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an agent thither to bring over the great Kemble. The mes. senger, mistaking the large for the great brother, unfortunately engaged the former ; and Stephen made his first appearance at Covent Garden, as Othello, in 1785. In the bills announcing that debut, Stephen was called Mr. Kemble. Whether or not the Covent Garden managers had already discovered their mistake, but wished to save other people from the pain of sharing it, certain it is that they got ample credit for an attempt to mystify the public, though the debutante's appearance, if not a triumph, was at least not a complete failure.* This mistake of the managers produced many comic remarks, that would have been of great detriment to the tragic laurels of my friend Stephen, if his talents in the graver drama had been greater than they
But though he was not the worst of tragedians, his forte was in comedy. He became afterward a member of the Haymarket theatre, where he played Sir Christopher Curry, in “ Incle and Yarico,” with great applause; but he relinquished London, in consequence of becoming manager at Edinburgh. There he had a long contest with Mrs. Ésten, the mistress of the Duke of Hamilton, an actress of considerable celebrity, who laid claims to the management of the same theatre. She dropped them, however, for a stipulated sum. Some years afterward, Mr. Stephen Kemble removed from Edinburgh, to conduct the theatre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne ; but he acted occasionally both in London and on the Scottish stage, and his Falstaff always drew full houses. I have seen him often act in Edinburgh in my boyish days, and if it was the prepossession of youth and strong personal friendship to believe him an unparalleled comedian, I would go a great way to enjoy the same illusion again. Joy comes to my heart at the recollection of his Falstaff and Village Lawyer; and the memory of the man who was pleasantness personified touches me with still deeper feelings. His accomplished daughter married the grandson of Sir Richard Arkwright. She is the authoress of many charming musical compositions.
Frances Kemble, the sister of Mrs. Siddons next in age to
* In the Morning Herald of September, 1788, I find the following friendly notice :
“ The Siddons and the Kemble were seated over the stage-box on Wednesday evening, the 24th, to see their brother Stephen Kemble's first appearance. Nature, whose effusions have in public secured to the former a universal admiration, operated very powerfully and frequently on this occasion. The tears of sensibility stole down her cheek, and with a sister's sympathy, spoke all the brother felt.”
herself, married Francis Twiss, Esq., who is known to the public chiefly by an “Index to Shakspeare,” on the plan of the Indexes in the Usum Delphini editions of the Classics, a very useful work. Their surviving son, Mr. Horace Twiss, was lately member of parliament for Wootton Basset, and under-secretary of state for the Home Department.
Mrs. Siddons's next sister, Elizabeth, I am happy to say, is still alive ; and to those who knew the great actress, she offers a striking and pleasing resemblance of her. She has a full share of the noble air and elocution of her departed sister, and more varied and amusing powers of conversation. Miss Elizabeth Kemble acted for some time at Drury Lane, till she married Charles Edward Whitelock, who was manager of the Theatre Royal at Newcastle-upon-'Tyne. He was a descendant of the great lawyer Whitelock, and was godson to the prince commonly called the Pretender. For this Jacobitical god-name, imposed upon him by others at his baptism, it is difficult to imagine any one less responsible than the bearer himself; and we should scarcely expect him to have been exposed to reproach for it at the end of the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, the celebrated Cooke, at that time an actor in Mr. Whitelock's troop, charged him with it at a public dinner that was given to the manager at Newcastle, and declared that it was impossible for the hearer of such a god-name to be a loyal subject. The company, however, took a different view of the matter, and showed his drunken accuser out of the
Mrs. Whitelock accompanied her husband in a professional expedition to America, where she acted for many years with eminent success, and realized a fortune ; her popularity on the other side of the Atlantic having fairly supported a family resemblance to that of her sister at home. She played principally at Charleston and Philadelphia, and frequently before General Washington. That great man was by no means a stoic at the sight of tragedy; but he hated to be seen weeping, and always wiped the tears with his handkerchief hastily from his face. She had on one occasion other auditors who were no less disdainful of the melting mood than Washington, and who were themselves no uninteresting a spectacle while they sat as spectators. This was a group of Indians, who had come from their distant wildernesses to conclude
a treaty with the United States' government. They were accompanied by an interpreter, as none of them knew a word of English. They came to the theatre of Philadelphia on an appointed night, and
were received with vociferous cheering. They were tall, dark, gaunt figures, in their native costume. With steady, slow steps they entered the stage-box, and, without noticing the audience, or seeming to hear their claps of welcome, they seated themselves, with their eyes fixed on the stage, as if they had had but one head.' All the time of the principal piece they continued thus sitting like statues, with immoveable tranquillity. But in the after-piece, an artificial elephant was introduced ; and it so electrified the sons of the forest, that they all started up on a sudden with an earnest cry. Little suspecting that the imagined mammoth was a harmless structure of stieks, and clouts, and pasteboard, with four stupid men for its legs, they demanded, through their interpreter, where this quadruped had been found. There had been once, they said, a great beast like this in the land of the Red Men; but it had been slain, and they were fearful that the white men had brought a second mammoth over the Big Lake in order to eat the Indians. After some time, they were appeased by an assurance that the great beast was as harmless as a squirrel, and that they should see him to-morrow by daylight. Accordingly, they were taken behind the scenes next morning, and initiated in the mysteries of its construction. A European would have laughed at the discovery, but the Red Men maintained an imperturbable gravity. They could not leave the house, however, without asking the manager for a mighty favour-namely, that they might be allowed to approach the heavenly women who had appeared on the stage last night, and to salute them. When this was reported in the green-room, it spread dismay among the actresses ; but it was represented to them that there was a general wish among the Americans to conciliate the Indians, that the popularity of the company might be injured by offending the swarthy strangers, and that their request, after all, had been made in no immodest spirit, and might be complied with without the least degradation on the part of the ladies. Some of the heavenly women, therefore, allowed a kiss to their savage admirers, who took no further liberty. Mrs. Whitelock was about to go through the same ceremony, when a fit of shyness came over her, and she shrank from the salute of the chief who came up to her. But the most polished gentleman, she said, could not have behaved with more delicate courtesy than this blanketed Indian. He put his hand to his breast, bowed respectfully, and retired.
All the Indian diplomatists, however, were not endowed with the same polite gallantry. One day, Mrs. Whitelock observed one of them eying and following her at a distance in the streets of Philadelphia. Her house was situated out of the town, and she had to cross an unfrequented common before she could reach it. At the suburbs there were several negroes, who were selling fruit, and she offered a dollar to any one of them who would accompany her home, and protect her from the approaching Indian. But the blacks, who are free in that part of the States, only laughed at her distress ; so she had to post all alone over the common, like another Daphne, with her copper Apollo in interesting proximity behind her. At last, in a panting panic, she got home just in time to shut the gate in his face ; and before she had well recovered to tell the cause of her fright, the pursuer had disappeared. But the same evening, while Mr. Whitelock and she were at supper, a crash, like the stroke of a battering-ram, was heard at the gardengate. The Indian had burst it open by throwing a large stone against it, and her picturesque admirer was seen, by moonlight, deliberately walking up the avenue towards the house. Mr. Whitelock immediately took down a sabre and firearms, but he had no occasion to use them; for an athletic young Englishman, who lived in the house, rushed out, and repaid the intruder for his crash at the door by a stroke upon his jaw that was almost equally audible. The savage took his punishment very quietly, and, after one flooring, got up and walked back to Philadelphia.
To return to the immediate subject of these memoirs :--our great actress's birth-place was Brecon, or Brecknon, in South Wales. A friend has obligingly written to me as follows. respecting the house in which Mrs. Siddons was born : “It is a public-house in the high street of this town, which still retains its appellation, The Shoulder of Mutton,' though now entirely altered from its pristine appearance. I perfectly well remember seeing it stand, with its gable front, projecting upper floors, and a rich, well-fed shoulder of mutton painted over the door, offering an irresistible temptation to the sharpened appetites of the Welsh farmers who frequented the adjoining market-place ; especially as within-doors the same, or some similar object in a more substantial shape, was always, at the accustomed hour, seen roasting at the kitchen fire, on a spit turned by a dog in a wheel, the invariable mode in all Breconian kitchens. In addition to which noontide entertainment for country guests, there was abundance of Welsh ale of the rarest quality ; and, as the Shoulder of Mutton' was situated in the centre of Brecon, it was much resorted to by the neighbouring inhabitants of the borough. If I am rightly informed, old Kemble was neither an unwilling nor an unwelcome member of their jolly associations. Those who remember him tell me that he was a man of respectable family, and of some small hereditary property in Herefordshire; and that having married the daughter of a provincial manager, he received a company of strolling players for her dowry, and set up as a manager himself.”
Brecnoc, as far as I can learn, could never boast in modern times of having produced any other distinguished individuals than Mrs. Siddons and Charles Kemble; yet the place is not without its interesting historical, and even dramatic associations. It was the first ground in Wales on which the AngloNorman banner intruded ; and the gray moss-grown cairns upon its mountains are still the acknowledged resting-places of British warriors, whose memory is preserved in the songs of the ancient language of Britain. The last prince of Brecnoc, Bleddyn, who died fighting pro aris et focis against the AngloNormans, was the descendant of Sir Caradoch Bris Bras, one of the heroes of old French romance.
In the fifteenth century, the lordship of Brecon fell into the possession of the Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham, one of whom acts a conspicuous part in Shakspeare's - Richard the Third.”
With such contempt? _Made I him king for this ?
Act IV. Sc. 2.
It was in the castle of Brecnoc that Buckingham, in concert with Moreton, Bishop of Ely, plotted the rebellion in favour of Richmond.
And Buckingham, backed by the hardy Welshman,
Act IV. Sc. 3.
It appears, however, that Buckingham was no great favourite with the Breconians and other Welshmen; for, after having followed him to the banks of the Severn, they left him to be taken by the adherents of Richard, who beheaded him without