hospitably; but really Mrs. Siddons laid her commands upon me that she should meet no strangers, and I cannot invite you to stop.”—“Oh, but we can stop,” said they, " without invitation. You can get us out, to be sure, by calling in the constable, but, unless you force us away, we will have a sight of the Siddons.” And they kept their word. When her carriage approached the house, I went out to conduct her over a short pathway on the common, as well as to prepare her for a sight of the strangers. It was the only time, during a friendly acquaintance of so many years, that I ever saw a cloud upon her brow. She received my apology very coldly, and walked into my house with tragic dignity. At first she kept the gentlemen of the New World at a transatlantic distance; and they made the matter worse, as I thought, for a time, by the most extravagant flattery. But my Columbian friends had more address than I supposed, and they told her so many interesting anecdotes about their native stage, and the enthusiasm of their countrymen respecting herself, that she grew frank and agreeable, and shook hands with both of them at parting.
towards the Regent's Park. Here, as at Westbourne, she built an additional room for her modelling.
The last time that she appeared on any stage was in Lady Randolph, for the benefit of Charles Kemble, at Covent Garden, on the 9th of June, 1819. The part, I think, was injudiciously chosen: it is long and laborious, it brings the actress almost constantly before the audience, and is not, like Lady Macbeth or Queen Katharine, equally striking in every scene. Her action in the greater part of the play was thought to be somewhat redundant, and to want that grand repose for which she had been so celebrated. In many passages, however, she was still herself :particularly in the threatening injunction to Glenalvon to beware of injuring Young Norval, when she uttered the words
“ Thou look'st at me as if thou fain wouldst pry
Into my heart—'tis open as my speech ;"
and when she swept past him with an indignant wave of her arm.-She was also great in her final exit, when, exclaiming
« For such a son,
she rushed distractedly from the stage.
The audience showed their devotion for her : at the question of Young Norral
“But did my sire surpass the rest of men,
As thou excellest all of womankind ?"
they applied the words to Mrs. Siddons, by three rounds of applause.
In the July of 1819, his Royal Highness the Prince Regent gave a grand fancy-ball, respecting which Mrs. Siddons sent the following good-humoured note to her friend Mrs. Fitz Hugh:
July 12, 1819. " Well, my dear friend, though I am not of rank and condition to be myself at the prince's ball, my fine clothes, at any rate, will have that honour. Lady B. has borrowed my Lady Macbeth's finest banquet dress, and I wish her ladyship joy in wearing it, for I found the weight of it almost too much for en. durance for half an hour. How will she be able to carry it for such a length of time? But young and old, it seems, are expected to appear, upon that high solemnity,' in splendid and fanciful apparel, and many of these beauties will appear in my stage finery.
Lady C. at first intended to present herself (as she said very drolly) as a vestal virgin, but has now decided
the dress of a fair Circassian. I should like to see this gorgeous assembly, and I have some thoughts of walking in in the last dress of Lady Macbeth, and swear I came there in my sleep. But enough of this nonsense.
6 S. S.”
The departure of her brother John for Switzerland, the air of which country agreed much better than that of London with his declining health, was a severe privation to her, and she consoled her sisterly affection by going to visit him at Lausanne, in 1821. She found him living in a beautiful retirement, near the borders of the Leman Lake.
Miss Siddons writes from thence, in her mother's name, to her friend Mrs. Fitz Hugh.
“ Lausanne, July 13, 1821. 6 Here we are, without accident, seated in this most comfortable house (such another, I suppose, there is not in the canton), in the midst of this divine scenery. I do not yet think it real-no more, I believe, does my mother ; but she is well, and delighted to see her brother. Both he and Mrs. Kemble seem as perfectly happy as I ever saw two human beings. They received us most kindly. Their situation is a blessed
The house has been built only five years, and by a person who has been in England, and therefore has some faint notions of comfort. It overlooks the lake, and has fine views in every direction. My mother is dying to see Chamouny, but every one assures her it would be next to impossible for her, and that the fatigue would prevent her enjoying it. So I believe we are all to make a little tour to Berne.”
The expedition to Chamouny seems to have been given up, for Miss Siddons very soon afterward writes thus to Miss Wil. kinson : “ Our tour answered perfectly as far as it went.
The weather at first was beautiful, but it changed, and set in so determinedly for rain, that we cut it short, and came back four days sooner than we intended. It is quite useless to attempt describing the beauties of the scenery. My uncle says, that what we saw is far finer than the tour to Chamouny, which I think we shall not now see, nor much regret, having eaten of chamois, crossed a lake, mounted a glacier with two men cutting steps in the ice with a hatchet, and done most of the surprising things that travellers boast of. My mother bore all the fatigues much more wonderfully than any of us.”
'The widow of Garrick died in 1822, at a venerable age. She made the following bequest to the great actress, in a codicil to her will, dated August 15, 1822 :
I give to Mrs. Siddons a pair of gloves which were Shakspeare's, and were presented by one of his family to my late dear husband, during the jubilee at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Information of the above reached Mrs. Siddons, with this note from Mrs. Garrick's executors :
“ 5 Adelphi Terrace, Oct. 30, 1822. MADAM, “We beg leave to transmit to you the above extract from a codicil to Mrs. Garrick's will, and to acquaint you that we will have the honour of waiting on you, for the purpose of delivering the relic therein mentioned, whenever you may be so good as to inform us that it may be convenient to you to receive our visit. 66 We remain, with much respect,
"Madam, 6. Your most obedient humble servants, “ Thos. RACKET, G. F. BELTZ,
“P.S. We beg leave to mention, that on Saturday next we shall be absent from town, and that we shall leave town for a few days on Wednesday next.
" Mrs. Siddons.”
After this period, there was a sameness in Mrs. Siddons's life that furnishes little interesting matter for biography. She generally spent her winters, with the exception of the Christmas weeks, at her house in Baker-street, and gave frequent and large parties, at which, till a year or two before her death, she treated her friends to readings from Shakspeare. During