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bery itself, they felt very uneasy. As the magistrate, before whom they were to be brought for commitment, lived at a distance of fifteen miles, horses were ordered. Woolley rode behind Davis who resolved to accompany them; and Warren sat behind the constable while Biggs rode in great state by himself. Davis had formerly been an attorney in Dublin, knew something of the law, and could talk learnedly. When they arrived at the house of the magistrate, they were given to understand that his worship'was at that time engaged in the examination of some other culprits; and that they must wait, to have that honour in their proper turn. After dancing attendance for a considerable time, they were at length called in, when the magistrate demanded of Biggs what the nature of his charge against the prisoners was. And now their anxiety and apprehensions were wound up to a painful pitch, they expecting to have some very serious accusation preferred against them, one perhaps, from which they should never be able to extricate them. selves, without difficulty, when behold their honest accuser charged them with being journeymen tailors, whom he had hired to make clothes for him, and who had gone away from him, leaving their work unfinished. To this the magistrate answered that it was a business in which it was not competent to him to interfere; and that therefore he would not do any thing but dismiss the young men. On this Biggs flew into a great rage, and was so rude that the magistrate rebuked him, and bid him take care what he said or did. Then turning to Warren, he read him a long lecture, replete with good sense, and kindness, and strenuously advised him to return home to his friends and family, and mind his business. Being thus liberated from the fangs of that wolf Biggs, at least for this turn, Warren and his friend Woolley walked back together to Tracey.
(To be continued.)
MEMOIRS OF ROBERT WILLIAM ELLISTON. MR. ELLISTON was born in the parish of Bloomsbury, 1774. His father, a watchmaker of some eminence, resided for many years in Charles-street, Covent-garden; his late uncle was the Rev. Dr. Elliston,* the much esteemed master of Sidney College, Cambridge; who intended his nephew for the church, and placed him, when nine years old, at St. Paul's school. Having gained some applause in an English Thesist which he delivered in public in the year 1790, he imbibed an immediate inclination for the stage; and shortly after this effort, performed the part of Pierre, at the Lyceum in the Strand, then occasionally opened as a private theatre. Pursuits of this description naturally produced remonstrance, and finally anger, on the part of those who had pointed out a very different career. His fancy, however, soared beyond the reach of prudence, and he quitted school at the age of sixteen, without the knowledge of his friends; and resolving to try his success on the stage, he accompanied a friend to Bath, where he engaged himself as a clerk in a lottery office, and remained in that capacity a few weeks till he found an opportunity of making his theatrical essay, which was in the humble character of Tressel, in Richard III. Notwithstanding the success of his first efforts, it appears, that he was unfortunate in his desire of procuring an engagement, the company being full, and the manager of a provincial theatre frequently looking with a
* In consequence of the death of this gentleman, Mr. Elliston is said to have come into the possession of 15,0001. † The subject of this Thesis was,
“ Nemo confidat nimium secundis."
Colley Cibber, known only for some years by the name of Master Colley, made his first appearance in an inferior situation. After waiting impatiently for the prompter's notice, he by good fortune obtained the honour of carry. ing a message on the stage to one of the chief actors of that day, whom he greatly disconcerted. Betterton asked in some anger, who it was that had committed the blunder? Downs, the prompter, replied, “ Master Colley.”“ Then forfeit him," rejoined the other.--" Why, sir, he has no salary.". “No! then put him down ten shillings a week, and forfeit him five." To this good natured adjustment of rewards and punishments, Cibber owed the first money he took in the treasury office.
suspicious eye to the increased expenditure of twenty-five shillings
In consequence, however, of the recommendation of Mr. Wallis (father of the late amiable Miss Wallis, now Mrs. Campbell), he was engaged by Tate Wilkinson at York, where he experienced so much disappointment and vexation, as the principal characters were all in the possession of other performers, that he soon became weary of his condition, and wrote to his uncle a supplicating letter for pardon and indulgence. His application having had the desired effect, he returned to London, and through the medium of Professor Martyn (another of his uncles), and Dr. Farmer, he obtained an interview with the late George Steevens, Esq. the editor of Shakspeare, who introduced him to Mr. Kemble. This gentleman recommended him to study Romeo, against the opening of the present splendid building of Drury-lane; but his patience having been exhausted before the house could open, and his circumstances not being in the most affluent state, he applied to Mr. Dimond, the Bath manager, who was then performing at the Richmond theatre, by whom he was immediately engaged. On his return to Bath, in the year 1793, he made his appearance in the character of Romeo, and found his former efforts had not been forgotten. A number of trifling circumstances, such as the indisposition of performers, &c. afforded a favourable opportunity of calling into action a versatility of powers which was before unknown even to himself, and soon rendered him a distinguished favourite.
While in the plenitude of his great and almost unprecedented success, the majestic doors of the new theatre, Drury-lane, were opened. Professor Martyn applied for information as to the terms his nephew was likely to procure if he came to town; and was given to understand, that forty, fifty, or sixty shillings per week, on a three years' engagement, were as much as could be hazarded on the abilities of a mere novice. This offer was prudently rejected, and Elliston immediately closed with the proposals of the Bath managers, who were anxious to engage him for a certain term.
Among the most successful of Mr. Elliston's efforts may be reckoned his obtaining about this time the hand and heart of a most respectable public character at Bath (Miss Rundall), who was as celebrated for her beauty, as for her skill in unravelling the mysteries of the mazy dance. Mrs. Elliston, now the mother of five children, is elegant in her manners, enjoys the patronage
of persons of the first distinction, and at present takes the lead of all competitors in the school of Terpsichore. Thus fortunate in his choice, and happy in domestic life, it is more than probable, that he would have remained content with the laurels the inhabitants of Bath were daily intwining round his brow, had not a promise been given to Mr. Colman, to perform at his theatre; and before the expiration of his honeymoon, he accordingly ventured to tread the London boards, June the 24th, 1796, in the arduous character of Octavian, in the Mountaineers, and Vappr, in the farce of My Grandmother: in each of these parts his efforts were crowned with success. Having thus fulfilled the promise he had made, he was obliged to return to Bath, to close the theatrical campaign of 1796, according to the letter of his article with Mr. Dimond. But Mr. Colman, being aware of the value of Mr. Elliston's youthful energies, secured him for the remainder of the season. A powerful rea. son soon after evinced itself for the manager's attachment to this dramatic stripling. The failure of The Iron Chest, on its original representation at Drury-lane theatre, and the singular circumstances attending it, are fresh in the minds of the amateurs. Mr. Colman was doubtless eager to preserve his literary fame, and holding the powers of our young actor in no inconsiderable estimation, determined on risking the performance of that play at his own theatre; and Mr. Elliston assumed the part of Sir Edward Mortimer, to the entire satisfaction of the public and the author. * In the course of the same season he acquired considerable celebrity from his personification of Sheva, in The Jew. The growing reputation of this gentleman at length induced Mr. Harris, the manager of Coventgarden theatre, to engage him to play at stated intervals, an indulgence kindly granted by Messrs. Palmer and Dimond, with whom he had now renewed his articles for three years. The novelty of this undertaking occasioned considerable jealousy in the Green room, and obtained for him the facetious appellation of the “ Tele
, graph, or Fortnight Actor." His exertions in this way, however, did not answer the expectations of either party; and at his own earnest solicitation, Mr. Harris was induced to cancel the articles. During the following summer he resumed his situation at the Hay-market, with the same success as before, and then returned to Bath.
* That Mr. Colman was not only pleased, but delighted on this occasion, will be seen from the second edition of the Iron Chest.
On the secession of Mr. Dimond, Mr. Elliston obtained a large addition of characters, and from this period to the time of his leaving that city, he may be literally considered as the prop of the theatre.
At this period Mr. Colman selected a company of performers from different country theatres, and engaged Mr. Elliston for three years, as principal actor, and stage manager; but being wanted at the Haymarket so early as the 15th of May, and the Bath theatre not closing till July or August, he was obliged to purchase the indulgence by a renewal of articles at Bath.
Although in the course of the season no particular novelty offered itself, with the exception of Love Laughs at Locksmiths; yet it concluded successfully; the royal family, who, since a much regretted and melancholy event,* had but once visited the Little Theatre for several years, having honoured it with their successive weekly commands, from an interest they took in the success of Mr. Elliston.
The great variety of characterst into which the young manager had, from the nature of the undertaking, been obliged to throw himself, drew the attention of some of the winter proprietors; and pècuniary offers of no inconsiderable magnitude were proposed for his acceptance in the event of his joining the Drury-lane corps; but this point, however desirable to the gratification of his ambition, could not be brought about without the greatest inconvenience in respect to his other engagements. He would willingly have paid the forfeiture of 500l. by way of compensation to Messrs. Palmer and Dimond, but this was resisted and the completion of his term demanded. After some negotiation, however, it ended in a compromise of giving up one year of the engagement; thus leaving him at liberty to listen to other proposals at the conclusion of the
* In the year 1794, his majesty commanded a play at the Little Theatre, Haymarket, which drew a crowded audience to the house, and in endeavouring to obtain an early admission into the pit, a scuffle ensued in the entrance of the passage, which occasioned several persons to lose their footing on the steps to the pay-door. This produced the most dreadful confusion, and six or seven persons lost their lives.
† The following enumeration will illustrate the assertion: Sir Edward Mortimer, Walter, Octavian, Abednego, Sheva, Young Wilding, Doctor Pangloss, Captain Beldair, Henry V., Ben Block, &c. &c. VOL. III.