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Much Ado about Nothing,
IN FIVE ACTS,
By W. SHAKSPEARE.
PRINTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE MANAGERS, FROM THE PROMPT BOOK.
NOTES, CRITICAL, AND EXPLANATORY.
AN AUTHENTIC DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME,
AS NOW PERFORMED AT THE
Embellished with a Wood Engraving, from an original Drawing made expressly for this Work, by Mr. I. R. CRUIKSHANK, and executed by Mr. WHITE.
A PORTRAIT OF MISS CHESTER.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY T. DOLBY, BRITANNIA PRESS, 17, CATHERINE-STREET, STRAND;
And Sold by all Booksellers.
MISS CHESTER, the fair original of the portrait we have the pleasure of sending forth with the present number of the BRITISH THEATRE, was born at Windsor, in 1799
She imbibed an early predilection for the stage from frequently attending the Windsor theatre, during the time Mr. Penley's company were performing there.
Her friends saw with regret this favourite and growing propensity, and used every means short of absolute force to repress it; but so firmly had the incipient passion taken root, that all attempts to check its growth proved ineffectual. For a time, it was thought, the ruling passion was on the wane; but, on the first visit she paid to a London theatre in 1819, the latent propensity rekindled, and her friends finding opposition useless, gave way to her entreaties, and sought an opportunity of putting her before the public. The first step was an interview with Mr. Elliston. That gentleman's reception of our heroine was far from encouraging; he did not, however, deny that which the ardent mind of his fair applicant had long dwelt upon, namely, the hope of future distinction. By the advice of Mr. Elliston, she resolved on a course of provincial practice, and to receive instruction from some professional gentleman, qualified to smooth down the rugged path of initiation. The gentleman selected for this purpose was Mr. Chapman, of the Theatre-Royal, Covent-Garden, and a more judicious choice could not have been made, as the event fully proved; for on Miss Chester's next introduction to Mr. Elliston, that gentleman declared himself so satisfied with the progress she had made, that he told her the doors of his theatre were open to her, to make her debut in any character she chose to select. She appeared on the boards of Drury, in the characters of Portia and of Desdemona. Her debut was successful, and such as procured her a regular engagement for the following season. Indisposition prevented Miss C. from fulfilling this engagement to the utmost, but she performed Portia, Desdemona, Lady
Teazle, Yarico, &c. &c. &c. Miss Chester felt that she had come somewhat prematurely before the public, and again resolved to go through the regular probationary drilling of a country theatre.
The manager of the York Theatre made her an offer, which she accepted, and went through the general routine of the best comic characters with distinguished and increasing applause.
Mr. Kemble saw Miss Chester at the York Theatre, and engaged her for the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, where she last season distinguished herself as one of the most fascinating and accomplished actresses of the present day.
Miss Chester is a young lady of fine figure, elegant deportment, and possesses a face formed to give and to enjoy good humour. When Miss Chester comes upon the stage, she always appears to us to do so in obedience to the call of Milton:
Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
For on her countenance appear to play
Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,
And love to live in dimples sleek.
All this appears to greater advantage, inasmuch as it is not put forth for the purpose of attraction, but appears rather to break forth as the playful emanations of the comic muse, in spite of the natural feminine timidity of the lady.
This young lady is peculiarly calculated for the character of, and such characters as, Beatrice, in Shakspeare's comedy of Much Ado about Nothing, which require, in the colloquial part, archness of look and playfulness of manner, at the same time that dignity and perfect good breeding mark their outline and direct their movements.