Old Woman's Gossip



March 8, 1831.}

I AM going to be very busy signing my name; my benefit is fixed for the 21st; I do not yet know what the play is to be. Our young, unsuccessful playwright, Mr. Wade, whom I like very much (he took his damnation as bravely as Capaneo), and Macdonald, the sculptor, dined with us on Sunday. On Monday I went to the library of the British Museum to consult Du Bellay’s history for my new version of the last scene of Francis I. I looked at some delightful books; and among others, a very old and fine MS. of the Roman de la Rose, beautifully illuminated; also all the armorial bearings, shields, banners, etc., of the barons of King John’s time, the barons of Runnymede and the Charter, most exquisitely and minutely copied from monuments, stained glass, brass effigies, etc.; it was a fine work, beautifully executed for the late king, George IV. I wish it had been executed for me. I did get A — to walk in the square with me once, but she likes it even less than I do; my intellectual conversation is no equivalent for the shop windows of Regent Street and the counters of the bazar, and she has gone out with my aunt every day since, " leaving the square to solitude and me; ” so I take my book with me (I can read walking at my quickest pace), and like to do so.

Cecilia is sitting to Clint for her portrait; she will make either a very fine or a disagreeable picture; unless the artist is a man of much refinement it will be the latter.

Tuesday evening I played Belvidera. I was quite nervous at acting it again after so long a period. After the play my father and I went to Lady Dacre’s and had a pleasant party enough. Mrs, Norton was there, more entertaining and blinding beautiful than ever. Henry desired me to give her his “ desperate love,” to which she replied by sending the poor youth her “ deadly scorn.” Lord Melbourne desired to be introducer! to me, and I think if he likes, he shall be the decrepit old nobleman you are so afraid of my marrying. I was charmed with his face, voice, and manner; we dine with him next Wednesday week, and I will write you word if the impression deepens.

My dear H —, only imagine my dismay: my father told me that after Easter I should have to play Lady Macbeth! It is no use thinking about it, for that only frightens me more; but, looking at it as calmly and reasonably as possible, surely it is too great an undertaking for so young a person as myself. Perhaps I may play it better than most girls of my age would; what will that amount to ? That towering, tremendous woman, what a trial of courage and composure for mo! If you were a good friend, now, you would come up to town “ for that occasion only,” and sustain me with your presence.

The beautiful Miss Bayley is at length married to William Ashley [the present Earl of Shaftesbury], and everybody is rejoicing with them or for them; it is pleasant to catch glimpses of fresh shade and flowers, as one goes along the dusty high-road of life.

I must now tell you what I am going to do, that you may know where to find me: to-morrow, I go to a private morning concert with my mother; in the evening, I act Beatrice, and after the play all sorts of people are coming here to supper. On Monday, I act Fazio; Wednesday, we dine at Lady Macdonald’s; Thursday, I act Mrs. Haller; and Saturday, Beatrice again. I have not an idea what will be done for my benefit; we are all devising and proposing. I myself want them to bring out Massinger’s Maid of Honor; I think it beautiful. Now, dear H—, I must leave off, and sign my tickets. We all send our loves to you; my mother tells me not to let you forget her; she says she is afraid you class her with Mrs. John Kemble. If ever there were two dissimilar human beings, it is those two. Ever your affectionate FANNY.


March 13, 1831. }

DEAR H—: I received your letter

yesterday, and must exult in my selfcommand, for Mrs. Jameson was with me, and I did not touch it till she was gone. Thank you first of all for Spenser; that is poetry! I was much benefited as well as delighted by it. Considering the power of poetry to raise one’s mind and soul into the noblest moods,

I do not think it is held in sufficient reverence nowadays; the bards of old were greater people in their society than our modern ones are; to be sure, modern poetry is not all of a purely elevating character, and poets are paid, besides being asked out to dinner, which the bards always were. I think the tone of a good deal of Campbell’s Pleasures of Hope very noble, and some of Mrs. Hemans’s things are very beautiful in sentiment as well as expression. But then, all that order of writing is so feeble compared with the poetry of our old masters, who do not so much appeal to our feelings as to our reason and imagination combined. I do not believe that to be sublime is in the power of a woman, any more than to be logical; and Mrs. Hemans, who is neither, writes charmingly, and one loves her as a Christian woman even more than one admires her as a writer.

You are quite right in saying I ought not to have been surprised at your tendency to receive gloomy impressions; but you know people who do not reflect are liable to be surprised very irrationally, because they are always considering effects, instead of causes. Your description of your visit to Kenilworth filled me with longing for the blue sky and the fresh air of the country, and your fellowship in that interesting place. I should like to be with you, both when you go abroad to gather matter for your “ wonderments,” and when you sit at home to give vent to them.

Yes, it is very charming that the dove, the favorite type of gentleness and tenderness and “ harmlessness,” should have such a swift and vigorous power of flight; suaviter — for liter, a good combination.

We are having the most tempestuous weather; A— is horribly frightened, and I am rather awed. I got the encyclopedia to-night to study the cause of the equinoctial gales, which I thought we should both be the better for knowing, but could find nothing about them; can you tell me of any book or treatise upon this subject?

My dear H—, shut your eyes while you read this, because if you don’t, they ’ll never shut again. Constance is what I am to play for my benefit. I am horribly frightened; it is a cruel weight to lay upon my shoulders; however, there is nothing for it but doing my best, and leaving the rest to fate. I almost think now I could do Lady Macbeth better. I am like poor little Arthur, who begged to have his tongue cut off rather than have his eyes put out; that last scene of Constance, —think what an actress one should be to do it justice! Pray for me.

And so the Poles are crushed! what a piteous horror! Will there never come a day of retribution for this!

Mrs. Jameson came and sat with me some time yesterday evening, and read me a good deal of her work on Shakespeare’s female characters; they are very pleasing sketches, — outlines, — but her criticism and analysis are rather graceful than profound or powerful. Tuesday next my mother and I spend the evening with her; Wednesday, we dine at Sir John Macdonald’s; Thursday, I act Mrs. Haller; Friday, we have an evening party at home; Saturday, I play Beatrice; Monday, Constance (come up for it!); Tuesday we dine with Lord Melbourne; and this is as much of the book of fate as is unrolled to me at present.

Mrs. Harry came here to-day; it is the first time I have seen her this month; she is looking wretchedly, and talks of returning to Edinburgh. My first feeling at hearing this was joy that I shall not go there and find the face and voice forever associated with Edinburgh in my heart away from it. But I am not really glad, for it is the failure of some plan of hers which obliges her to do this. I have the loves of all to give you, and they are all very troublesome, crying, “ Give mine separately,” “ Don't lump mine;” so please take them each separately and singly. I have been sobbing my heart out over Constance this morning, and aet Fazio to-night, which is hard work. Your affectionate F.


March 19th.}

DEAR H—: You ask if Mr. Trench’s account of their Spanish escapade is likely to soften my father’s view of the folly of the expedition. I think not, by any means, — as how should it? But the yesterday papers reported a successful attack upon Cadiz and the proclamation of Torrijos general-in-cliief by the Constitutionalists, who were rising all over the country. This has been again contradicted to-day, and may have been a mere stock-jobbing story, after all. If it be true, however, the results may be of serious importance to my brother. Should the Constitutionalists get the upper hand, his adherence to Torrijos may place him in a prominent position, I am afraid; perhaps, however, though success may not alter my father’s opinion of the original folly of John’s undertaking, it may in some measure reconcile him to it. I suppose it is not impossible now that John should become an officer in the Spanish army, and that after so many various and contradictory plans his career may finally he that of a soldier. How strange and sad it all seems to me, to be sure!

You sometimes express surprise at what seems to you a want of patriotism — love of my own country — in me; but I think you mistake my feeling about living out of England. Were I residing in some of the lovely nooks of this pretty little island of ours, with green turf and fine old trees instead of dusty pavements and sooty houses round me, I think I should not so often wish to go abroad; hut London is, alas, my England (I know very little else of my own country), and London is not lovable, and I am sorry to say I hate it. Moreover, please to consider it is not any foreign capital, city, or town that I desire to exchange for my own native smoke-begrimed metropolis. My dream of life abroad is in some valley in Switzerland, with thousands feet deep of water at my feet, and thousands feet high of snow above my head; or some ledge of ruin-crowned rock by the Rhine, or some vine-hung terrace over the Mediterranean. I have a great respect for England, and a high esteem for English people. I admire my own country and its institutions and its government, its vast power and resources; I love its noble spirit of enlightened progress; but I fancy I should like to live among simple people and in a society of less complicated civilization. I have no sympathy with the commercial element which preponderates in the character of my country people, and we are too prosaic and matter of fact to be attractive or pleasant to me. I am not at all jealous of your love for the hamadryads; you would never like an oak better than me, unless a “ talking oak,” and there are not many like the last since those of Dodona.

You say it’s a horrid thing one can’t “ try on one’s body ” and choose such a one as would suit one; but do you consider your body accidental, as it were, or do you really think we could do better for ourselves than has been done for us in this matter? After all, our souls get used to our bodies, and in some fashion alter and shape them to fit; then you know if we had different boies we should be different people and not our some selves at all; if I bad been tall, as I confess I in my heart of hearts wish I were, what another moral creature should I have been.

You urge me to work, dear H&emdash, and study my profession, and were I to say I hate it, you would retort, “ You do it, therefore take pains to do it well.” And so I do, as well as I can; I have been studying Constance with my father, and rubbed off some of the rough edges of it a little.

I am sorry to say I shall not have a good benefit; unluckily, the second reading of the Reform Bill comes on to-morrow (to-night, by the by, for it is Monday), and there will be as many people in the House of Commons as in my house, and many more in Parliament Street than in either; it is unfortunate for me, but cannot be helped. I was going to say, pray for me, but I forgot that you will not get this till “ it is bed-time, Hal, and all is well.” The publication of my play is not to take place till after this Reform fever has a little abated.

Dear H&emdash, this is Wednesday, the 23d; Monday and King John and my Constance are all over; but I am at this moment still so deaf with nervousness as not to hear the ticking of my watch when held to one of my ears; the other side of my head is not deaf any longer now ; but on Monday night I hardly heard one word I uttered through the whole play. It is rather hard that having endeavored (and Succeeded wonderfully, too) in possessing my soul in peace during that trial of my courage, my nervous system should give way in this fashion, I had a knife of pain sticking in my side all through the play and all day long, Monday; as I did not hear myself speak, I cannot tell you anything of my performance. My dress was of the finest pale-blue merino, all folds and drapery like my Grecian Daughter costume, with an immense crimson mantle hung on my shoulders which I could hardly carry. My headdress was exactly copied from one of my aunt’s, and you cannot imagine how curiously like her I looked. My mother says, “You have done it better than I believe any other girl of your age would do it.” But of course that is not a representation of Constance to satisfy her, or any one else, indeed. You know, dear H—, wliat my own feeling has been about this, and how utterly incapable I knew myself for such an undertaking; but you did not, nor could any one, know how dreadfully I suffered from the apprehension of failure which my reason told me was well founded. I assure you that when I came on the stage I felt like some hunted creature driven to bay; I was really half wild with terror; the play went off admirably, but I lay, when my part was over, for an hour on my dressing-room floor, with only strength enough left to cry. Your letter to A— revived me, and just brought me enough to life again to eat my supper, which I had not felt able to touch, in spite of my exhaustion and great need of it; when, however, I once began, my appetite justified the French proverb and took the turn of voracity, and I devoured like a Homeric hero. I promised to tell you something of our late dinner at Lord Melbourne’s, but have left myself neither space nor time. It was very pleasant, and I fell out of my love for our host (who, moreover, is absorbed by Mrs. Norton) and into another love with Lord O—, Lord T—’s son, who is one of the most beautiful creatures of the male sex I ever saw; unluckily, he does not fulfill the necessary conditions of your theory, and is neither as old nor as decrepit as you have settled the nobleman I am to marry is to be; so he won’t do.

We are going to a party at Devonshire House to-night. Here I am called away to receive some visitors. Pray write soon to your affectionate FANNY.

To-morrow I act Constance, and Saturday Isabella, which is all I know for the present of the future. I have just bought A— a beautiful guitar; I promised her one as soon as my play was out. My room is delicious with violets, and my new blue velvet gown heavenly in color and all other respects except the — well, unheavenly price Divy makes me pay for it.


April 2, 1831.}

DEAR H—: I am truly sorry for M—’s illness, just at the height of all her gay season gayeties too; it is too provoking to have one’s tackle out of order and lie on the beach with such a summer sea sparkling before one. I congratulate L— on her father’s relenting and canceling his edict against waltzing and galloping. And yet, I am always rather sorry when a determination of that sort, firmly expressed, is departed from. Of course our views and opinions, not being infallible, are liable to change, and may not unreasonably be altered or weakened by circumstances and the more enlightened convictions of improved powers and enlarged experience, but it is as well, therefore, for our own sakes, not to promulgate them as if they were Persian decrees. One can step gracefully down from a lesser height, where one would fall from a greater. But with young people generally, I think, to retreat from a position you have assumed is to run the risk of losing some of their consideration and respect; for they have neither consciousness of their own frailty, nor charity for the frailty of others, nor the wisdom to perceive that a resolution may be better broken than kept; and though perhaps themselves gaining some desired end by the yielding of their elders, I believe any indulgence so granted (that is, after being emphatically denied) never fails to leave on the youthful mind an impression of want of judgment or determination in those they have to do with.

We dine with the Fitzliughs on Tuesday week; I like Emily much, though she will talk of human souls as “ vile;” I gave her Channing to read, and she liked it very much, but said that his view of man’s nature was not that of a Christian; I think her contempt for it still less such. As we are immortal in spite of death, so I think we are wonderful in spite of our weakness, and admirable in spite of our imperfection, and capable of all good in spite of all our evil. My dearest H—, I write this on Good Friday, but it will reach you on a less holy day, and you will wonder when and where I took orders; but I am practicing that I may write Henry’s sermons for him; there is now some notion, as he has decidedly no vocation for the stage, of sending him to Oxford to study for the church! You will know what I feel about this; I can never endure that sacred calling being considered as a mere means of livelihood. A— once said she would cut him if he became an actor; and I would rather see him a respectablescavenger than such a clergyman as I fear ho would make.

A&emdash’s guitar is a beauty, and wears a broad blue scarf and has a sweet, low, soft voice. Mr. Pickersgill is going to paint my portrait; it is a present Major Dawkins makes my father and mother, but I do wish they would leave off trying to take my picture. My face is too bad for anything but nature, and never was intended for still life. The intention, however, is very kind, and the offer one that can scarcely be refused. I wish you would come and keep me awake through my sittings.

Our engagements — social and professional — are a dinner party at the Mayows to-morrow; an evening party on Monday; Tuesday, the opera; Wednesday I act Isabella; Thursday, a dinner at Mr. Harness’s; Friday I act Bianca; Saturday we have a dinner party at home; the Monday following I act Constance; Tuesday there is a dance at the Fitzhughs’; and sundry dissipations looming in the horizon.

Good-by, and God bless you, my dear H—. I look forward to our meeting at Ardgillan, three months hence, with delight, and am affectionately yours,

F. A. K.

A— and I begin our riding lessons on Wednesday next. We have got pretty dark-brown habits and red velvet waistcoats, and shall look like two nice little robin-redbreasts on horseback ; all I dread is that she may be frightened to death, which might militate against her enjoyment, perhaps.

What you say about my brother John is very true; and though my first care is for his life, my next is for his happiness, which I believe more likely to be secured by his remaining in the midst of action and excitement abroad, than in any steady pursuit at home. My benefit was not as good as it ought to have been; it was not sufficiently advertised, and it took place on the night of the reading of the Reform Bill, which circumstance was exceedingly injurious to it.

To-day is John’s birthday. I was in hopes it might not occur to my mother, but she alluded to it yesterday. I was looking at that little sketch of him in her room this morning, with a heavy heart. His lot seems now east indeed, and most strangely. I would give anything to see him and hear his voice again, but I fear to wish him back again amongst us. I am afraid that he would neither be happy himself, nor make others so.


It is a long time, dear H—, since I have written to you, and I feel it so with self-reproach. To-day, except paying a round of visits with my mother and acting this evening, I have nothing to prevent my talking with you in tolerable peace and quiet, — so here I am. You have no idea what a quantity of “ things to he done ” has been crowded into the last fortnight: studying Camiola, rehearsing for two hours and a half every other day, riding for two hours at a time, and sitting for my picture nearly as long, running from place to place about my dresses, and now having Lady Teazle and Mrs. Oakley to get up, immediately,— all this, with my nightly work or nightly gayeties, makes an amount of occupation of one sort and another that hardly leaves me time for thought.

You will he glad to hear that The Maid of Honor was entirely successful; that it will have a “ great run,” or bring much money to the theatre, I doubt. It is a cold play, according to the present taste of audiences, and there are undoubted defects in its construction which in the fastidious judgment of our critics weigh down its sterling beauties.

It has done me great service, and to you I may say that I think it the best thing I have acted. Indeed, I like my own performance of it so well (which you know does not often happen to me) that I beg you will make A— tell you something about it. I was beautifully dressed and looked very nice.

I am afraid my conversation with Arthur K—at our party last night was hardly long enough to have the effect you anticipated from it; for just as we were discoursing with much animation about dramatic costume, Mr. Milman came and sat down by me, whereupon, with becoming deference, the young military gentleman withdrew and delivered me over to the reverend poet, and our broken talk was not taken up again.

We have heard nothing of John for some time now, and my mother has ceased to express, if not to feel, anxiety about him, and seems tranquil at present; but after all she has suffered on his account, it is not, perhaps, surprising that she should subside into the calm of mere exhaustion from that cruel overexcitement.

Our appeal before the Lords, after having been put off once this week, will in consequence of the threatened dissolution of Parliament he deferred sine die, as the phrase is. Oh, what weary work this is for those who are tremblingly waiting for a result of vital importance to their whole fate and fortune! Thank Heaven, I am liberally endowed with youth’s peculiar power and privilege of disregarding future sorrow, and unless under the immediate pressure of calamity can keep the anticipation of it at bay. My journal has become a mere catalogue of the names of people I meet and places I go to. I have had no time latterly for anything but the briefest possible registry of my daily doings. Mrs. Harry Siddons has taken a lodging in this street, nearly opposite to us, so that I have the happiness of seeing her rather oftener than I have been able to do hitherto; the girls come over too, and as we have lately taken to acting charades and proverbs, we spend our evenings very pleasantly together.

We are going to get up a piece called Napoleon, I do not mean my cousins and ourselves, hut that prosperous establishment, Covent Garden Theatre. Think of Bonaparte being acted! It makes one grin and shudder.

I have been three or four times to Mr. Pickersgill, and generally sit two hours at a time to him. I dare say he will make a nice picture of me, but his anxiety that it should in no respect resemble Sir Thomas Lawrence’s drawing amuses me. I was in hopes that when I had done with him I should not have to sit to anybody for anything again. But I find I am to undergo that boredom for a bust by Mr. Turnerelli. I wish I could impress upon all my artist friends that my face; is an inimitable original which nature never intended should be copied. Pazienza! I must say, though, that I grudge the time thus spent. I want to get on with my play, but I ’m afraid for the next three weeks that will be hopeless.

To add to my occupations past, present, and to come, not having enough of acting with my professional duties in that line, I am going to take part in some private theatricals. Lord Kamis Leveson wants to get up his version of Victor Hugo’s Hernani, at Bridgewater House, and has begged me, as a favor, to act the heroine; all the rest are to be amateurs. I have consented to this, not knowing well how to refuse, yet for one or two reasons I almost think I had better not have done so. I expect to be excessively amused by it, but it will take up a terrible deal of my time, for I am sure they will need rehearsals without end. I do not know at all what our summer places are; but I believe we shall be acting in the provinces till September. when if all things are quiet in Paris my father proposes going over with me and one or two members of the Covent Garden company, and playing there for a month or so. I think I should like that. I fancy I should like acting to a French audience; they are people of great intellectual refinement and discrimination, and that is a pleasant quality in an audience. I think my father seems

inclined to take A— with us and leave

her there. A musical education can nowhere better be obtained, and under the care of Mrs. Foster, about whom I believe I wrote to you once a long letter, there could be no anxiety about her welfare.

I showed that part of your last letter which concerned my aunt Dall to herself, because I knew it would please her, and so it did; and she bids me tell you that she values your good-will and esteem extremely, and should do so still more if you did not misbestow so much of them on me.

Emily Fitzhugh sent me this morning a seal with a pretty device, in consequence of my saying that I thought it was pleasanter to lean upon one’s friends, morally, than to he leant upon by them, — an oak with ivy clinging to it and “ Chiedo sostegno ” for the motto. I do not think I shall use it to many people though.

To-morrow Sheridan Knowles dines with us, to read a new play he has written, in which I am to act. In the evening we go to Lady Cork’s, Sunday we have a dinner-party here, Monday I act Camiola, Tuesday we go to Mrs. Harry’s, Wednesday I act Camiola, and further I know not. Good-by, dear; ever yours, F. A. K.

The piece which I have referred to in this letter, calling itself Bonaparte, was a sensational melodrama upon the fate and fortunes of the great emperor, beginning with his first exploits as a young artillery officer, himself pointing and firing the cannon at Toulon, to the last dreary agony of the heart-broken exile of St. Helena. It was well put upon the stage, and presented a series of historical pictures of considerable interest and effect, not a little of which was due to the great resemblance of Mr. Warde, who filled the principal part, to the portraits of Napoleon. He had himself, I believe, been in the army, and left it under the influence of a passion for the stage, which his dramatic ability hardly justified; for though he was a very respectable actor he had no genius whatever, and never rose above irreproachable mediocrity. But his military training and his peculiar likeness to Bonaparte helped him to make his part in this piece very striking and effective, though it was in itself the merest peg to hang “ situations ” on.

I was at this lime sitting for my picture to Mr. Piekersgill, with whose portrait of my father in the part of Macbeth I have mentioned my mother’s comically expressed dissatisfaction. Our kind friend, Major Dawkins, wished to give my father and mother a good portrait of me, and suggested Mr. Pickersgill, a very eminent portrait - painter, as the artist who would he likely to execute it most satisfactorily. Mr. Pickersgill, himself, seemed very desirous to undertake it, and greatly as my sittings interfered with my leisure, of which I had but little, it was impossible under the circumstances that I should refuse, especially as he represented that if he succeeded, as he hoped to do, his painting me would be an advantage to him; portraits of public exhibitors being of course recognizable by the public, and, if good, serving the purpose of advertisements. Unluckily, Mrs. Jameson proposed accompanying me, in order to lighten by her very agreeable conversation the tedium of the process. Her intimate acquaintance with my face, with which Mr. Pickersgill was not familiar, and her own very considerable artistic knowledge and taste made her, however, less discreet in her comments and suggestions with regard to his operations than was altogether pleasant to him; and after exhibiting various symptoms of impatience, on one occasion he came so very near desiring her to mind her own business, that we broke off the sitting abruptly; and the offended painter adding, to my dismay, that it was quite evident he was not considered equal to the task he had undertaken, our whole attitude towards each other became so constrained, not to say disagreeable, that on taking my leave I declined returning any more, and what became of Mr. Pickersgill’s beginning of me I do not know. Perhaps he finished it by memory, and it is one of the various portraits of me, qui courent le monde, for some of which I never sat, which were taken either from the stage or were mere efforts of memory of the artists; one of which, a head of Beatrice, painted by my friend Mr. Sully, of Philadelphia, was engraved as a frontispiece to a small volume of poems I published there, and was one of the best likenesses ever taken of me.

The success of The Maid of Honor gave me great pleasure. The sterling merits of the play do not perhaps outweigh the one insuperable defect of the despicable character of the hero; one can hardly sympathize with Camiola’s devotion to such an idol, and his unworthiness not only lessens the interest of the piece, but detracts from the effect of her otherwise very noble character. The performance of the part always gave me great pleasure, and there was at once a resemblance to and difference from my favorite character, Portia, that made it a study of much interest to me. Both the women, young, beautiful, and of unusual intellectual and moral excellence, are left heiresses to enormous wealth, and are in exceptional positions of power and freedom in the disposal of it. Portia, however, is debarred by the peculiar nature of her father’s will from bestowing her person and fortune upon any one of her own choice; chance serves her to her wish (she was not born to be unhappy), and gives her to the man she loves, a handsome, extravagant young gentleman, who would certainly have been pronounced by all of us quite unworthy of her, until she proved him worthy by the very fact of her preference for him; while Camiola’s lover is separated from her by the double obstacle of his royal birth and religious vow.

The golden daughter of the splendid republic receives and dismisses princes and kings as her suitors, indifferent to any but their personal merits; we feel she is their equal in the lowest as their superior in the highest of their “ qualities; ” with Camiola it is impossible not to suspect that her lover’s rank must have had some share in the glamour he throws over her. In some Italian version of the story that I have read, Camiola is called the “ merchant’s daughter; ” and contrasting her bearing and demeanor with the easy courtesy and sweet, genial graciousness of Portia, we feel that she must have been of lower birth and breeding than the magnificent and charming Venetian. Portia is almost always in an attitude of (unconscious) condescension in her relations with all around her; Camiola, in one of self-assertion or selfdefense, There is an element of harshness, bordering upon coarseness, in the texture of her character, which in spite of her fine qualities makes itself unpleasantly felt, especially contrasted with that of Portia, to whom the idea of encountering insolence or insult must have been as impossible as to the French duchess, who, warned that if she went into the streets alone at night she would probably be insulted, replied with ineffable security and simplicity, “ Qui? moi! ” One can imagine the merchant’s daughter growing up to the possession of her great wealth, through the narrowing and, hardening influences of sordid circumstances and habits of careful calculation and rigid economy, thrifty, prudent, just, and eminently conscientious; of Portia one can only think as of a creature born in the very lap of luxury and nursed in the midst of sunny magnificence, whose very element was elegant opulence and refined Splendor, and by whose cradle Fortune herself stood godmother. She seems like a perfect rose, blooming in a precious vase of gold and gems and exquisite workmanship. Camiola’s contemptuous rebuff of her insolent courtier lover; her merciless ridicule of her fantastical, half-witted suitor; her bitter and harsh rebuke of Adorni when he draws his sword upon the man who had insulted her; above all, her hard and cold insensibility to his unbounded devotion, and the cruelty of making him the agent for the ransom of her lover from captivity (the selfishness of her passion inducing her to employ him because she knows how absolutely she may depend upon the unselfishness of his); and her final stern and peremptory claim of Bertrand’s promise, are all things that Portia could never have done. Portia is the Lady of Belmont, and Camiola is the merchant’s daughter, a very noble and magnanimous woman. In the munificent bestowal of their wealth, the one to ransom her husband’s friend from death, the other to redeem her own lover from captivity, the manner of the gift is strikingly characteristic of the two natures. When Portia, radiant with the joy of relieving Bassanio’s anguish, speaks of Antonio’s heavy ransom as the “ petty debt,” we feel sure that if it had been half the fortune it would have seemed to her an insignificant price to pay for her husband’s peace of mind. Camiola reads the price set upon her lover’s head, and with grave deliberation says, “ Half my estate, Adorni,” before she bids him begone and purchase at that cost the prince’s release from captivity. Moreover, in claiming her right of purchase over him, at the very moment of his union with another woman, she gives a character of barter or sale to the whole transaction, and appeals for justice as a defrauded creditor, insisting upon her “ money’s worth,” like Shylock himself, as if the love with which her heart is breaking had been a mere question of traffic between the heir of Sicily and the merchant’s daughter. In spite of all which she is a very fine creature, immeasurably superior to the despicable man who accepts her favors and betrays her love. It is worthy of note that Bassanio, who is clearly nothing else remarkable, is every inch a gentleman, and in that respect no unfit mate for Portia; while the Sicilian prince is a blackguard, utterly beneath Camiola in every particular but that of his birth,

I remember two ihings connected with my performance of Camiola which amused me a good deal at the time. In the last scene, when she proclaims her intention of taking the veil, Camiola makes lardy acknowledgment to Adorni for his lifelong constancy and love by leaving him a third of her estate, with the simple words, “ To thee, Adorni, for thy true and faithful service” (a characteristic proceeding on the part of the merchant’s daughter. Portia would have given him the ring from her finger, or the flower from her bosom, besides the fortune). I used to pause upon the last words, endeavoring to convey, if one look and tone might do it, all the regretful gratitude which ought to have filled her heart, while uttering with her farewell that first, last, and only recognition of his infinite devotion to her. One evening, when the audience were perfectly silent and one might have “ heard a pin drop,” as the saying is, as I spoke these words, a loud and enthusiastic exclamation of “ Beautiful!” uttered by a single voice resounded through the theatre, and was followed by such a burst of applause that I was startled and almost for a moment frightened by the sudden explosion of feeling, for which I was quite unprepared, and which I have never forgotten.

Another night, as I was leaving the stage, after the play, I met behind the scenes my dear friend Mr. Harness, with old Mr. Sotheby (Botherby, as Byron impertinently called him) ; both were very kind in their commendation of my performance, but the latter kept repeating with much emphasis, “ But how do you contrive to make yourself look so beautiful ?” a rather equivocal compliment, which had a peculiar significance; my beauty, or rather my lack of it, being a sore subject between us, as I had made it the reason for refusing to act Mary Stuart in his play of Darnley, assuring him I was too ugly to look the part properly; so upon this accusation of making myself " look beautiful,” I could only reply, with much laughing, “ Good-looking enough for Camiola, but not for Queen Mary.”

I received with great pleasure a congratulatory letter from Mrs. Jameson, which, in spite of my feeling her praise excessive, confirmed me in my opinion of the effect the piece ought to produce upon intelligent spectators. She had seen all the great dramatic performers of the Continental theatres, and had had many opportunities, both at home and abroad, of cultivating her taste and forming her judgment, and her opinion was, therefore, more valuable to me than much of the criticism and praise that I received.

The private theatricals at Bridgewater House were fruitful of serious consequences to me, and bestowed on me a lasting friendship and an ephemeral love: the one a source of much pleasure, the other of some pain. They entailed much intimate intercourse with Lord and Lady Kamis Leveson Gower, afterwards Egerton, and finally Earl and Countess of Ellesmere, who became kind and constant friends of mine. Victor Hugo’s play of Hernani, full of fine and striking things, as well as of exaggerations verging on the ludicrous, had been most admirably rendered into rhymed verse by Lord Ellesmere. His translations from the German and his English version of Faust, which was one of the first attempts to give a poetical rendering in our language of Goethe’s masterpiece, had won him some literary reputation, and his rhymed translation of Hernani was a performance calculated to add to it considerably. He was a very accomplished and charming person; good and amiable, clever, cultivated, and full of fine literary and artistic taste. He was singularly modest and shy, with a gentle diffidence of manner and sweet, melancholy expression in his handsome face that did no justice to a keen perception of humor and relish of fun, which nobody who did not know him intimately would have suspected him of.

Of Lady Ellesmere I have already said that she was a sort of idol of mine in my girlhood, when first I knew her, and to the end of her life continued to be an object of my affectionate admiration. She was excellently conscientious, true, and upright; of a direct and simple integrity of mind and character which her intercourse with the great world to which she belonged never impaired, and which made her singular and unpopular in the artificial society of English high fife. Her appearance always seemed to me strikingly indicative of her mind and character. The nobly delicate and classical outline of her face, her pure, transparent complexion, and her clear, fearless eyes were all outward and visible expressions of her peculiar qualities. Her beautifully shaped head and fine profile always reminded me of the Pallas Athene on some antique gem, and the riding cap with the visor, which she first made fashionable, increased the classical resemblance. She was curiously wanting in imagination, and I never heard anything more comically literal than her description of her own utter destitution of poetical taste. After challenging in vain her admiration for the great poets of our language, I quoted to her, not without misgiving, some charmingly graceful and tender lines, addressed to herself by her husband, and asked her if she did not like those: “ Oh, yes,” replied she, “ I think they are very nice, but you know I think they would be just as nice if they were not verses, and whenever I hear any poetry that I like at all, I always think how much better I should like it if it was prose; ” an explanation of her taste that irresistibly reminded me of the delightful Frenchman’s sentiment about spinach: " Je n’aime pas les épinards, et je suis si content que je ne les aime pas! parce que si je les aimais, j’en mangerais beaueoup, et je ne peux pas les souffrir.”

My intercourse with Lady Ellesmere, which had been a good deal interrupted during the years I passed out of England, was renewed the year before her death, when I visited her at Hatchford, where she was residing in her widowhood, and where I promised her when I left her I would return and stay with her again, but was never fortunate enough to do so, her death occurring not long afterwards.

During one of my last visits to Worsley Hall, Lord Ellesmere’s seat in Lancashire, Lady Ellesmere had taken me all over the beautiful church they were building near their house, which was to be his and her final resting - place. After her death I made a pilgrimage to it for her sake, and when the service was over and the young members of the family had left their place of worship near the grave of their parents, I went into the chapel, where a fine monument with his life-sized effigy in marble had been dedicated to him by her love, and where close beside it and below it lay the marble slab on which her name was inscribed.

Our performance at Bridgewater House was highly successful and created a great sensation, and we repeated it three times for the edification of the great gay world of London, sundry royal personages included. Two of our company, Mr. Craven and Mr. St. Aubin, were really good actors; the rest were of a tolerably decent inoffensiveness. Mrs. Bradshaw, the charming Maria Free of earlier days, accepted the few lines that had to be spoken by Donna Sol’s duenna, and delivered the epilogue, which besides being very graceful and playful contains some lines for which I felt grateful to Lord Ellesmere’s kindness, though he had certainly taken a poet’s full license of embellishing his subject in his laudatory reference to his Donna Sol.

The whole thing amused me very much, and mixed up, as it soon came to be for me, with an element of real and serious interest, kept up the atmosphere of nervous excitement in which I was plunged from morning till night.

The play which Sheridan Knowles came to read to us was The Hunchback. He had already produced several successful dramas, of which the most striking was Virginius, in which Mr. Macready performed the Roman father so finely. The play Knowles now read to us had been originally taken by him to Drury Lane in the hope and expectation that Kean would accept the principal man’s part of Master Walter. Various difficulties and disagreements arising, however, about the piece, the author brought it to my father; and great was my emotion and delight in hearing him read it. From the first moment i felt sure that it would succeed greatly, and that I should be able to do justice to the part of the heroine, and I was urgent with my father for its production. The verdict of the Green Room was not, however, nearly as favorable as I had expected; and I was surprised to find that when the piece was read to the assembled company it was received with considerable misgiving as to its chance of success.

Frances Anne Kemble.