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“Shade of Vitruvius !" cries Mathews, “was degree of patronage accorded to her theatre durthis architecture?” And there was for him ob- ing her absence was more flattering to her vanity viously but one answer, to be returned sooner or than calculated to fill her treasury. This temlater.
porary drawback led to the managers taking a It was returned the sooner that financial dif- step, by way of recouping their losses, which ficulties had begun to gather round the elder plunged them into further difficulties, extending Mathews. Unfortunate speculations in which over all the rest of Mathews's managerial life. the old man had embarked, together with a They migrated from the Olympic to Covent Garcourse of bad seasons, had brought him to the den, a house with a bad name for tempting on verge of bankruptcy, and the younger Mathews and then wrecking theatrical argosies. They found the money question affecting him in new opened with “ Love's Labor's Lost," a play which shapes. It became necessary that he should at his company had never acted or seen acted, and once earn something more respectable than the which proved a complete failure. And now beforty pounds a year collected in "fees." The gan the struggle against pecuniary difficulty. stage, so long loved and coquetted with, was the 'Money had to be procured at all hazards, and most obvious resource, and after a short pre- by every means, to prop up the concern till this liminary campaign as joint manager of the Adel- new mine could be worked, and I was initiated phi with his father's old partner, Frederick Yates, for the first time in my life into all the mysteries he enrolled himself as a member of the Olympic of the money-lending art, and the concoction of Company under Madame Vestris, and made his those fatal instruments of destruction called bills first appearance as a recognized“ professional” of exchange. Duns, brokers, and sheriff's officers on the evening of the 6th of November, 1835. soon entered upon the scene, and I, who had It is to be remembered that he was now thirty- never known what pecuniary difficulty meant, two years of age.
and had never had a debt in my life before, was “I come now,” says Mathews, “to the sec- gradually drawn into the inextricable vortex of ond part of my career, and I must confess I feel involvement—a web which once thrown over a no small difficulty respecting it. I am aware man can seldom be thrown off again.” One of that it is delicate ground I am entering on, and the most interesting portions of these reminiswhether it can be made interesting or not is still cences—because the most real and unaffectedto be ascertained. The poetry of my life is over, consists of a record of the struggles of this unand I commence the prose; and, if I can not fortunate time, and the shifts and appliances to make it amusing, I will at least try and make it which Mathews had to have recourse. The folinstructive by offering an illustration of the old lowing account of an interview with a moneyquotation, 'Facilis descensus Averni,' and show- lender is only, Mathews declares, a fair sample ing how easy are the stages by which a man may of many others, and is in no respect over-coldescend from the airy empyrean of poetry, mu- ored : sic, and painting to the heavy slough of pounds,
Even the borrowing money at sixty per cent. is shillings, and pence.” How heavy this slough not so easy an operation as some people may think, proved, and for how long it was to be borne, is
not unattended with risk and worry, worse even shown by the ominous heading of chapter three than the frightful percentage. When not compelled of the second volume—“ Difficulties — 1835– to take a portion of it in wine or paving-stones, the 1858"—twenty-three years, that is to say, of in- getting the money when you want it is by no means cessant labor and struggle. The precise defects so simple. I remember after a week or two of very in Mathews's character or ability as an adminis- hot weather, and consequent empty benches, I had trator, which led to these difficulties, are not, of occasion to borrow a couple of hundred pounds to course, set forth in these volumes. Probably he patch up the Saturday's treasury. I applied to a was himself unaware of them, and in any case it professional discounter on the Wednesday, is not likely he would have discussed them with
"Ah, Mr. Mathews ! How d'ye do, Mr. Maththe public.
ews ? Glad to see you. Have a glass of sherry?" Theatrical management is one of the uncer
"No, thank you. I want a couple of hundred tain things of the world besides demanding a
pounds to-morrow." special aptitude on the part of those who embark Mathews. How long do you want it for? Have a
Certainly, Mr. Mathews ; with pleasure, Mr. in it. Mathews and his wife (for he married Ma
glass of sherry ?" dame Vestris in 1838) were certainly successful
“Say three months." at the outset, and this success may have en- “What security ?" couraged a policy of laisser-aller. They visited “None." America, leaving the Olympic to shift for itself, “Very good. I must have a warrant of attor. and Madame Vestris on her return was obliged ney." to admit, in addressing her audience, that the “Of course."
“All right, Mr. Mathews. Look in at twelve “Yes; but I only get seven pounds odd.” to-morrow and I'll have it ready. Do have a glass “Never mind-keeps all square. Now the hun. of sherry."
dred pounds. Here's a check of Gribble and Com. Without the slightest belief in any such prompti- pany on Lloyd's for twenty-five pounds ten shiltude, I looked in at twelve-one of his great points lings." being to have my carriage drive up to his door as Oh, what's the use of a check at this time of often as possible, that his neighbors might see his night?” importance.
“Good as the bank—same as money—you can "Well, Mr. Mathews, I find I can't manage the pay it as money. Fifty sovereigns makes seventytwo hundred pounds. I can only let you have one five pounds ten shillings, and a ten-pound note makes hundred and fifty. I had no idea I was so short at eighty-five pounds ten shillings. Stay, it ought to my banker's account actually overdrawn. But I've be ninety-five pounds ten shillings. Oh, here's angot a friend to do it for you—it's all the same.” other ten-pound note, I'd forgot. There you are, Sheridan's “ unconscionable dog" of a friend was ninety-five pounds ten shillings. Only wants four always sure to figure in. “He'll be here directly. pounds ten shillings to make up the hundred.—You Bless me! How long he is! Have a glass of sher. haven't got four pounds ten shillings about you, have ry? Are you going back to the theatre ? I'll bring you, Mr. Mathews, you could lend me till the mornhim with me in half an hour."
ing, just to get it straight, you know ?" The day passes, of course, and no sign of either “I believe I have. There are four sovereigns my friend or my friend's friend. This is Thursday, and ten shillings in silver,” On Friday the same scene.
“That's all right; four pounds makes ninety“ Didn't come till too late—but all right. You nine pounds ten shillings, and ten shillings-stop, don't want it till to-morrow, you know. What's let's count them-count after your own father, as the your treasury hour ?"
saying is—five and four's nine, and the three fourpen“Two."
ny pieces : all right. Stop, one's a threepenny. Got "Be here at twelve and it shall be ready." a penny? or a post-office stamp? Never mind, I
Saturday at twelve. “Here I am according to won't be hard upon you for the penny. appointment."
are, all comfortable. Good evening." “ All right, Mr. Mathews. Have a glass of sher- I paid away the check “as money." Two days ry? My nephew Dick has gone to the City for the afterward I got an indignant note to say the check check."
had been dishonored. In high dudgeon I sent for “But it is past one now."
my friend the discounter. To my surprise he ap“ You go on.
I'll be with you as the clock peared with the greatest alacrity. strikes two."
“Not paid ! Gribble's check not paid ! Some Two, three, four o'clock, and no signs of the mistake—it's as good as the bank. Here, give it money, the salaries remaining unpaid to the amount me. I'll get it for you in five minutes. How long promised. Then a note to say he will be with me shall you be here?” at six to the moment. At seven, just as I am going “ An hour." on the stage, in he comes breathless.
“ I'll be back in twenty minutes.” “Such a job Dick's had for you, Mr. Mathews ! Need I say that I never saw anything more of However, here I am with the money. My friend my friend or the check ? He had totally disapdisappointed me, but I managed without him. My peared, with the only proof against him safe in his nephew will read over the warrant of attorney."
pocket. “ But I'm just going on the stage; there's no time now."
The difficulties pursued him to the smaller “Won't take five minutes.—Dick, read the war. theatre, the Lyceum, which was his next venture; rant.--Now here is the money. Now, let's see— and in spite of his own unfailing popularity, both fifteen pounds left off the old account.”
as an actor and a man-in spite of such great “Oh, pray, don't deduct that now!”
hits as the “Game of Speculation,” and the fa“Better, Mr. Mathews, better-keeps all square, mous extravaganzas of M. Planché, with Mr. you know that fifteen pounds. Then the interest, Beverley's scenery—he never succeeded in getthree months, seventeen pounds ten shillings and fif- ting into smooth water. The Lyceum season of teen pounds—thirty-two pounds ten shillings. War- 1854-55 came to an untimely end in March, rant of attorney, seven pounds ten shillings-that's and, in a farewell address to the public, Charles forty pounds. Then my nephew's fee, one pound Mathews, announcing his inability to face any one shilling, and my trouble, say one pound-fortytwo pounds one shilling. Here's fifteen shillings longer the difficulties of his position, took leave -that's forty-two pounds sixteen shillings.—Dick, for ever of the cares of management. The meahave you got four shillings?"
sure of his distress was not, however, yet full. “I've got three shillings and sixpence." In the following year, while fulfilling an engage
“That will do. I've got sixpence—that's forty- ment at Preston, in Lancashire, he was arrested by three pounds; and seven pounds cash makes the a sheriff's officer on a debt of four hundred pounds. fifty pounds."
With curious malignity the creditor had instruct
ed the officer to make the arrest at the exact English “ Used up." Mathews's long tour in moment when the large audience had actually Australia and America-another series of sucassembled, and the curtain was waiting to rise. cesses—in 1870 and 1871, fills another interestThe account of the arrest, and the imprisonment ing chapter, and the concluding five years of his of Mathews in Lancaster Castle, is one of the life is the simple record of unvarying profesmost graphic passages in his autobiography, and sional success in all parts of his native country. shows the writer to have had literary gifts which Mathews had been from the first day he went on would have served him in excellent stead in other the stage the most hard-working of artists. It walks of life. For this we must be content to had always been his wish that he should die in refer the reader to the volumes themselves. harness, and the wish was granted. It was while
If this was the crowning disaster of Mathews's fulfilling an engagement in Lancashire that an life, it was also the final one. Once more freed, attack of bronchitis—he was now seventy-five and now wholly, from the burden of the past, and years of age-at last overcame the stubborn rehaving renounced management for ever, the re- sistance of a naturally splendid constitution. He mainder of his life is a continuous record of pro- died at Manchester on the 24th of June, 1878. fessional success, and the content that belongs to To the second volume Mr. Dickens has most easy circumstances. He had in the mean time judiciously appended a series of Mathews's most married again, and the new alliance was as help- characteristic speeches. He was an excellent ful to him, by his own cordial acknowledgment, speaker-bright, humorous, and effective. Perin the business part of his career, as in other haps the one that will be read with most pleasure ways. “With his second marriage Mathews and surprise is that delivered at a dinner given in brings his autobiography to an end, and there Montreal in celebration of the Walter Scott Cenare no signs among his papers of any intention tenary in 1871. Mathews was on his Australianof resuming it. Probably he felt that the story American tour just referred to, and was playing of the rest of his life at all events as to its pri- at Montreal at the time. It was remembered vate side-would have but little general interest. that when a boy he had enjoyed the personal The romance of youth and of adventure was friendship of Sir Walter, and he was accordingly finished. The interesting and curious train of invited to preside at the dinner, and propose the circumstances which gradually transformed the toast of the evening. He accomplished the task clever, versatile, eager young man into the ac- with admirable tact and skill. Every side of complished actor and the self-possessed man of Mathews's unique versatility comes out in it in the world, had been developed to its end. There turn. The enthusiasm for Scott as a writer which was no longer any excuse for associating Mathews he exhibits is unquestionably real, but he does himself with the Puffs, the Affable Hawks, or any not forget to bind up with it the element, perof the host of reckless characters he personated sonal to himself and to his fellow actors, of Scott's so admirably. Sir Charles Coldstream was un intimate love for the stage and all connected with homme range." So writes Mr. Dickens, and with it; and he found a happy climax to the speech chapter four of the second volume romance and in the circumstance that it was on an occasion of adventure are at an end. But the remainder of special interest to that profession that Scott first the volume is by no means without interest. It publicly divulged the authorship of the Waverley contains a record, peculiarly instructive at the novels. present moment, when the visit of the Comédie The incident just recorded seems to us to be Française is fresh in our memories, of the foolish connected, by no means remotely, with the higher and malignant opposition to the similar visit of qualities of Mathews as an actor, and the position a French company—the Théâtre Historique-in he occupied for so many years on the English 1848. The story was worth telling, if only to stage. That position was an exceptional one, remind us of the more cordial understanding be- and arose out of exceptional circumstances. The tween artists of different nations that thirty years short summary of his life just given may serve to have brought about. It has for its pleasant se- show that his actual advantages of mind and quel in Mr. Dickens's narrative the account of person, and his many and varied natural accomMathews's professional engagement in Paris in plishments, were not more remarkable than the the year 1863, when he appeared with undisputed preliminary training which he undesignedly resuccess at the Théâtre des Variétés, in a French ceived from the circumstances of his early manversion of Mr. Blanchard Jerrold's farce, “Cool hood. It must never be overlooked, in trying to as a Cucumber.” The triumph was so unequivo- estimate the groove within which his artistic cal that in the following year he made the still powers so easily learned to move, that Mathews bolder attempt of playing a character originally did not adopt the stage as a profession till he was created by a French comedian, Arnal, that of the over thirty years of age, a time when most actors hero of “ L'Homme blasé"—the original of the have been ten years in the arduous pursuit of its
earlier phases. He came to the profession, that But, again, he was popular as a man. is to say, without having served the usual ap- “difficulties” won him sympathy, and that pity prenticeship. For him there was no probation- which is akin to personal affection. It was known ary period of two years in the provinces at two for years that he was entangled in money trouguineas a week. But he had served another ap- bles, and all the time he was seen to be the most prenticeship of a most valuable kind. He had industrious of contributors to the public amusehad a gentleman's education ; he had mixed ment, acting often in two or three pieces the same with men of all classes, including the leading evening-acting audiences “in,” and acting them fashionable society of the day. He had been "out"-and with the most imperturbable good the favored friend and companion of aristo- humor and unfiagging spirit. Like Falstaff, “he cratic circles. His accomplishments had had turned diseases to commodity." His very cirfull play as an amateur. He could write, and cumstances were taken advantage of by cunning sing, and draw, and act better than most ama- play-writers and adapters to give a piquant inteurs. He had studied one art at least with zeal, terest to his representation of different characters if not with much chance of attaining ultimate upon the stage. The character of Mr. Affable excellence. It was natural therefore that after a Hawk in “The Game of Speculation"-one of few experiments he should settle down into that the finest of his impersonations—owed unquesline of character which circumstances had best tionably some of its attractiveness to the coinciprepared him for. His natural advantages were dences, actual or at least generally accepted, bequite remarkable. He had, in his prime, the tween the circumstances of the character and pleasantest face, the most agreeable voice, the those of its representative. Mathews himself most attractive figure, of any actor of his day. came to make humorous capital out of his own It was a distinct and undeniable pleasure even to embarrassments. When he addressed the aulook at Charles Mathews. And even before he dience at his farewell benefit, before leaving Engwas seen, when his voice was heard behind the land on his Australian tour, he called attention scenes rattling off some introductory phrases be- to the fact that the performance had been anfore entering on the stage, the spectator was nounced without the aid of any advertising ; not aware of an actual feeling of exhilaration. He was a single bill or placard had been employed. too much of an artist, and too well acquainted with “Now, this,” he said, “ladies and gentlemen, is the manners that please, to play at the audience. a step in the right direction. Time was when He never “mugged at the pit" as we once heard my bills were flying all over the town," and we him warn Whiskerandos against doing, in the well remember with what an instantaneous burst second act of “The Critic." But he had a way of appreciation the allusion was received by the of letting the audience “catch his eye" every entire house. Twenty years before this he was now and then, in a good-humored, apologetic making the same kind of allusion, and taking the sort of way that was irresistibly captivating. It public into the same kind of friendly confidence. was not strange that, being a delightful figure in In a letter to the newspapers (not reproduced in a drawing-room, he should prefer to remain such, Mr. Dickens's volumes), he once had to defend and to present for the rest of his life innumerable himself against a criticism that had been passed phases of the same thing. A disparaging remark on his spelling of the name “Methuselah” in of one of his Australian auditors is preserved for one of his own comedies, we believe “ The Ringus in the memoir. The critic, who had seen doves.” After gravely maintaining his position other performers in Mathews's favorite parts, did on philological grounds, he added words to this not at all take to the original representative when effect, “and I think my opinion on the point is he appeared. “He is not half as good as the entitled to some respect from the long and intiold man,” said this worthy citizen; "he does not mate connection I have had with the Jews.” act a bit. It is only like a gentleman walking There were times, however, when the flavor of about a drawing-room." This is in substance insolvency that had gathered about his name only a repetition of the famous criticism of Par- could not have been altogether pleasant to him. tridge upon Garrick's “Hamlet.” The perform- When he was returning to London after his week ance was so true to life, that the critic could in Lancaster Castle, he overheard a conversation not allow that it deserved the name of acting at between two passengers in the same carriage, all. The proper reply to the Melbourne gentle- who did not recognize their traveling companion. man's criticism would have been to ask him in “That is where Charley Mathews is confined,” turn whether he had ever in his life seen any said one of them, pointing to the castle-walls. other actor who did look like “a gentleman walk- “Really!" said a sympathizing lady; “poor feling about a drawing-room.” It was the rarity, low!" "Poor fellow!” rejoined the jolly genquite as much as the perfection, of this gift in tleman, with a gingerbread-nut in his mouth, Mathews which accounted for his popularity. “not at all. He revels in it. Lord bless you, he has been in every prison in England !” “I vents our instituting any comparison between need not say,” adds Mathews, who tells the Mathews and some renowned comedians of the story, “ that I did not immediately introduce my- present day upon the French stage, especially self.” There was thus a kind of foregone sym- that delightful artist, M. Delaunay, with whom pathy, not perhaps of the most elevating kind, we have lately been enabled to renew our acbetween Mathews and his public, and this must quaintance. In many natural gifts of face, figure, have contributed to the long and uninterrupted and the graces of movement, these two actors course of his popularity.
were well matched, but the points of likeness are There is still more to be said, however, on the soon exhausted. Of intensity, Charles Mathews side of his Australian critic. “Actor”—in the knew nothing : nor can it be fairly said that he sense of one who is able to merge his own indi- was a poetical actor in any real sense. If his viduality in very different types of existence acting was akin to any form of poetry, it was to Charles Mathews certainly was not. Within that which the French call “ vers de société"; their range his powers were consummate, but but even here we can hardly admit the comparithat range was, when all is said, exceedingly son, for at least since Praed and Thackeray have
It certainly was an extreme case of the written we can not think of this form of lyric triumph of "quality" over "amount.” He had, verse apart from tenderness and the charm of as Sarcey said of him when he played in Paris, sadness. "un naturel exquis, et une incroyable finesse,” But, after all, a great actor is to be judged and this carried him triumphantly through a long by his strong and not by his weak points, and series of characters for the most part identical in Mathews's contributions to the advance of his art their features. Mathews himself thoroughly un- are tangible enough. He owed it to his early derstood within what boundaries his capacity lay, training amid beautiful sights and sounds, amid and he was seldom tempted to stray beyond them. the landscapes of Italy and the undying forms of He certainly knew as well as his best critics in beauty which he went there to study, that he what qualities he was wholly deficient. “No was able to be the first to bring artistic considgood actor I have ever seen,” says Mr. G. H. erations to bear on the acting and the mounting Lewes," was so utterly powerless in the mani- of the modern drama. “When I first came upon festation of all the powerful emotions: rage, scorn, the stage,” he said in one of his many after-dinpathos, dignity, vindictiveness, tenderness, and ner speeches, “I found everything conventional. wild mirth are all beyond his means. He can not I don't presume to say that I reformed it, but in even laugh with animal heartiness. He sparkles, my own particular, limited line I, for the first he never explodes.” Many of these emotions, time, broke through the old conventionalities, we may add, if he did not possess the power of and have lived to see my example followed till expressing, were hardly necessary for any form they are all nearly, if not quite, exploded." It of high comedy; but some of them, notably should never be forgotten what Mathews accompathos and tenderness, were terribly conspicuous plished in the way of artistic innovation. In cosby their absence, and more than any other of tume, scenery, and general appointments, the Mathews's natural deficiencies served to keep his régime of Mathews and Madame Vestris at the range narrow. Pathos, in particular, he so little Olympic, Covent Garden, and the Lyceum was understood, that he evidently shrank from its memorable, although to Macready belongs the portrayal with something of pain. We remem- credit of earlier reforms in the same direction. ber, for example, his performance of the bachelor- To these two manager-actors we indeed owe it friend, the roaming man of the world who brings that the acted drama was first made a "thing of such disquiet to the old couple in their country beauty" in other respects than those of histrionic home, in “ A Cozy Couple,” the Lyceum version excellence, and in this change was involved more of Octave Feuillet's "Le Village.” As long as than that of the pleasure actually afforded to the he was chattering about the delightful indepen- audience. It enlarged the scope of the stage's dence of foreign travel, and rallying his friends sympathies. It brought into connection with it upon their Darby and Joan existence, he was the other arts, and with this brought artists of all excellent as usual; but when at the end he had kinds into a new relation with one another-a to relate how he was once laid by with fever, in relation fraught with advantage to all concerned. a lonely foreign village, and what different feel- Side by side with the present memoir of Charles ings coursed through his mind at that time, we Mathews should certainly be read by those who remember how he slurred over what might have would properly understand the advance of the been the most charming situation in the comedy, acted drama during the last forty years, the meleaving an impression of being utterly uncom- moir and journals of Macready. If only to the fortable, and thankful when the episode was at student of human nature, Macready's “confesan end. It is this defect in particular which pre- sions " are among the most profoundly interest