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Cambridge. His taking to the stage was occasioned by some youthful irregularities; but he maintained, throughout his theatrical career, the name of “ Gentleman Smith.” His first wife was. a sister of the Earl of Sandwich, first lord of the Admiralty ;-she lived but a short time, and he married again. On Mr. Smith's retiring from the stage, he went to live at Bury St. Edmund's, where he was universally respected, and his com
His manners were those of the polished gentleman : though educated in a certain school of acting, and living to a great age, Mr. S. was no bigot to his own times and manners, but he went up to London, at different periods, to witness the vaunted powers of Betty, and of Kean, and pronounced the latter superior to all former professors of the art. Mr. Smith never published or brought out any piece; but he had altered the “Two Noble Kinsmen" of Beaumont and Fletcher, and had begun an alteration of Shakspeare's Plays, omitting the exceptionable passages.
He died September, 1819, aged 89.
THE FIRST SUPPRESSED PLAY.
“The Game of Chess," by Thomas Middleton, has the merit of being one of the first, if not the very first play, that was suppressed by authority, for political reasons. The game was played, as we are told by Langbaine, between one of the church of England, and one of the church of Rome, in the presence of Ignatius Loyola. This account of it does not promise much amusement, yet a MS, note, taken by Capell from an old copy of the play, describes it as exceedingly popular. “After nine days," adds the writer, “ wherein I have heard the actors say, they took fifteen hundred pounds, (this is an incredible sum,) the Spanish faction got the play suppressed, and the author, Master Thomas Middleton, committed to prison, where he lay some time, and, at last, got out upon this petition to King James :
“ A harmless game, coined only for delight,
CALDERON DE LA BARCA.
CALDERON de la Barca, in one of his pieces, called “ La Scisma d'Anglaterra,” has taken the divorce of Henry VIII. as a subject, and, accord
ing to Davies, not ill sustained the characters of Henry, Wolsey, and Catherine. He paints the King as conscious of criminality, and Anne Boleyn as proud, insolent, ungrateful, and lascivi
By a fiction of his own, he causes her to intrigue with the French ambassador. The king, too, overheard their discourse, sent her to the Tower in a rage; and she being there beheaded, her dead body is afterwards brought upon the stage.
QUIN, AND MRS, BELLAMY. Quin, the player, who blended with his gluttony, and other sensual appetites, the virtues of generosity and kindness, gave Mrs. Bellamy a singular proof, that he could feel for others, and did not, as was thought by many, live for himself only. During the time that he had the chief management of Covent Garden Theatre, he revived Beaumont-and Fletcher's play of "the Maid's Tragedy,” in which he performed the character of Melanthes ;' Mrs. Pritchard, that of Evandra; and Mrs. Bellamy, that of Aspasia. One morning, after the rehearsal, he desired to speak with her, in the dressing room; she was not a little surprised at so unexpected an invitation; and was fearful she had offended a man whom
she esteemed and loved as a father. As soon, however, as she entered the room, her apprehensions were dissipated, for he cordially took her by the hand, and, with a smile, said to her, “ My dear girl! you are vastly followed, I hear: do not let the love of finery, or any other inducements, prevail upon you to commit an indiscretion. Men, in general, are rascals; you are young and engaging, and, therefore, ought to be doubly cautious. If you want any thing in my power, which money can purchase, come to me, and say, “ James Quin, give me such a thing ; and my purse shall be always at your service.”
This fact was related by Mrs. Bellamy herself.
MARMONTEL'S TRAGEDY OF
In this tragedy, which was much hissed, a mechanic had constructed an asp, so naturally, that it seemed perfectly alive; and as it approached the heroine, the eyes sparkled like fire, and it began to hiss. After the scene was over, one of the auditors asked a critic, who sat near him, how he liked the Play. “Why,'faith, (replied the other,) I am of the same opinion as the asp."
KEMBLE's ADHERENCE TO THE SCENE. Of all actors who loved to see things well done, or done in earnest, there were none more conspicuous fox this laudable partiality than the late John Kemble. One night, performing his favourite part of Penruddock in “ The Wheel of Fortune,” in one of the scenes he ought to have been shaken violently by the party representing the character he has wronged. This, on the night in question, was done so feebly, although the representative was an actor (Mr. Truman) who had been a plodder in the Covent Garden Company for many years, that, when the scene concluded, the Manager sent for him to his dressing room, and gave him the following sensible piece of advice.—“Mr. Truman, you did not shake me in that scene so roughly as I expected ; I fear, sir, you remembered at the time that I was Manager. Sir, when you are playing with me, you must forget that: the next time we play that scene together I hope, sir, you will use me roughly, pull me about violently, and tear my clothes : 'tis proper, sir, and keeps up the cuuning of the scene.'” It is almost needless to add, that Mr. Truman promised obedience, and left his Manager well satisfied.