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OF

CHARLES MATHEWS.

I'd a nod from all quarters, was ever At Home.

False Alarms.
What shall we call thee, thou amusing elf,
Who hast a host of beings in thyself?
Who canst variety in all infuse,
And changest like th' expiring dolphin's hues,
Or skies in April ? Say,

what terms would be
Appropriate, thou world's epitome ?
Thou ambulating rainbow ! fitful Hope!
Thou earthly moon! thou live kaleidoscope!
Thou twenty voices ! antidote to woe!
Thou one plurality! thou single Co.!

HARRY SLOE VAN DYKE.

Though entering upon a new duty, we do not deem it requisite to take up the time of our readers with an introduction; hut, in the style of Mr. Mathews's own prologuc to his Youthful Days, we shall say—“ The Public, the pew Editor--the new Editor, the Public." Let our works speak for us hereafter, for we shall make no professions ; and thus, if we'fail to fulfil expectation, we shall at least not cause a wilful disappointment.

CHARLES Mathews is the second son of Mr. J. Mathews, many years a bookseller in the Strand, and made his first appearance at home, on the 28th June, 1776. His elder brother, Williain, and himself, were educated at Merchant-Tailors' School. The former, who was intended for the church, was sent to Pembroke College, and took the degree of Master of Arts. Having finished his studies, he changed his original intention, became a member of

Vol. V.-65.

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the Middle Temple, and was called to the bar. Induced by a prospect of great success in his profession, he went to the West Indies, in 1801, and fell a victim, at Tobago, to the fever peculiar to that climate; dying in four months after his arrival. Mr. MATHEWS's father died in 1804.

Our hero was bound apprentice to his father, but contrived, during his visits to an evening school for the purpose of acquiring the French language, to form au intimacy with Elliston; and as that gentleman, then a stagestruck youth, was getting up the tragedy of The Distrest. Mother, in a back room, on the first floor of a pastrycook's, in the Strand, our hero was easily prevailed on to enact Phenix, whilst his new friend strutted forth in the sandals of Pyrrhus. Mathews afterwards played the Chaplain, in The Orphan, and Lovel, in A Quarter of un Hour before Dinner, with some applause. It is said, but with what truth we know not, that, up to this period, MATHEWS had never seen a piece performed in public. When he had once broken the barrier of parental authority, he became enamoured of the theatre, and particularly partial to the acting of Parsous; and, in the year 1792, he is said to have played Oid Doiley, after the manner of that comedian.

In 1793, as an amateur, he appeared in Richmond and Bowkitt, at Richmond; which characters and Old Doiley he afterwards repeated at Canterbury, where, he says, he and Richard fought full five-and-twenty minutes.

A recommendation from Macklin is said to have obtained him an offer from Dublin. In his starting for which place, his father put twenty guineas into his hand, saying, “ He would give him the same sum, if ever he chose to come back and resume an honest livelihood.”

It is generally imagined that Mr. Mathews opened at

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Dublin, in Jacob Gawky and Lingo; but our notes on this subject state differently. He appeared in that city in June, 1794, and subsequently obtained the part of Lingo, at his own particular request, he having said, “That if he could have a part in which he could wear a wig, he would make his fortune.” Now, it is fitting that our readers should know, that a Mr. Cornelys, who, we think, was the original there, was considered by the Irish as the only Lingo, and that our hero accordingly met with considerable opposition, which so much exasperated him, that he actually threw his wig into the pit. Either in consequence of his failure, or of the exigent state of the theatre, Mr. Mathews did not retain any low comedy parts; but Beaufort (Citizen,) Paris, in Romeo and Juliet, and even Lamp, in Wild Oats, were assigned him. Though considered of little or no importance in the theatre, and of course very scantily remunerated, Mr. Mathews moved in very respectable society; and is said to have made friendships then, that have remained inviolate up to the present

period.

At the latter end of August, 1795, the Dublin theatre closed under disastrous circumstances, and our hero shortly after set sail for England, determining to return to the counter, and claim the before-mentioned paterval donation ; but the vessel being driven up the chavnel, he put in to Swansea, and made application for an opening part at the theatre. It was accorded to him, and he appeared as Lingo, in the month of October, in the land of St. David. He remained in this circuit (which comprised the towns of Caermarthen, Monmouth, Cardiff, Llandillo, and Swansea) three years, until Emery's engagement in London occasioned an hiatus in the York company, which our hero was called upon to fill. He opened at the city

of York, as Silky* (Road to Ruin,) and Lingo, on the 17th August, 1798. Mathews's interview with Tate Wilkinson, who declared, “ He never saw any one so thin, to be alive," (the “ living skeleton" had not exhibited then,) is fresh in the recollection of every one, from Mr. Mathews's own description. A little previous to his engagement at York, Mr. MATHEWs entered into an engagement of a more pleasing description, with a very accomplished lady, Miss E. K. Strong, of Exeter, to whom he was united, about the close of 1797. This lady was the authoress of a volume of poems, and two or three novels, which have been represented to us as possessing great merit. Mr. Mathews and his young wife enjoyed the greatest connubial felicity; he became rapidly a favourite at York, whilst his wife's connexions, and his education and conduct, secured him a reception into the best society. But death closed the scene of happiness, and Mr. Mathews had the melancholy task of laying a young wife in the grave, in less than five years after their union. She fell a victim to the English plague, (decline,) in May, 1802.

It will be remembered, that, in 1803, Mr. Colman determined upon having an independent company; and, in consequence, engaged our hero for the low comedy. He accordingly appeared as Jabal, in The Jew, (in conjunction with about five or six other first appearances,) and, according to custom, Lingo, on 16th May, 1803. His success was unequivocal; and his performance of Old Wiggins, the same season, stamped his fame with the town ; whilst his Risk, and other characters written expressly for him, kept him continually before the public.

It was a curious and gratifying fact, that Elliston and MATHEWS, who commenced their histrionic race in a pastry-cook's shop, in 1790, should, in 1803, reach the goal together, and be each in high repute in their respective lines of acting.

* Emery used to play old men, at York.

In the course of this year, Mr. Mathews led a second lady to the altar; Miss Jackson, half-sister to Miss Frances Maria Kelly, and an actress of very considerable talent, a sweet singer, and a pretty woman. Mrs. Mathews quitted the stage of the 15th September, 1810. She was the original Fanny, in Killing no Murder, and generally sustaived characters of this description.

In 1804, Mr. Mathews and his wife were engaged at Drury-lane theatre, (he opened, on the 18th September, as Don Manuel, She Would and She Would not ;) but here, singular to say, Mr. MATHEWS was by no means effective. He suffered so much from stage fright at this house, though he was the greatest favourite of the Haymarket, that he would willingly have thrown up his engagement; and, as Bannister and Dowton had possession of most of the parts to which he aspired, his situation was by no means pleasing.

From 1804 to 1809, Mr. MATHEws made no impression on the town, excepting during the summer season at the iittle theatre ; and there, the effect of Catch Him who Can, &c., was but transitory; but in the latter year, Killing no Murder was produced. The peculiar circumstances that attended this piece, and the inimitable acting of MATHEWS, gave both him and it an astonishing celebrity; but as he could not take the farce with him to Drury, he was there again condemned to the oblivion of indifferent parts.

Iņ 1809, when the conflagrators," as he termed them, were enacting at the Lyceum, his Cypher gave a fresh impetus to his notoriety; and his performance of this in

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