DUBLIN: Printed by WILLIAM FOLDS, No. 38, Gt. Strand-street. 1794.


BEFORE we enter upon the immediate subject matter of the present volume, a few words seem necessary, partly by way of explanation, partly of apology.

The delay which has attended the pub­lication of it seems to suggest itself as the first subject of remark. For this, and in­deed, for most of the errors and imperfec­tions of the work, the author has but one excuse to offer: the unceasing bustle and distraction of an occupation, of which none but those who have experienced it, can form an adequate conception. It was his intention that the present volume should have immediately, or at least by a very short interval, followed the former. But [Page] the reason alledged has put it totally out of his power to accomplish it sooner than he has done.

The same excuse, he hopes, will be ex­tended to the many deficiencies under which he is conscious the work labours. Several circumstances concur to render the volume now submitted to public in­spection, of a nature more difficult and more delicate, than that of the preceding. The period which it comprises coming so much nearer to the present day, must of course involve events more within the re­collection of many persons living, and cir­cumstances in which their personal feel­ings may frequently be interested. In such a case, should any thing chance to have been misrepresented, he requests the error may be imputed to the single cause already alledged; want of sufficient leisure. He has endeavoured to be as accurate as pos­sible. If he has failed, it has been through ignorance, not intention.

[Page]With respect to the persons mentioned in the following pages, many of them are still living, many have their surviving friends. To the feelings of these several persons he hopes that nothing which is there related can give offence. In speak­ing both of characters and events, the at­tainment of truth has been his constant endeavour. In all cases, which would admit of the alternative, he has even lean­ed to the side of praise, rather than to that of censure.

Another objection which may probably be raised against the present volume, is that it is incomplete. The original propo­sals for the work, and even the title page itself, profess to come down to the end of the year 1788. The present volume closes with the year 1774. For this defi­ciency the nature of the subject must be the excuse. The nearer we approached to the time in which we live, the greater was the number of circumstances known, and necessary to be related.

[Page]The endeavour of the writer has been rather to compress than to diffuse facts. Yet even so, the period at first marked out was found to contain more than was expected, and more than would fall within the ordinary limits of a volume. The rea­son why the year 1774 in particular has been chosen for a termination, is that the season preceding had been remarkable both for its success and its excellence, and that the stage of Ireland had at that time at­tained a distinguished degree of eminence. For in the choice of a resting place, it is natural to fix on that which affords the fairest prospect. Whether the work shall be thought worthy of further continuance will be matter for public opinion.

Such as it is, the author submits the following volume to inspection. He is as conscious as any person can be, of its de­fects. But he is persuaded that it will meet with every candid indulgence.


  • CHAP. I. SITUATION of the two Theatres at the end of the year 1759.—Mr. Brown assumes the direction of Smock-alley.—The Crow-street Managers en­gage Mr. Mossop and Mr. Foote.—Are appointed deputy masters of the rebels.—List of their com­pany.—New performers.—Miss Rosco.—Miss Osborne.—Honoured by the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Dorset.—Mossop opens in Zanga —Barry in Orestes—Foote in Fondlewife.— Reception of Admiral Saunders at the Theatre.
  • CHAP. II. Smock-alley company delineated.—Mr. Brown, Ry­der, Stayley, Hurst, Heatton, Waker, Mrs. [Page] Ibbot, the two Miss Philips's, and Mrs. Abing­ton.—They open.—Mr. Wilkinson arrives—his success.—High Life below Stairs performed with great applause.
  • CHAP. III. Remarks on Theatrical oppositions.—Crow-street opens 24th October, 1760.—Woodward's prologue. —Death of King George the 2d and delay to the Theatres.—Smock-alley opens.—Weston's 1st ap­pearance.—Mr. Griffith's ditto.—Enumeration and comparison of the two companies.—The expence of them.—Performance of Venice Preserved at both houses, and comparison.—Hostile measures of each party, and their consequences.—The pieces brought out by each.—Indiscretion of Mr. Stayley.— Smock-alley closes 6th June 1761.—Crow-street 9th June.—Mr. Shuter's 1st appearance.
  • CHAP. IV. Dramatic portraits of Messrs. Barry, Mossop, Digges, and Woodward.—Their respective me­rits.—The several characters in which they ex­celled.—Respectability of the Irish stage.
  • [Page] CHAP. V. Barry and Woodward build a Theatre in Cork.— List of the Company.—Great successes.—Return to Dublin.—Both Theatres open.—Mrs. Abing­ton and Mrs. Fitzhenry enlist at Smock-alley.— Mrs. Baddely and Miss Elliot, at Crow-street.— Mr. Macklin, J. Barry, Stamper.—Burletta's at Smock-alley.—Midas at Crow-street.—Mrs. Pritchard engaged there.—Decline of Crow-street. —Disputes and separation of the Managers.—Mr. King at Smock-alley.—Close of the season.
  • CHAP. VI. Mr. Woodward returns to London.—Theatres de­cline.—Mrs. Abington engaged at Drury-lane.— Mrs. Burden, Mr. Foote, Mr. Atkins.—List of both companies.—King Arthur brought out at Crow-street.—Its success.—Music gets forward.— Oratorio's.—Latter season at Crow-street.—Mr. Shuter, Mr. Dyer, Mrs. Clive, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Luke Sparks, Mrs. Lessingham.—Love in a Village.—Mrs. Abington, Mr. Woodward, at Smock-alley.—Season closes at both houses.
  • [Page] CHAP. VII. Lord Lieutenant patronizes Crow-street.—Arrival of Mr. Sheridan.—Mrs. Fitzhenry goes over to Mr. Barry's standard.—Mr. Wilkinson.—Bur­letta at Crow-street.—Mr. Mossop engages Miss Catley.—Her great attraction.—Riot at Crow-street.—It's fatal consequences.—Franchises of Dublin.—Mr. Mossop obliges the several Corpora­tions at the Franchises.—The Lord Mayor be­speaks a Play.
  • CHAP. VIII. Mr. Mossop engages another Burletta Company.— List of the Performers at both Houses.—Mr. Collins's appearance.—Musical struggle at the rival Theatres.—Beggar's Opera at both.—Maid of the Mill.—Salisbury at Crow-street.—Ten­ducci's first appearance at Smock-alley.
  • CHAP. IX. Musical pieces continue to take the lead.—New performers.—Miss Ashmore first noticed.—Crow-street declines.—Dancing Dogs.—Catley's great reputation.—Success of Clandestine Marriage.— [Page] Death of Duval.—List of both companies.—Mr. Sheridan returns.—Receipts of his first four houses.—Miss Browne.—Mr. Jackson.—G. Alexander Steeven's Lectures.
  • CHAP. X. Mr. Barry obliged to relinquish the contest.—Ef­fects of it.—Mr. Mossop sole Manager.—Pur­chases both Theatres.—Opens in Crow-street, December, 1767.—Mr. Clinch's first appear­ance.—Miss Catley performs.—Mr. Brownlow Forde.—Mr. Sheridan, Mr. King, and Mrs. Abington, at the latter season, 1768.
  • CHAP. XI. Much novelty in the season 1768,9.—Two new Ladies in the Beggar's Opera.—Mr. Cornely's, Mr. Saunders. — Mr. Foote.—The Devil upon two Sticks.—Rope Dancers.—Their ill success.— Mr. and Mrs. Walker, Miss Grosse.—Failure of the Padlock.—Miss Catley revives it.—The School for Rakes.—Mr. Mossop visits Cork.
  • [Page] CHAP. XII. Mr. Mossop opens, September, 1769.—Indifferent success.—Miss Ashmore rising.—New performers. —Mossop plays alternately at each house.—Little Theatre in Capel-street opens.—The managers of it.—False delicacy.—The two companies compared. —Success of Capel-street house.—Lionel and Cla­rissa at both houses.—Close of the season.—Situa­tion of the parties.
  • CHAP. XIII. Next Season begins, November, 1770.—Mr. Dodd. —Miss Young, at Capel-street.—Mr. Macklin ditto.—Smock-alley opens under the Lord Mayor. —Mr. Ryder returns.—His merit.—West In­dian produced at Capel-street and at Smock-alley. —The Belcour of Messrs. Lewis and Mossop, contrasted.—Anecdote of Mr. Cumberland, and the West Indian at Cavan.
  • CHAP. XIV. Continuance of the season 1771.—Cymon exhibited at both theatres.—Mr. Dawson's excellent ge­neralship concerning it.—Brought out first at [Page] Capel-street.—The surprise occasioned by this.— Comparison of its performance at each house.— Success of Capel-street.—Mr. Mossop's embar­rassment.—His illness and benefit.—Is obliged to relinquish.—Capel-street managers take Crow-street, and perform there.—Mr. Isaac Sparks and son, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.—Mr. and Mrs. Barry at the latter season.—Closes Au­gust 3d, 1771.
  • CHAP. XV. Burletta's performed at Ranelagh Gardens.—Mr. Mossop's misfortunes.—Goes to London.—Is ar­rested there.—Another benefit for him at Smock-alley.—Theatres opens November 11th, 1771.— Mr. Lewis's rising fame.—Miss Ashmore's.— Success indifferent.—Mr. Whyte's young company.
  • CHAP. XVI. Mossop's misfortunes continue, another benefit for him at Smock-alley.—Declining state of the stage. —Mr. Cumberland's comedy of the Brothers, at both theatres.—The Grecian Daughter at both houses.—Mr. Wilkinson once more visits Ireland, his reception.—Mr. Macklin returns to England with Miss Leeson.
  • [Page] CHAP. XVII. Dramatic revolution.—Mr. Ryder commences Ma­nager of Smock-alley.—His motives—Opens with the Kind Impostor, and Virgin unmasked.—List of his company.—Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Mr. T. Jackson, Mr. Parker, Mr. Cartwright join him.—Mr. Dawson's exertions.—Announces Mr. Macklin and Miss Leeson, Mr. and Mrs. King from York—Mr. Wilks at Smock-alley.—Lionel and the Irish Widow, every Wednesday.—New pieces—She Stoop's to Conquer.—Mr. and Mrs. Melmoth's appearance.—He opens a theatre in Drogheda—Relinquishes the stage.—Lord Lieu­tenant visits Smock-alley.—Catley performs there. —Mr. and Mrs. Barry, and Mr. Aickin from Drury-lane.
  • CHAP. XVIII. Mr. Lewis engages at Covent-Garden.—Mr. Ryder opens without opposition.—She Stoops to Conquer, Lionel, and Irish Widow every week. —Mr. and Mrs. Miel, Mrs. Pinto appear at Smock-alley.—The comedy of the Macaroni per­formed.—Mr. Foote, Mrs. Jewell, Mrs. Wil­liams, [Page] Mr. Fleetwood, Mr. Sheridan, Mrs. Fitzhenry, at Smock-alley.—Mr. Dawson's ope­rations.—Opens Capel-street theatre.—List of the company.—Mr. and Mrs. Simpson.—Mr. Robin­son.—The Jubille at Capel-street.—School for Wives at both houses.—Desertion of Mr. Dawson's forces.—Consequent close of his season.
  • CHAP. XIX. Mr. Ryder's continued success.—The Deserter.— Rope Dancers.—Gentlemen performers.—Tony Lumkin in Town.—Cymon.—Mr. Waddy's ap­pearance.—Mr. Ryder exhibits a ridotto.—The plan of it.—Mr. Astley's exhibitions.—The Cor­sican Fairy appears on the stage.—The latter season.—Mr. and Mrs. Barry and Mr. Aickin. —Mr. Dodd and Mrs. Bulkely.—Mr. Smith and Mrs. Hartley.—Their different success.— Review of the season.—Conclusion.


Situation of the two Theatres at the end of the year 1759—Mr. Brown assumes the direction of Smock-Alley—The Crow-street Managers en­gage Mr. Mossop and Mr. Foote—Are appointed deputy masters of the revels—List of their com­pany—New performers—Miss Rosco—Miss Osborne—Honoured by the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Dorset—Mossop opens in Zanga— Barry in Orestes—Foote in Fondlewife—Reception of Admiral Saunders at the Theatre.

THE detail of events, with which the former volume of this work concluded, has brought us to the termination of the theatrical campaign in May 1759. We have been there presented [Page 2] with that variety of unexpected and of unhappy occurrences by which Mr. Sheridan, after the continued exertions of many successive years to sustain the dignity of the dramatic throne of this kingdom, was at once compelled to resign its septre, and to yield its empire to his more fortunate competitors. The period, therefore, which has been mentioned, saw Messrs. Barry and Woodward in unrivalled possession, exult­ing in the plenitude of their theatric power.

Flushed with this extraordinary success, and highly elate with their conquests, the joint managers of Crow-street, beheld, in imagination, their utmost wishes accomplished, and looked forward to a long series of years, in which they hoped to reap the harvest which smiled to them in prospect.

It might, indeed, have been reasonably ex­pected, that thus victorious, crowned with public favour, with so excellent a company as they then commanded, and with such brilliant future views, they had attained the summit of their desires, and that opposition, so completely foiled, must cease her fruitless efforts, and entirely leave the field to so powerful and re­sistless [Page 3] an enemy. Far different however were the consequences.

The distressed and shattered remains of the Smock-alley company were still to be provided for: But without a leader nothing could possibly be done. Various were the conferences held for the attainment of this object, innumerable were the projects formed, yet teeming with almost insurmountable difficulties. However live they must, and some measure must be adopted with speed: Every eye seemed turned upon Mr. Brown, as their last hope. Indeed, his known indolence of temper and extreme inat­tention to business, little qualified him for such a station as conductor of a Theatre; but his extraordinary abilities as an actor, the reputation he had so justly acquired with the town, joined to his knowledge of the stage, overbalanced these defects, and seemed, in some measure, to qua­lify him for this peculiarly arduous task. On his part, his fortunes were desperate. He had not any thing to lose, and might, if fortune smiled, reap some temporary advantage.

Desperate situations, require desperate exer­tions, and what, at one time, prudence would [Page 4] condemn, at others, necessity justifies and sanc­tions. No sooner therefore was this, almost hopeless, project formed, than it was instantly embraced. Almost every performer in the theatre enlisted under the banner of this new monarch, and promised their utmost assistance.

Mr. Brown then commenced his reign by entering into treaty with Mr. Sheridan, for the possession of the forlorn and deserted domains of Smock-alley, for the ensuing winter. Tho' there appeared so little prospect of success, yet, as there was no other resource, Mr. Sheridan was contented to resign to him his dominions, with their every remaining appendage, upon very moderate conditions.

The principal object being thus accomplish­ed, it was next resolved to spend the intervening time, previous to the winter season, at Cork and Limerick, where they might have leisure to meliorate their plan, and devise the best methods of carrying it into execution. Accordingly, the remainder of the company, except Mr. Digges, and Mrs. Ward, who returned to Edingburh, in in a short time after, repaired to Cork, where [Page 5] they continued to perform for several weeks, with tolerable success.

This unforeseen storm, however, did not dis­courage the Crow-street managers; the opposi­tion wore an aspect too feeble to create a seri­ous alarm. Yet, however they might despise the impotence of the attack, like prudent generals, they provided against the next campaign, with such foresight, as left very little hopes for the most sanguine friends of the opposite party. Immediately on the close of the season, Mr. Sowdon sailed for England and was quickly fol­lowed by Mr. Woodward and Mr. Barry, who hastened up to London, where they entered into treaty with every performer of eminence whom they had any chance of engaging.

Their company, in the mean time, repaired to their respective summer engagements, which chiefly lay at Chester, Manchester, Liverpool, and other principal tows contiguous to the Irish coasts; these performers were principally, Mr. and Mrs. Dancer, Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, Mr. Isaac Sparks, Mr. Carmi­chael, &c.

[Page 6]Mr. King, to the great regret of his numerous admirers in this kingdon, returned to London, where he made his first appearance at Drury-lane Theatre, in the October following, 1759, in Tom in the Conscious Lovers.

The new managers, on their arrival in London, found little difficulty in their applications. The names of Barry and Woodward had great weight in their negociations: success had established their characters, and fame, the sure attendant on victory, had prepared for them a most flatter­ing reception.

The only person, who could materially oppose them, was, Mr. Mossop. He had been now ab­sent upwards of two years from Ireland; his reputation, on leaving that kingdom, was equal to any actor's on the stage, and the estimation he at present stood in with the London audience added highly to his character. 'Twas no easy task to accommodate the business to his in­clinations, but he was too dangerous a rival to stand on punctilio with.

Fortunately, they found him in a mood not altogether friendly to Mr. Garrick, and, conse­quently, [Page 7] better disposed to listen to their propo­sals. Great and unrivalled as the Roscius was, yet was he not superior to the stings of envy. The rising fame of Mr. Mossop appeared to have excited in him some such sensation, and it was whilst under this impression, that the Crow-street managers addressed the former.

In an evil hour to himself did he yield to their solicitations, and they had the address quickly to settle every thing to his satisfaction. He made his own terms, and the parts in Tragedy were to be divided between him and Mr. Barry in a very judicious manner.

Thus did a little pique urge him to a step he had ever after reason to repent, and plunge him into difficulties, distress, and poverty, which ended but with his life: whereas, had he remain­ed at Drury-lane, there could not have been a doubt but his extraordinary merit would speedily have placed him above every competitor but Mr. Garrick, and crowned him with the fullness both of fortune and of fame.

This capital point gained, they next turned their thoughts towards Mr. Foote, whose great fashion and popularity pointed him out as a very [Page 8] proper auxiliary at the commencement of the ensuing season. They engaged him for a certain number of nights, during which he was to per­form those pieces of his own writing then in such reputation, and to bring out his Taste and Minor, neither of which had ever been exhibited in Ireland.

By the beginning of the following September the managers had nearly completed their recruit­ing business. Several other engagements, which the future pages will bring forward, were complet­ed, and on the 7th of the above month Mr. Wood­ward arrived in Dublin, with expectations, as sanguine, and as flattering, as the warmest fancy could suggest.

That those expectations were founded on rea­son and probability, will be seen by a slight re­view of their recommendations. Their company was perhaps the strongest, and best formed, of any hitherto beheld in Ireland. High in public favour, their credit established, a new theatre, an excellent wardrobe, they had every advantage which could be derived from a combination of circumstances so fortunate. To crown these, and give animation to the whole, they were in [Page 9] a very eminent degree possessed of every influence which the court could give. Robert Wood, Esq then master of the revels in this kingdom, ap­pointed Mr. Barry and Mr. Woodward his de­puties: by which act Crow-street became the theatre royal. Mr. Wood also conferred upon them the office of directors of his Majesty's band; a post indeed of more honour than profit: but their principal dependance lay on the new Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Dorset. He was re­markably popular, and his countenance must add uncommon weight to the party he espoused. In this respect they were not deceived. The Duke and Duchess of Dorset were peculiarly fond of the theatre, and honoured it with their presence once or twice every week during the season.

Thus powerfully prepared, they took the field early in the season. Mr. Barry remained in London, to finish his business there, and to wait the leisure of Mr. Mossop, who had agreed to accompany him on his return. Mr. Woodward, in the mean time, opened the theatre on Wednes­day, October 3d 1759, with a new occasional prologue in the character of Rumour, written purposely to defeat the opposition formed against [Page 10] them, and spoken by Mr. Woodward with great point and force. The play was the Comedy of

  • Mirabel by Mr. Dexter,
  • Fainall Mr. Sowdon,
  • Witwood Mr. Jefferson,
  • Petulant Mr. Whyte,
  • Waitwell Mr. Walker,
  • Sir Wilful Witwood Mr. Sparks.
  • Marwood Mrs. Kennedy,
  • Mrs. Fainall Mrs. Jefferson,
  • Lady Wishfort Mrs. Mynitt,
  • Mincing Mrs. Younger,
  • Millimant Mrs. Dancer.
With the Farce of THE MOCK DOCTOR.
  • Mock Doctor Mr. Sparks,
  • Dorcas Mrs. Pye.

The house was tolerably full, and both pieces received with applause.

[Page 11]But, as the above bill does not by any means convey to the public a just idea of the numbers or merits of the company, I shall, for their further information, subjoin the following list:

  • Mr. Barry,
  • Mr. Woodward,
  • Mr. Mossop,
  • Mr. Foote,
  • Mr. Dexter,
  • Mr. Sowdon,
  • Mr. Heaphy,
  • Mr. Sparks,
  • Mr. Vernon,
  • Mr. Jefferson,
  • Mr. Walker,
  • Mr. Glover,
  • Mr. R. Elrington,
  • Mr. Whyte,
  • Mr. Read,
  • Mr. Mynitt,
  • Mr. Younger,
  • Mr. Fisher,
  • Mr. Fisher, jun.
  • Mr. Hamilton,
  • Mr. Knipe,
  • Mr. Morris,
  • Mr. Hayes,
  • Mr. Corry,
  • Mr. Olivier,
  • Mr. Layfield,
  • Mr. Messink,
  • Mr. Aldridge,
  • Mr. Mahon,
  • Mr. Harvey,
  • Mr. Stageldoir,
  • Mr. Carmichael, Prompter.
  • Mrs. Dancer,
  • Mrs. Fitzhenry,
  • Mrs. Kennedy,
  • Miss Osborne,
  • Mrs. Knipe,
  • Mrs. Pye,
  • Mrs. Younger.
  • Mrs. Packenham,
  • [Page 12]Mrs. Jefferson,
  • Miss Mason,
  • Miss Rosco,
  • Mrs. Chambers,
  • Mrs. Walker,
  • Miss Whyte,
  • Mrs. Mynitt,
  • Signiora Coralina and her mother.

From the above statement I am led to make the following observations, though they are somewhat premature:—So heavy and numerous a company had never before been collected for Dublin; the consequences were obvious, the receipts of the theatre were not at that time nor, indeed, have they ever been since equal to the support of so enormous an expence. The weekly payments to performers alone, often amounted to upwards of 170l. exclusive of trades­mens bills, and servants salaries which many times were not less than 200l. more. The Theatre had not then, nor perhaps ever will, attain in this kingdom a degree of opulence sufficient to justify such expenditures; the public cannot in reason expect it; and the manager, who thus launches out into such extravagance, will too late feel the consequences of his imprudence. The present instance justifies these reflections. At the end of one of the most successful seasons ever then known, Mr. Barry and Mr. Woodward [Page 13] found themselves greatly deficient, a deficiency which every year increased, till in the end it involved them in total ruin.

But to return. Every thing seemed to wear a propitious aspect with the new Theatre-royal Crow street. The town was highly pleased with the house, company, and the performances. So many difficulties had Mr. Brown to struggle with that his most zealous partizans could en­tertain but little hopes of his being able to open Smock-alley. Almost every night produced some novelty at Crow-street, and the several exhibi­tions were in general well attended. A Signior Lucca Fabiano, a dancer, made his first appear­ance after the Beggars Opera, early in the sea­son: his abilities were of the moderate kind, and could not be put in competition with Mr. Ald­ridge, then beginning to be a great favourite, and who, in one particular stile of dancing, was superior to any man in Europe.

A few nights after two young ladies made their debut in the comedy of Love makes a man. A Miss Rosco in the part of Narcissa, and a Miss Osborne in that of Amanda, and both were received with a moderate share of applause. [Page 14] Miss Rosco was the daughter of an actor of that name, of some eminence in the theatic world. This young lady had many claims on the pub­lic. Her figure and features, tho' full, and rather masculine, were well adapted to the stage—she had spirit, and possessed pleasing musical powers. Her forte lay principally in lively comedy, and singing characters, such as Lucy in the Beggars Opera. She remained several years in this king­dom esteemed and respected; at length, being rather disgusted at the situation in which she was, she resolved to try another. Having received an excellent education, and being mistress of many elegant accomplishments, she quitted the stage, and returned to Bath, where she opened a board­ing school for young ladies, which she conducted with the highest reputation and greatest success. Miss Osborne was of a respectable English family; the misfortunes and death of her father, obliged her mother to retire with this, her only daughter to Dublin, where she lived with prudence and oeconomy. If fame is to be credited, the same chance which gave the abilities of Mrs. Oldfield to the world, discovered those of Miss Osborne. A gentleman of much theatrical know­ledge, by accident one day overheard her reading the play of Venice Preserved to her mother; [Page 15] struck with the propriety and elegance of her manner, he a few days, after mentioned this cir­cumstance to Mr. Barry, who was his particu­lar friend, in so warm a manner, that Mr. Barry, in consequence of his request, visited the young lady, and from a few specimens which he pre­vailed on her timidity to give, found his friend had not exagerated in his report of her abilities. The conclusion was, after some intreaty he pre­vailed on the mother to consent to Miss Osborne's going on the stage, where she remained many years, and though her talents were not of the first rate, yet she sustained many second parts in tragedy and comedy with reputation, whilst her character in private rendered her an orna­ment to her profession. In process of time we shall find this young lady married to Mr. W. Barry, treasurer.

To give every public sanction to the theatre, the Duke and Duchess of Dorset commanded a play so early in the season as Saturday October 13th 1759, when the comedy of the Stratagem was performed—in which Mr. Woodward played Scrub, Mr. Dexter Archer, and Mrs. Dancer Mrs. Sullen; with the ballad farce of the Contrivances, then in great estimation; Rove­well [Page 16] Mr. Vernon, and Arethusa, Mrs. Chambers. Every preparation was made to receive these illustrious guests, the house was uncommonly brilliant and crowded, and so highly pleased were their Graces with their entertainment, that every Saturday, and sometimes oftner, during the re­mainder of the season, did they honour the theatre with their presence.

Much about this time, a young Gentleman was announced for the character of Lord Townly, be­ing his first appearance on any stage. Curiosity prompted many to see this young adventurer, who on trial acquitted himself with great credit, and gave early promise of proving a powerful support to the drama. His next appearance was in George Barnwell, when he confirmed the fa­vourable hopes conceived of him.

The latter end of October Mr. Barry arrived with Mr. Mossop, whose appearance was imme­diately advertised for Wednesday the 31st, in his favourite character of Zanga, a part, in which he certainly outstript every competitor and truly merited the admiration of the dramatic world. At an early hour the house was filled, and the rei­terated plaudits which accompanied his entrance [Page 17] spoke the genuine feelings of the public at the re­turn of one of the brightest ornaments of the Irish stage, and at the same time convinced the mana­gers that they had procured a most valuable ac­quisition to their community.

But short are our views, and erroneous too often our best concerted projects, oft do we grasp with eagerness and avidity at objects which when attained, prove the source of endless evils! Even so was it in the present case. Could Mr. Barry and Mr. Woodward have foreseen but a part of the consequences which flowed from their engage­ment of Mr. Mossop, or the numberless train of calamities which for a succession of years they were to experience, they would have submitted to the greatest temporary loss or dissappointment, rather than invite over, a man who alone, in a very short time, was capable of disputing their title to the dramatic sovereingty of this kingdom.

Mr. Mossop's second character was Richard, his third Macbeth, in which Mrs. Fitzhenry made her first appearance that season. In a few days after, Measure for Measure, which was revived for the purpose, was brought forward and most capitally supported throughout, especially by Mr. [Page 18] Mossop in the Duke, Mr. Woodward in Lucio, and Mrs Fitzhenry in Isabella. The reputation this comedy then acquired, supported it for many years, and it was often repeated, even after several of its principal supporters were disu­nited.

Mr. Barry judiciously reserved himself till the season was somewhat more advanced, and the novelty of Mr. Mossop had, in some measure, subsided. On Saturday, November 17th he came out with the utmost force and eclat in Orestes, in the Distrest Mother; Pyrrhus, Mr. Sowdon; Andromache, Mrs. Dancer; and Her­mione, Mrs. Fitzhenry. The play was command­ed by the Lord Lieutenant. The characters were new dressed. No expence was spared, and every circumstance concurred to render the house uncommonly fashionable and brilliant.

Early in December Mr. Foote was brought forward in the comedy of the Old Batchelor, which was got up on purpose for his Fondlewife, after which was presented his farce of the Knights. Amidst such a group of capital objects, Mr. Foote had not much reason to boast of his attraction; however his engagement answered the manager's [Page 19] purpose: he played upon shares and filled up the vacant nights. In the course of a few weeks, he appeared in Sir Paul Plyant, Double Dealer, Shylock, besides often repeating his farces of the Knights, Taste, the Author, and the Englishman returned from Paris. His Minor, from which great expectations were formed, failed very much, and was not repeated. Its success afterwards in Lon­don gave it a currency, it otherwise never would have obtained.

Mr. Foote's benefit was on the 11th, of Febru­ary, soon after which he returned to England, not much pleased with his expedition either as to fame or profit. The latter did not by any means answer; and he had the mortification to leave his pupil, Mr. Wilkinson, at the other house in full possession of the town, and rising every day in the very line he so much excelled in, mimickry; even so much as to be acknowledged at least equal, if not superior, to his preceptor.

Much about this time, the comedy of the Lon­don Cuckolds was performed with such strength, as to render it popular enough to draw several houses. Thank heaven! the taste of the times has since undergone a material change. Were such a [Page 20] licentious piece to be now presented to the pub­lic, they would reject it with the indignation it so highly merits.

The stage should never be made the vehicle of immorality or vice; its interests should ever be subservient to the cause of religion and virtue. As long as this golden rule is observed, so long will the drama flourish, and be cherished by the wise and good.

Here I cannot help observing, that a just and refined taste in the public will ever have its due influence on the theatre. Was that taste more universal, the manager and actor from inclination and interest would more strictly conform to it— neither in such a case, would introduce or per­form what could not stand the test of truth and reason—such as the audience are—such always will be the actor.

A circumstance happened about this time which deserves notice. At this period the arms of Great Britain were uncommonly successful by sea and land in every quarter of the globe. Amongst her victorious sons, Admiral Saunders eminently distinguished himself; by accident the [Page 21] ship he commanded put into Cork where he land­ed and immediately proceeded to Dublin—on his arrival in the evening he found that the Lord Lieu­tenant, to whom he intended to pay his respects, was at the play with the Duchess, upon which he hastened to the theatre where he was introduc­ed to them—the moment the audience were in­formed who he was, they stood up and gave him three huzzas! and the managers, when the play was concluded sent on Mr. Vernon, drest in cha­racter, attended by every vocal performer in the house, to sing Rule Brittania; so unexpected a compliment produced an effect not to be dis­cribed. Every spectator joined in chorus, and the house resounded with acclamations.


Smock-alley Company delineated—Mr. Brown, Ry­der, Stayley, Hurst, Heatton, Waker, Mrs. Ibbot, the two Miss Philips's, and Mrs. Abing­ton—They open—Mr. Wilkinson arrives—his success—High life below Stairs performed with great applause.

BUT all this while, the reader may perhaps imagine, that I have entirely forgot the Smock-alley theatre—not so—innumerable were the dif­ficulties Mr. Brown, and the performers under his management, had to struggle with—poverty, want of numbers, want of credit, a deserted, ru­inous theatre contrasted to every advantage which power, success, strength of forces, universal favour, and full coffers could confer.

However, all that could be done by people in such circumstances was performed. Mr. Brown's abilities I have formerly mentioned. He had an ease, a manner, and address which few could ever attain. His Copper Captain was allowed to be superior to Woodward's—his Benedict at least [Page 23] equal—Mr. Ryder, whose merit, even at this early period, was universally acknowledged, proved of infinite service to the cause. As few ever deserv­ed public favour more, so have none enjoyed it longer than this excellent comedian. Mr. George Stayley, an actor of some ability and noticed as an author, joined the standard, Mr. Hurst, an actor of respectability and merit, Mr. Heatton, Mr. Waker, since well known to the Dublin audience, Mr. Johnston, Mr. Adcock, Mr. Mahon formed the principal part of the male performers.

The ladies were, Mrs. Ibbot, who though far from being a good figure, was an excellent actress, and a remarkably good speaker; she played many characters in tragedy much above mediocrity, but in Mrs. Heidelberg, Lady Wrangle, Mrs. Oakly, and parts in that line, she was superior to any I have ever seen. The two Miss Phillips's, Miss Willis, Mrs. Adcock, Mrs. Johnson, &c.

It is somewhat remarkable, that three sisters should have been equally smitten with a love for the drama, and have devoted their abilities to the service of the theatre. The three Miss Phillips's were of a genteel family in England, and had received a finished and accomplished education. [Page 24] While young, they went upon the stage, and sup­ported each of them a very principal and extended line of business, both in tragedy and comedy, for many years. The eldest died, unmarried, at York, where she had resided for some time, la­mented, and beloved. Of the other two, one was married to Mr. Usher: the other, became a Mrs. Frances, and, what has principally distinguished her, was mother to the now so celebrated Mrs. Jordan.

From circumstances the least expected, fre­quently arise events the most splendid. The disagreeable predicament in which Mr. Brown was placed, proved the means of introducing to the world, talents, which have since excited its constant admiration. I mean no less than those of the famous Mrs. Abington. This lady was at that time very young. We are told by Mr. Wil­kinson in his Memoirs, that "She had played a few parts at Bath, when Mr. Brown was mana­ger; also, at Richmond, and in a few chance plays, with Theophilus Cibber, in the Hay­market." And though she had at every opportuni­ty, given specimens of those comic powers, which were afterwards so amply displayed, yet it could scarcely have been supposed, that in so short a [Page 25] time, she would have been acknowledged the first comic actress on the stage.

Mrs. Abington had been at Drury Lane with Mr. Garrick: but judging from every appear­ance, that at that time, she could not have in London, so favourable a field for the display of her abilities as Dublin presented, she listened to the proposals of Mr. Brown, who was then in town on the recruiting service. He entertained the highest opinion of her merit, and promised her every leading character she could wish. His offers were accepted: accompanied by her hus­band, she embarked for Ireland, where she ar­rived early in December.

Mr. Brown, having used every exertion possible in London, returned to Dublin the latter end of November. Having repaired, and decorated Smock Alley, as far as his slender finances would admit, and made every necessary preparation, he opened on Friday, the 11th of December, 1759, with the comedy of the Stratagem, in which he performed Archer; Mr. Waker, Scrub, and Mrs. Abington, Mrs. Sullen; being her first appearance on the Irish stage. On this occasion, Mr. Brown spoke a prologue, written by himself, [Page 26] entreating the favour and protection of the town.

Every effort which could be used, was tried, to procure a respectable audience for the first night, and the curiosity generally prevalent on such oc­casions, induced many to visit their long-favoured scene of amusement. The company was alto­gether tolerably liked, and hope animated their endeavours. Their next essay was on the Wed­nesday following, when Mr. Brown appeared in his favourite Benedict, which with Mrs. Abington's Beatrice, were as truly capital pieces of acting, as ever were presented to the public.

As Mr. Brown was acknowledged to be equal to any comedian living in such characters—as Brass in the Confederacy, Bayes in the Rehear­sal, Ranger in the Suspicious Husband, Sir John Brute, Felix, Roebuck, Marplot, Dr. Wolf in the Non Juror, Don John in the Chances, Mon­sieur Le Medecin, Lord Chalkstone, Aspin, Abel Drugger; so did Mrs. Abington surpass the most sanguine expectations in Corinna, Clarinda, Flora and Violante, Lady Fanciful, Leanthe, Maria in the Non Juror, Second Constantia, Fine Lady in Lethe, &c. Each night she ap­peared, [Page 27] she added to her reputation, and before the season closed, notwithstanding every disad­vantage, and many there were, particularly that of not having received the London stamp of fa­shion and approbation, she was considered as one of the first and most promising actresses on the stage.

To this embarrassed state of the Smock Alley company, fortune raised an unexpected relief. This was the arrival of Mr. Wilkinson in Ire­land, and his almost immediate engagement with Mr. Brown. This gentleman in his memoirs, which contain an infinite deal of dramatic infor­mation, and are well worthy the perusal of every lover of the Theatre, relates the incidents of this campaign, with so much accuracy and fidelity, that he has left little for me to say.

I shall only therefore observe, that Mr. Wil­kinson was a very seasonable and necessary rein­forcement. He had great connections in Dublin, and general opinion gave him the preference to Mr. Foote. His terms were, shares above twenty pounds, and a clear benefit. The former proved of little emolument; the latter, highly produc­tive. He appeared on Friday, January 4th, [Page 28] 1760, after the comedy of Much ado about Nothing, in a piece of Mr Foote's, never at that time acted in Ireland, called the Diversions of the Morning. He was well supported, and re­ceived much applause. His imitation of his late friend Mr. Foote, was highly relished, and he re­peated it on the Monday following, after Browne's Shylock, and Mrs. Abington's Portia, to about forty pounds.

Mr. Wilkinson during his stay, repeatedly acted King Lear, Zampti in the Orphan of China, Mrs. Amlet in the Confederacy, Lord Chalk-stone and Cadwallader: Mrs. Abington Becky. His benefit was fixed for Friday, February 15th, Douglas, and for the first time in this kingdom, the farce of High Life below Stairs, when, not­withstanding a very deep snow storm, Measure for Measure performed at Crow Street, with Mossop, Woodward and Fitzhenry, with the pantomime of Fortunatus, which drew one hun­dred and twenty pounds, and a concert for the benefit of a Miss M'Neale, yet, so great was his interest, there was an overflow from every part, and the amount of the receipts was one hundred and seventy-two pounds, the greatest then said to have been ever known in that Theatre. A se­cond night was demanded for his outstanding [Page 29] tickets, and on Thursday, February 21st, to the Orphan of China and High Life, there was one hundred and fifty pounds. Mr. Wilkinson re­turned to London early in March 1750, much satisfied with his expedition.

And here I must notice, the extraordinary suc­cess of the farce of High Life below Stairs. It would exceed the limits prescribed to this work, to copy at full length, the circumstances attend­ing this piece, which Mr. Wilkinson so agreea­bly describes: suffice it to say, that this pleasing farce had escaped the notice of the Crow Street managers. In the multiplicity of their business, engrossed as they were, in the preparation of grand tragedies and pantomimes, they probably might not have thought it worthy of their atten­tion. Mr. Wilkinson luckily fixed upon it. He communicated his intentions to Mrs. Abington, who not only approved of his choice, but con­sented to play the part of Kitty. The piece had been brought out at Drury Lane, so early as the month of October, where it had met with the greatest success. They had both frequently seen it before they left London, and were therefore quite perfect in the stage business proper to it. It lay within the compass of the company; could be [Page 30] got up at very little expence, and no comparison could be drawn to their disadvantage.

Mr. Wilkinson tells us—‘Mr. Ryder's Sir Harry was a very excellent piece of acting, and helped the piece materially. A Mr. Gates, a very conceited actor, played Lord Duke. His faults and oddities served but to heighten the extra­vagance of the character. Mr. Heatton's Philip, was as well as such a part could be. He was a very good actor in all the dry clowns, Clod­poles, &c. Miss Philips (aunt to the present Mrs. Jordan) our heroine, who was also of a conceited-turn, though sensible and well edu­cated, made the part of Lady Bab better than any other actress I ever saw attempt it; myself from observation and youth must have been stupid, not to have made a very good Jemmy, the Country Boy, and, as the great personage always appears last in triumphal entries and processions; so in Mrs. Kitty, Mrs. Abington advanced. The whole circle were in surprise and rapture, each asking the other how such a treasure could have possibly been in Dublin, and almost in a state of obscurity; such a jewel was invaluable, and their own tastes and judg­ments they feared, would justly be called in question, if this daughter of Thalia was not [Page 31] immediately taken by the hand, and distin­guished as her certain and striking merit de­manded.’ To this I shall only add, that so successful were they in their representation of this farce, that it was repeated upwards of a do­zen times, during the remaining part of the sea­son.

Little more remains to be said of the Smock Alley company, for the present. Notwithstanding the great merit of the several performers I have mentioned, yet the contest was too unequal to be maintained with any degree of probable suc­cess. Mr. Brown varied the bill of fare as much as possible. He appeared alternately in Benedict, Richard, Captain Macheath, Copper Captain, Old Norval, Roman Father, &c. Though he displayed much merit in each, and was in several aided by the rising favourite Mrs. Abington; though Mr. Ryder was allowed to be a promising and favourite actor, though Mr. Hurst, Mr. Heatton, Mr. Stayley, Miss Philips, Mrs. Ibbot, and several others, had distinguished them­selves, yet still all was ineffectual. The re­ceipts in common were from 15 l. to 40 l. many had good benefits, particularly Mrs. Abington, who had got up the play of A New Way to Pay [Page 32] Old Debts, and who grew then so much the fashion, that her house was crowded and bril­liant.

Mr. Brown, at length, closed a disagreeable campaign, early in May 1760, heartily tired of his situation; his finances certainly could not be much more deranged than they were at the commencement, for he had nothing to lose at the beginning: it is true, there was an accumu­lation of debts, which perhaps, have never since been discharged, and the rest of the per­formers must have suffered materially in their circumstances.

I shall close for the present, my account of the Smock Alley Theatre, with the following bill of one of their best and most attracting comedies, which may afford some insight into the state of their performances.

By Permission of the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, at the Theatre in SMOCK-ALLEY. For the Benefit of Mr. SAMUEL JOHNSON, On Friday the 7th of March, 1760, will be presented a Comedy, called, The CHANCES. [Page 33] Don John, by Mr. BROWN, Don Frederick, by Mr. Mahon, Don Anthonio, by Mr. Johnson. Duke, by Mr. Adcock, Petruchio, by Mr. Stayley, Peter, by Mr. Mittier, Anthony, by Mr. Jones, First Constantia, by Miss PHILLIPS, Landlady, by Mrs. Adcock, Mother, by Mrs. Johnston, Second Constantia, by Mrs. ABINGTON. After the play, Bucks have at ye all, by Mr. VERNEL, (being his first appearance) To which will be added a Farce, called, The SHEEP SHEARER, Pan (with Songs in Character) by Mr. Mahon, Autolicus (the Pedlar) by Mr. Vernel, With entertainments of Dancing, as will be ex­pressed in the Bills for the Day.

Tickets to be had at the Fruit-shop, opposite the Hoop-petticoat, in Smock-alley, and of Mr. Johnson, at Mr. Nugents, Glass Ware House, in Copper-alley.

Places in the Boxes to be taken of Mr. Cullen, Linnen-draper, Bride-street. Boxes and Lettices, 5s. 5d. Pit, 3s. 3d. Gallery, 2s. 2d. Upper Gallery, 1s. 2d.

Printed by Augustus Long, in Essex-street.

[Page 34]Let us now return to the victorious party. Hitherto each event had answered to their utmost wish; the theatre was in the highest request, and well attended. Indeed, in justice to the managers, it must be observed, that they were truly deserving of public favour. They spared neither pains nor expence, in preparing their pieces for representation; on the contrary, their profusion was their only fault. They launched into expences, which the receipts of a Dublin theatre have hitherto never been able to repay; expences which, in the end, must, even with the greatest success, involve every manager who adopts them, in inevitable ruin.

The tragedies of Crow-street, were got up in a stile of superior splendour. The expence of the mere guards in Coriolanus, amounted to 3l. 10s. per night. The guards and chorus singers in Alexander, to 8l. The acting of the trage­dies was first rate. The force of the Two Heroes of the Buskin, was aided by the power­ful attractions of Mrs. Dancer and Mrs. Fitz­henry. A specimen or two will shew the strength of their representations, as Othello, Mr. Barry, Roderigo, Mr. Woodward, Cassio, Mr. Dexter, Brabantio, Mr. Walker, Iago, Mr. [Page 35] Mossop, Desdemona, Mrs. Dancer, and Emelia, Mrs. Fitzhenry. Venice Preserved; Pierre, Mr. Mossop, Jaffier, Mr. Barry, Belvidera, Mrs. Dancer. In Jane Shore, Hastings, Barry, Dumont, Mossop, Jane Shore, Dancer, Alicia, Fitzhenry. All for Love, Antony, Barry, Dolabella, Dexter, Ventidius, Mossop, Octavia, Dancer, Cleopatra, Fitzhenry. These with Mr. Woodward's excellent pantomimes, where neither pains or expence were spared, were de­serving of every favour and encouragement.

There never were, perhaps, two tragedians, of such uncommon excellence, whose abilities so well accorded, and whose respective lines of acting, so little interfered, as those of Barry and of Mossop. Nature had, indeed been pe­culiarly bountiful to both, and had gifted them with a liberal hand. But in the distribution of her favours, she would appear to have promoted union, by diversity. The talents of each, though great, were so distinct, their qualifications so opposed, as to preclude the probability of dis­putes arising from immediate competition. Their performances, formed an almost total contrast, the one to the other; hence, it would be natural to imagine, that those theatrical de­mons, [Page 36] envy and discord, should have been for ever excluded from their intercourse. Happy would it have been for themselves, happy for a numerous lift of performers, who were after­wards attached to their fortunes, if such had been the case. Truth obliges me to confess, it was the very reverse. The real motives which originated the coolness between Mr. Barry and Mr. Mossop, I am not able, at this distance of time, to ascertain, but the effects were visi­ble.

The fame of Mrs. Abington still increasing, she became an object for the Crow-street ma­nagers to fix their attention upon; many persons of the first rank earnestly interested themselves in her favour, and wished much to see their new favourite transplanted to the genial sun­shine of the royal theatre before the close of the present season; and they exerted themselves so strenuously, that an engagement was soon con­cluded. She was to perform a few nights for a clear benefit.

The first appearance of Mrs. Abington at Crow-street theatre was on the 22d of May, 1760, in the character of lady Townly, and [Page 37] Lucinda in the Englishman in Paris, being the night appointed for her benefit; and, so gener­ally was she patronized, that part of the pit was laid into the boxes, and there was a great over­flow from every part of the house. So rapidly did this charming actress rise, and so highly was she esteemed by the public: even so early did she discover a taste in dress and a talent to lead the ton, that several of the ladies most fashion­able ornaments were distinguished by her name, and the Abington cap was the prevailing rage of the day.

As the season advanced, it began to be ru­moured, that a new and more vigorous opposi­tion was intended. This at first was disregarded, as an idle report; but every day added to its cer­tainty. The latter end of April put it past all doubt. On the managers réquesting Mr. Mossop to renew his articles, he frankly replied, he designed to open Smock-alley theatre the ensuing winter. This unforeseen stroke they were not of course prepared to encounter. They had now a new, and much more powerful, rival to contend with; their visionary hopes of having overcome all obstacles, were by this declaration at an end, and they had their work to begin anew. How­ever, [Page 38] remonstrances were fruitless. Mr. Mossop was offered terms even beyond their utmost ability to fulfil. These he haughtily rejected. Nothing therefore but uncommon exertions could guard against so formidable an attack, and they now saw, in its fullest extent, their error in bringing over so great and dangerous a favourite.

Every strength being thus required, a very eligible engagement was offered by them to Mrs. Abington, which she thought it proper to ac­cept; rightly judging that her abilities would receive greater support, and have better oppor­tunities of display with Woodward, than with Mossop. It was, indeed, no easy task to adjust the distribution of characters between her and Mrs. Dancer, who then was eminent as well in comedy as in tragedy. However, it was agreed, as nearly as possible, to divide them with impartiality.

On Monday, June the 9th, 1760, the Crow-street theatre closed one of the most brilliant and successful seasons ever known in Ireland, with the tragedy of Oroonoko. Oroonoko, Mr. Barry, Imo­inda, Mrs. Dancer, and the Virgin Unmasked of Mr. Abington. Mr. Woodward, immediately [Page 39] afterwards, set off for London, to endeavour to repair his losses and provide for the next cam­paign. He was followed, in a few weeks, by Mr. Mossop on similar business.

Mr. Barry, in the mean time, led his conquer­ing troops to Cork, where a new and beautiful theatre had been built in George's-street, on the model of Crow-street, capable of containing an hundred and fifty pounds.

It may here, not be amiss to mention, that as this work is designed as an history of the Irish stage, I hope it will not be deemed, deviating from the general plan, to devote occasionally a few pages to the dramatic occurrences of the second city in the kingdom.

Cork has, from the earliest accounts, been used to have theatrical performances exhibited in a degree of perfection that has rendered the audience remarkably good judges. The reason is evident. The theatre was seldom opened but in summer, when the best of the Dublin com­pany used to be selected, with the addition of some of the most capital performers from [Page 40] London. Before 1736, there never had been a regular theatre built.

In that year, they opened one tolerably com­modious, where the present Bush Tavern stands in George's-street.

As Barry and Woodward had formed the most extensive designs, so opulent a city as Cork, could not escape their notice. They purchased a piece of ground in George's-street, and opened a subscription of fifty pounds each, for building a new theatre. The subscription soon filled, as the subscribers were each entitled to transferable tickets of admittance to every performance without exception. The theatre opened with an occasional prologue in July 1760. The company was, perhaps, the best ever then seen in the city: the natural consequence was, that the success was equal to the excellence of the performers, and there was a continuation of the fullest houses ever known. What in some measure contributed to this was the war, which at that time brought numbers of his majesty's ships of war to Cove. Sailors have always been remarked as fond of a theatre, and as they earn their money harder than any other description of people in the [Page 41] world, so do they spend it more freely. A miserly seaman is a prodigy.

There happened, however, an event, at the opening of the Cork theatre at this time, worthy of noticeing. The mayor of Cork had always been accustomed, when the company came to town, to be waited on by the manager, for his permission to perform. This, though a mere ceremony, as leave never was refused, Mr. Barry did not chuse to comply with. The mayor, willing to preserve the etiquette, declar­ed he would not grant his licence. Mr. Barry informed him, he did not stand in need of his protection, as he could open his theatre with­out. The matter growing serious, friends inter­posed, and Mr. Barry, to put an end to it, pro­duced the king's patent, granting to Mr. Wood, and his deputies, the office of master of the revels in the kingdom of Ireland, with liberty to open one or more theatres in Dublin, or any other place they should choose. After this, he shewed the deputation granted to Mr. Wood­ward and himself, and to further satisfy the Mayor, he laid copies of both before the city council, who acknowledged their validity, and the Mayor forbore any further opposition.

[Page 42]Mr. Woodward remained but a short time in London, and having in the best manner possible, settled his affairs, then set off for Cork, where the company remained 'till the latter end of September, when each party prepared to take the field.


Remarks on Theatrical oppositions—Crow-street opens 24th October 1760—Woodward's Prologue —Death of King George the 2d and delay to the Theatres—Smock-alley opens—Weston's 1st ap­pearance —Mr. Griffith's ditto—Enumeration and comparison of the two companies—The expence of them—Performance of Venice Preserved at both houses, and comparison—Hostile measures of each party, and their consequences—The pieces brought out by each—Indiscretion of Mr. Stayley— Smock-alley closes 6th June 1761—Crow-street 9th June—Mr. Shuter's 1st appearance.

WHETHER the interests of the dramatic world, and of the public in general, are best served by a single Theatre, or by a plurality, has been matter of frequent dispute. As on every speculative point, so on this, advocates are to be found for each side of the question. Nor are arguments, respectively, wanting.

[Page 44]By some it is said, that the exclusive estab­lishment of a single Theatre, under proper re­gulations, is sufficient to secure the entertain­ment of the public; whilst it precludes the distraction and distress, naturally incident to contending parties. Others, on the contrary, declaim against it, as against all monopolies; as partial and unjust, as fettering the will of the people, and depriving them of that freedom of choice, which is their natural right.

Without entering into the merits of this question, a matter foreign to the purpose of this work, let it suffice, to state facts, as they have been. Thus much has been extracted, by a contemplation of the opposition, upon the his­tory of which we are now entering. It will ex­hibit to us, as in the case of all parties, many mischiefs, and many excesses.

As the period for the commencement of ope­rations approached, all was expectation. Vari­ous were the reports in circulation; and curiosi­ty was eager for an examination, and comparison of the two companies. Mr. Mossop returned at the latter end of September. Smock-alley underwent a thorough repair, which, indeed, it [Page 45] essentially wanted. An entirely new set of scenes were painted, by Edwards, and a tolera­ble new wardrobe was collected.

Crow-street Theatre was also new painted and decorated, and every thing being prepared, they took the lead, and opened on Friday October 24th 1760; with a new occasional prologue, written and spoken by Mr. Woodward, who, with great spirit, affected to make light of the difficulties they had to encounter: Repeating those lines of Hotspur's,

Harry to Harry shall, and horse to horse,
Meet and n'eer part, 'till one drop down of course.

The first night, at Crow-street, produced no novelty; it was purposely chosen for its title, All's Well that End's Well, Captain Parolles Mr. Woodward, Helena Mrs. Dancer, with the Lying Valet. The house was far from being crowded; on this occasion, no judgment could be formed.

Mr. Mossop had now, to all appearance, a fair claim to success. With much diligence, he had collected a very excellent company. He [Page 46] was universally admired as an actor, and had a powerful interest amongst persons of rank. The Countess of Brandon, and many leading ladies, were much attached to his cause; he had, in­dependant of his own great merit, every charm which novelty of management and performers could give. The comedy of the Old Batchelor was the play fixed on and advertised, when, be­hold! on the very morning announced for his opening, a solemn, and unforeseen event put an entire stop to his career for the present, and overcast by its gloom, the immediate brightness of his prospects.

On Wednesday morning October 29th 1760, news arrived of the decease of his majesty King George the second. This melancholy circum­stance, caused the theatre to be immediately shut: it was a severe stroke to both parties, but particu­larly unlucky to the new levies of Smock-alley, who could not be supposed to be overburthened with cash, to sustain this additional delay. In this situation, patience was their only remedy. For­tunately, the goodness and consideration of government, displayed itself on this occasion. It shortened, by much, the usual time of mourn­ing, assured, that the grief implanted in the [Page 47] heart of every subject, needed not this outward display of sorrow.

As soon as the limited time expired, both parties commenced their operations, with re­doubled vigour. Crow-street, which continued to be the royal theatre, opened with the Busy Body, on Monday 17th November, Marplot, Woodward, Miranda, Dancer, and Intriguing Chambermaid, in neither of which any new Faces appeared. Smock-alley resumed the Old Batchelor, when that genuine son of comic hu­mour, Weston made his first appearance in the character of Fondlewife; and was received with much, and deserved applause. This actor whose naiveté, and peculiar stile of playing has not since been surpassed, remained in Dublin the whole of the season; and though he had not then attained the eminence, which afterwards he so justly acquired, yet he was received with great pleasure, in the Lying Valet, Cymon in Damon and Phillida, Old Man in Lethe, Daniel in the Conscious Lovers, Clown in Measure for Measure, Old Woman in Rule a Wife, and parts in that stile. Besides Weston, the first night presented Mr. Sowdon in Heartwell and Mr. [Page 48] Sparks in Noll Bluff, (both these gentlemen had changed sides) and a Miss Kennedy in Letitia.

The next night brought forward Mr. Griffith, a comedian of eminence in the dramatic world, who had been for some years a principal support of the Bath theatre. This gentleman was a native of Dublin, son of Mr. Griffith mentioned with much respect in the former part of this work; he had received a liberal, and extended education, had, in the early part of his life, a genteel employment in the Custom House, and was brother to the celebrated Mrs. Griffith, an authoress of great repute, and whose share in the letters of Henry and Frances, had raised her reputation high in the literary world.

This gentleman, possessed many abilities for the stage. His person was small, but uncom­monly elegant and well made. He was easy, sprightly, and fashionable; had a marking eye, a pleasing countenance, and a good voice; he perfectly understood his author, and had great judgment. With these requisites, he supported the highest characters in comedy with eclat. He had much of the gentleman in his manner, [Page 49] and was beloved, and esteemed in private, for his many amiable and engaging qualities.

Ranger was the part he chose to make his debut in: which he supported, with great ap­plause, and, by desire, repeated it a few nights after. The public afterwards saw him with great pleasure in Sir Harry Wildair, Jack Stoeks, in the ballad farce of the Lottery, got up on purpose, Archer, Captain Brazen, Lord Chalk­stone, and the Fine Gentleman in Lethe, Mer­cutio, Lothario, the Man of Taste, Younger Would be, and a variety of other characters in the same line.

Two new Polly's made their appearance at the two Theatres, much about this time. At Crow-street, a Miss Bridges, with the Macheath of Mr. Vernon, and the Lucy of Mrs. Abington, then esteemed the best on the stage, and a Miss Greene at Smock-alley, where Mr. Brown gained much applause in this, then popular hero. Peachum, Mr. Sparks; Lucy, Miss Rosco. The opera was pushed a few nights, and obliged to give way to other pieces of more conse­quence.

[Page 50]Though the town was much divided in its opinion, concerning the merits of the respective companies, yet upon a critical examination, the ballance seemed inclined towards Mr. Mossop; several of the most respectable of the Crow-street performers, had enlisted under his banners, as Mr. Sowdon, Mr. Heaphy, Mr. Sparks, Miss Mason, Mr. Corry, Miss Rosco, Mr. Aldridge, Miss Coralina; to these he added a variety of other engagements which threw great weight into his scale. Mr. Griffith, Miss Kennedy, and Miss Greene, I have already mentioned.

In point of real merit, and public estimation, Mr. Digges certainly stood next to Mr. Mossop and Mr. Barry. With some difficulty he was prevailed upon to return from Edinburgh, where he was an extraordinary favourite, and join once more the fortunes of Smock Alley. His name and abilities on this occasion, were a tower of strength, and amply counterbalanced any advan­tages on the other side.

But, the new managers greatest expectations rested on Mrs. Bellamy, from Covent Garden; he had entertained hopes of Mrs. Fitzhenry, but they were disappointed. Upon mature delibe­ration, [Page 51] she preferred the certain situation she then held, to the unstable prospects which the views of the other house afforded. Mrs. Bel­lamy was then in the very zenith of her reputa­tion, and without her assistance; Mr. Mossop could not have played a single tragedy with any probability of success. Necessity, therefore, oblig­ed him to yield to her terms, and he agreed to give her a thousand guineas, besides two benefits for the season: A very capital sum for a mana­ger to risque in those days.

An English young gentleman of the name of Shaw, who had never yet appeared on any stage, was also engaged. He was remarkably tall and thin, but well made, and tolerably easy: from youth, figure, and manner, he supported a re­spectable line in tragedy and comedy.

The principal novelty of the Crow-street ma­nagers, was Mr. Fleetwood from Drury Lane, a very pleasing and promising actor, but inde­pendant of him, they had undoubtedly great strength in every line of the drama; not only in tragedy and comedy, but also in musical pieces and pantomime.

[Page 52]The merits of Mr. Barry and Mr. Woodward, were at this time too well established to need en­larging on. Mrs. Dancer at this period stood high in general estimation. Every day justly added to her fame. Nature certainly had been uncommonly bountiful, and gifted her with re­quisites that fell to the lot of very few actresses.. Happily for the drama, Mr. Barry, who was one of the best teachers in the world, had every in­clination and opportunity, to bring those ripen­ing abilities to maturity: abilities I shall with pleasure endeavour to descant on, at a future op­portunity.

Mrs. Fitzhenry was also most deservedly es­teemed the first actress in her line. Admired on the stage, beloved for her respectable cha­racter in private. Mrs. Abington's comic pow­ers I have before noticed: they excited univer­sal applause. She was already much the fashion, and contributed highly to the success of the pieces she performed.

But that the reader may form a just idea of the two companies, I shall group them together, and leave his own judgment to form a conclu­sion concerning their merits; only just premis­ing, [Page 53] that Mr. Brown had with a good grace, re­signed the reins of government; and returned to the ranks, where he was of great service; that Mr. Ryder led a select, and well formed com­pany into the interior parts of Ireland, where he continued several years with character, reputa­tion and success, annually visiting the towns of Kilkenny, Wexford, Galway and several others; and that Mrs. Ibbot, the two Miss Philips's, with several of less note returned to England.

Crow-street Company, November 1760.
  • Mr. Barry,
  • Mr. Woodward,
  • Mr. Fleetwood,
  • Mr. Dexter,
  • Mr. Jefferson,
  • Mr. Walker,
  • Mr. Glover,
  • Mr. Vernon,
  • Mr. Hamilton,
  • Mr. Mahon, senior and junior,
  • Mr. Knipe,
  • Mr. Morris,
  • [Page 54]Mr. Glenville,
  • Mr. Reed,
  • Mr. Adcock,
  • Mr. Hayes,
  • Mr. Mynitt,
  • Mr. Messink,
  • Mr. Hastings,
  • Mr. Oliver,
  • Mr. Slingsby,
  • Mr. Stageldoir,
  • Mr. Rayner,
  • Mr. Carrol,
  • Mr. Carmichael,
  • Prompter.
  • Mrs. Dancer,
  • Mrs. Fitzhenry,
  • Mrs. Abington,
  • Mrs. Jefferson,
  • Miss Osborne,
  • Mrs. Bridges,
  • Mrs. Walker,
  • Mrs. Adcock,
  • Mrs. Mynitt,
  • Mrs. Packenham,
  • [Page 55]Mrs. Knipe,
  • Miss Young,
  • Mrs. Maxwell.
Smock Alley Company, Ditto.
  • [Page 53]Mr. Mossop,
  • Mr. Brown,
  • Mr. Digges,
  • Mr. Shaw,
  • Mr. Griffith,
  • Mr. Heaphy,
  • Mr. Sowdon,
  • Mr. Sadler,
  • Mr. Sparks,
  • Mr. Dawson,
  • Mr. Usher,
  • Mr. Kniveton,
  • Mr. Heatton,
  • [Page 54]Mr. Verneil,
  • Mr. Weston,
  • Mr. Ellard,
  • Mr. Watson,
  • Mr. Longfield,
  • Mr. Williams,
  • Mr. Somers,
  • Mr. Aldridge,
  • Mr. Booth,
  • Mr. M'George,
  • Master Lewis.
  • Mrs. Bellamy,
  • Miss Kennedy,
  • Miss Danvers,
  • Mrs. Usher,
  • Miss Greene,
  • Miss Rosco,
  • Miss Mason,
  • Mrs. Dawson,
  • Miss Heatton,
  • Miss E. Heatton,
  • [Page 55] Miss Willis,
  • Miss Clarke,
  • Miss Dillon,
  • Signora Coralina, and Mother.

What a burthen must two such numerous companies have been to the town! What a di­vision of interests must such a number of per­formers have occasioned! What a tax on amuse­ment, to support upwards of sixty actors and actresses, who with their unavoidable append­ages of servants, dressers, hair-dressers, &c. when united with the bands, must have amount­ed, on the lowest calculation, to upwards of two hundred persons. The very weekly salaries of the performers only at Crow-street, often amounted to one hundred and fifty pounds; sometimes more; besides tradesmens bills, and other inevitable disbursements, without the least allowance for themselves, as actors, or mana­gers. So enormous an expence, the receipts of a London theatre, at that time, could but barely sustain; no wonder therefore, that our mana­gers were obliged in a little time, to give way to such a pressure, and though possessed of the greatest rectitude of principle, be unable to sa­tisfy their creditors.

[Page 56]But to proceed, Mr. Woodward's prologue of "Harry to Harry shall, and Horse to Horse" was strictly exemplified, on every opportunity during the season. Intimation having been re­ceived, that Mr. Mossop, Mr. Digges, and Mrs. Bellamy, were to make their first appearance in Pierre, Jaffier, and Belvidera, the Crow-street managers on the same evening, announced Mr. Barry in Pierre, Mr. Fleetwood in Jaffier, his entrè on the stage in this kingdom, and Mrs. Dancer in Belvidera: with the first time of the new Pantomime of Queen Mab; Harlequin, by Woodward; Columbine, Abington.

Curiosity and interest, operated powerfully on this occasion, in favour of Smock Alley. There was a crowded and fashionable house. Mr. Digges, on opening the play, was received with the warmest and most unfeigned plaudits. Mr. Mossop's entrance was marked with three rounds of applause, as lasting as it was sincere. Mrs. Bellamy also, in her turn, received the most flat­tering marks of approbation.

The two first, in the course of the play, sup­ported their characters with a truth and energy, which justly entitled them to every praise. Mrs. [Page 57] Bellamy, on the contrary, sunk in the opinion of her auditors. Many years had elapsed since she left Ireland. Time is seldom an improve­ment of a lady's charms. The roses and lillies in her countenance had fled, and left a decay too evident. The sweet tones of her voice had al­tered to a harshness, which not being expected, produced the most unpleasing sensations.

The attendance at Crow-street, the same even­ing, was not quite so crowded. But the ap­plause was at least equal, and in many points more deserving. If I might hazard an opinion, on the respective merits of each performance, I should give the preference, if any, to Smock Alley.

In the character of Pierre, Mr. Mossop was most deservedly superior. It was, according to the best judges, as fine and characteristic a piece of acting as ever was exhibited. His voice, manner, and judgment, were undescribable.

Mr. Barry, possessed of every requisite which the most luxuriant fancy could suggest, for the support of Jaffier, wanted many of the essentials for Pierre. With a form faultless, and a voice [Page 58] modulated to the most perfect harmony, he did not possess the roughness of manners, nor the austerity of demeanour necessary for the latter character. That grace, and those tones, which in the expression of every softer passion, were of irresistible fascination, but ill depicted the sternness of the soldier, meditating dark and dangerous conspiracies.

Mr. Fleetwood pleased much in Jaffier: his figure was rather interesting, his voice and man­ner, such as are well calculated to gain an in­terest with the audience; but, in each of these, he could by no means stand in competition with Mr. Digges, who, next to Mr. Barry, claimed the precedence in such characters over every other competitor.

Between the ladies, the advantage was evi­dently in favour of Mrs. Dancer. Her talents were then improving rapidly; Mrs. Bellamy's, as rapidly declining. The first, gave every night incontrovertible specimens, that she would one day be the first actress of the age: the latter, gra­dually sunk into oblivion, wretchedness and poverty. Mrs. Dancer's Belvidera, I believe, was equal to that of Mrs. Cibber.

[Page 59]Venice Preserved was repeated at each house, but with no great effect. The remainder of the season, proved a continued disagreeable scene of exertions and rivalship, productive of infinite trouble, great expence, and vexation, attended with loss of reputation, and very little profit, and gradually involving the managers of each house in that ruin, which finally overtook both.

For the readers information, and amusement, I shall select a few instances of the above. It seemed to be laid down as a rule, by the respec­tive managers, that, no sooner was a piece an­nounced to be in rehearsal or for exhibition by the one, than the other strained every nerve, no matter with what propriety, to prepossess the public with an idea of its being preparing in a superior style by him, or boldly advertizing the very piece, on the very same evening; some­times, without an idea of its being performed, but merely to divide or suspend the general curiosity.

Thus, the little ballad farce of the Lottery, which, from the limited number of after-pieces, more than its intrinsic merit, was then much in [Page 60] fashion, was no sooner exhibited at Smock-alley, than the week following presented it to the pub­lic at Crow-street; supported by the Jack Stocks of Mr. Griffith, and the admirable Chloe of Mrs. Abington.

The Wife's Resentment, revived at the theatre royal, with Mr. Woodward, Mrs. Dan­cer, and Mrs. Abington, immediately produced an advertisement, announcing the same play with Mr. Mossop, though he had not the least idea of exhibiting it. Mr. Colman's farce of Polly Honeycombe, then performing with eclat at Drury-lane, was, in like manner, advertis­ed by both parties, but only produced at Crow-street; on which occasion, Mrs. Abington ac­quired infinite credit in the part of Polly.

The girlish characters, I sincerely think, she then played superior to any actress ever re­membered, and from her naiveté, and genuine traits of nature, the girls of the present actresses are copied.

But the greatest piece of generalship, mani­fested through the whole of this doubtful contest was respecting the new tragedy, of The Orphan [Page 61] of China, written by Arthur Murphy, Esq and at that time exhibiting with uncommon re­putation in London. The great fame and popu­larity of this piece, rendered it an object of peculiar attention to both houses in Dublin; but, to attain their object, they pursued quite different lines of conduct.

The play being printed, was consequently, in possession of both. Mr. Mossop observed a profound silence on the subject, and kept his de­signs as much a secret as possible. The mana­gers of Crow-street, on the contrary, confident of their strength, but rather injudiciously I should think, for several weeks, made a great parade of their intentions of producing it with a pomp and magnificence, equal to that of Drury-lane; informing the public, of the extraordina­ry expence they were at, in having all the dresses made in London, from models imported from China, and an entire new set of scenes paint­ed for the occasion, in the true Chinese stile, by the celebrated carver, then deservedly in the highest reputation.

When the expectations of the town were raised to the utmost pitch, and curiosity strain­ed [Page 62] to the highest point, without the least previous hint dropped, most unexpectedly, early on Monday morning January 5th, 1761, bills were posted up, announcing the representation of this much talked of tragedy, that very evening, at Smock-alley theatre. The scenery, dresses, and decorations entirely new; with this specious, and popular addition, The characters will be all new dressed in the manufactures of this kingdom.

The truth was, they had bespoke dresses, to be made in London, on the models of the Drury-lane habits, but had not the least expectation of their arriving in time. As they knew that every thing depended on their producing it before the other house, certain they had not an equal chance on equal terms, the dresses and scenery of Crow-street being so much superior, they used every exertion possible. The tragedy was rehearsed three times a day, and Mr. Tracey, then tailor to the theatre, working day and night on the dresses, they were completed in eight and forty hours.

The event proved that they acted right. The Orphan of China drew five tolerable houses to Smock-alley, before they were able to get it out [Page 63] at Crow-street; and then, it did not answer the expence they had been at. The dresses and scenery, were truly characteristic, but the curiosity of the public had been in a great mea­sure previously gratified.

The following is the manner of its being per­formed at both houses:

Zampti,Mr. BarryMr. Mossop
Etan,Mr. FleetwoodMr. Digges
Timurkan,Mr. WalkerMr. Sowdon
Hamet,Mr. JeffersonMr. Shaw
Octar,Mr. KnipeMr. Usher
Morat,Mr. MorneMr. Heatton
Mirvan,Mr. ReedMr. Kniveton
Mandane,Mrs. FitzhenryMrs. Bellamy.

The Tempest, revived at this time, displayed another scene of contention. In this case, both companies started fairly, and brought it out on the same night; with, if I can judge, pretty nearly equal success. They continued playing it, till both lost money by it.

In point of performance, Mr. Mossop had the advantage, as may be seen by the following view:

[Page 64]

Prospero,Mr. FleetwoodMr. Mossop
Stephano,Mr. WoodwardMr. Brown
Alonzo,Mr. AdcockMr. Sowdon
Sebastian,Mr. KnipeMr. Heaphy
Antonio,Mr. MorrisMr. Heatton
Gonzalez,Mr. MynittMr. Digges
Trinculo,Mr.Mr. Griffith
Caliban,Mr. GloverMr. Sparks
Ariel,Mrs. GloverMiss Young
Miranda, Miss Macartney.

With respect to scenery, machinery, and de­corations Crow-street certainly was superior. Carver was then one of the first scene painters in Europe; Mr. Messink the first machinist ever known in this kingdom, and Finny their carpen­ter had infinite merit.

The greatest advantage the Crow-street ma­nagers obtained over their rivals, was with their pantomimes, which they exhibited on the most extensive and finished scale, and in which the Harlequin of Mr. Woodward was decidedly the greatest on the stage.

[Page 65]This season, Queen Mab, and the Sorcerer, were brought out at an enormous expence, and performed many nights, yet, notwithstanding they were exhibited in a style of perfection worthy the first theatre in Europe, and were universally admired, they by no means repaid the enormous expences, attending their repre­sentation, and it is my opinion that the manager, who ventures a large sum of money on this species of entertainment in Dublin, runs a very great risk of not being reimbursed.

In London, the case is totally different, and the sums laid out on proper objects, are sure to return with ten-fold interest.

Against the pantomimes, Mr. Mossop judici­ciously revived Henry the 8th, and got up a re­presentation of the coronation, which, on ac­count of his present majesty's accession to the throne, was well timed, and brought money. It made a great bill, excited curiosity, and, though the dresses were not very splendid, nor numerous, yet they answered the purpose, and the play drew several houses.

[Page 66]I cannot, in this place, avoid noticing a cir­cumstance, which ought to serve as a lesson to every performer in future.

The farce of High Life was then in great reputation, at both houses. One night, Mr. Stayley, of Smock-alley theatre, in one of the characters, gave the toast of "his majesty king George the second, God rest his bones."

This very extraordinary toast, though it might be said to express nothing disloyal, yet was certainly highly improper, and a liberty which ought not to be taken on any stage. Se­veral of the audience highly resented it, and Mr. Mossop with great propriety publickly reprimand­ed him for it. Mr. Stayley, endeavoured to justify himself; words ensued, and in the con­clusion, he was dismissed the theatre.

He then appealed to the public, but with lit­tle success; and, as he had before created him­self many enemies, by his writing and mimickry, he was pitied by few, blamed by most, and never after regained his situation.

[Page 67]This occurrence leads me to remark, the very great impropriety of any performer taking such liberties with an audience. They certainly should introduce no joke, or matter, not strictly consonant to their author, and with which the manager was not acquainted. He is, in every case, responsible to the public, for what is said and done on his stage. Audiences are as variable in their dispositions as the individuals who com­pose them. It is dangerous to sport with their passions, and the manager, who has so much at stake, ought to be made acquainted with every innovation, however trifling. He alone ought to judge of their propriety, as he alone must be answerable for the consequences.

The occurrences of the remaining part of the season, worth mentioning, are but few. Mr. Murphy's excellent comedy, The Way to Keep Him, in five acts, was first performed in this kingdom, at Crow-street in February, 1761, where Mrs. Abington added much to her repu­tation, by the easy, elegant, finished portrait, of the woman of fashion, which she exhibited in the widow Belmour. Mrs. Bellamy played Cleone, with some applause, at Smock-alley.

[Page 68]Mr. Colman's new comedy of the Jealous Wife, was then bringing crowded houses at Drury-lane. It's extraordinary merit, as it cer­tainly ranks amongst the first comedies in the English language, and the success attending its representation, induced Mr. Mossop to present it to the public, late in the month of May, sup­ported in the following manner:

  • Oakly, Mr. Brown
  • Captain Cutter, Mr. Sparks
  • Lord Trinket, Mr. Kniveton
  • Sir Harry Beagle, Mr. Shaw
  • Charles, Mr. Usher
  • Tom, Mr. Ellard
  • Major Oakly, Mr. Dawson
  • Lady Freelove, Mrs. Kennedy
  • Harriet, Miss Usher
  • Mrs. Oakly, Mrs. Bellamy.

Mr. Mossop towards the close of the campaign, when the town was nearly tired, opened a subscription for five revived plays, Don Sebas­tian, The Ambitious Step-Mother, Timon of Athens, Tamerlane, and Richard; these, though forced, and thinly attended, carried him through, and he finished, with the last [Page 69] mentioned play, June 6th, 1761, when he re­turned thanks to the public, for the great patro­nage, and support he had experienced.

In the mean time, Mr. Woodward took another trip to London, from whence he re­turned, with Mr. Shuter.

This popular comedian, had never been in Ireland before; consequently, was an object of importance. He played the Miser and School Boy on the 3d of June, with much applause. His next appearance was, for his own bene­fit, the 8th of June following. Don Lewis, in Love makes a Man, Clodio, Mr. Woodward; Carlos, Mr. Dexter; Don Duart, Mr. Jefferson; Governor, Mr. Walker; Sancho, Mr. Glover; with his Fribble, and Mr. Woodward's Flash.

Mr. Shuter remained but a short time after in Dublin. The characters he played were, Lord Chalkstone, and the Old Woman, in Lethe, Master Stephen twice, with Scapin.

Crow-street theatre closed on the 9th of June, with Every Man in his Humour.


Dramatic portraits of Messrs. Barry, Mossop, Digges, and Woodward—Their respective me­rits—The several characters in which they ex­celled—Respectability of the Irish stage.

THE eminence of the Irish stage, at the period to which we are now arrived, and the very great ability, with which several of it's principal departments were filled, seem to point out this, as a proper place, to pause and take a slight review of some of its principal sup­porters.

Messrs. Barry, Mossop, Digges, and Woodward, were then in the zenith of their course: an im­partial, though imperfect, sketch of their respec­tive merits, may, therefore, be best attempted here.

The character of Mr. Barry, has been already touched upon, in the first volume of this work. [Page 71] In addition to that, I hope the following remarks, which I have with little alteration, copied from a gentleman, who had every opportunity of form­ing a just judgment of his abilities, will not prove unacceptable.

There never was, perhaps, an actor, who, altogether was so much indebted to nature, as Barry. As far as figure will warrant the expres­sion, he was certainly, the finished portrait of man. His person was noble, and commanding; his action graceful, and correct; his features regular, expressive, and rather handsome: his countenance, naturally open, placid, and bene­volent, yet easily wrought to the indications of haughtiness, and contempt: but in the softer expressions of the tender, and feeling emotions, he principally excelled.

His voice was finely calculated to aid his ap­pearance. It had melody, depth, and strength; there was a burst of grief in it, which was pe­culiar to himself. In the last act of Essex, where the officers were preparing his departure, and where he pointed to his wife, lying on the ground, with ‘Oh look there!’ [Page 72] His manner of expression was so forcible and affecting, that the whole house always burst into tears. He saw the effect, and often used the cause, sometimes rather improperly. In ex­pressing the blended passions of love, tenderness, and grief, Barry stood unrivalled.

With such abilities, it would be difficult to point out which character was his master-piece. But it is generally given to his Othello. It was a performance, which could not be trans­cended. His address to the senate, was supe­rior to that of any man who even spoke it. His various transitions, in the jealous scenes of that character, were beautiful, beyond descrip­tion.

The vanquisher of Asia, never appeared to more advantage in representation, than in the person of Barry: he looked, moved, and acted the hero and lover, in a manner that charmed every audience that saw him: he gave new life and vigour to a play, which had lain neglected, since the death of Delane.

His Marc Antony had innumerable beauties. Indeed, his very appearance, in this magnifi­cent [Page 73] Roman, who lost the world for love, in the young conquering Macedonian hero, and in every other character in that line, was equal to what the most romantic imagination could paint.

The limits of this work, will not permit me to follow him through the various beauties of his numerous characters. Suffice it to say, that those who were so happy as to see him in the above, or, in the course of years, in Varanes, Macbeth, Jaffier, Osmyn, Orestes, Horatio, Hastings, Romeo, Oroonoko, Castalio, Hotspur, Lear, Lord Townly, Young Bevil, &c. univer­sally concurred in the opinion, that, as they had never seen his equal, so would it be ages, per­haps, before another Barry would arise.

With very opposite powers, yet with such dramatic abilities as fall to the lot of very few, Mr. Mossop next claims our attention. Never was there a greater contrast than between these heroes: never were two performers better cal­culated by nature to shine together, to reflect lustre on each others performances, and support the opposite characters in tragedy.

[Page 74]I may not, perhaps, be seconded, in my opi­nion: but, I cannot help considering Mr. Mossop, not only as an original, but as a singular actor: nor do I recollect, in the long list of capital performers, who preceded him, or whom we have since seen, one to whom he could strictly be compared.

Mr. Mossop possessed an agreeable person; he was of the middle size, well made: his action, at this time much improved, and with great propriety suited to the situation of the scene: his countenance, uncommonly marking, and expres­sive, his eye, piercing, and big with what his mind contained.

But, what eminently distinguished him from all his cotemporaries, was the excellence of his voice. It had a peculiarity of tone, equally dis­tinguishing as Mr. Barry's; though in every respect, opposite: it was, perhaps, as fine, full toned, articulate, and solemnly impressive as any actor's that ever trod the stage: possessed of unusual compass, it was admirably adapted, by its cadences, to display the great, the grand, and the sublime in tragedy: it conveyed, equally distinct, the loudest effusions of rage, which the [Page 75] warmth of passion required, and the most solemn sentiments of the deepest declamation.

There were, I believe, many instances where he more forcibly imprest his auditors, by the energy, spirit, and fire, of his tones, than they ever experienced from any other performer. In the great and terrible, he rose beyond idea. There were many passages of his Zanga, Corio­lanus, Bajazet, Virginius and Richard, which astonished, and were superior to the boldest conception before formed of those characters.

Mr. Mossop had also received a classical educa­tion, in Trinity College. He possessed much judgment, and in general, did uncommon jus­tice to his author.

To the parts above mentioned, I may add, his Duke in Measure for Measure, which was truly a capital piece of acting, his King John, Ventidius, Chamont, Zampti, Achmet in Bar­barossa, Cato, Macbeth, Hotspur, Osman in Zara, Horatio, Shore, Wolsey, Iago, Prospero, and many others.

[Page 76]Such were the tragic actors, Ireland then, with honest pride, could boast. I am afraid "we ne'er shall look upon their like again." Since their days, tragedy has rapidly declined in public estimation; nor is there, at present, any immediate prospect of its re-establishment.

I am well aware, that those characters as above delineated, differ in several essentials from the accounts of Mr. Davies, and the multitude of English critics, who, as they do not allow them that extraordinary merit, which I have ascribed, so neither do they spare charging them with glaring faults, which take much from their superior excellence.

In reply, I can say; that those criticisms were formed in very unfavourable circumstances; without the opportunities of beholding them, in their several capital characters, from whence a proper criterion could be formed. My portraits are drawn from a time, when they were in the meridian of life; when their powers had arrived at maturity, and the judgment had acquired i [...] rightful sovereignty over the passions. Th [...] decided sense of this kingdom, for many years, warrants my assertions, and at present, thou­sands [Page 77] are living witnesses of the truth of my ob­servations.

It remains next to speak of Mr. Digges. This gentleman then certainly stood next, in merit and reputation, to these justly admired perform­ers. Few men ever gave their auditors so happy an idea of the easy, finished gentleman, and man of fashion, as Mr. Digges. The elegance of his figure and deportment, the ease, and pro­priety of his action, with the justness of his conceptions and delivery, most deservedly gained him numerous admirers.

He had, it must be acknowledged, a few pe­culiarities, which made some, at first view, stile him a mannerist. But, an intimate ac­quaintance with his mode removed those impres­sions, and established his abilities, on the firmest basis.

During the course of the winter, Mr. Digges, entered into a connection, with Mrs. Bellamy, which continued for some years, and was pro­ductive of much unhappiness. The fair apolo­gist, in her life, glosses over this transaction, with the same happy facility with which she has [Page 78] done many others, that were not strictly recon­cileable to the laws of virtue, or religion. She calls it a serious connection, which though not binding by the laws of the country, with per­sons of her persuasion, was, notwithstanding, valid to all moral intents and purposes.

For the following character of Mr. Wood­ward, I am obliged to a cotemporary of his, who seemed, with great judgment, and candour, to be well acquainted with his merits.

If frequent peals of laughter be a test of merit, Mr. Woodward most enjoys the favour of the town, and maintains it through the variety of comic characters, in which he ap­pears. In his designing of character, he is many times singular, but often incorrect; if he has not ease, he has a manner that stands in the place of it, and let him be never so deficient, he never displeases, his performance being happily calculated to catch the eye at first sight, and supported by a vivacity, joined to a genteel, well made figure, that never fails to make a proper impression, and bias his audience in his favour. In Sofia, he is extremely happy; and Bobadil, by which he [Page 79] has acquired a vast increase of reputation, is a part of his own creation, and a proof of his genius; he is admirably characteristic, and entirely original.

Nor has he less merit in Duretete; his be­haviour, when shut up amongst the women, is truly admirable. His Scrub is rather too grotesque, but in Tom, and Lissardo, he makes up sufficiently for the defect. He gave Falstaff much too old an appearance, yet a levity of deportment irreconcileable to fat Jack. He is well in the Busy Body. The character of Flash, in Miss in her Teens, and the fine gentleman in Lethe, he illustrates with so many different strokes of humour, that it is hard to say, whether in the boasting cowardice of the one, or the affected elegance of the other, he most excells. In those of Touchstone, Brass, Beau Mizen, Mercutio, Trappolin, he is unrivalled.

Upon the whole, I must say, his acting is spirited and vivacious. He has judgment, that enables him to dash, with unexpected strokes of humour, things dull in themselves; and he often throws over his performance an [Page 80] air that inforces on the spectator, and give to his performance the appearance of origi­nality.

At this period also, the merits of Mrs. Dancer and Mrs. Abington, were rising highly in esti­mation, and they were considered, by the best judges, as the most promising actresses of the day; a promise, which, how well it has been performed, it is unnecessary to say.

But the same reasons which tempted me, in this place, to enter upon the character of the gentlemen I have just described, induce me to postpone the enquiry concerning these ladies, to a time when their fuller merits will yield them more adequate justice.

The review we have taken, s [...]ight as it is, may be sufficient to give us some idea of the value of the performers of that period, and of the respectability, to which the Irish stage was then entitled.


Barry and Woodward build a Theatre in Cork.— List of the Company.—Great successes.—Return to Dublin.—Both Theatres open.—Mrs. Abing­ton and Mrs. Fitzhenry enlist at Smock-alley.— Mrs. Baddely and Miss Elliot, at Crow-street.— Mr. Macklin, J. Barry, Stamper.—Burletta's at Smock-alley.—Midas at Crow-street.—Mrs. Pritchard engaged there.—Decline of Crow-street. —Disputes and separation of the Managers.—Mr. King at Smock-alley.—Close of the season.

IN a former chapter of this volume, * mention has been made of a new theatre, built and open­ed by Messrs. Barry and Woodward, at Cork. Upon subsequent consideration, I find that there has been an error in the date. It was not [...]ill the summer of the year 1761, the period [...] which, we now are, that the new theatre was opened. The confusion, created by a mul­tiplicity of other avocations, was the cause of this mistake, and it was not discovered till too late to be rectified; a detail, somewhat more accurate, will, I hope, in some sort apologise for the error.

[Page 82]During the infancy of the stage in Ireland, Cork was frequently visited by itinerant com­panies of comedians, who sometimes spent an entire winter there with much emolument. The theatres, on those occasions, were generally temporary structures, hastily erected for the im­mediate purpose.

In process of time, the Dublin managers ex­tended their views to a city, so capable of sup­plying the intervening time, between the close and the opening of their winter seasons.

The country companies were obliged to give place to his majesty's servants, and a new theatre was erected at the corner of Princes-street in George's-street, where the Bush Tavern at pre­sent stands, and opened in the year 1736. On this stage the Elrington's, Woffington, Sheridan, and the most capital performers of the age, dis­played their powers.

Messrs. Barry and Woodward, with a judici­ous eye, beheld the many advantages likely to arise from a theatre, on a more extended scale in so capital a situation; the present one being much too small for their processions and panto­mimes. [Page 83] They had accordingly advertised a sub­scription, for raising a fund towards building a new theatre. The proposal was eagerly em­braced; in a few weeks the money was raised. The ground was purchased in George's-street, not far from the former building, in a situation which every day improved, and the work be­gan.

The model adopted, was that of Crow-street. The dimensions were nearly as large, ex­cept having but one gallery. It was finished, and ready for the reception of the company this summer, and the public expressed great plea­sure at so great an improvement in their fa­vourite amusement.

The inside was spacious, elegant, and con­venient: it held 150l. English, at 4 s. the boxes 3 s. the pit, and 2 s. the gallery. The stage was remarkably roomy, being nearly as large as Covent-garden was, before the late alterations; capable of exhibiting to advantage, Mr. Bar­ry's grand tragic processions, and Mr. Wood­ward's pantomimes, both of which were there presented in a stile of perfection, which there was not a possibility of doing before.

[Page 84]The theatre was opened in July 1761. To all the charms of it's novelty, the strength of the following company was added:

  • Mr. Barry,
  • Mr. Woodward,
  • Mr. Shuter,
  • Mr. Sowdon,
  • Mr. Jefferson,
  • Mr. Heaphy,
  • Mr. Vernon,
  • Mr. Austin,
  • Mr. Glover,
  • Mr. Heatton,
  • Mr. Glenvil,
  • Mr. Hayes,
  • Mr. Adcock,
  • Mr. Ellard,
  • Mr. Hamilton,
  • Mr. Morris,
  • Mr. Mynitt,
  • Mr. Meffink,
  • Mr. Knipe,
  • Mr. Mahon,
  • Mr. Bridges,
  • Mr. Carrol,
  • Mr. Oliver,
  • Mr. Flury,
  • Mr. Stageldoir,
  • Mr. Raynor,
  • Mr. Aldridge,
  • Mr. Neil,
  • Mr. Carmichael, Prompter.
  • Mrs. Dancer,
  • Mrs. Hamilton,
  • Mrs. Jefferson,
  • Miss Osborne,
  • Two Miss Heattons,
  • Mrs. Knipe,
  • Mrs. Ellard,
  • Mrs. Clark,
  • Mrs. Roche,
  • Mrs. Packenham,
  • [Page 85]Mrs. Adcock,
  • Mrs. Bridges,
  • Mrs. Glover,
  • Mrs. Stageldoir,
  • Mrs. Williams.

From the above list of performers, and indeed from many others which could be given of other times, it will plainly appear that the Cork au­dience have been accustomed to the best of acting. From this circumstance, in all probability, has arisen, in a great measure, that justness of judg­ment in theatrical affairs, for which they are so remarkable.

The same reason will, I think, warrant me in asserting, that none but a Dublin manager can have the least chance of succeeding with them. His situation during the winter in the capital, and the number of exotics, which he is obliged to import every summer, give him a superiority, in point of entertainment, over every other com­petitor in this kingdom.

With such recommendations, it is scarcely necessary to say, that the Cork season of 1761, proved uncommonly brilliant and profitable. The company returned to Dublin, flushed with success.

[Page 86]Mr. Woodward lost no time, but immediately sailed for England, and the day following, Mr. Mossop arrived with Mrs. Abington, whom he had gained over from the enemy.

The situation of the contending powers at this period, was nearly that of equality. If there was any superiority, it lay on Mr. Mossop's side. Besides Mrs. Abington, who then stood so high in public estimation, Mrs. Fitzhenry had enlisted under his banners. Those ladies seemed ap­prehensive of the power, lately acquired by Mrs. Dancer, and chose the prospect of an undivided empire, at the other theatre. Mr. Ryder, who had been absent the last winter, returned at this time to Smock-alley, where in future we shall find him take that lead which his merit so highly entitled him to.

To endeavour to balance these losses was Mr. Woodward's employment at present in Lon­don.

Smock-alley took the field at this juncture, and opened on the 12th of October, 1761, with the Spanish Fryar, in which Mr. Baddely of Drury-lane, made his first appearance in Gomez. [Page 87] This actor has certainly a great deal of merit in several characters. There are many of the Frenchmen, Jews, and parts of a dry cynical humour, which from him have peculiar manner, and originality. Through the remainder of the season, we find him supporting a very respecta­ble line of business; such as, Touchstone, Sir Francis Gripe, Frenchman in Lethe, Dr. Caius, Mr. Honeycombe, &c. The same night, Miss Ambrose made her entrè in Elvira; of her but little mention is afterwards made.

Amongst the ill effects produced by two theatres, was that of seducing performers from their first engagements. Changing sides was so much the fashion, and some gentlemen were so much in this mode of manoevering, that they were sometimes led into great mistakes, and have often been called to begin a play at one theatre, when they have been found dressing at another.

The sanction of the theatre royal, continued to be of great use to Crow-street, and Mr. Barry opened on the 24th of October, 1761, by com­mand of the Earl of Halifax, with Romeo.

[Page 88]Soon after, Mr. Woodward returned with the celebrated Miss Elliot, then in great reputation as a fine girl, and pleasing actress. On the 11th of November following, she came for­ward in her favourite character of Maria in the Citizen, which as it was purposely written by Mr. Murphy, to give scope to her abilities, so did she excell in this elegant, sprightly, playful girl, all her successors. Mr. Woodward was the young Philpot, and the farce was several times repeated. Miss Elliot afterwards played Mrs. Harlow, Jessica, Euphrosine, Miss Notable, Cherry, Columbine, Polly Honeycombe, the School Boy, &c.

Much about this time, Mr. Thomas Barry, son to the manager, was first introduced to the public in Tamerlane; his father playing Bajaze [...]. This young gentleman's figure was light and pleasing, but his abilities were far from being of the first rate. He just attained mediocrity, and might be said, never to offend.

His next trial was in the interesting Norval Douglas, where his age, abilities, and figure, conspired to render him a proper representative for the Scottish youth. He continued several [Page 89] years on the stage, and though he could not be considered as a valuable acquisition, yet was he of considerable service in supporting a first and second line of characters in tragedy and co­medy.

Business, notwithstanding so much novelty, continuing but very indifferent, the managers, as their dernier resort, produced the veteran Macklin, who at that time was acknowledged to be the first actor in his line, on the stage. He was then upwards of sixty years of age. His Miser, Shylock, Iago, drew money, and were often repeated.

In December, he brought out his Love A la mode, which met with uncommon success, being performed upwards of sixteen nights that season. In this piece, Mr. Barry played Sir Callaghan, Mr. Woodward, Squire Groom; Mr. Messink, Beau Mordecai; and Mr. Mack­lin, Sir Archy M'Sarcasm; a farce of such merit, and so well supported, had not been seen for many years.

Amongst the Crow-street imports of this year, Mr. Stamper requires to be remembered. He [Page 90] was deservedly esteemed in such characters as the Miser, Scrub, &c. Some years after, he played at Edinburgh, and supported that line of business with much reputation.

Fortune, at this time, seemed to incline to­wards Mr. Mossop. The town, though torn and divided by contending parties, which often produced disagreeable consequences, rather fa­voured his theatre, and he was remarkably hap­py in several of his engagements.

I have before mentioned Mr. Wilkinson. His former popularity and success, induced Mr. Mossop to consider him as a powerful auxiliary. He accordingly concluded a treaty with him for twelve nights, and a benefit, and he appeared in January, 1762, in Mr. Foote's comedy of the Minor, where he personified the characters of Mrs. Cole, Shift, Smirk, Transfer, and Dr. Squintum, and which, notwithstanding its bad fortune two years before, pleased much and brought several houses.

Mr. Wilkinson's trip fully answered, both as to reputation and profit. He brought the manager money, and his own benefit was re­markbly [Page 91] great. He then acceeded to overtures from Mr. Woodward, who offered him Twenty guineas for four nights, and a clear benefit. He consequently appeared at Crow-street, in Kitely, in Every Man in his Humour, in which Wood­ward played Bobadil, to an excellent house.

In the June following, Mr. Wilkinson re­turned to England, highly pleased with the flattering reception he had met with in Dublin.

But what Mr. Mossop relied most on, and on which he had founded the most sanguine expec­tations, was a species of entertainment which had novelty to recommend it. He opened a subscription for an Italian Burletta, which fully answered his wishes. Most of the nobilith and gentry were pleased with the idea, and the sub­scription filled so well as to enable him to carry his design into execution.

After much preparation, on the 19th of December, the comic opera of La Cascina, was performed. The principal characters by, Signior Antonio Minelli, the director of the Burletta, Signior Dominico de Amicis, Signior Giovan [Page 92] Battisti Zingoni, Signiora Maria Anna de Amicis, Signiora Anna Dunlap, and Signiora Anna Lucia de Amicis, the music by Galuppi, the dances by Signior Tioli, Signior Giuseppe Genovisi, Signiora Ricci, and Signiora Vin­cenze Lucchi. The boxes and pit were laid to­gether, at five british shillings; the galleries remained at their usual prices.

The Burletta pleased much. The performers were approved of, especially Anna Lucia de Amicis, who became a great favourite. It drew a great deal of money, and was continued during the season. However, they quarrelled among themselves, and Signior Minelli, the original director, was obliged to resign to De Amicis, whose family composed the principal part of the entertainment. Minelli settled in Dublin, in the wine and spirit trade. He is still living on the Bachelor's-walk, a gentleman of worth and character.

To oppose this rage of the public, the Bur­letta of Midas was first produced. It's author, Kane O'Hara, Esq was a gentleman of good connections, and well known in the fashionable world. The piece was put into rehearsal, with great expectations, and announced, in ridicule [Page 93] of the others, under the conduct of Signior Josephi Verneni, (honest Jo. Vernon) The principal characters by himself, Signior Patrico Mahoni, Signior Lewiso Olivero, Signiora Fredrisunda Bridgesa, Signiora Elizabetta Glo­verina, and Signiora Maria Juvanelli; with dancing by the afterwards celebrated Slingsby.

Midas was brought out in January, 1762, and for some time, was strongly supported. The Earl of Halifax, honoured the 4th night with his presence, and it continued to be occasionally acted during the season.

That the Burletta of Midas, possesses an ex­traordinary degree of merit, is universally al­lowed. It is, in my opinion, superior to every one of the numerous productions of that species, which have since followed it. In its original state, of three acts, it certainly was too long, and palled upon the audience; but reduced as at present to an after piece, its success has been remarkable, and it ever will hold a distinguished place amongst the entertainments of the stage.

[Page 94]Fortune still continued to follow the banner of Mr. Mossop; his houses were, in general, better attended, and more fashionable, than those of Crow-street. The Countess of Brandon continued his steady patroness. The pieces in which himself and Mrs. Fitzhenry appeared, generally drew crowded audiences. These were considerably strengthened, by the accession of another actor, who had then been but a short time on the stage, yet had displayed great abili­ties, and who, a few years after, supported the principal characters of the drama with great respectability.

This was no other than Mr. Reddish, who made his first entrè on the Irish stage, in Etan, in the Orphan of China, and made a most fa­vourable impression on the audience, by his fi­gure, voice, manner, and other requisites. This gentleman remained several years in Ire­land, and then returned to London, where he was much esteemed, and admired.

The comedy of All in the Wrong, written by Mr. Murphy, was then performing with such eclat in London, as to make it well worthy the attention of the Dublin managers. Each party [Page 95] prepared for its representation. It was announc­ed with much pomp, as in rehearsal at Crow-street; when, after five or six days hard study, it was most unexpectedly one morning, without any previous notice, advertised for that evening at Smock-alley. The consequence was, it was pushed on six nights, before they could possibly bring it forward at Crow-street, and then it was not worth much to either parties. Not­withstanding which, it was played sixteen nights that season, at Smock-alley.

But the greatest treat, the Crow-street mana­gers presented to the public, was the engagement of Mrs. Pritchard. That first of English actresses, appeared in Lady Macbeth, June 14th, 1762. Though in the decline of life, yet such was the superior force of her powers, that she charmed the critical part of her auditors, to the highest degree But her figure operated much in her disfavour with many. Youth and beauty, on the stage, make impressions, which merit, un­assisted by these powerful auxillaries, can seldom attain.

The first appearance of Mrs. Pritchard, drew a very crowded house. Mrs. Oakly was her [Page 96] next, which she repeated twice. Whether from necessity, or whatever other motive I know not, but we find this lady placed in several situations, in which, notwithstanding her uncommon merit, she must appear, from her figure, to little advantage. As Mrs. Sullen, Lady Betty Modish, Clarinda, and Jane Shore. However, she made ample amends in Zara, and Merope, with the latter of which she closed the theatre, July 19th, when she returned to England, leaving as fa­vourable an impression on the Irish audience, as her long tried abilities had unalterably fixed for the English.

But notwithstanding any little temporary suc­cess, during the course of the season, the in­terests of the Crow-street theatre were visibly on the decline. The Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Halifax, it is true, afforded his patronage, and generally commanded at least once a week. Se­veral very excellent pantomimes also, particu­larly two new ones, the Fair, and the Sorcerer, were produced. Yet, in spite of all these ad­vantages and exertions, the managers found their receipts infinitely inferior to their disbursements, which indeed were too heavy for a Dublin theatre to support

[Page 97]Mr. Woodward, who was a plain honest man, and who had sunk a capital of some thousands, the produce of many years oeconomy in London, be­gan to grow uneasy, and inclined to withdraw himself from the partnership, which seemed to threaten final ruin.

Mr. Barry had less at stake: his property was inconsiderable, and his fame suffered no diminu­tion, from this reverse of fortune. He was therefore determined to persevere.

The difficulties they were involved in, natu­rally occasioned misunderstandings, which suc­cess would most probably have prevented. Barry thought Woodward's expences for pantomimes, too great, he, in return, exclaimed against Barry's tragedy processions. Each day added to their differences, and towards the close of the season, it seemed to be the mutual wish of both, to separate.

An arbitration appears to hare been entered into between the parties, but afterwards not abided by. This produced a paper war. Each, as is customary in such cases, laid the blame of [Page 98] the rupture upon the other, and both, in all probability, were conducive towards it.

Mr. Woodward commenced hostilities by the following advertisement, which appeared in Falkner's Journal.

From the late behaviour and conduct of Mr. Barry to me, relative to the theatre royal, I am advised, for my own safety, to let the public know, that the partnership between Mr. Barry and me is dissolved, and also to caution all persons from giving further credit to the said Barry, on the partnership ac­count.


This produced a recriminating advertisement from Mr. Barry, which was followed by a second and third, of the same nature. It would yield but little entertainment to follow the whole of this controversy, through all it's stages. Much less to copy all which appeared in the newspapers concerning it. Suffice it to say, it terminated in a total and final seperation.

[Page 99]Thus ended a partnership, which promised so much success at the beginning, and from which, though the public occasionally reaped such extraordinary entertainment, yet altogether, the evils arising, more than overbalanced the advantages. The managers lost many thousand pounds, and involved themselves in a suit in Chancery; many debts were contracted, not since discharged, and many obstinate parties, and attachments formed, which the following years rather inflamed, than appeased.

The victorious party, to all appearance, finish­ed their career with eclat, and yet, if the truth were known, Mr. Mossop had no great reason to boast of the state of his finances. It was a victory for which the conquerors had reason to weep.

Mr. King, who on quitting Dublin, had re­turned to a high station at Drury-lane, was at this time a most deserving favourite with the town. Him Mr. Mossop engaged for a few nights, to conclude his campaign with.

He appeared in Ranger, and Cadwallader, and was received with that warmth of applause, [Page 100] which his former character, and present im­proved state merited; during his short stay, he played the Copper Captain, Sharp, Oakly, Lord George Brilliant, Benedick, Lovemore, Scrub, Fribble, and Bayes.

In these he was capitally supported by Mrs. Abington, then esteemed one of the first comic actresses ever beheld in this kingdom.

Mr. Barry led his troops to Cork and Limerick, where they spent part of the intervening time, 'till the opening of the Crow-street theatre. The following is the bill of their last night at Cork.

Being positively the last Night of performing this Season. By particular Desire, For the Benefit of Mrs. KENNEDY. By Permission of the Right Worshipful BOYLE TRAVERS, Esq Mayor of CORK. On WEDNESDAY next, the 3d of October, 1762, Will be presented a COMEDY, (not acted this Season) call'd, The CONSCIOUS LOVERS. (Written by Sir RICHARD STEELE.)

  • [Page 101]Young Bevil Mr. Heatton,
  • Mr. Sealand Mr. Heaphy,
  • Myrtle Mr. Knipe,
  • Daniel Master Kennedy,
  • Humphry Mr. Glenvil,
  • Cimberton Mr. Glover,
  • And Tom by Mr. Austin.
  • Phillis Mrs. Kennedy,
  • Lucinda Mrs. Glover,
  • Mrs. Sealand Miss E. Heaton,
  • And Indiana by Miss Heaton.

With Dancing and other Entertainments. After the Play Mr. Austin will speak the cele­brated Epilogue, call'd BUCKS HAVE AT YE ALL. To which will be added, a Dramatic Novel, (not acted this Season) call'd POLLY HONEYCOMBE.

  • Mr. Honeycombe Mr. Glover,
  • Ledger Mr. Knipe,
  • Scribble Mr. Austin,
  • [Page 102] Polly Honeycombe Mrs. Knipe,
  • Mrs. Honeycombe Mrs. Kennedy,
  • And the Nurse by Miss E. Heatton.

Boxes 4s. 4d. Pit, 3s. 3d. Gallery, 2s. 2d. Tickets to be had of Mrs. Kennedy, at Mr. Dynan's in George's-street; at the Coffee-houses, and places in the Boxes to be taken of Mr. Burn, at the Theatre. Tickets delivered for the 2d will be taken.


Mr. Woodward returns to London.—Theatres de­cline.—Mrs. Abington engaged at Drury-lane.— Mrs. Burden, Mr. Foote, Mr. Atkins.—List of both companies.—King Arthur brought out of Crow-street.—Its success.—Music gets forward.— Oratorio's.—Latter season at Crow-street.—Mr. Shuter, Mr. Dyer, Mrs. Clive, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Luke Sparks, Mrs. Lessington.—Love in, a Village.—Mrs. Abington, Mr. Woodward, of Smock-alley.—Season closes at both houses.

THE difficulties Mr. Barry had to struggle with, did not deter him from continuing the competition. He still had a very powerful party remaining in Dublin. His abilities as an actor were universally admired, and he hoped by his assiduity, to supply the loss of his colleague. It was a loss however, of too great consequence to be easily suplied. Mr. Woodward was, with great justice, a favourite with the town, [Page 104] whilst his attention, industry, and punctuality, added great weight to his management.

That Mr. Woodward had great reason to be heartily tired of the scheme he was embarked in, every one must allow. As a private man, his character was unexceptionable; as a performer, he most deservedly stood foremost in his profes­sion; and as a manager, the public were under many obligations to him. Possessed of a capital, which, with prudence, would have rendered him independant for life, his evil genius laid the snare of ambition in his way, and, in a [...] unlucky hour, he consented to lead an oppo­sition.

After four years constant anxiety, fatigue, and trouble, he returned to his native country, with the loss of the greatest part of his fortune, obliged to begin the world again. This, it must be con­fessed, was enough to four his temper; yet it were to be wished, he had not, on his appearance at Covent-garden, when he spoke the following prologue, in the character of a returned prodi­gal, put on that humiliating submission which a British audience were too generous to expect, [Page 105] and which the treatment he had experienced in Ireland never could justify.

Prologue written and spoke by Mr. WOODWARD on his first appearance at Covent-garden Theatre, in the character of Marplot, after having been manager in Dublim, four years.

Behold the Prodigal—return'd—quite tame
And (tho' you'll hardly think it) full of shame:
Asham'd! so long t'have left my Patrons here—
On random schemes—the Lord knows what and where!
—With pitious Face (long Stranger to a Grin)
Receive the Penitent—and, let him in!
Forgive his Errors—ope the friendly Door;
And, then, he's your's 1—and your's 2—and your's 3—as heretofore—
—Ye Gods! what Havock does Ambition make—
Ambition! drove me to the Grand Mistake!
Ambition! made me mad enough to roam—
But, now, I feel (with Joy) that Home is Home
—Faith! they put Powder in my Drink, d'ye see?
Or else, by Pharaoh's Foot, it could no be!1
[Page 106]Belike Queen Mab toucht me (at Full o' th' Moon)
With a Field-Marshal Manager's Battoon—
And, so, I dreamt of Riches—Honor—Pow'r
'Twas but a Dream tho'—and, that Dream is o'er—
—How happy, now, I walk my native Ground;
Above—below—nay! faith—all round and round,
I guess some pleasures in your Bosoms burn,
To see the Prodigal poor Son return
—Perhaps! I'm vain, tho', and the Case mistake—
No—no—yes—yes—for old Acquaintance Sake
Some gen'rous, hospitable, Smiles you'll send—
Besides! I own my Faults, and mean to mend
—Oh, ho! they ring*—how sweet that Sound appears
After an Absence of four tiresome Years—
Marpl [...]t, To-night—so says the Bill of Fare,
Now waits your Pleasure, with his usual Air—
Oh! may I act the Part, still, o'er and o'er!
But never BE the BUSY Body more.
[...] Pit, Boxe [...] and Galleries▪
The Warning-bell rings.
Pointing to a Play Bill.

[Page 107]The succeeding season in Dublin, exhibited nothing very remarkable. The theatres were visibly on the decline; unable to support the expence of so continued an opposition, the ma­nagers found every day added to the precarious­ness, and danger of their situation, without the least prospect of relief. The receipts of the two theatres were scarcely sufficient to defray the ex­penditure of one. The greatest contention seemed to be, not who should gain most, but who should lose the least.

The comic muss was also at this time de­prived of her greatest supporters. Mr. Wood­ward I have just mentioned: Mrs. Abington was engaged at Drury-lane, and Mr. Browne, I be­lieve, returned to Bath. The two last were severe losses to Mr. Mossop, and these were en­creased by the desertion of Mr. Reddish and Mr. Sowdon, who had gone over to the adverse party.

In some measure to counterballance these, he gained over Mr. Dexter, and imported Mrs. Burden, who was obliged to support Mrs. Abington's line of business, with very little ad­vantage to herself; a Miss Parsons, from the [Page 108] Hay-market; a Miss Skyddart, from the Chester company, who had a fine voice, and opened in Nell; and a Miss Stratford, whose first appear­ance was in Cordelia. To these were added, Mr. Foote who opened in the Minor. His no­velty was now pretty much over, and out of his own eccentric pieces, little merit could be ascribed to him.

The early part of this season, introduced to the public a very respectable character: a Mr. Atkins made his entre at Smock-alley, in Sir John Loverule. Being a painter, machinist, and harlequin, he that winter brought out a panto­mime entertainment, called Harlequin's Funeral, which was liked, and brought some money.

Some years after, Mr. Atkins commenced country manager, and established his circuit in the north of Ireland. His winter residence is chiefly at Belfast, where he has lately erected a beautiful elegant theatre, and some years ago, another at Londonderry. These with Armagh, and Lisburn, form a regular circuit for the year, and every encomium is due to Mr. Atkins, for his conduct, character, and management.

[Page 109]Although Mr. Barry's resources were nearly exhausted, yet altogether his company seemed superior to Mr. Mossop's. His tragedies were more uniformly supported, as will be seen by the following view of both companies.

Crow-street, November, 1762.
  • Mr. Barry,
  • Mr. T. Barry,
  • Mr. Macklin,
  • Mr. Sowdon,
  • Mr. Heaphy,
  • Mr. Reddish,
  • Mr. Sparks,
  • Mr. Austin,
  • Mr. Hamilton,
  • Mr. Ellard,
  • Mr. Glenvil,
  • Mr. Glover,
  • Mr. Morris,
  • Mr. Adcock,
  • Mr. Mahon,
  • Mr. Messink,
  • Mr. Corry,
  • Mr. Lee,
  • [Page 110]Mr. Stewart,
  • Mr. Carrol,
  • Mr. Hartry
  • Mr. Wilder.
  • Slingsby & Signiora Ricci, Dancers.
  • Mrs. Dancer,
  • Mrs. Barry,
  • Mrs. Kelf,
  • Miss Mason,
  • Mrs. Adcock,
  • Miss Adcock,
  • Mrs. Glover,
  • Mrs. Packenham,
  • Miss Heatton,
  • Miss Willis,
  • Miss Ambrose,
  • Miss M'Neill,
  • Miss Passerini,
  • Miss Roche,
  • Mrs. Maxwell.
Smock-Alley, Ditto.
  • [Page 109]Mr. Mossop,
  • Mr. Dexter,
  • Mr. Ryder,
  • Mr. Aickin,
  • Mr. Jefferson,
  • Mr. Bridges,
  • Mr. Waker,
  • Mr. Kniveton,
  • Mr. Reed,
  • Mr. Atkins,
  • Mr. Verneil,
  • Mr. Baddely
  • [Page 110]Signiora Pietrot and Madam Gourville, Dancers.
  • Mrs. Fitzhenry,
  • Mrs. Burden,
  • Mrs. Johnson,
  • Miss Skyddart,
  • Mrs. Jefferson,
  • Miss Stratford,
  • Miss Parsons.

I have not been able to obtain complete list of Mr. Mossop's company this sea­son, but the above were the principals.

But the greatest support Mr. Barry received this season, was from the dramatic masque of King Arthur, which was performed, for the first time in Ireland, under his auspices. This piec [...] [Page 111] was got up with great care and attention; the paintings were executed, in the first style, by Carver; the machinery, by Messink, and Finny.

The music of king Arthur alone, immortaliz­ed the great Purcell; it proved him the first com­poser of the age. No expence was spared in cloaths and decorations. The dances to this piece also, added much to its beauty, and were executed in the best stile.

It was brought out February 7th, 1763, in a manner that would have done honour to any stage. The effect it produced was equal to the pains bestowed upon it. The pulic was charmed with its representation.

Music, at this time, began to make some pro­gress in this kingdom. It had always been cul­tivated, but in an inferior degree. Hitherto, it had been considered as an auxiliary to the theatre, but we shall soon find it beginning to take the lead, and constituting a principal fea­ture in it's amusements.

[Page 112]During the passion week, in April, 1763, oratorios were performed at Crow-street theatre, under the direction of Signior Passerini, who had visited Dublin the preceding year.

The ensuing after season, 1763, was memor­able for the number of London performers en­gaged by Mr. Barry. Mr. Shuter, Mr. Dyer, Mrs. Clive, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Luke Sparks, Mrs. Lessingham, and the celebrated Nancy Dawson. Such a number of capital performers, was a great accession of strength, and kept the theatre open till August.

At this very advanced period, was the comic opera of Love in a Village, first brought out in this kingdom. It had been performed at Covent-garden, for a number of nights, the preceding winter, with that great success and applause, it so highly merited.

In the infancy, as I may stile it, of the English vocal drama, the appearance of this beautiful opera attracted the attention, not only of the musical cognoscenti, but also of all ranks and degrees. It made an impression, unknown since the days of Gay, and the Beggar's Opera, which [Page 113] till then had stood unrivalled, but was now obliged to behold a very formidable competitor.

Indeed, I must confess it my opinion, that, though many excellent operas have since been presented to the public, yet none have been more intitled to their approbation, than Love in a Village.

This opera was capitally supported, Young Meadows, Mr. Mahon; Justice Woodcock, Mr. Shuter; Hawthorn, Mr. Wilder; Eustace, Mr. Dyer, (How few of our musical gentlemen, of equal ability, would now play such a character,) Hodge, Mr. Glover; Sir William Meadows, Mr. Morris; Cook, Mr. Messink; Mrs. Debo­rah Woodcock, Miss Mason; Lucinda, Mrs. Mahon; Madge, Miss Willis; and Rosetta, Mrs. Lessingham; a double hornpipe by Mr. Slingsby, and Nancy Dawson.

In opposition to such strength, Mr. Mossop produced Mrs. Abington, whose popularity ren­dered her at this time a welcome visitor; but who not being so well supported as she ought, had not▪ consequently, so much attraction. Smock [...] much sooner than Crow-street, [Page 114] which kept open till the beginning of August, when they finished with the Stratagem, Archer, Mr. O'Brien; Aimwell, Mr. Dyer; Sullen, Mr. Luke Sparks; Scrub, Mr. Shuter; Mrs. Sullen, Mrs. Lessingham; with the Guar­dian; Young Clackit, Mrs. Reddish; Harriet, Mrs. Dancer.

Mr. Barry, after a profitable excursion to Cork and Limerick, returned to Dublin, fraught with the hopes of a successful campaign, the ensuing winter.


Lord Lieutenant patronizes Crow-street.—Arrival of Mr. Sheridan.—Mrs. Fitzhenry goes over to Mr. Barry's standard.—Mr. Wilkinson.—Bur­letta at Crow-street.—Mr. Mossop engages Miss Catley.—Her great attraction.—Riot at Crow-street. —It's fatal consequences.—Franchises of Dublin.—Mr. Mossop obliges the several Corpora­tions at the Franchises.—The Lord M [...]y [...]r be­speak a Play.

THE vice regal favour, which had on so many occasions, been of infinite service to the theatre-royal, operated, at the beginning of the ensuing season, very powerfully. The new Lord Lieutenant and his Lady, the Earl and Countess of Northumberland, were just arrived, and very popular. The theatre opened, October, 1763, a few days after they commanded Othelio, with the Virgin Unmasked; and very often dur­ing the winter, honoured it with their presence.

[Page 116]In this place, I cannot help remarking, the to those chief governors who court popularity, no place can present a better opportunity of at­taining it, than the theatre. Through the course of this work, I have had occasion to observe, that the more popular the Lord Lieutenant was, the oftener he frequented the theatre.

But, Mr. Barry's principal reliance was on his engagement with Mr. Sheridan, whose abilities and many virtues had justly endeared him to the public. This much injured gentleman, was at this time induced once more to revisit his native country. He had, during his absence, the honour of being preceptor to the queen, and had obtained a pension from his majesty, which had rendered his circumstances somewhat easier. He now returned with hopes, that the public, sensible of the wrongs he had suffered, might devise some means of recompenceing him.

Still more to weaken the adverse party, Mr. Barry had the address to bring over once more to his standard Mrs. Fitzhenry. The last three years she had spent at Smock-alley. Her return was of great service, and it might then be said [Page 117] that Crow-street could exhibit tragedies, worthy the attention of the public, supported by Barry, Sheridan, Reddish, Heaphy, Jefferson, Mrs. Fitzhenry, Miss Osborne, then Mrs. William Barry, and Mrs. Dancer.

In comedy, they could not boast so much; Mrs. Kennedy, from Drury-lane, was excellent in a peculiar line of characters; such as the Old Maid, Mrs. Honeycombe, &c. but neither her age nor figure qualified her to lead in elegant comedy. Mr. Barry's greatest strength in that line was Mr. Wilkinson. The late excursions of this gentleman to Ireland, had proved so plea­sant and profitable, that we find him early this season, possessed of much attraction, and draw­ing money to Mr. Foote's pieces, particulary his Mayor of Garret, which was then first brought out in Dublin, and performed several nights.

Mr. Wilkinson's engagement, ended in January, 1764; when, after an excellent bene­fit, he set off for Scotland; and Mr. Macklin having joined Mr. Mossop, the remainder of the season, we [...] had entirely [Page 118] the ascendancy, and that very few comedies were played in Crow-street.

Early in November, Mrs. Fitzhenry opened in Calista, and a few nights after, Mr. Sheridan came forward in Hamlet, a character he had sustained with the greatest respectability, both in London and Dublin. The first actresses then, did not think it beneath them give force and dignity to the Queen. Mrs. Pritchard played it in London, Mrs. Fitzhenry in Dublin. The house was crowded to receive Mr. Sheridan, and the reiterated applauses which marked his first entrance, evidently spoke the feelings of the audience on the return of a man, whom the world justly considered as an ornament to the stage, and an honour to the kingdom that gave him birth.

His next appearance was in Richard, which was graced with the presence of the Lord Lieutenant and his Countess. After this, the two tragedians combined their strength, and played Pierre, and Jaffier, Brutus, and Caffius, King John, and the Bastard, Hastings, and Shore, Othello, and Iago, Desdemona, Mrs. Dancer; Emelia, Mrs. Fitzhenry; Cas­talio, [Page 119] and Chamont. In many tragedies, we find the four: as All for Love, Marc Antony, and Ventidius, Octavia, and Cleopatra, Orestes, and Pyrrhus, Andromache, and Hermione, Alexander, and Clytus, Roxana, and Statira. The Penitent, Horatio, Mr. Sheridan; Sciolto, Mr. Heaphy; Altamont, Mr. T. Barry; Lothario, Mr. Barry, Lavinia, Mrs. T. Barry; Calista, Mrs. Fitzhenry.

Towards the latter end of the season, business beginning to decline, Mr. Barry engaged a company, of Italian Burletta performers, who opened the 28th of April, by command, with the Burletta of La Serva Padrona, or the Maid the Mistress. The characters, by Signor and Signora Guerina, &c. but, I believe, the success of these Burletta's was but very moderate, and scarcely answered the expence attending them.

'Tis now time to take a view of Mr. Mossop's operations. He judiciously, seemed sensible of the power of his competitor in tragedy; there­fore, instead of encountering him in the line where his principal strength lay, lie directed the force of his own operations to comedy and mu­sical pieces. His retaining Mrs. Abington, and [Page 120] Mr. Ryder, and his junction with Mr. Macklin, were of great service to him in the former; and fortune pointed out an object, which abundantly answered his purpose, in the latter.

Miss Catley's vocal powers, and uncommon abilities, were then just beginning to captivate the public, in London. Mr. Mossop invited her over to this kingdom, and she arrived late in December, 1763. Her first appearance was in Polly, in the Beggar's Opera, in which the ap­plause she gained was uncommon. She pleased beyond expression, and so highly established her fame, that even in the ensuing Christmas holi­days, the most unfashionable part of the season, the houses were crowded each night, with the first auditors in the kingdom, to her Polly.

Opera now began to rear her head, and take the lead in the attractions of the drama; and she has ever since retained this powerful charm, in a very superior degree. Miss Catley instant­ly became a decided favourite. The Beggar's Opera was often repeated, and her Rosetta, in [Page 121] Love in a Village, drew much money to the theatrical treasury.

Mr. Mossop, although his genius did not, by any means, incline to the laughter loving goddess, had yet selected an excellent comedy com­pany. With Mrs. Abington, Mr. Macklin, Mr. Ryder, Mr. Dexter, Mrs. Lessingham, from Covent-garden, who had played a few nights in the latter season at Crow-street, Mr. Stamper, Mr. Hamilton, Mrs. Kelf, Miss Ambrose, Miss Usher, Mr. Walker, &c. many comedies were performed with much credit.

Few particulars of this season remain worth noticing; one, however, was attended with circumstances too shocking, to be passed over in silence.

On one of the crowded nights, at Crow-street, in the month of April, 1764, two gentlemen, leading some ladies to their chairs, were grossly insulted by a number of servants, waiting at the box doors, who not only abused them in the foulest manner, but followed them on their re­turn into the box room, till prevented by the centinels then on duty. Not content with outrage, [Page 122] a number of them, threw their lighted flambeaux, into the box room, crying out at the same time, fire! fire!

Such an outery, joined to the smoke of the flambeaux, occasioned an instantaneous terror, easier to be imagined, than described. Perhaps there is not a more alarming circumstance in na­ture, than that of upwards of a thousand people, confined in a theatre, being terrified with the sudden exclamation of fire, without knowing from whence the danger arises, or how to avoid it. Terror magnifies the most petty trifles into objects of alarm, and fear takes from people the power of pursuing proper measures for their safety.

The consternation this alarm excited, instantly communicated itself to every individual in the house. The cry of fire resounded from every part of the theatre. The cries and shrieks of the females, and the efforts of the men to extricate themselves, from this supposed danger, produc­ed a scene truly terrific, and shocking. The house was cleared as soon as possible. The mis­take was discovered, but not till a great deal of mischief had happened.

[Page 123]Numberless were the accidents this wicked contrivance produced. Happily however, only two lives were lost. Those were, Mr. Eaton, a Butcher of Ormond Market, and his wife, who were trampled to death, by the violent pressure of the crowd from the upper gallery. What added to the poignancy of the distress was, they left behind them eight children, totally unpro­vided for!

Where there are proper objects, the public is never deficient in compassion, and humanity. On this occasion, they embraced every oppor­tunity of manifesting this goodlike disposition. A benefit, free of every expence, was announced at each theatre. Every performer of conse­quence came forward, and was eager to offer his services. Each night was crowded; be­sides which, there was a subscription set on foot, which altogether raised a sum that provided very respectably for these unhappy orphans, thus be­reft of their parents.

Mr. Sheridan, who still laboured under dif­ficulties, which his former misfortunes had in­volved him in, having nearly finished his engage­ment with Mr. Barry, proposed giving lectures [Page 124] on oratory, and the English language, in the Music Hall, early in May. This his creditors, ungenerously, and injudiciously, prevented him from; and he was obliged to acquaint the pub­lic, that though he had appropriated three fourths of his income to the discharge of his debts, yet such was their cruelty, that the safety of his person would have been endangered if he had ventured to go on with his lecture.

In June, 1764, Mr. Shuter again visited Dublin, and appeared in several of his favourite characters, at Smock-alley, which with his sup­port, kept open till the beginning of August, during which time, Love in a Village, Thomas and Sally, Comus, The Devil to Pay, &c. were often repeated.

Mr. Barry, notwithstanding his exertion after an unsuccessful campaign, closed in June, leaving Mr. Mossop in possession of the field, and repaired, as usual, to Cork and Limerick, where he experienced better fortune; which the ex­cellence of his company highly entitled him to as many be seen by the following bill.

[Page 125]By Permission of the Right Worshipful JOHN SMITH, Esq Mayor of CORK. For the Benefit of the CHARITABLE INFIRMARY. St. Mary Shandon. At the Theatre-Royal, on Friday next the 14th of September, 1764, Will be presented a Tragedy call'd, The DISTRESSED MOTHER.

  • Orestes Mr. Barry,
  • Pyrrhus Mr. Heaphy,
  • Pylades Mr. Mahon,
  • Phoenix Mr. Vernel,
  • Hermione Mrs. Fitzhenry,
  • Cleone Mrs. Glover.

Andromache, (with the original Epilogue,) Mrs. DANCER. End of the 3d act, the Dust Cart Cantata, by Mr. Messink. End of the 4th act, a Hornpipe by a young Gentleman. To which will be added a Farce, (not acted these two years) call'd [...]LORA: or, HOB in the WELL.

  • [Page 126]Friendly Mr. Mahon,
  • Young Hob Mr. Glover,
  • Sir Tho. Testy Mr. Mynitt,
  • Old Hob Mr. Vernel,
  • Dick Mr. Hamilton,
  • Betty Mrs. Ellard,
  • Flora Mrs. Glover.

Boxes, 4s. 4d. Pit, 3s. 3d. Gallery, 2s. 2d. To begin precisely at 7 o'clock. Places in the Boxes to be taken of Mr. Keane, Box-keeper, and Tickets to be had of Mr. Bourne, House­keeper, the Charitable Infirmary, St. Mary Shandon, and at the Printers hereof.

A circumstance happened, at this time, which contributed towards raising the popularity of Mr. Mossop. The triennial perambulation of the city liberties, or riding the franchises, as they were then stiled, was so much the fashion, that on those occasions the different corporations went to very great expence, in preparing the decorations and paraphernalia, which distinguish­ed their respective bodies; and those only who have been spectators of the magnificence, no­velty, variety, and splendour, of this singular [Page 127] cavalcade, can be proper judges of the effects it produced.

From the great variety of dresses which the wardrobe of a theatre must necessarily consist of, it was always in a managers power, to assist in a peculiar manner such representations; and so amply did Mr. Mossop contribute to the brillian­cy and pageantry, of the present, that several of the corporations returned their acknowledg­ments to him in the public papers, ‘for lend­ing them habits, ornaments, and decorati­ons which added considerably to the splendour of the franchises.’

On this occasion also, the Right Honourable William Forbes, then Lord Mayor, and in high favour with the city, desired a play, August 14th, For the entertainment of the Alder­men, the Sheriffs, and the Master, Wardens, and Brethren of the city of Dublin.

The play chosen was Richard the 3d; Rich­ard, Mr. Mossop; King Henry, Mr. Aickin; Tressel, Mr. Ryder; Duke of York, Master Dawson; Lady Anae, Mrs. Kelf; Queen, Mrs. Usher.

[Page 128]I must confess, I think it was a particular play for the Lord Mayor to chuse, and I hope Mr. Mossop took care to have his representative more respectable, and better attended, than usual. The farce was the True Born Irishman; Mur­rough O'Doghe [...]t [...], Mr. Macklin; Councellor Hamilton, Mr. [...]; Count Mushroom, Mr. Ryder; Mr. O'Dogherty, Mrs. Kelf.


Mr. Massop engages another Burletta Company.— List of the Performers at both Houses.—Mr. Collins's appearance.—Musical struggle at the rival Theatres.—Beggar's Opera at both.—Maid of the Mill.—Salisbury at Crow-street.—Ten­ducci's first appearance at Smock-alley.

THE next season produced much novelty at both theatres. Mr. Mossop, who had exper­ienced the good effects of his late musical en­gagements, resolved to persevere in that popular species of entertainment. He renewed his agree­ [...]ent with Miss Catley, and entered into arti­cles with a new Burletta company.

Signiora Spiletta had, the season before, per­f [...]med at the Opera house in London, with uncommon eclat. Connected with this cele­brated Italian, were her father, sister, and seve­ral relations. Her brother was the since well known, and much admired, Signior Tomaso [Page 130] Giordani, whose musical compositions will ever be held in the highest estimation, whilst taste or judgment exist. Very capital dancers were also engaged, and we find those exotics constituted a leading feature in the ensuing winter's amuse­ments.

As it will be impossible for me to follow all the new performers, through their first appear­ances, and as the state of the companies was much the same through the season, I shall pre­sent my reader with a list of each as they stood November, 1764.

  • Mr. Barry,
  • Mr. T. Barry,
  • Mr. Brown,
  • Mr. Macklin,
  • Mr. Sparks,
  • Mr. Heaphy,
  • Mr. Mahou,
  • Mr. Kennedy,
  • Mr. Glover,
  • Mr. H [...]st,
  • Mr. Usher,
  • [Page 131]Mr. Vernel,
  • Mr. Hamilton,
  • Mr. Ellard,
  • Mr. Glenville,
  • Mr. Austin,
  • Mr. Morris,
  • Mr. Wm. Palmer,
  • Mr. Mynitt,
  • Mr. Messink,
  • Mr. Lee,
  • Mr. Billinghurst,
  • Mr. Slageldoir,
  • Signior Colpi, slack Rope,
  • Venetians & Children.
  • Mrs. Dancer,
  • Mrs. Abington,
  • Mrs. Fitzhenry,
  • Mrs. Kennedy,
  • Miss Mason,
  • Miss Ashmore,
  • Mrs. Glover,
  • Mrs. Ellard,
  • [Page 132]Miss Parsons,
  • Mrs. Hamilton,
  • [Page 130]Mr. Mossop,
  • Mr. Ryder,
  • Mr. Sowdon,
  • Mr. Dawson,
  • Master Dawson,
  • Mr. Wilder,
  • Mr. Aickin,
  • Mr. Waker,
  • Mr. Lewis,
  • Mr. Collins,
  • Mr. White,
  • [Page 131]Mr. Casey,
  • Mr. Harpet,
  • Mr. Remington,
  • Mr. Fawcet,
  • Mr. Reilly,
  • Mr. Connor,
  • Mr. Smith,
  • Mr. Reynolds,
  • Mr. Jagger,
  • Mr. Jefferies,
  • Mr. Nepecker,
  • Mr. Saunders, Equilibrist.
  • Miss Catley,
  • Mrs. Kelf,
  • Miss Willis,
  • Mrs. Wilder,
  • Miss Ambrose
  • Mrs. Barry,
  • Mrs. Johnson,
  • Mrs. Hartry,
  • [Page 132]Mrs. Packenham,
  • Mrs. Dunlap,
  • Miss Dunlap,
  • Miss. Garvey.
Burletta at Smock-Alley.
  • Signior Tomaso Giordani,
  • Signior Francisco Giordani,
  • Signior Peretti,
  • Signior Guerini,
  • Signiora Spiletta,
  • Signiora Giordani,
  • Signiora Guerini.

Smock-Alley theatre opened, October 15th. with Mr. Mossop's Richard, and Mr. Ryder's Scapin. But as their hopes rested chiefly on mu­sical performances▪ the Beggar's Opera, with new accompaniments, by Signior Giordani, was next brought forward, which, with Love in a Village, and the new Burletta, were performed ternately, six or seven nights each. The bur­letta pleased much; Spiletta was a great favour­ite; but Catley's voice, and whimsical stile of [Page 133] singing, soon took the lead, and drew crowded houses.

Mr. Collins, whom the public have lately be­held with infinite pleasure, entertaining an au­dience for three hours, entirely by the force of genuine humour, and native comic talents, made his first appearance on the boards of Smock-alley, in Young Mirabel, in the incon­stant, and proved a very respectable acquisition to the Irish stage. I find his name afterwards, for Justice Woodcock, Dick in the Confederacy, Peachum, Sir Francis Wronghead, Bastard in Lear, Angelo, Gibby, &c.

The early part of Mr. Barry's season proved rather profitable. To the novelty of the Ve­netians, and rope dancing, he prefixed his strongest tragedies. His receipts were encreased, but his expences were enormous. When public curiosity abated, he had recourse to a stratagem, which, as it was attacking the enemy on their own ground, answered his purpose, equal to his most sanguine expectations.

The rage for Catley was this time so great, that it was highly expedient to endeavour to [Page 134] stem the torrent. Conscious that his musical performers were not equal to those of Smock-alley, he boldly announced the Beggar's Opera, Captain Macheath by himself; Polly by Mrs. Dancer; and Lucy by Mrs. Abington. The novelty of the attempt, excited the curiosity of the public, and it drew much money.

Certain it is, that though his vocal abilities could not enable him to compass the common tunes of this well known piece, yet his figure, manner, and acting of this intrepid highwayman, made ample amends, and perhaps, he altoge­ther gave a portrait of this favourite character, equal, if not superior, to any that ever attempted it, since the original. He really was, the sine, gay, bold faced, gentleman of the road.

Gay's Polly received from Mrs. Dancer, a delicacy, a pathos, and interesting colouring which few vocal performers have ever been able to give it. Mrs. Abington's Lucy, was esteem­ed a capital piece of acting.

The remaining parts of the opera were sup­ported, in the following manner: Peachum, [Page 135] Mr. Macklin; Lockit, Mr. Sparks; Mat o'th' Mint, Mr. Mahon; Jenny Diver, Mrs. Mahon; Mrs. Peachum, Mrs. Kennedy.

The first night, it brought 160l. the second 125 l. the third 50l. the fourth 120l. the fifth 97l. It was afterwards performed several nights, in the course of the season, with varied success.

To oppose this new, and unexpected stroke, Mr. Mossop thought of another, equally nou­velle. Miss Catley, had then got such posses­sion of the public, that whatever she attempted, was sure to meet with uncommon approbation. She had long drawn houses in Polly. She now assumed the opposite character, and figured in the rakish, joyous Macheath.

This had the desired effect, and excited cu­riosity in a very high degree, and the Beggar's Opera proved another source of dispute and con­tention, at Smock-alley; Mr. Collins played Peachum; Mr. Wilder, Mat o'th' Mint; Mrs. Wilder, Lucy; Mr. Rider, Mrs. Slammakin; Mrs. Usher, Diana Trapes, and Miss Dunlop, Polly. It was, with Love in a Village, given [Page 136] once a week during most of the season. The former was played fifteen nights: the latter, ten.

Mrs. Abington's return to Smock-alley theatre, about the middle of the season, caused a new revolution in the Beggar's Opera; she played Polly, and Signiora Spiletta appeared in Lucy.

The latter was indeed an arduous task. Being almost unacquainted with the language, she was obliged to apologize to the public, before she performed it. But favourites often have a li­cence to be absurd, and in the present case, Spiletta got more applause, than if she had been a native.

Scarce were the merits of this musical strugg [...] decided, when the comic opera of the Maid of the Mill, gave occasion for a fresh contest. This excellent opera was then performing, with the greatest success, at Covent-garden.

Both managers thought it an object, worth their utmost attention. The words of the opera were published, and equally free for both. But [Page 137] the music was in manuscript, and the sole pro­perty of the Covent-garden manager. From him Mr. Barry purchased it, and consequently imagined, he had in this instance, securely tri­umphed over his antagonist.

In this dilemma, Mr. Mossop found an un­expected resource, in the great abilities of Sig­nior Giordani. It is a fact well established, that though the parts were writing out in Dublin for Mr. Barry, yet did Signior Giordani sit down, and new compose the entire opera of the Maid of the Mill, in full score, with all the accompaniments, in less than a fortnight: and it was written out, studied, the scenes painted, and the opera brought out, two nights before they were able to accomplish it at Crow-street.

The opera pleased much. The music did in­finite credit to the genius of Signior Giordani. It was considered, by every judge, as a wonder­ful effort of the human mind: and to it were applied Pope's words,

"The sound becomes an echo to the sense."

[Page 138]I should imagine, it will add to the entertain­ment of the reader, to compare the strength of each company, in supporting the pieces in ques­tion. The Maid of the Mill was thus perform­ed, at each theatre.

Lord AimworthMr. Barry,Mr. Ryder,
Sir H. SycamoreMr. Mahon,Mr. Collins,
FairfieldMr. Glover,Mr. Dawson,
RalphMr. Hamilton,Mr. Waker,
MervinMr. Palmer,Mr. Jagger,
GilesMr. M [...]rr [...]s,Mr. Wilder.
FannyMrs. Glover,Sign [...] ▪ Spiletta,
Lady SycamoreMrs. Kennedy,Mrs. Kelf,
Theod [...]Mrs. M [...]on,Mrs. Wilder,
PattyMrs. Dancer.Miss Catley.

At Smock-alley, the Maid of the Mill, ran nine nights, besides benefits. At Crow-street, they gave up the contest after the fifth time.

Much about this period, the serious opera of Artaxerxes, was, for the first time, performed in this kingdom, at Smock-alley; Arbaces, by [Page 139] Signior Passerini; Artaxerxes, Signior Peretti; Artabanes, Mr. Wilder; Rimenes, Mr. Ryder; Semira, Mrs. Hawtrcy; and Mandane, Miss Catley.

We may judge of the strength of the musical pieces this season, under Mr. Mossop, when we find the Beggar's Opera exhibited eleven nights, Love in a Village sixteen, Artaxerxes fourteen; besides the Maid of the Mill, Comus, the Jovial Crew, and the Italian Burlettas.

Catley closed her career, the 4th of May, in Rosetta, after which she sailed for England, being announced as engaged for the next winter, with her present manager, Mr. Mossop. Her departure put an end to the musical pieces.

Mr. Mossop closed the 19th of May, inform­ing the public, that he intended opening speedi­ly again, with English operas, having engaged several capital singers from England.

It is time now to return to Mr. Barry. Hard pushed by the vocal powers of his opponents, and burthened with a very heavy company, he found his finances much impaired; towards [Page 140] the end of this hard-fought campaign. Fortune however, seemed more propitious, when he confined his efforts within their proper sphere.

The tragedy of the Countess of Salisbury was, at this time, offered to his acceptance. The author was a native of this kingdom, a gentle­man of good connections; and the piece pos­sessed much merit. The language was flowery, the story which was founded on Dr. Leland's Langsword Earl of Salisbury, pathetic and in­teresting. It was got up with care, and met with great success.

Salisbury was well adapted to display the pow­ers of Mr. Barry; and Mrs. Dancer, in the ori­ginal part of the Countess, exhibited those amazing abilities, which have so often since, enraptured the admirers of melpom [...]e, and which have so deservedly placed her at the very pinnacle of theatric excellence.

The Countess of Salisbury was performed [...] nights, though brought out so late in the season, and Mr. Barry finished in July. Salisbury was afterwards acted in the Hay-market, and Drury-lane.

[Page 141]A few days after, Mr. Mossop, according to his promise, brough out his first new English opera, as he was pleased to stile it. This was Amintas, or the Royal Shepherd, in which the celebrated Signior Tenducci, so much admired in the musical world, first appeared. Alex­ander was performed by Signior Perretti, Age­nor, Mr. Wilder; Thamyris, Miss Thomas, from Covent-garden, and Eliza by Signiora Cremonini, from the Opera house, their first appearance in this kingdom.

The uncommon vocal powers, and judgment, of Signior Tenducci, had already raised his fame, [...] most of the courts in Europe; nor did his me­rits make less impression in Dublin. He was allowed to be, by far the most capital foreign singer, that ever visited these kingdoms, and his reception was so flattering, that we find him em­bracing every opportunity of returning to this country.

Amintas and Alexander, were the only opera's performed at this time: but these were repeated twice a week, during the summer, and closed the beginning of October.

[Page 142]In the interim, Mr. Barry was with a very capital company, performing at Cork, where, unrivalled, he gained reputation and profit.

There was also another very strong detach­ment at this time at Drogheda. Amongst the principal performers were, Mr. Macklin, Mr. Ryder, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Austin, Mrs. Kelf, Mrs. Austin, &c.


Musical pieces continue to take the lead.—New performers.—Miss Ashmore first noticed.—Crow-street declines.—Dancing Dogs.—Catley's great reputation.—Success of Clandestine Marriage.— Death of Duval.—List of both companies.—Mr. Sheridan returns.—Receipts of his first four houses.—Miss Browne.—Mr. Jackson.—G. Alexander Steevens's Lectures.

AFTER a few weeks interval, Mr. Mossop commenced the operations of his next campaign with vigour, and opened October 21st, 1765, with Miss Catley in Macheath; Polly, Miss Thomas, a new Lucy; and Mr. Ryder's Scapin.

Tenducci's operas were continued, with a very moderate share of success, and a crowd of new performers imported or recruited from the country: as Mrs. Pearson, Mr. Tyler, Mr. [Page 144] Pearson, Mr. Richards, Mr. and Mrs. Gemea, Mr. Smith, Mr. Blisset, afterwards an actor of much merit.

Amongst the group, unnoticed and unknown, was Mr. Edwin, who in Sir Philip Modelove, first courted the acquaintance of the Irish au­dience. Long were the abilities of this eccen­tric actor obscured, nor could the profoundest dramatic judge then discover those talents, which nature had so liberally endowed him with; o [...] [...] the extraordinary eminence he after­wards atta [...]ned. Mr. Edwin was, at that time very young. He remained here two seasons, and we find him in Old Philpot, Lord Trinket, Justice Woodcock, &c.

This season Mr. and Mrs. Reddish changed sides and, with Mr. Glover, went over to Smock-alley. So much in fashion indeed was the custom, at this time, of performers chang­ing from one manager to another, that it would be impossible with accuracy to follow them through their various theatrical transitions.

Operas still continued entirely the fashion at Smock-alley, and drew considerable sums to Mr. [Page 145] Mossop's treasury. The new opera of Athridates, run upwards of a dozen nights.

In this piece, Miss Ashmore, since Mrs. Sparks, was first introduced to the public; she sung a pleasing air, of "Dearest Mother," much adapted to her powers, and in which she was well instructed by Signior Tenducci. The au­dience were highly delighted with this new little favourite, who some years afterwards, charmed them in a variety of characters.

Towards the middle of the season, like many others, she changed sides; and played Cupid in King Arthur, at Crow-street; she there had part of a benefit, at which she appeared in the Virgin Unmasked.

It was with the utmost concern, Mr. Barry perceived his opponent crowned with success, which his utmost exertions could not prevent. The credit and reputation of his theatre, had been for a long time gradually lessening, and the certain consequences appeared; salaries unpaid, and debts contracted, which he had not ability to discharge.

[Page 146]Thus disagreeably situated, he embraced an expedient which, though it procured him temporary relief, was attended with reproach and disgrace to the theatre. He introduced a new set of performers to the town. These were no other than Dutch dogs, and an Italian mon­key, who, in a new pantomime, displayed those tricks which ought solely to be confined to their proper sphere, a booth, where sense and rea­son are set at defiance, and where an admir­er of the drama would be ashamed to appear.

Nor were the common arts of opposition left untried. Performers, allured by empty promises, and imaginary honour, were continually chang­ing their situation: and besides Miss Ashmore, whom I have just mentioned, Mr. and Mrs. Reddish, Miss Slack, Signiora Spiletta, Ten­ducci, Cremonini, with several others were en­ticed from Smock-alley to Crow-street.

The novelty of Tenducci, and the foreigners, was nearly exhausted; whilst the attractions of Catley, who adhered with honour to Mr. Mos­sop, encreased every night. She had at this time, nearly arrived at the zenith of her reputa­tion [Page 147] and I believe I may venture to affirm, that she drew as much money to the Irish theatre, as any vocal performer ever did, either before or since; nor did she confine herself to one line of singing. She played Polly, Macheath, and Lucy. She relinquished Sally, and made a capital part of Dorcas, and gave up, what few capital singers would, Rosetta, and played Deborah Wood­cock.

It would be tedious, and I am afraid unenter­taining to my readers, to enter into the miniutiae of each theatre; suffice it then to mention merely, what may serve to convey to them a just idea of the more essential and important articles.

The following anecdote was given me from re­spectable authority, and is now mentioned as a proof that actors are not always the best judges of pieces. Notwithstanding the uncommon merit, and extraordinary success of the Clandestine Marriage, the early part of this season at Drury Lane; a piece which one should imagine, only slightly to peruse, were sufficient to make any reader of common understanding, pronounce it one of the best comedies in the English language; [...]et strange to relate, at the first reading of it [Page 148] in the Green Room of Crow-street, in Decem­ber, the whole company concurred in opinion, that it was not worth the trouble of getting up.

It was accordingly laid aside, unil Mr. T. Barry's benefit. The novelty inclined him to have it studied, and performed; when it pleased so wonderfully, that it was played twice a week at Cork the following summer, and many nights the ensuing winter.

Before I dismiss this season, I must mention the death of Mr. Lewis Duval, the original pro­prietor of the Smock Alley theatre, and who, until his death, which was when he was up­wards of ninety, had an annual benefit at that theatre.

Though much embarrassed, yet not entirely disheartened, by the ill success of the two last campaigns, Mr. Barry once more prepared to meet his competitor for public favour, and seemed to take the field with a force superior to that of his adversary, as may be seen by the sub­joined list.

  • [Page 149]Mr. Barry,
  • Mr. T. Barry,
  • Mr. Macklin,
  • Mr. Brown,
  • Mr. Lewis,
  • Mr. Heaphy,
  • Mr. Sparks,
  • Mr. Dawson,
  • Mr. Usher,
  • Mr. Mahon,
  • Mr. Austin,
  • Mr. Glenville,
  • Mr. Vernell,
  • Mr. Massey,
  • Mr. Messink,
  • Mr. Palmer,
  • Mr. Maguire,
  • Mr. Lee,
  • Mr. Aldridge.
  • Mrs. Dancer,
  • Mrs. Fitzhenry,
  • Mrs. Kelf,
  • Mrs. [...]
  • [Page 150]Signiora Cremonini,
  • Miss Slack,
  • Miss Ashmore,
  • Signiora Spiletta,
  • Miss Hearn.
  • [Page 149]Mr. Mossop,
  • Mr. Duncan,
  • Mr. Edwin,
  • Mr. O'Keefe,
  • Mr. Jefferies,
  • Mr. Duffy,
  • Mr. Remington,
  • Mr. Ward,
  • Mr. Waker,
  • Mr. Richardson,
  • Mr. Jones,
  • Mr. Loveman
  • Mr. Taylor,
  • Mr. Foster.
  • Miss Catley,
  • Mrs. Ellard,
  • Miss Eaton,
  • [...]s. Loveman,
  • [Page 150]Mrs. Jefferis,
  • Mrs. Colligan,
  • Miss & Mrs. Hutton▪
  • Miss Brewer,
  • Mrs. Anftil,
  • Miss Harris,
  • Miss Vandermere,
  • Miss Browne,
  • Miss Ambrose,
  • Michel, Shuter and Jackson, dancers.

From a view of the above, one would be apt to imagine that the advantage lay on Mr. Barry's side, but in reality it was the reverse; every effort of his at the beginning of the season, proved unsuccessful, whilst Catley brought crowded houses at the other theatre.

In this exigence Mr. Barry turned his eyes towards Mr. Sheridan, with whom he conclud­ed a treaty, and who on this occasion was of great service. By accident it happens, that the receipts of Mr. Sheridan's first four houses, are [Page 151] in my possession, which for the readers informa­tion, I am happy to ascertain.

I must premise that at this period the business in general was very bad. Love in a Village [...]peated five nights, never reached 30l. some­times not 14l. other receipts have descended so low as 10l. to his Hamlet there was 171l. 19s. [...] d. Irish, Richard 113l. 15s. Cato 141l. 16s. 2d. Hamlet, second time 148l. 9s. 5d.

I am sorry it is not in my power to follow him through the remainder of his characters, but, by the above specimen we may readily perceive that he contributed much towards the re-establish­ment of Mr. Barry's shattered finances; but even with this extraordinary assistance it was not in his power to save himself, and at the con­clusion of the winter, he found he was more involved than ever.

Few occurrences worth mentioning happened, at either theatre, during the present season. Mr. Mossop still preserved the superiority he had obtained, though in truth, he had very little reason to boast.

[Page 152]Amongst the new performers he introduced▪ at this time, was Miss Browne, daughter of Mr. Sowdon: an elegant figure, a pleasing singer, and possessed of much merit, both in tragedy and comedy; she played Polly six nights, then Rosetta, Patty, Fanny, in the Clandestine Mar­riage, &c.

This lady afterwards became the wife of Mr. Jackson, a gentleman of abilities, as a writer and actor, and of a most respectable character, who made his first appearance in Dublin much about the same time, with deserved repu­t [...]tion.

Mr. and Mrs. Jackson remained in Dublin several seasons, and sustained a principal line of business, in the varied walks of the drama, with much credit. Some years after, Mr. Jack­son purchased the Edinburgh theatre and patent from Mr. Ross, the then patentee, where he continued manager untill very lately, with much credit and character.

About this period, Mr. George Alexander Stevens, for the first time, visited this kingdom, with his celebrated Lecture upon Heads, and [Page 153] exhibited in the Little Theatre in Capel-street, with infinite applause. The novelty of his un­dertaking drew the attention of the public.

Though not possessed of much merit as an actor, yet he certainly delivered his lectures with vast humour, variety, and judgment; repu­tation and success attended him in both king­doms, and in the course of a few years, he ac­quired an independant fortune, solely by the re­petition of this then singular species of enter­tainment.


Mr. Barry obliged to relinquish the contest.—Ef­fects of it.—Mr. Mossop sole Manager.—Pur­chases both Theatres.—Opens in Crow-street, December, 1767.—Mr. Clinch's first appear­ance.—Miss Catley performs.—Mr. Brownlow Ford [...].—Mr. Sheridan, Mr. King, and Mrs. Atington, at the latter Season, 1768.

BUT every circumstance now seemed to in­dicate the rapid decline of the drama in Ireland. Novelty in a great measure, had lost its charms; rancour, and ill will, prevailed amongst the performers. The town was divided, and ex­hausted between the Barryists and Mossopians. Both parties were heartily tired of the contest, yet neither were willing to resign their preten­sions.

[Page 155]The very great merits of the two managers procured them a number of zealous partizans, but these were not sufficient to support their respective theatres. The few moderate and discerning, beheld with concern, the ruin that attended the Dublin stage, from these divisions, yet knew not how to remedy an evil, which every day's experience encreased, and rendered more apparent.

At length, the superior genius of Mr. Mossop prevailed. After a seven years contest, Mr. Bar­ry was obliged to resign the field to his then seemingly, more fortunate rival; having, during that time, experienced more chagrin, vexation, and disappointment, than imagination can well conceive. Harrassed in mind and body, he had lavished so many years of the prime of his life, and, instead of reaping the fruits of such shining abilities, as nature had blessed him with, had incurred debts he could never discharge, ruined many persons connected with him, and involved himself in difficulties, which during the remain­der of his life, he could never surmount.

His, I c [...]nnot call him successful, competitor, was not in a much more enviable situation. His [Page 156] finances were also much deranged, his credit im­paired, and his resources nearly exhausted. However, he had the town now to himself, and he hoped that having accomplished so important a point, a few successful seasons would amply recompense him for the many disagreeable days he had spent in the endeavour to effect it.

The first step he took, was to obtain possession of both theatres, which, as he imagined, struck at the root of all future rivalship, and gave him leisure to recruit his shattered fortunes.

He played about a month in Smock-alley, whilst Crow-street was repairing, where he was aided by the novelty of Mrs. Fitzhenry, whose return from London was welcomed by her na­tive audience, with that warmth and cordiality, which evinced how dear she was to them, and how high she stood in their estimation.

The 7th of December, 1767, Mr. Mossop came forward, for the first time, as sole mo­narch of Crow-street domains, in the cha­racter of Richard the Third. Curiosity how­ever, did not produce the effect expected. The [Page 157] house was far from being crowded: the receipts amounting only to 82l. 15s. 4d. Irish money.

Nevertheless, several of his tragedies brought large sums of money to his treasury. The Orphan of China, in particular, one night reached 140l. 4s. 6d.

Mr. Brown, ever a favourite with the public, was well attended, in his principal characters in comedy, and Mrs. Fitzhenry gave evident proofs, at her benefit, how respectable her in­terest was amongst all ranks. She took the Countess of Salisbury, and had 201l. 1s. 4d. Irish, in her house, which I believe, was as much as ever had then been known, on one night.

In the month of February, 1768, the tragedy of the Orphan was revived, for the purpose of introducing a young and new candidate for pub­lic favour. The character selected for his first appearance was Castalio, a favourite part of Mr. Barry's, and in which he had displayed such sweetness, tenderness, and variety. Arducus as the task was, our adventurer exceeded the most sanguine expectations of his friends, and im­pressed the town with the most lively hopes, that [Page 158] in this youthful hero, they had found an ex­cellent substitute for their departed favourite.

Curiosity, and connections, drew numbers the first night which amounted to 133l. 14s. 9d. and so highly was the audience delighted with the performance of this promising son of Thespis, that the play, in the course of a few weeks, drew a number of respectable audiences. His next attempts were Jaffier, Lothario, and Essex, which were attended with an equal degree of success.

Fame a length, proclaimed the name of this promising actor to be Clinch, a young gentle­man of respectable family and connexions, and who had received a liberal education. The pub­lic certainly had every reason to expect a valu­able acquisition in him. Nature had been very bountiful. His figure was excellent, his face manly, and expressive; his voice strong, clear, impressive, possessed of great variety, and many of its tones bore a great resemblance to their much loved Barry's.

Time has since proved their conjectures were well founded. The public are at present well [Page 159] acquainted with his various merits, and he is not only justly considered as one of the principal ornaments of the Irish stage, but also univer­sally beloved and esteemed, for the many virtues which adorn his private character.

Though in possession of the town, Mr. Mossop did not neglect presenting it with every novelty in his power; and none could be more accept­able than its darling Catley, who was engaged for six nights, and charmed once more with her musical powers.

A Mr. Brownlow Forde, also made his appear­ance in Scrub, whilst Mr. Mossop, by way of variety, for it certainly could not be for its ex­cellence, endeavoured to represent the easy, elegant, fashionable Archer. Mr. Forde, after­wards played Sir Joseph Wittol, Brisk, &c.

Mr. Sheridan, who at this time was deliver­ing his lectures at the Music-hall in Fishamble-street, was also prevailed on, towards the end of the season, to perform three of his principal characters; Hamlet, Richard, and Cato, at each of which times, he amply experienced [Page 160] a continuance of public patronage and fa­vour.

In the latter season, 1768, Mr. King and Mrs. Abington once more visited this metropolis, and appeared in most of their favourite charac­ters. The Lord Ogleby of Mr. King was then new, and exceedingly popular. It was justly esteemed one of the finest pieces of acting, the world ever beheld.

For many years, I have had the pleasure of seeing this truly excellent actor, in this part, and can with justice affirm, that for correctness of conception, spirit of execution, and in short, for every requisite to constitute a finished per­formance, I never beheld a more perfect re­presentation than his Lord Ogleby. The whim­sical traits of the Old Man of Quality, debilitated by years and intemperance, yet retaining the inclinations, and affecting the vigour of youth, are by him exhibited with a spirit and fidelity, which we have seldom seen equalled. I shall not dread correction, when I assert, that the stage, in all its various departments, cannot at present, produce better performance.


Much novelty in the season 1768,9.—Two new Ladies in the Beggar's Opera.—Mr. Cornely's, Mr. Saunders.—Mr. Foote.—The Devil upon two Sticks.—Rope Dancers.—Their ill success.— Mr. and Mrs. Walker, Miss Grosse.—Failure of the Padlock.—Miss Catley revives it.—The School for Rakes.—Mr. Mossop visits Cork.

THE following winter, 1768, Mr. Mossop resolved to give novelty 'till it cloyed the appetite. The first night, he presented a new Polly and Lucy, in the Beggar's Opera. The former was a Miss Hudson, the latter a Miss Reade; they both possessed a moderate share of merit, and were tolerably well received.

A few nights after, Mr. Cornely's made his debut in Ralph in the Maid of the Mill, and from his first entrè stamped an impression on the [Page 162] audience, which his merit afterwards amply confirmed.

Mr. Cornellys was followed by a Mr. Saun­ders, from Drury-lane, in Polonius, and Mrs. Wright in the Queen. The next night Mrs. Saunders, formerly Miss Reynolds, an actress of real intrinsic merit, came forward in Violante in the Wonder, and Combrush in the Honest Yorkshireman. These novelties how­ever, had no effect, and the theatre promised to be unfashionable and unfrequented.

This unfavourable prospect made Mr. Mossop hasten his intended operations. In November, Mr. Foote's new comedy of The Devil upon Two Sticks was got up, on purpose to introduce this eccentric hero again to this kingdom. The first night was commanded by the new and popular Lord Lieutenant, Lord Townshend; the house was crowded, the receipts 166l. 13s. 5d. and the piece succeeded equal to his most sanguine expectations. Mr. Foote at this time was of infinite service. He seldom played to less than an hundred pounds, and sometimes to an hun­dred and thirty.

[Page 163]Mr. Mossop's engagement with Le Nemora, Semanzati, and Signiora Rossoli, was not so fortunate. Though excellent in their perfor­mances on the rope, the public were disgusted with such exhibitions. They had not attraction the first night, which amounted to only 39l.

I sincerely wish the public were ever of the same mind: and, whilst their bounty should enable managers to provide the noblest, and most ra­tional entertainment, the human mind can re­ceive, a selection of the various beauties of the drama, to banish such species of entertainment, to their proper sphere of action.

Necessity, almost always, forces managers to resources their judgment condemns, and there are few instances where they have been adopted, till every other exertion has failed. In such cases, I must confess, I think them more to be pitied, than condemned.

The remainder of the season glided away, without any very remarkable occurrence.

Mr. and Mrs. Walker, after passing a few years at Covent-garden, returned to this kingdom, [Page 164] and proved an addition to the Irish stage. Mr. Walker had much merit in tyrants, as Barba­rossa, Timurkan, Bajazet, and Mrs. Walker great vivacity, life and spirit, in the Chamber­maids.

A Miss Grosse made her first appearance in Lady Townly, for which she had hardly a re­quisite. Her second attempt, however, rectified this mistake, and in Rosetta, she gave hopes of adding to the entertainment of the public, to whom she was afterwards known by the name of Mrs. Barre. She had a strong, clear, com­manding voice, and afterwards proved a useful member of the dramatic society.

Notwithstanding the general success of musi­cal pieces of merit, the very excellent, and at present popular, comic opera of the Padlock, was at this time an exception. It was brought out in January, l769, with every advantage, after Mr. Mossop's Hamlet, to 80l. when, so little impression did it make, that the second night there was only 51l. the third, 41l. afte [...] which, it was obliged to be tacked to Mr Mossop's strong tragedies.

[Page 165]Yet notwithstanding this, it is certain that there is not a more pleasing musical afterpiece in the English language, or one possessed of more merit, either in character, incident, or musical composition. Indeed, it is the only instance I ever knew or heard, of its failing. Few pieces, I believe were ever oftner repeated, drew more money, or gained more applause.

The original cast of it in Dublin was as follows: Leander, Mr. J. Bannister, from Drury-lane, Mungo, Mr. Wilder; Don Diego, Mr. Vernel; Ursula, Mrs. Saunders, and Leonora, Mrs. Hudson.

Miss Catley, still in fashion, visited Dublin in March, 1769, and, as usual, brought crowd­ed houses to her favourite characters, especially to Comus, which at that time seemed to be the leading piece, in which her Euphrosine will be long remembered, and as it ought to be, re­corded amongst the excellencies of dramatic performances. Her playing Leonora, in the Padlock, at this time, first gave it a reputation, which it has ever since maintained.

[Page 166]The comedy of the school for rakes, the production of our ingenious country woman, Mrs. Griffith, was then performing with eclat at Drury-lane. Mr. Mossop presented it to the public, towards the latter end of the campaign, when it proved highly acceptable, and was often repeated.

The season, which was undisputed and profita­ble, closed early in June, 1769, and Mr. Mos­sop, for the first time, visited Cork, where his fame had long before rendered the public im­patient to gratify their curiosity, by beholding, such uncommon merit, and eager to join the universal opinion, which concurred in admiring his extraordinary excellencies. He brought great houses, and returned to Dublin, the latter end of September following, to commence his winter operations.


Mr. Mossop opens, September, 1769.—Indifferent success.—Miss Ashmore rising.—New performers. —Mossop plays alternately at each house.—Little Theatre in Capel-street opens.—The managers of it.—False delicacy.—The two companies compared. —Success of Capel-street house.—Lionel and Cla­rissa at both houses.—Close of the season.—Situa­tion of the parties.

NOTWITHSTANDING Mr. Mossop opened ear­ly, the 11th of October, 1769, with the Polly of Catley, who was announced only for a few nights, yet the beginning of his season was not very auspicious. This great favourite had at that time lost part of her attraction, and an in­disposition confining her after she had played a few nights, the manager was himself obliged to come forward, in Hamlet, which brought a tolerable house, 95l.

[Page 168]With every requisite of face, figure, voice and abilities, Miss Ashmore, then just rising in her profession, began to attract general notice, and with irresistible force, put in her modest claim to public favour, a claim which was universally allowed, and which, for many years, she most deservedly enjoyed, without interruption.

Amongst the parts she was then most noticed in, were Polly and Lucy, in the Beggar's Opera, Rosetta, Arethusa, in the Contrivances, Leo­nora in the Padlock, Patty in the Maid of the Mill, Phillida, Sally, Ophelia, Leonora, Re­venge; Irene, Barbarossa; Cordelia, Lear; Emeline in King Arthur, Flora in the Wonder; Portia, Hypolita, Kind Impostor, Cherry, &c. So promising an actress had not been seen in Ireland a long time, and we shall find that she fully answered the high opinion conceived of her great talents.

Amongst the new performers of the season, were Miss Glassington, who appeared in Vio­lante; Mr. and Mrs. Graham, in Scrub and Mrs. Sullen; Miss Mansell, for the first time on any stage, in Juliet. Besides these, the ma­nager presented the town with Rope Dancers, [Page 169] equilibrists on the wire, &c. in every form and variety.

In possession of both theatres, Mr. Mossop indulged his fancy by playing by turns in each. Tragedies, which alone brought money, at Crow-street; comedies, with the rope and wire, at Smock-alley. Public taste was never more conspicuous than on this occasion. Tragedies were seldom performed to less than to ninety or an hundred pounds, whilst the performances on the wire and rope seldom ammounted to 40l. often under 20l.

Tamerlane was revived about this time, and brought several houses. Mr. Mossop's Bajazet, most certainly was amongst his best performances, and added much to his reputation. Tamerlane, Mr. Heaphy; Moneses Mr. Clinch; Axalla, Mr. Bannister; Selima, Miss Glassington, Arpasia, Mrs. Fitzhenry.

The theatrical world may justly be considered as an epitome of the world at large. Her em­pires have as great a variety of interests, and are subject to as many vicissitudes and revolutions. Firmly as Mr. Mossop thought himself seated [Page 170] on the dramatic throne of this kingdom, yet did he find conspiracies formed against him, which, though at first he disregarded them, yet did the hand of time mature and ripen into a success he thought impossible.

Lulled into perfect security, by the certainty of having the two theatres of Crow-street and Smock-alley, he little imagined that a third could be opened. The event shewed how much he was mistaken.

The little theatre in Capel-street, had for many years been shut up, and appropriated to other [...]es. It was certainly very small; but even this was of advantage; as it could be fitted up at less expence, could be much easier filled, and consequently, derive more credit from less shew.

This revolution was concerted and compassed, with much address, and united the interests of Mr. Dawson, Mr. Mahon, and Mr. Wilkes. Dawson was the manager of this new erected company, and by the experience he had had, was, in many respects, equal to the task. He was active, industrious, and intelligent, well ac­quainted with the world, and prompt to im­prove [Page 171] every opportunity fortune threw in his way. The theatre was elegantly ornamented and beautified; the scenes new painted, by Jolly. The wardrobe, as might be expected, light, but fashionable, and shewy.

Every arrangement being adjusted, in the best manner the times would permit, the new adventurers opened on Monday February 26th, 1770, with a new comedy, never performed in this kingdow, written by Hugh Kelly, Esq and then in reputation in London, called

FALSE DELICACY. Represented in the following manner: Colonel Rivers, Mr. Mahon; From the Theatre-royal Covent-garden. Cecil, Mr. Herbert; Sir Harry Newburgh, Mr. Lewis; Sidney, Mr. Glenville; Lord Winworth, Mr. Wilkes; Being his first appearance in this Kingdom. Mrs. Harley, Mrs. Hoskins; From the Theatre-royal Drury-lane. Lady Betty Lambton, Miss Ambrose; Miss Rivers, Mrs. O'Neill; [Page 172] Sally, Mrs. Price; And Miss Marchmont, by Miss Ashmore; With an occasional Prologue spoken by Mr. Lewis. To which will be added a Comic Opera, called THE PADLOCK. With alterations and additions by the author, as performed in London. Don Diego, Mr. Glenville; Leander, Mr. Wilkes; Mungo, Mr. Mahon; Ursula, Mrs. Hoskins; And the part of Leonora, by Miss Ashmore.

It must be acknowledged, that though there were several performers of the first merit in the new erected company, yet they could not, in numbers, or indeed abilities, compare with the veterans of Crow-street, nor could they, from any apparent circumstances, flatter themselves with the hopes of that success, which crowned their adventurous schemes.

[Page 173]This observation will be better illustrated by a comparative view, at the commencement of the opposition.

  • Mr. Mossop,
  • Mr. Clinch,
  • Mr. Heaphy,
  • Mr. Duncan,
  • Mr. Bannister,
  • Mr. Wilder,
  • Mr. Graham,
  • Mr. Hollocombe,
  • Mr. Passerini,
  • Mr. Remington,
  • Mr. Morris,
  • Mr. Kelly,
  • Mr. Brown,
  • Mr. Fotteral,
  • Mr. Richards,
  • Mr. Chaplin,
  • Mr. Spicer,
  • Mr. White,
  • Mr. Legge,
  • Lenomora,
  • [...]em [...]n [...]ati, &c.
  • [Page 174]Mrs. Fitzhenry,
  • Miss Catley,
  • Miss Mansell,
  • Miss Glassington,
  • Mrs. Heaphy,
  • Mrs. Bardin,
  • Miss Vandermere,
  • Mrs. Brown,
  • Mrs. Hawtry,
  • Mrs. Barry.
  • [Page 173]Mr. Lewis,
  • Mr. Dawson,
  • Mr. Mahon,
  • Mr. Wilkes,
  • Mr. Glenville,
  • Mr. Herbert,
  • Mr. Pearson,
  • Mr. Tyrer,
  • Mr. Walsh,
  • Mr. Beaver, &c.
  • [Page 174]Miss Ashmore,
  • Miss Ambrose,
  • Mrs. Hoskins,
  • Mrs. Dawson,
  • Mrs. Barre,
  • Mrs. Price,
  • Mrs. O'Neill, &c.

From the above statement, Mr. Mossop might in some measure be justified, for holding in such a contemptuous light, the new formed opposition. But, what human prudence could not foresee, fortune speedily accomplished.

Curiosity and interest, crowded Capel-street theatre, the first night, and the performances were received with the most unbounded applause. The new theatre, dresses, novelty of the play, and several of the performers, the brilliancy of every object and the spirit which animated the whole, operated with magical force, and estab­lished [Page 175] a reputation, which afterwards proved of infinite service.

What contributed essentially to the success of the scheme, was the assistance which Mr. Lewis and Miss Ashmore rendered.

The former was, even at that early period, esteemed one of the most promising young actors on the stage, and had supported a variety of characters, with the highest reputation.

The latter I have already mentioned. She was then an object of universal admiration, and possessed the favour of the town in an eminent degree. The new manager had the address to attach her to his party, and she proved of in­finite service to the cause. A fortunate circum­stance added Mr. Wilkes, to the number of favourites.

Alarmed at the progress of this unforeseen dan­ger, Mr. Mossop used every effort, in his power, to counteract it's effects.

He brought forward those tragedies in which he stood unrivalled, particularly his Coriolanus, [Page 176] with every pomp, and magnificence. He ex­hibited Catley in her Euphrosine, which used to have such attraction. He revived Woodward's popular pantomimes of Fortunatus, and the Sorcerer, and introduced in them the perfor­mances of Saunders on the wire, and Lenomo­ra, on the rope; but all with very little effect. His expences were heavy, his receipts were bad, and his competitors gained ground, though ra­ther slowly.

While matters were in this situation, a circum­stance occurred, which decided the contest in favour of the new theatre.

Bickerstaff's opera of Lionel and Clarissa, was then performing with uncommon reputation, at Covent-garden. Relying on his own pieces, and the plan he had laid down, the evil genius of Mr. Mossop, prevented him from seizing the only opportunity, which might lead towards retrieving his embarrassed circumstances.

With Catley's fame and abilities, had he first presented this celebrated piece to the public, he most probably would have attracted to his theatre [Page 177] that tide of success, which his opponents so amply experienced.

Not so Mr. Dawson's discerning eye beheld the advantages in prospect. He instantly set about getting it up, with every care and expedition. The 2d of April, 1770, it was announced, for the first time in this kingdom, and on it's ap­pearance, received that stamp of public approba­tion it has ever since so deeply retained.

Though Lionel and Clarissa is certainly pos­sessed of great merit, being an excellent comedy, independant of the music, which is in general, a capital selection, and though it stands deserv­edly high in the estimation of the sister kingdom; yet was it reserved for the Irish audience, to re­ceive it with that enthusiasm and partiality, which has ever peculiarly distinguished its repre­sentation in this kingdom.

The Clarissa of Miss Ashmore, according to every opinion, was as affecting, natural, and interesting a piece of acting, as had ever been seen: and the Jessamy of Mr. Wilkes, was con­sidered, as the standard of excellence. Every [Page 178] other character of the opera, seemed to be also well supported.

The impression it made was extraordinary, and the effects visible. Whilst Mr. Mossop, with the strength of his company, was exhibiting to or­ders or empty benches, an early overflow mark­ed every night this popular opera was an­nounced.

Some idea may be formed of it's power, and uncommon attraction, from the number of times it was acted. Late as it was brought out, it run twenty six nights, and closed a season, that will always be distinguished in the theatrical annal [...] of this kingdom.

Mr. Mossop when too late, saw his error, and endeavoured in vain to repair it. In about three weeks after it's appearance at Capel-street, it was brought out at Crow-street, with this ridiculous distinction: Jenny the Chambermaid, Miss Catley; the other characters by Mr. Wil­der, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Heaphy, Mr. Bannister, Mr. Remington, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Hawtry, Mrs. Barry.

[Page 179]It languished a few nights, and was then cut down into a farce, which compleatly finished it in the opinion of every one.

The situation of the contending parties, at the close of the campaign, may easily be conceived. With health impaired, and circumstances much deranged, Mr. Mossop's prospects were of the most unpleasant nature. Though the idol of the town, as an actor, and not censured as a mana­ger; (a thing extremely difficult to avoid) he saw himself deserted by that public, to whose service he had devoted those abilities so much admired. A striking lesson to every manager, how little he can depend on that empty bubble popularity!

Elate with their success, the opposite party, indeed, exulted in the confidence of it's con­tinuance. Time will tell, how far their expec­tations were answered.


Next Season begins, November, 1770.—Mr. Dodd. —Miss Young, at Capel-street.—Mr. Macklin ditto.—Smock-alley opens under the Lord Mayor. —Mr. Ryder returns.—His merit.—West In­dian produced at Capel-street and at Smock-alley. —The Belcour of Messrs. Lewis and Mossop, contrasted.—Anecdote of Mr. Cumberland, and the West Indian at Cavan.

THE persevering industry of Mr. Dawson, seemed resolved to take every advantage of events so favourable. He obtained possession of Crow-street theatre, abandoned by Mr. Mossop, and transferred from it, the title of his majesties servants, to that of Capel-street.

During the summer, he also made several capital engagements. In particular, Mr. Mack­lin, Miss Young, and Mr. Clinch.

[Page 181]However, notwithstanding those great advan­tages, it was rather late before either company took the field.

Capel-street was the first, which opened with it's new title, November 9th, 1770, with the Beggar's Opera, and the Anatomist. The former presented no novelty: in the latter, Mr. Dodd made his first appearance, in Monsieur Le Medecin.

This gentleman, who has since distinguished himself in the literary world, possessed theatrical abilities, which, if he had continued on the stage, and cultivated, would have gained him some eminence. His Frenchmen were excel­lent, and he displayed a good deal of merit, in several other characters.

In about a fortnight after, Miss Young, from Drury-lane theatre, who was then advancing fast to that eminence which she speedily attain­ed, and which she has since constantly preserved, made her entre in this kingdom, in Jane Shore. Hastings, Mr. Lewis; Dumont, Mr. Clinch; Gloster, Mr. Dawson; and Alicia, Mrs. Burden.

[Page 182]Her reception was such as her merit amply justified: flattering, as her sanguine hopes could form; and during the season, she supported a capital line, in tragedy and comedy, with in­creasing reputation.

Mr. Macklin chose his favourite character of Shylock, to receive the gratulations of his friends, on his revisiting them, which on his appearance they loudly marked.

In the Merchant of Venice, we find Mr. O'Keefe's name, for the part of Gratiano, and speedily after, in Filch, Fribble, Jessamy, in Lionel, in the room of Wilkes, who had left the company, Squire Richard, &c.

Against such performers, Mr. Mossop had but little to oppose. Smock-alley was once more fitted up, new painted and decorated, as well as circumstances would allow, and as the city theatre, under the patronage of the Lord Mayor, opened on the 26th of November, with the tragedy of George Barnwell. The hero of the piece by Mr. L'Estrange, from the theatre Drury-lane, of whom little could be said, and a Mrs. Day, in the Virgin Unmasked.

[Page 183]From this specimen, much was not to be ex­pected. However, as his great resource, the [...]own was informed, that Mr. Ryder, who had been absent from the capital for the last five years, was again engaged, and would speedily make his appearance.

The interval of absence had been spent in the country of Ireland, where he had conducted a com­pany, which during that time he managed, with much credit and emolument to himself and his performers. The towns he chiefly visited were, Kilkenny, Waterford, Sligo, Galway, Derry, Belfast, &c. where the general business was ex­cellent, and the benefits lucrative.

Mr. Ryder on his return, opened in Sir John Restless, and was received by the audience with that warmth of friendly applause, which ever marked his appearance.

His presence was of infinite service to Mr. Mossop's drooping affairs: for though he was not able entirely to stem the tide of popular fa­vour, that continued to follow Capel-street theatre, yet he for a time upheld a cause, which, [Page 184] without his assistance; must have sunk under the pressure of accumulated misfortunes.

Ever distinguished, by the versatility, as well as excellence of his genius, Mr. Ryder even then, might be deemed a theatrical Atlas, who at that time, and for many years after, princi­pally supported the heavy burthen of the Irish drama. This may easily be perceived by a re­view of the various characters he sustained, during a period of eleven or twelve years, when it might be truly said, he was almost every night before the public.

The favourite popular opera of Lionel, was often repeated at both houses, the early part of the season, but Capel-street still maintained the advantage, although Mr. Ryder was the Lionel at Smock-alley.

Miss Young and Mr. Macklin, were of in­finite s [...]rvice to the cause they espoused. The latter brought out his Love a la Mode, and True born Scotchman, with every advantage which capital acting, aided by his instructions, could give. They were often repeated to good ho [...]es.

[Page 185]The Romp, in which Miss Ashmore obtained such reputation, was first acted at this period, and has continued to be a leading object in dra­matic exhibitions ever since. The comedy of 'Tis Well it is no Worse, was also performed at this time.

The same ability which had so eminently dis­tinguished the Capel-street manager last season, was of infinite service during the present.

Mr. Cumberland had, in the early part of the winter, brought out his comedy of the West Indian, with a success superior almost to any ever known. Its great and extraordinary fame, rendered it an object of the first magnitude to both theatres.

Capel-street, however, had the good fortune to produce it first to the public, and, it must be confessed, with much greater advantage than it could be given by Mr. Mossop.

On Tuesday, February 19th, 1771, it was announced, for the first time in this kingdom. Belcour, Mr. Lewis; Ensign Dudley, Mr. Clinch; Stockwell, Mr. Holocombe; Captain Dudley, [Page 186] Mr. Kane; Varland, Mr. Herbert; and Major O'Flaherty, Mr. Dawson; Lady Rusport, Mrs. Barry; Louisa Dudley, Miss Ashmore, and Miss Rusport, Miss Young.

The same success, which attended this excel­lent comedy in London, pursued it here. The public was charmed with a piece which, with uncommon merit, presented so amiable a por­trait of an Irish gentleman, and in Major O'Fla­herty, united the brave veteran soldier, with the man of feeling, whose heart was replete with the noblest impulses of humanity.

And whilst they admired the piece, they could not help ap [...]lauding the actors, whose merits were never more conspicuous than in this co­medy. The Belcour of Mr. Lewis has so often been the subject of panegyric, that to mention it here would be useless: Mr. Dawson's Major, Miss Ashmore's Louisa, and Miss Young's Char­lotte, were truly characteristic.

Such was its reputation, that they had four or five crouded houses to it, before it could be produced at Smock-alley, and then it did very little. It was not the fashion, and Mr. Mossop [Page 187] continued playing it to houses composed of or­ders, whilst at Capel-street, there was an over­flow every night.

It certainly could not be necessity which in­duced Mr. Mossop to attempt the sprightly, ele­gant, vivacious Belcour, so totally opposite to his own manner. But whatever was the motive, it helped to give additional force to the finished West Indian of the other house: and though Mr. Mossop's merits as a tragedian, were the universal theme of praise and admiration, yet his warmest admirers could not but confess his great deficiency, and total want of manner, for this hero of comedy.

At the time this admirable comedy was per­forming, with the highest reputation in Dublin, as well as in London, the author happened to be on a visit at a Mr. Cottingham's, a gentleman of great respectability and fortune, at the town of Cavan, in the north of Ireland.

At this very juncture, a company of players happened to be performing there. The news of his arrival being spread abroad, it inspired them with the idea of seizing the golden oppor­tunity, [Page 188] and whilst he remained in the country, of performing his favourite comedy, which, from his being so well known and on the spot, they judged would receive every support and encou­ragement from his friends.

Full of this project, they set about studying the parts, with the greatest alacrity, and the most profound secrecy, and the poor author one even­ing had the unspeakable mortification, without the least notice, to find the comedy of the West Indian, "written by R. Cumberland, Esq" and a long puff about it's success in London, and the two houses in Dublin, announced for representa­tion the next night.

This, though not very pleasing he was not only obliged to submit to, but was also forced to attend this very extraordinary exhibition.

About an hour before the time of beginning, a servant came to keep places for Mr. Cotting­ham, Mr. Cumberland, and a large party. This news struck the company into the greatest pa­nick. They had not an idea of his coming to see them, and, almost petrified with fear, that [Page 189] single circumstance drove the little they did know, entirely out of their heads.

A little before the beginning, Mr. Cumber­land and his party came into the theatre. The appearance of it did not prepossess him much in its favour. It was a temporary building, as is usual in such cases, erected in the town hall. The stage, raised two or three feet: the audi­ence part, a range of seats, divided by a thin partition, into pit and gallery.

In the front of the pit, was Mr. Cumberland seated; the house crowded, every expectation raised on high, and all eyes turned on the author, when the curtain drew up, and discovered the manager seated, for Stockwell, at a table, with a book of the play before him, to refresh his memory in case of accident, and Stukely wait­ing; when, casting his eyes on the author, it effectually finished him.

Had not Mr. Cumberland been there, he might, in the theatrical phrase, have bustled through; that is, he might have known the pur­port of the part, and where the original language failed him, substituted his own, so that an au­dience, [Page 190] unacquainted with the piece, could not easily perceive where he was at a loss; but here, conscious of his being deprived of that re­source, the little he did know his fear hindered him from recollecting; and, instead of several pages of description, developing the plot of his marriage, and the birth of the hero of the piece, after a long pause, he said, "Belcour is arrived."

Confounded at this unexpected speech, Stuke­ly, after some hesitation, replied, ‘I believe he is Sir.’ Another long stand ensued, when on popped Mr. Barret, (well known in the Irish theatric world,) for Belcour!

Now this gentleman, though possessed of much merit in a peculiar line, and an admir­able figure for the Jew in the School for Scan­dal, was by no means calculated, in any respect, to convey the idea of a young, volatile, elegant, fiery, West Indian.

At the appearance of Mr. Barret, for this pe­culiar favourite of the author, the whole house, in spite of their respect for the writer, burst into an involuntary and loud laugh, which continued [Page 191] for some minutes, and served to increase the con­fusion of the actors.

But Mr. Barre [...] was very perfect, and soon recovering himself, the scene went on with to­lerable composure, till the appearance of Major O'Flaherty, who, as the company was rather thin, was obliged to be doubled by the manager with Stockwell.

This new and unexpected stroke, produced another roar of applause, and entirely completed the confusion and vexation of the poor author, who, unable to bear this cruel mangling of so excellent a comedy, would have withdrawn, but was prevented by his numerous friends, many of whom having seen it in London and Dublin, en­joyed the present representation with the highest pleasure. The more laughable and ludicrous the performance was, the more acceptable it was to them, and the more they enjoyed it.

Not so with Mr. Cumberland; his feelings were too much alive to be able to bear it with pati­ence, and heartily glad was he when the con­clusion of the play gave him leave to depart.


Continuance of the season 1771.—Cymon exhibited at both theatres.—Mr. Dawson's excellent ge­neralship concerning it.—Brought out first at Capel-street.—The surprise occasioned by this.— Comparison of it's performance at each house.— Success of Capel-street.—Mr. Mossop's embar­rassment. —His illness and benefit.—Is obliged to relinquish.—Capel-street managers take Crow-street, and perform there.—Mr. Isaac Sparks and son, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.—Mr. and Mrs. Barry at the latter season.—Closes Au­gust 3d, 1771.

BEFORE the West Indian had run it's career in Dublin, Mr. Dawson exhibited another stroke of generalship, which deserved to be remem­bered. Mr. Mossop for above two years past, had been preparing the town for the reception of his dramatic romance of Cymon, which at [Page 193] that time was very popular in London. The scenes were painted, the dresses made, and the most splendid decorations promised.

As the time approached for bringing it for­ward, each newspaper was filled with para­graphs, and encomiums, on the excellence of the piece, the beauty of the music, and the ca­pital manner in which it was to be exhibited. At length, the day was appointed for the perfor­mance of this long expected and much fam­ed romance, which was to be on Friday March 8th.

On the Saturday night preceding this Friday, Mr. Dawson, after the play was over at Capel-street theatre, stept forward and gave out for the Monday evening following, the celebrated dra­matic romance of Cymon, with all the original music, and entire new scenery, machinery, dres­ses, and decorations, and a grand procession of the knights of the different orders of chivalry.

The audience were astonished, and his own performers could scarce credit their senses. But he soon convinced them he was in earnest, for so complete, secret, and masterly were his [Page 194] movements, that not a single article was want­ing in the various requisites.

Without disclosing his design, he had got a most capital set of scenes painted, and had pro­vided the different dresses, which were made by Lupino, tailor to the Opera House, London. The music he had got practiced, and the princi­pal parts studied, under the pretence that, after their opponents had played it a few nights as a first piece, he then would bring it out as a farce. In short, a design so well concerted, and which required so much forethought and address, would have done honour to the first general of the age.

On the Monday evening following, March 4th, Cymon was exhibited at Capel-street theatre, with a correctness and brilliancy which were highly creditable. The scenery was beau­tiful, and well adapted; she dresses picturesque and according to the original models, and the procession remarkably splendid and nouvelle. All the performers, without exception, walked in different characters, and upwards of forty supernumeries filled up the train, in proper habits.

[Page 195]The representation of this charming romance, as might be expected, afforded infinite satisfac­tion, and when given out again, was sanctioned by reiterated plaudits.

This was a thunderstroke to the other party, who beheld the hope of their long expected harvest so suddenly blasted and destroyed. It was performed four nights before they were able to bring it out at Smock-alley, and even then, though it was got up with great care and attention, yet as first impressions are not easily erased, the public were prepossessed in favour of Capel-street, and though it was often played during the season, yet it never answered the expence, and was afterwards reduced to a farce.

In these contested pieces I judge that perhaps the reader may be interested more than in the common routine of business. I therefore ge­nerally subjoin the support each received, at their respective theatres.

In compliance with this rule, the following is the drama of Cymon, as then represented.

[Page 196]

Cymon,Mr. Mahon,Mr. Ryder,
Merlin,Mr. Glenville,Mr Heaphy,
Dorus,Mr. Herbert,Mr. Remington,
Cupid, Miss Rogers, 5 years old,
Linco,Mr. O'Keefe,Mr. Wilder,
Urganda,Mrs. Barre,Miss Shewcraft,
Fatima,Miss Younge,Miss Mansell,
Dorcas,Mrs. Hoskins,Mrs. Heaphy,
Sylvia,Miss Ashmore,Mrs. Browne.

The Romp, which has been already mentioned, was also about this time exhibited in Capel-street, in which Miss Ashmore acquired great and de­served reputation. These pieces, with Mr. Macklin's Love a la Mode, and Trueborn Scotchman, brought them through the remain­der of the season. The West Indian run up­wards of eighteen nights, Cymon nine, the Romp six or seven, the Trueborn Scotchman seven, and the success which attended them [Page 197] seemed to give the finishing stroke to Mr. Mos­sop's management.

Disappointed in his hopes, harrassed by in­numerable vexations, and oppressed with debts he had not the least prospect of being able to discharge, his spirits sunk under the pressure of such accumulated misfortunes, and a severe ill­ness prevented his appearing on the stage.

Thus unfortunately circumstanced, he was obliged to solicit the generosity of the public he had so many times delighted: and, in this dis­tressed situation, announced a benefit for himself, in which he was unable to perform, and in his advertisement "humbly hoped his indisposi­tion would not prevent the attendance of his friends."

The benefit was fixed for the 17th of April, 1771, when the comedy of Rule a Wife, was acted. The Copper Captain, Mr. Ryder; Leon, Mr. Heaphy; Margaritta, Miss Mansell, and Estifania, Mrs. Brown, late Miss Slack; with Cymon now reduced to an afterpiece.

[Page 198]Though the house was very much crowded, yet the receipts afforded but a temporary relief. His affairs were so desperate that it was next to an impossibility for any immediate efforts to retrieve them.

Much to the honour of the new managers, they would not attempt to oppress a fallen ene­my, and therefore did not oppose the benefit, by playing on that night. The greatness of their success enlarged their hopes, and Mr. Mossop being obliged to relinquish Crow-street theatre, they took possession, and removed thither in the month of March, whither the favour of the town attended them with unabating warmth. A few benefits were taken at Smock-alley by the most capital performers, and they closed early in May.

Prosperity did not make the new managers of Crow-street slacken their endeavours. On the contrary, the three kingdoms were explored for novelty. They brought over that very excellent comedian and facetious companion Mr. Isaac Sparks, who after a five years absence made his appearance in John Moody.

[Page 199]In May, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, from the theatre-royal Edinburgh, arrived. The public were already well acquainted with the merit of Mrs. Jackson, late Miss Browne, daughter of Mr. Sowdon. She had been absent near five years, and appeared again, for the first time, in Polly, a character which her figure and voice pecu­liarly suited. Mr. Jackson's debut was in Oroo­noko.

They were favourites with the town, and played a variety of parts with much reputa­tion.

But the most acceptable present to the public was Mr. Barry, who now divested of his royal honours, though not of his powers to charm, once more moved in a private station.

He was accompanied by Mrs. Dancer, now Mrs. Barry, who on the 13th of June, played Rosalind, a part she was peculiarly happy in; Orlando by Mr. Lewis, Jaques by Mr. Sowdon who was of his party in this expedition.

[Page 200]A few nights after, Mr. Barry appeared in Jaffier, when his return was welcomed with the most unfeigned applause.

The remainder of the season was chiefly de­voted to the tragic muse; Mr. and Mrs. Barry repeated most of their favourite characters, as Othello and Desdemona, Lear and Cordelia, Lord and Lady Townly, Rhadamistus and Zenobia, Alexander and Statira, Lord and Lady Salisbury, Varanes and Athenais, Marc Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, which closed the season, August the third.

Early in June Miss Young returned to Eng­land, highly pleased with her trip, in which she acquired a great portion of the two great essen­tials of theatric life, fame and profit. So strong and favourable an impression did she leave on the Irish audience, that time has never since obli­terated it, and every visit which she afterwards made to this kingdom, served to strengthen a prepossession founded on merit, and aided by private character.

[Page 201]A few nights previous to the conclusion, Mr. Isaac Sparks introduced his son, Mr. Richard Sparks, to the public in the part of Lord Townly. His youth and figure pleased much, and a laudable partiality for the father made the town entertain hopes he would prove a valuable ac­quisition to the drama.


Burletta's performed at Ranelagh Gardens.—Mr. Mossop's misfortunes.—Goes to London.—Is ar­rested there.—Another benefit for him at Smock-alley. —Theatres opens November 11th, 1771.— Mr. Lewis's rising fame.—Miss Ashmore's.— Success indifferent.—Mr. Whyte's young com­pany.

AS soon as the theatre closed, a small party took possession of Ranelagh gardens, where they exhibited English Burletta's, two or three times a week for the remainder of the season.

This party consisted principally of Miss Ash­more, Miss Hawtry, Mr. Ryder, Mr. Glenville, and Mr. Atkins. The Ephesian Matron was one of their capital exhibitions.

[Page 203]The heavy hand of dire misfortune still pursued, with unrelenting fury, the unhappy Mr. Mossop. Recovered somewhat in his health, he embarked for England, and in London, endeavoured to procure reinforcements for the ensuing winter.

Hither his unrelenting creditors pursued him, and a Mr. Graham, one of his own performers, laid on the first arrest for non-payment of salary due to him. This arrest was speedily followed by numbers of others, and he was confined in the King's Bench, without the least prospect of relief.

On every feeling mind his misfortunes made the deepest impression. The public seemed much interested in his fate, and lamented that a man of such genius should be so involved, from a train of untoward circumstances, in which his prudence could not fairly be im­peached.

Another benefit for him in Smock-alley was fixed on by his friends, previous to the com­mencement of the season, when an occasional prologue was spoken by Mr Ryder, who did every thing on [...] friendship could [Page 204] suggest, or the nature of his situation would ad­mit of.

The following advertisement appeared, pre­paratory to the benefit.

"The friends of Mr. Mossop make no doubt, that the lovers of the drama in particular, and the nobility and gentry of this kingdom in ge­neral, ever eminent for their encouragement of merit, will exert themselves on the above oc­casion, as Mr. Mossop's case is peculiarly severe, having at great trouble and vast expence, during the summer, made very considerable theatrical engagements in England for the entertainment of this city, when, on the very eve of his return to this kingdom, to reap the harvest of his la­bours, he met with the hard hand of oppression, and that chiefly from people of his own pro­fession."

The play was the Orphan, and never was there a more crowded house. The amount how­ever, was still inadequate to the end proposed, and, as there was a great overflow, the play was repeated two nights after, with this addition to the bills, "'tis humbly hoped the nobility and [Page 205] gentry will still exert themselves, and bring to his native country, one of the best theatrical per­formers now living."

But ineffectual were these well-meant efforts of his friends. His native country never beheld him more! So great and various were his debts, that after a severe confinement, he was at last obliged to take the benefit of an act of bank­ruptcy, before he could regain his liberty.

Amidst these discouraging circumstances, Smock-alley theatre still kept open, though with the utmost difficulty. Mr. Ryder had now an Herculean weight upon his shoulders. A sinking theatre almost up-held, it might be said, by the single strength of his abilities.

It is true Mr. and Mrs. Jackson in this exi­gence were of the highest service to the cause, especially in tragedy. They performed Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Desdemona, Tancred and Sigismunda, and a variety of other characters.

Mrs. Ryder also came forward at this period, and [...] Clementina, Con­ [...]tance [...] Macbeth, &c.

[Page 206]The industry of Mr. Dawson, and his co­partners, still seemed to keep pace with their success. Though detained by various matters till it was late, he in October set off for London, after having given the necessary directions for repairing and new decorating the Crow-street theatre.

The principal object of his journey was to close an engagement with Mr. Macklin, with whom he had always lived on terms of strict friend­ship.

The theatre opened on the 11th of November, 1771, with the Provoked Husband, and Devil to Pay. Lord Townly, Mr. Sparks jun.! Manly, Mr. Heaphy; Count Baffett, Mr. Mahon; Squire Richard, Mr. O'Keefe; Sir Francis Wronghead, Mr. Macklin; Miss Jenny, Miss Ashmore; Lady Grace, Miss Hearne; Lady Wronghead, Mrs. Heaphy, and Lady Townly, Mrs. Lee, late Mrs. Jefferies of Drury-lane, her first appear­ance; with the Jobson of Mr. Sparks, and Nell of Miss Ashmore.

[Page 207]Mr. Sheridan was also engaged for six nights, and played his Cato, Hamlet, Richard, Lear, &c. Much about this time, Mr. Vandermere, a comedian of great merit, made his first ap­pearance on the Crow-street stage, in Lord Ogleby, a character he sustained with much pro­priety, and for many years after continued a great and deserving favourite with the town.

It would be injustice, were I not in this place to notice the rising fame, popularity, and su­perior abilities of Mr. Lewis, who though so very young, gave every promise of attaining that dramatic excellence he has since so uniformly displayed. At this time he supported a very extensive and varied line of business in tragedy and comedy with great ability.

Miss Ashmore was also at this period a pecu­liar favourite with the public. Each day ad­ded to her reputation. Had she accepted of several offers made her from the London theatre, at that time, there is every probability that, in so correct and improving a school, she might have been classed amongst the first actresses on the British stage.

[Page 208]In the following spring she married Mr. Richard Sparks, son of the celebrated come­dian of that name.

With so excellent a company, it should seem an easy task to preserve the popularity they had already gained, and yet, so little to be depend­ed upon is public favour, notwithstanding every exertion and attention, the audiences began to decline, and the receipts of the theatre experi­enced a visible decrease.

As merit is not confined to those of mature years, it is but justice to mention a minor com­pany of actors, who at this time attracted the notice of the town.

These were a number of young gentlemen, belonging to Mr. Whyte's grammar school in Grafton-street, a gentleman to whom the pub­lic are highly indebted, for his judicious mode of educating youth, and whose numerous pupils have since ornamented every liberal, and exalted station in life.

Under the tuition of so excellent a preceptor, the young gentlemen above mentioned, exhibited [Page 209] the tragedy of Cato, during the Christmass re­cess, at the little theatre in Capel-street, with a propriety and strength of genius, that would have reflected credit on the first actors on the stage.

So uncommonly indeed, did those junior per­formers distinguish themselves, that, at the re­quest of a great number of the nobility and gentry who were present, they repeated Cato a few nights after, for the relief of the confined debtors in the several marshalseas: the Marquis of Kildare, the Earl of Bellamont, and Lord Dunluce, condescending to act as trustees on this occasion.

Before I quit the present subject, justice obliges me to remark, that many are the obliga­tions which the community at large owe to the labours of Mr. Whyte.

Intimately connected with Mr. Sheridan, thoroughly acquainted with his principles and mode of communicating his ideas on the ad­vancement and perfection of the English tongue, he [...] that time has, I believe [...] understand­ing, [Page 210] the various beauties, and critically reading, writing, and speaking the language, than any other professional gentleman in the kingdom.

Possessed of classical knowledge, and refined taste, the youth committed to his care amply reaped from his instruction, every advantage which eminent abilities, and judicious observa­tion give, and he has the honour of saying, that many of the best orators in our senate, and great­est ornaments of the pulpit and bar, have re­ceived the early part of their education under his government.


Mossop's misfortunes continue, another benefit for him at Smock-alley.—Declining state of the stage. —Mr. Cumberland's comedy of the Brothers, at both theatres.—The Grecian Daughter at both houses.—Mr. Wilkinson once more visits Ireland, his reception.—Mr. Macklin returns to England with Miss Leeson.

THE heavy pressure of adversity, still with increasing rigour, pursued the ill-fated Mr. Mossop.

On the 28th of January, 1772, we find the following interesting intelligence respecting him in a London paper.

[Page 212]On Saturday [...]night, Mr. Mossop appeared before the commissioners of bankrupts at Guild-hall, being the third meeting, when he passed his examination and delivered up his effects, which were about 130l. in cash, a 40l. and a 10l. bill, his gold watch, &c. when the creditors humanely gave him back the bills, Gold watch, &c. Mr. Garrick attended and proved a debt of about 200l. We are in­formed that Mr. Mossop will soon make his appearance at Drury-lane theatre, in the cha­racter of Pierre.

The latter part of the paragraph never took place. Various and insurmountable difficulties prevented his ever again displaying to the public, those abilities that merited a better fate.

Mean time his numerous friends in this king­dom, were far from deserting his cause. Ap­plication was once more made to the public for another benefit. Mrs. Fitzhenry kindly offered her services on the occasion, and played Zaphira in Barbarossa, March the 23d.

[Page 213]The emoluments arising from this benefit, though considerable, proved a temporary relief, but were by no means adequate to the humane end proposed, and he still was condemn­ed to struggle with the rude gripe of adver­sity.

The public now were, with much reason, heartily tired of the unceasing contentions ex­cited by the different parties, which produced no one good effect, and of whose encreasing evils they saw no end: many therefore of the most dispassionate and unprejudiced united in the idea of applying to parliament for establishing one theatre only. A committee was formed, and instructions given for preparing a petition, and an advertisement was published, inviting all such as were desirous of co-operating in so use­ful and salutary a scheme to meet at Bardin's hotel, College-green.

Mr. Sheridan also in a pamphlet published at that time, which contained the purport of a speech delivered to a number of auditors at the Music-hall in Fishamble-street, in a most judici­ous and masterly manner, evinced the necessity of adopting such a measure [...] the only [...] of [Page 214] restoring the stage to a proper degree of credit and respectability. The meeting, however, was attended with very little effect, a contrariety of opinions which could not be reconciled, pre­vented the embracing so salutary a scheme.

The established reputation which Mr. Cum­berland's West Indian had obtained, rendered his next comedy of the Brothers, a desirable object for both parties, and another scene of rivalship was again acted over by the contending powers. Each strove to bring it out first, but on this occasion, Smock-alley produced it one day before Crow-street.

As it did not possess the intrinsic merit of the former, so also was it's success proportionably inferior: it was played ten or twelve nights at each, without any reason for either to boast of it's reception, or attraction. Every exertion seems, at this time, to have been made by both ma­nagers with very little effect. New and revived pieces, pantomimes in every shape and form, and all the various sources of dramatic entertain­ment were explored and exhausted to little pur­pose. Novelty had lost it's charms, variety it's power; even the Russian dogs in a panto­mime, [Page 215] and the Elephant introduced at Smock-alley in the coronation in Henry the 8th, on which "the champion made his public entry in armour of burnished gold," could not draw.

At this unfavourable period was Mr. Murphy's tragedy of the Grecian Daughter, then in the very zenith of its reputation, introduced on the Irish stage. The uncommon success which at­tended it's exhibition in London, had fully estab­lished it's character in the dramatic world, and excited an earnest desire in the public to be­hold a piece, of which fame spoke so highly.

According to custom, it was announced at both theatres, long before there was any pos­sibility of bringing it forward; it was advertised even to the morning of the very day on which it was to have been performed at Crow-street for the benefit of Mr. Sparks, jun. when in the evening there was an apology made, of the sud­den illness of Mrs. Sparks, late Miss Ashmore, who was to have played Euphrasia. The play was consequently deferred.

The next attempt was at Smock-alley, when after several [...] performed, May [Page 216] 14th, for the benefit of Mrs. Ryder, who was the original Grecian Daughter in this kingdom. In about a fortnight after, Mr. Dawson produced it for his benefit when Mrs. Sparks gave an im­pression of this popular heroine, with great truth of colouring and genuine touches of na­ture.

Brought out under such disadvantages, and so far advanced in the season, it could not be expected to do much. Hereafter with Mr. Barry and Mrs. Dancer, we shall find it drawing large sums to the theatrical treasury.

Much about this time, Mr. Wilkinson, al­ways attached to this kingdom, which upon every occasion he celebrates for it [...]s hospitality, and fond of a theatric excursion, quitted for a short space, his regal domains of York and Hull, once more to visit Dublin. Inclination led him to support the interests of Crow-street, induced perhaps by Mr. Dawson, who some time before in a tour through England, had spent a few days at York, and probably laid the founda­tion of the present engagement.

[Page 217]Captain Ironsides in the Brothers, and Major Sturgeon in the Mayor of Garrett, both good copies of the originals, were the characters in which he chose to renew his acquaintance with the Irish audience, who received him with that cordiality and warmth his merit deserved.

The very unpleasant situation of the stage at this time, rendered Mr. Wilkinson's stay very short in Dublin. He remained about a month, during which he played Colonel Oldboy, The Upholsterer, Lord Ogleby, Shift, Smirk, and Mrs. Cole in the Minor, Cadwallader in the Author, the Commissary, his tragedy A-la-Mode, Colin Mc. Cleod in the Fashionable Lover, and a few other of his favourites.

The remaining occurrences of the season were but few. Mr. Macklin finished his engagement with Sir Paul Plyant and Love a-la-Mode, and returned to London, taking with him his pupil, Miss Leeson, a young lady whom he first intro­duced on the stage at Crow-street theatre, early the preceding winter in Lady Townly, with much expectation, and who afterwards ap­peared not only in all his pieces, but several other principal parts in comedy with success.

[Page 218]This lady who several times since has visited Ireland, is at present Mrs. Lewis of Covent-garden theatre, whose many virtues, and amiable private character, have justly endeared her to a numerous and respectable circle of valuable friends.


Dramatic revolution.—Mr. Ryder commences Ma­nager of Smock-alley.—His motives—Opens with the Kind Impostor, and Virgin unmasked.—List of his company.—Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Mr. T. Jackson, Mr. Parker, Mr. Cartwright join him.—Mr. Dawson's exertions.—Announces Mr. Macklin and Miss Leeson, Mr. and Mrs. King from York—Mr. Wilks at Smock-alley.—Lionel and the Irish Widow, every Wednesday.—New pieces—She Stoop's to Conquer.—Mr. and Mrs. Melmoth's appearance.—He opens a theatre in Drogheda—Relinquishes the stage.—Lord Lieu­tenant visits Smock-alley.—Catley performs there. —Mr. and Mrs. Barry, and Mr. Aickin from Drury-lane.

TOWARDS the close of the last campaign, a variety of circumstances indicated another theatric revolution, which the summer recess forwarded, and brought to a conclusion. On the ruins of the present dramatic state of Smock-alley, [Page 220] a new empire arose that flourished for several years, and in the beginning promised a perma­nency which it never attained. Mr. Ryder had long been justly considered as the animating spirit that gave life and motion to the theatre he upheld; it needed therefore, but little prepara­tion to dissolve the old government, now too feeble to act with vigour, and form a new com­munity, which by having so favourite an actor for their manager, gave every reasonable hope of success.

Spurred on by ambition, unappalled by the numerous train of evils which had been recently experienced, and which are in some measure, the general attendants on dramatic dominion, and not in the least intimidated by the perils by which his predecessors perished, Mr. Ryder as­sumed the reins of theatric power at Smock-alley, and made every necessary arrangment his judgment and prudence could dictate.

It must be confessed, the times held forth many alluring inducements to Mr. Ryder to un­dertake so arduous and difficult a task, as that of directing an Irish theatre. The reduced, distrest situation of the stage at Smock-alley, which [Page 221] could not be supported under its present difficul­ties; his being in the prime of life, conscious of being capable of sustaining by the strength of his own abilities, a varied and extensive line of business; a great favourite with the public, by whom he was urged to the present undertak­ing; a tolerable knowledge of the theatric world, which his late practice in that capacity in the country had improved and extended; these mo­tives were more than sufficient to excite in him an ardent desire to commence manager. Hope pictured to his warm imagination, a long suc­cession of visionary bliss, which he seldom tasted, and enjoyments which fall to the lot of few managers.

The summer vacation afforded excellent time for preparation. The theatre underwent a tho­rough repair, and received every embellishment it could admit of: a tolerable wardrobe was pro­vided, a compact company selected, light and not expensive; capable of going through a good deal of business, and which received a powerful accession in Mrs. Sparks, who then stood very high in public opinion, and who was prevailed on to quit the adverse party.

[Page 222]Every thing being in readiness, as far as cir­cumstances would admit, Mr. Ryder took the lead long before his opponent could draw his forces together, and opened so early as Monday September, 1772, with an occasional prologue, after which was performed the same comedy that Messrs. Barry and Woodward opened with

  • Trappanti Mr. Ryder, his first appearance in that character.
  • Don Philip Mr. Sparks, jun.
  • Octavio Mr. Wilmot,
  • And Don Manuel Mr. Jsaac Sparks,
  • Flora Mrs. Durravan,
  • Rosara Mrs. Barry,
  • Viletta Mrs. Brown,
  • And Hypolita Mrs. Sparks, jun. be­ing her first appearance in that character.
To which will be added, THE VIRGIN UNMASKED.
  • [Page 223] Coupee Mr. Ryder,
  • Blister Mr. Isaac Sparks,
  • Quaver Mr. Wilmot,
  • And Miss Lucy Mrs. Sparks.

"☞ The public may depend that the curtain will rise at half past six precisely.

"N. B. The house is fitted up and repaired in the most elegant manner, and will be lighted with wax, and as Mr. Ryder has been at the expence of covering the benches of the pit with green cloth, he humbly hopes no person will stand on them. Ladies will be admitted into the pit as in the London theatres.

"The scenery and decorations are entirely new, painted by Messrs. Jolly and Bamford."

From the above statement it may be seen, that the first night promised but little; yet novelty, and that generosity which generally actuates the public mind on those occasions, rendered the performance highly acceptable; great hopes were entertained of success, which were after­wards [Page 224] amply verified, and a succession of crowded houses, gave a strength and stability to the new undertaking which were of the utmost service.

The following list will convey some idea of Smock-alley company at the time of opening.

  • Mr. Ryder,
  • Mr. Isaac Sparks,
  • Mr. Sparks, jun.
  • Mr. Wilder,
  • Mr. Dodd,
  • Mr. Wilmot,
  • Mr. Waker,
  • Mr. Durravan,
  • Mr. Owens,
  • Mr. Stewart,
  • Mr. Kane,
  • Mr. Maher,
  • Mr. Hallion,
  • Mr. Brown,
  • Mr. Read,
  • Mr. Duffy,
  • Mr. Neill,
  • Mr. Garland,
  • Mr. Logan.
  • Mrs. Sparks,
  • Mrs. Brown,
  • Mrs. Hoskins,
  • Mrs. Barry, &c.

To these were shortly after added Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Mr. T. Jackson a comedian of some merit from Bath, Mr. Parker from Edin­burgh, who made his first appearance in Ben, in Love for Love, and Major Sturgeon; Mr. Cart­wright [Page 225] on the musical glasses, and several others whom Mr. Ryder had engaged to join his standard.

For upwards of six weeks, Mr. Ryder had the town entirely to himself, an opportunity which he improved to the utmost. During this time Mr. Dawson was far from remaining an idle spectator. He foresaw the impending storm, and though he was not able to avert its fall, yet he used his utmost endeavour to divert and break its force. Notwithstanding every effort, such were the difficulties he had to encounter, that he found it impossible to open Crow-street theatre before Monday, November 9th, when the West Indian and Midas were performed with not the most pleasing prospect of success.

However, what could be accomplished in such a situation, he did. An engagement with Mr. Macklin and Miss Leeson was announced, and early in the season he brought forward Mr. and Mrs. King, from the theatre-royal York, where they had resided several years, much esteemed, and great favourites. Fame had spoke highly of Mrs. King's theatric abilities. In the York circuit she was esteemed equal to [Page 226] any actress on the stage, and from this extraor­dinary and general character, Mr. Dawson con­ceived, that in his present exigence, he had made a very valuable acquisition.

Mrs. King certainly possessed many requisites for the stage. Nature had bestowed on her a tall, commanding, elegant figure, with a face capable of exhibiting every discrimination of the various passions of the drama; to these she added all the polished grace of action which a mind well informed could suggest. Her voice and manner were in a great measure accordant to her figure, strong and forcible, but devoid of those delicate touches of nature, which Mrs. Barry had accustomed the Irish audience to.

Her choice of a character was judicious; Euphrasia in the Grecian Daughter, afforded her various opportunities of displaying her figure and powers to advantage. From her great re­putation, much was expected; and though she did not entirely answer that expectation, yet she proved a most valuable support both in tragedy and comedy to the cause she espoused, during the remainder of the season. Mandane, Rosa­lind, [Page 227] Lady Townly, Viola, Sir Harry Wildair, Beatrice, &c. were amongst the many charac­ters she performed.

Mr. King's abilities, which were much more confined, lay chiefly in the line in which Mr. Lewis was so far superior, that few opportuni­ties occurred of his performing. The ensuing summer they composed part of Mr. Heaphy's company at Cork, after which they returned to York, where Mr. Wilkinson received them with much pleasure. For several years past they have been settled off the stage at Lynn, in Norfolk, with much credit and respectability.

Mr. Macklin and Miss Leeson, followed Mrs. King, but though in great estimation with the town, yet was their attraction over, and, as is often the case in theatrical affairs, merit was obliged to give place to novelty; however, the arrival of the new lord lieutenant, the Earl of Harcourt, inspired them with fresh hopes, which in some measure were gratified. At the commence­ment of his vice regency, he used every means to render himself popular, and amongst others, did not neglect that, of courting it at the theatre, which he visited once a week for some time.

[Page 228]But to return to Mr. Ryder, the tide of suc­cess which continued to follow him with unabated force from his opening the theatre, received an increase from the return of Mr. Wilks the ori­ginal Jessamy, who, after an absence of three years came forward once more in his favourite character, and gave new fashion to this po­pular opera.

Shortly after, the Irish Widow, then perform­ing in London with much applause, was produc­ed at both theatres on the same night, but with far different success. Mrs. Sparks gave such a captivating, elegant, finished portrait of the Widow Brady, as charmed the public, bore down all opposition, and added much to her rising fame; at Crow-street it was only performed a few nights, at Smock-alley it was regularly pre­sented every Wednesday, for upwards of eigh­teen weeks to crowded houses.

In this contest, tragedy had its share of pub­lic attention at Smock-alley, where it was res­pectably supported by Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Jack­son, Mr. Ryder, (the most general actor in tragedy, comedy, opera, and farce, living) Mrs. Fitzhenry, Mrs. Jackson, and Mrs. Sparks. [Page 229] The favours he enjoyed, seemed to quicken Mr. Ryder's exertions, and such a number of new and revived pieces were brought forward in ra­pid succession, as evinced his activity and in­dustry.

A new comic opera called the Milesian, writ­ten by a Mr. Mc. Dermot, formerly a breeches-maker; (Jones was a bricklayer) but at present, surveyor of Dunleary, was at this time pro­duced, but though it was well acted, yet partly from the author's being unpopular, it was obliged to be laid aside after the fourth or fifth night.

A new comedy called the South Briton, said to be the production of a lady, followed, but was not much more favourably received.

Very late in the season, the latter end of April, Dr. Goldsmith's comedy of She Stoops to Con­quer, was brought out at both theatres; at Crow-street on a Monday, and at Smock-alley the following evening, but with no great success at either.

At this period a gentleman made his first essay on the stage at Smock-alley, who deserves [Page 230] to be particularly remembered. This was no other than Mr. Pratt, then known by the name of Courtney Melmoth, whose literary fame, and various excellent writings will be remembered as long as a friend to humanity remains. The part he chose for his appearance was Marc Anthony in All for Love, preceded by a pro­logue of his writing, spoken by Mr. Ryder, pre­paratory to his reception, which was as flattering as he could wish.

In a few nights after he repeated Marc An­tony, and in the remaining part of the season, played Publius Horatius in the Roman Father, Lusignan in Zara, Lord Salisbury, Jaffier, and a few other characters. His success on the stage, though by no means equal to that in the republic of letters, yet was respectable. His figure was tall and genteel, his deportment easy, from his education and knowledge he could not but be a sensible speaker; yet he wanted powers and force.

At his benefit, which was the Orphan, in which he played Castalio, he introduced Mrs. Melmoth, then in the bloom of life, a beautiful figure, with a remarkably sweet voice, to public [Page 231] notice In Monimia, a part in which she suc­ceeded so well, as to give every hope she would prove a valuable acquisition to the stage. Nor was the public judgment disappointed. Mrs. Melmoth's abilities are capable of commanding a respectable situation in any theatre.

When the season closed Mr. Melmoth led a company to Drogheda, where he built a theatre capable of containing about forty pounds when much crowded; it was opened with the Mer­chant of Venice, in which he played Shylock, and Mrs. Melmoth, Portia. After an unsuc­cessful campaign of upwards of three months, he was obliged to relinquish management, and with it all idea of the stage. This done he re­sumed avocations more suitable to his genius, and from time to time produced a variety of pieces that did honour to his head and heart.

To fill up the measure of success which marked this season, we find, what appears re­markably singular. That though Crow-street was the theatre-royal, and consequently entitled to every mark of vice-regal favour, yet the lord lieutenant several times honoured it's oppo­nent with his presence, particularly to Mr. [Page 232] Ryder's Sir John Restless, Mrs. Sparks's Irish Widow, and Mr. Sheridan's Hamlet.

In the month of May, Miss Catley, who had been absent three years, returned to Smock-alley, with, if possible, encreased attraction, and with "her native wood notes wild," once more charmed an admiring public. She played Ro­setta three times, Polly once, then took a be­nefit, and finished with Ephrosine in Comus.

This very long and successful campaign at Smock-alley, closed with an eclat equal to its commencement. Mr. and Mrs. Barry, in com­pany with Mr. Francis Aickin from Drury-lane, visited Dublin in the month of June.

Owing to some dispute with Mr. Dawson, who was still in possession of the theatre-royal, and who according to every information, was unfairly, or rather cruelly treated in the matter, they performed a few nights at Mr. Ryder's theatre: but upon Mr. Dawson's relinquishing Crow-street, they removed thither, where they finished the season about the latter end of July, with much advantage to themselves and emolu­ment to the manager.


Mr. Lewis engages at Covent-Garden.—Mr. Ryder opens without opposition.—She Stoops to Conquer, Lionel, and Irish Widow every week. —Mr. and Mrs. Miel, Mrs. Pinto appear at Smock-alley.—The comedy of the Macaroni per­formed.—Mr. Foote, Mrs. Jewell, Mrs. Wil­liams, Mr. Fleetwood, Mr. Sheridan, Mrs. Fitzhenry, at Smock-alley.—Mr. Dawson's ope­rations.—Opens Capel-street theatre.—List of the company.—Mr. and Mrs. Simpson.—Mr. Robin­son.—The Jubille at Capel-street.—School for Wives at both houses.—Desertion of Mr. Dawson's forces.—Consequent close of his season.

BEFORE the commencement of the next season, the Irish stage was deprived of one of its greatest ornaments; Mr. Lewis, whose attach­ment to Mr. Dawson had hitherto prevented his looking forward to that situation which his [Page 234] merit so highly entitled him to, finding at length, that he was not likely to profit any longer by his assistance, listened to proposals, and accepted of terms from Covent-garden, where he made his first appearance in the character of Belcour, in the West Indian, on Monday, October 15th, 1773.

His success may be estimated by the honour­able rank he has since sustained in the drama, which certainly places him amongst the first and most finished comedians of the age. The fol­lowing critique on his performance that night which appeared the next day in one of the Lon­don papers, is written with so judicious and discriminating a taste, as to render it worthy of insertion. It was as follows:

"Last night was performed, at the theatre-royal, Covent-garden, the comedy of the West Indian, Belcour by Mr. Lewis from Dublin, being his first appearance on this stage."

"On his first entrance, the agreeableness of his figure, and the vivacity of his manner, obtained for him that applause, which an English audi­ence is ever ready to bestow on the efforts of [Page 235] genius. Animated, therefore, by this reception, it took off in a great measure, that embarrass­ment which too generally clogs the powers of first appearances, and left us more at liberty to examine his pretensions to public favour."

"His person we may pronounce to be a good stage figure, rather above the middle size, his voice clear, articulate, and commanding, his de­portment graceful and easy. As the part of Belcour demands great vivacity and spirit, Mr. Lewis filled the whole of it with propriety; judiciously steering between the pertness of the coxcomb, and the dapper manners of low comedy; so that on the whole, we may venture to congratulate the town upon the acquisition of an actor, who seems to be so able a succes­sor to Mr. O'Brien in the walk of genteel comedy."

I shall for the present, take my leave of this gentleman with the following observation. That as excellence of private character cannot be any disadvantage to eminence in public, so does Mr. Lewis enjoy, as much as most men living, the happiness that arises from being universally esteemed; and such has been the peculiar recti­tude [Page 236] of his conduct, that he has for years filled one of the most difficult stations in life to sup­port with credit, and has conducted himself with so much good sense and propriety, as to defy malice to point out a blemish.

To return to my subject—Mr. Ryder's pros­pects at this time, it must be confessed, were brilliant, and such as might justify the most san­guine expectations. The ill success of his com­petitor and his being, though unjustly, deprived of Crow-street theatre, rendered him, at least in Mr. Ryder's opinion, no very formidable rival. Accordingly, after a few necessary arrangements, he opened Smock-alley theatre on the 27th of September, with She Stoops to Conquer, and the Miller of Mansfield.

The favour of the town, which so eminently distinguished his former season, he continued to enjoy with undiminished force, and the fostering hand of public patronage liberally rewarded his endeavours. She Stoops to Conquer, which amongst the benefits of last year, had not a fair chance, was brought out with great care, pleas­ed much, and was generally played once a week; Lionel and the Irish Widow continued still to [Page 237] maintain their fashion, and were played together every Wednesday for some time.

Early in the season, Mr. and Mrs. Miel from the theatre-royal Norwich, made their first ap­pearance in this kingdom the one in Archer in the Stratagem, the other in Diana in Lionel, and both with a tolerable share of success. The abilities of the former in light comedy parts, sprightly gentlemen, and pert valets were far above medio-Since that, the public have had many opportuni­ties of seeing him support a respectable line of business at different times.

For some years past, he has been manager of an excellent company, who yearly visit Shrews­bury, Gloucester, Wolverhampton, &c.

Mrs. Miel, possessed an excellent full toned, powerful voice, without much cultivation, but capable of much improvement.

Artaxerxes was revived at this time, for the purpose of introducing Mrs. Pinto, late Miss Brent, who had been absent eleven years, in Mandane. Her husband Mr. Pinto, led the band. Yet notwithstanding her former high cha­racter [Page 238] in the musical world, at present she was but little followed, and performed but seldom during the season.

The Comedy of the Macaroni, which I had written at York, in the Summer of 1772, when I had very little knowledge of the drama, but which from it's at that time popular title, and a few other happy circumstances, met with remark­able success in most of the provincial theatres in England, was at this time brought forward and performed a few nights. Whether from its want of merit or name, (never having been played in London) or perhaps from both com­bined, it was soon laid aside to make room for more popular and deserving pieces.

Mr. Ryder having concluded a treaty with Mr. Foote, this exotic arrived in November with Mrs. Jewell then his principal actress, and in high reputation, and a Mrs. Williams. This accession of force did not much increase the re­ceipts of the theatrical treasury. They opened in the Maid of Bath, which never had been acted in this kingdom: it was repeated, but with no great effect. Mr. Foote afterwards went through his usual routine of characters, but still [Page 239] under par. His benefit, The Bankrupt, was however a good one.

The latter end of November, Mr. Fletewood, from the Haymarket theatre, made his appearance in Tancred. This Gentleman was of a good family and connections. He had been some years an officer in the army, where having dissi­pated a small fortune, he embraced the stage as a pleasing and certain resource; nor was he de­ceived in his expectations. He possessed abili­ties which had he lived to cultivate, would have ornamented the drama.

During the season, he played a variety of characters, principally in tragedy, with encreas­ing reputation. On his quitting Smock-alley theatre, he engaged at Liverpool, where he spent the next winter. From thence he repaired to York, where he experienced much kindness from Mr. Wilkinson and the public. Here his health began to decline, and he died about two years after at Leeds, esteemed and regretted.

Mr. Sheridan and Mrs. Fitzhenry, who had renewed their engagements with Mr. Ryder, were purposely kept as a corps de reserve, 'till [Page 240] the enemy, who began to rally from all quarters, and collect to one point, began to grow for­midable, and make their approaches to dispute once more the dramatic crown with the present possessor.

Though I have not had an opportunity till the present, of mentioning Mr. Dawson's opera­tions for some time past, yet he was far from remaining inactive, during Mr. Ryder's rapid advances. His usual fertility of genius and industry, employed each hour in making every disposition which the nature of his circumstances would admit.

Counteracted in his views respecting the theatre-royal, he once more had recourse to his fortunate theatre Capel-street, which on a for­mer occasion had proved of such uncommon service. This point settled, he instantly set about repairing, painting and decorating it with the utmost diligence.

His company he had collected with every possible care, and though they were not so nu­merous, nor so high in general estimation, yet were there many of approved merit and respec­tability. [Page 241] Several had deserted in the interim, and in return, several had been gained from the opposite party.

From a variety of untoward incidents, Mr. Dawson found it impossible to open before Monday, the 23d of November, when the West Indian was performed in the following manner.

By his Majesties Servants, At the new THEATRE in CAPEL-STREET. This present Evening, the 22d Instant, Novem­ber, will be acted a Comedy, called, THE WEST INDIAN. Belcour, the West Indian, Mr. Kennedy, From the Theatre-royal in Richmond, being his first appearance on this stage.

  • Stockwell Mr. Mitchell,
  • Captain Dudley Mr. Hollocombe,
  • Ensign Dudley Mr. Leighton,

Being his first appearance on this stage.

  • Varland Mr. Gaudrey,
  • Fulmer Mr. Stewart,
  • Stukely Mr. Richards,
  • Major Dennis O'Flaherty Mr. Dawson,
  • [Page 242] Charlotte Rusport Mrs. Brown,

Her first appearance in this city these three years.

  • Lady Rusport Mrs. Gray,
  • Mrs. Fulmer Mrs. Maxwell,
  • Louisa Dudley Mrs. Barry.

A new occasional prologue written by a gentle­man of this city, to be spoken by Mr. Owens.

End of act 2d, a Solo Concerto on the German Flute, by Mynheer Schertie, With a Farce, called, FONDLEWIFE and LETITIA, Altered from the OLD BATCHELOR, by Mr. SHERIDAN.

  • Fondlewife Mr. Mitchell,
  • Belmour Mr. Hallion,
  • Vainlove Mr. Hilliar,
  • Wittol Mr. Gaudrey,
  • Barnaby Mr. Hollocombe,
  • Letitia Mrs. Brown.

The house will be illuminated with wax.

[Page 243]N. B Half price to be taken after the third act, according to the established custom of the theatres in London.

Mr. Dawson had many friends, who on this emergency, displayed their attachment. The house was crowded, and the entertainments went off with much applause; though the pros­pect of the first night could not warrant his entertaining any great expectation of success, yet still, hope did not desert him. Every exertion possible he used, to gain an equal share of public favour, and adopted the principle of Portius in Cato.

'Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we'll do more; deserve it.

To form a judgment how far the new estab­lished company was entitled to the patronage of the town it is necessary that I should subjoin a list of the greater part of the performers who composed it at the commencement of the season.

Capel-Street Company, November 1773.
  • [Page 244]Mr. Dawson,
  • Mr. Dawson, jun.
  • Mr. Jackson,
  • Mr. Owens,
  • Mr. Kennedy,
  • Mr. Mitchell,
  • Mr. Lestrange,
  • Mr. Durravan,
  • Mr. Durravan, jun.
  • Mr. Tyrrell,
  • Mr. Hallion,
  • Mr. Hollocombe,
  • Mr. Leighton,
  • Mr. Barrett,
  • Mr. Stewart,
  • Mr. Tyrer,
  • Mr. Gaudrey,
  • Mr. Richards,
  • Mr. O'Neill, &c.
  • Mrs. Jackson,
  • Mrs. Dawson,
  • Mrs. Barry,
  • Mrs. Brown,
  • Miss Danby,
  • Mrs. Grey,
  • Mrs. Durravan,
  • Miss Ashmore,
  • Mrs. Barrett,
  • Mrs. Maxwell,
  • Mrs. Smith, &c.

Shortly after, Mr. and Mrs. Simpson from the Norwich theatre, made their entrè on the Capel-street stage, in Sir John Melvil and Fanny Sterling in the Clandestine Marriage. Their ar­rival was seasonable, as Mr. Dawson wanted numbers, and the lady was capable of supporting [Page 245] a very extensive line of business in tragedy, comedy, opera, and farce.

Mr. Simpson was brother to Mrs. Inchbald, at present so celebrated in the literary world. He was very young, tall and genteel, with a good face, but not much accustomed to the stage, or likely to make any great progress in a pro­fession which requires uncommon endowments, and which his own good sense long since pointed out the propriety of quitting. Mrs. Simpson, formerly Miss George, was on the contrary, a most valuable acquisition; with a delicate ele­gant figure, (but rather under the size essential for a large stage) and a beautiful expressive coun­tenance, she possessed abilities, which have since commanded the first situation in every theatre she has been in. Towards the end of the season, they accepted of an invitation from Mr. Ryder, with whom they remained some time.

Amongst the number of new faces produced at Capel-street, a Mr. Robinson deserves to be remembered. This gentleman, a native of Dublin, enamoured of the drama, commenced his career in Mungo, in whic [...] [...] himself with such eclat, [...] to [...] resolution [Page 246] he had taken. In the course of a few years that he remained on the stage, I had opportuni­ties of seeing him at York, and at Bristol, a very valuable and respectable member of each community. Since then, he has thought proper to resume the line of life he was originally de­signed for, the law, and he now practices as a barrister at the English bar, with reputation and success.

In the unequal contest of this season, Mr. Dawson had to encounter many insurmountable difficulties; with a small theatre, inferior com­pany, and contracted resource [...] he had to con­tend against a great and popular favourite, at the head of a number of excellent performers, crowned with uncommon success, and whose well replenished treasury enabled him to accom­plish objects beyond the reach of his oppo­nent.

However, that industry which characterized Mr. Dawson's Management, did not desert him at this juncture. He got up the Jubilee with much care and cost; in which he introduced Mr. Astley and his performers, then exhibiting in Dublin; this drew him some money. The [Page 247] School for Wives, then act [...] in London with success, furnished another instance of his as [...]i­duity: he produced and played it at Capel-street ten nights before Mr. Ryder could get it ready. In vain he advertized it in rehearsal, with a pro­mise of presenting it in the most perfect state: the public embraced the first opportunity, and it was of material advantage to Mr. Dawson. At length it came forward, sanctioned by the Earl of Harcourt, Lord Lieutenant, when it brought seven or eight good houses. The following is the manner in which it was filled at each house.

Belville,Mr. Lestrange,Mr, W [...]lk [...],
General Savage,Mr. Mitchell,Mr. Heaphy,
Captain Savage,Mr. Kennedy,Mr. Fletewood,
Leeson,Mr. Layton,Mr. Sparks, jun.
Torrington,Mr. HollocombeMr. Vandermere
Spruce,Mr. Dawson, junMr. O'Keefe,
Connolly,Mr. Dawson,Mr. Ryder,
Miss Walshing­ham,Mrs. Simpson,Mrs. Sparks,
Lady R. Mildew,Mrs. Durravan,Mrs. Lee,
Miss Leeson,Miss Danby,Mrs. Miell,
Mrs. Tempest,Mrs. Maxwell,Mrs. Brown,
[...]Mr [...] BarrettMrs. Price,
[...] [...]Mrs. Fitzhenry.

[Page 248]Mr. Layton was a young gentleman who had been in the army. Miss Danby was afterwards Mrs. Tyrrell.

In the midst of this struggle, whilst Mr. Daw­son was using every effort to maintain his ground, he received an unexpected and undeserved stroke, which sensibly affected his future operations; a conspiracy of which he had not the most dis­tant idea, in a moment deprived him of eleven members of his community, who without the least previous notice, early one morning in the latter end of January, set off in a body to Por­tarlington, where with the assistance of a few others, they formed a company and opened a small temporary theatre. Though there were few amongst the revolters of any eminence, yet the loss of such a number, when he could ill spare one, was a material inconvenience, and naturally affected his future operations.

What remains to be said of Capel-street theatre, at this time, may be comprized in a few words. Notwithstanding every effort which a fertile genius could devise, or unremitting in­dustry could effect, Mr. Dawson plainly per­ceived the absolute necessity of bending to the [Page 249] [...], and declining, at least for the presen [...] [...] opposition which he could no longer [...]upport with prudence. He accordingly adopted the most eligible mode his circumstances would admit of. He shortened his season con­siderably from his original intention; commenc­ed benefits directly, and early quit the field to his more fortunate adversary.


Mr. Ryder's continued success.—The Deserter.— Rope Dancers.—Gentlemen performers.—Tony Lawkin in Town.—Cymon.—Mr. Waddy's ap­pearance.—Mr. Ryder exhibits a ridotto.—The plan of it.—Mr. Astley's exhibitions.—The Cor­sican Fairy appears on the stage.—The latter season.—Mr. and Mrs. Barry and Mr. Aickin. —Mr. Dodd and Mrs. Bulkely.—Mr. Smith and Mrs. Hartley.—Their different success.— Review of the season.—Conclusion.

LET us now turn our eyes on Mr. Ryder, whose prospects each day brightened, and whose views each day extended. His theatre exhibited a pleasing, busy, bustling scene, where crowded houses sweetened nightly toils, and public pa­tronage amply recompensed each well meant effort. The Lord Lieutenant also frequently visited Smock-alley, and whilst his presence [Page 251] added fashion to its circles, increased his own popularity.

The musical entertainment of the Deserter made its first appearance in this kingdom at that time, and was most favourably received. Its intrinsic merit, pleasing music, and the excel­lence of its performance entitled it to this re­ception. Mrs. Sparks's Louisa was much no­ticed, Mr. Vandermere's Skirmish added greatly to his reputation.

Amongst the variety and novelty produced this season were the Sieur Powlaskie the Polan­der, Monsieur Bissant on the Slack Rope, and an animal company of performers consisting of three monkies, a hare, a dog, and a horse, who under the direction of the Sieur Mc. Crow­skie, performed a petite pantomime; but it must be confessed, without any great share of public approbation: on the contrary, they were soon consigned to places better adapted to such ex­hibitions, and obliged to give place to enter­tainments more suited to the nature of a theatre.

[Page 252]About this time, a number of gentlemen of the army and navy, associated for the laudable and benevolent purpose of performing a number of plays and farces at Smock-alley, the emolu­ments arising to be applied to charitable uses. For the benefit of the Meath hospital, the Hi­bernian school, the relief of soldiers wives and children, &c.

The design, which was truly noble, fully an­swered each intent. The first night of their per­formance was the Constant Couple and Miss in her Teens, with an occasional prologue, writ­ten and spoken by Major Riddisdale, when the theatre was so crowded, even behind the scenes, that there was scarce room to get on or off; and so highly in the opinion of the audience did these gentlemen acquit themselves in their respective characters, that during a repetition of their performance for seven or eight nights, the house was filled with rank and fashion. The Stratagem was acted six nights, The Devil to Pay-often. Amongst the gentlemen who dis­tinguished themselves on this honourable and humane occasion, was Major French, whose theatric abilities stood the test of the severest [Page 253] criticism. His Scrub and Jobson will be long remembered, as excellent pieces of acting.

Mr. O'Keefe, the exuberance of whose fer­tile genius had several times before manifested itself in occasional jeu d'esprits, and petite pieces, brought out his Tony Lumkin in town for his benefit at this time. This farce was several years after produced under the auspices of Mr. Colman, in the early part of his manage­ment at the Haymarket, and though it was far from being the best of his performances, yet it prepared the town for that species of dramatic writing, which till then they had been unac­quainted with.

And here I cannot help observing, the many obligations the public are under to Mr. Colman, sen. for cherishing, cultivating, and directing a genius which has since added so much to their entertainment. I think I can venture to affirm, that to the great judgment of this excellent ma­nager, (one of the best the stage could ever boast of,) in advising, correcting, and preparing Mr. O'Keefe's first productions, and in afterwards exhibiting th [...] [...] perfection, [Page 254] we are indebted for a succession of many of the pleasantest pieces that enrich the drama.

The popular dramatic romance of Cymon, always a favourite, was at this time acted with renovated strength. Mr. Michael Arne, the composer of the music, was at this time in Dublin, and under his direction it was again brought out with great care and attention. Much of the original music was restored, several songs were new set. Mr. Ryder played Cymon; Mr. Wilder, Linco; Mr. Mahon, Merlin; Mr. Vandermere, Justice Dorus; Mrs. Pinto, Ur­ganda, Mrs. Sparks, Fatima; and that elegant little warbler, Mrs. Arne, formerly Miss Wright, made her first appearance in this kingdom in Sylvia. Thus powerfully supported, it was highly received and brought several houses.

Amongst the theatrical candidates of this time, at Smock-alley, Mr. Waddy distinguished himself so as to deserve particular notice. His first cha­racter was Philotas, in the Grecian Daughter. His success in this induced him afterwards to attempt Dumont in Jane Shore, the duke in Measure for Measure, Menes in the new Tragedy of Sethona, Cassius in Julius Caesar, and several [Page 255] others, in which he acquired reputation, and was considered as a promising actor.

He continued at Smock-alley for the remainder of the present, and the whole of the ensuing season. Hereafter we shall find him an active agent in the fortunes of the new theatre in Fishamble-street.

The success which Mr. Ryder had experienced, and the weight of public confidence which he enjoyed, inspired him, at this time, with the idea of a new species of entertainment. This was a kind of masqued fancy ball, or ridotto.

Crow-street theatre had been shut up during the winter, notwithstanding the earnest solicitations of several persons to have it opened. But as soon as Mr. Ryder had formed this new scheme, he resolved to fit up this house for the occasion. It was therefore immediately repaired, painted and decorated for that purpose.

This exhibition, however, appears to have suf­fered very considerable delays, and to have under­gone many alterations, before it could be brought to [...] under the title [Page 256] of a Fancy Ball, and the plan proposed was by subscription. There were to have been sixty subscribers, at ten guineas a piece, each subscriber to have eight tickets for the admission either of ladies or gentlemen.

But, probably from want of success in the subscription, and finding the plan proposed not sufficient, it was some time after, changed. The entertainment was then deferred 'till a later day, and advertised under the name of a ridotto ball. Tickets for this were to be had at a guinea each, which in all probability, was found a more pro­ductive plan than that by subscription.

It was announced as under the sanction of the Lord Lieutenant, and Mr. Ryder had the address to engage the support of the Duke of Leinster, the Countess of Shannon, Lady Newnham, and many others of the first rank. Indeed, the exhibition, at the same time that it was a matter of pleasure, proved also a scource of utility, as every person who was admitted was to be dress­ed in Irish manufacture.

The success of this project, was such as might have been expected, from the patronage under [Page 257] which it was brought forward. It took place some time in May. The crowd of persons of fashion was so great, that Mr. Ryder was re­ported to have cleared upwards of a thousand guineas by the scheme.

Much about this time, we find Mr. Astley and his whole family exhibited in various ways, in Dublin. Amongst the rest of his amusements, Mrs. Astley proposed to entertain the public by exhibiting a swarm of bees upon her arm, so closely compacted as to form altogether a strik­ing resemblance to a lady's muff. With his usual activity, Mr. Astley had also a museum of cu­riosities, going forward at the same time.

To resist and in all probability counteract the influence of his exhibitions, the royal forces, be­sides tumblers and rope dancers, received the powerful aid of a great little Phoenomenon, called the Corsican Fairy. The tragedy of Henry the Eighth was got up, and in the coronation of Anne Bullen, "the part of the Champion" is announc­ed to be performed ‘by Maria Teresa, the amazing Corsican Fairy, who will make her public entry riding on the learned horse, after which she will descend and move a minuet [Page 258] and dance a new Corsian jigg upon a table. This wonderful phaenomenon is but 34 inche [...] high, weighs but 26 pounds, and is allowed by all who have seen her, a perfect beauty. She speaks Italian and French with the greatest vivacity and elegance.’

However the lovers of curious sights might have been gratified by the appearance of this little lady, it must be confessed, the admirers of Shakespeare could have no great reason to re­joice at her introduction into one of his most celebrated tragedies. But we must be at some loss in which point of view most to admire the ingenuity of the contrivance, whether in re­gard to the happily suited figure of the chosen champion, or to the appropriate nature of the exhibitions which he was announced to display. A champion of 34 inches high could at best inspire us with but little opinion of his prowess or dignity, but we must utterly lose all sight of both, when we behold him mounting a table, to dance a Corsican jigg.

For the consistency of the proceedings as well as for the gratification of those cognoscenti who beheld this amusing spectacle, it is much to be regretted [Page 259] that the celebrated little count Borowlaski, was not cotemporary with this lady, to have joined both in the fight and in the dance. The dig­nity of tragedy would then have been uniformly supported.

Yet such are the wretched resources to which a manager is frequently driven, not from choice, but from necessity, in order to counteract the rage of some similar attraction and to pre­serve public attention.

However, it must be confessed that the latter end of the season amply retrieved it's credit. The number and excellence of the performers who were brought over, was uncommonly great. This will sufficiently appear by the mere repe­tition of their names. They were Mr. and Mrs. Barry, Mr. Aickin, Mr. Dodd and Mrs. Bulkely, and Mr. Smith and Mrs. Hartley.

Nor would it be fair to pass over in silence the merits of honest Bob Aldridge. He also at this time, visited his native country, and dur­ing his short stay, delighted his spectators with all the various excellencies of Irish grotesque dancing: a stile of exhibition, in wich he has never been surpassed.

[Page 260]But of the several great names above enu­merated, the success was, as might perhaps have been expected, different. The merit of Mr. Dodd and Mrs. Bulkely was universally acknow­ledged. The first characters in comedy they had long supported, with the highest reputation. On this occasion, however, private considerations seemed to frustate public ability. The connec­tion between them was not of the most moral kind, and some recent transactions had excited strong prejudices against them.

They made their first appearance in Benedict and Beatrice, in which, notwithstanding their confessed merit, they had the mortification to experience public neglect and inattention.

Exactly in the same predicament stood Mr. Smith and Mrs. Hartley. Their merits were considerable; but their situations were nearly the same, and their success was proportionate.

Mr. Smith was a gentleman of respectable family, connections, and education, and of rising reputation in his profession. His first character was King Richard. Mrs. Hartley was possessed of at least some of the leading requisites for [Page 261] attraction. She was of a lovely face and an ex­cellent figure, advantages which, with the aid of novelty, might have been expected to have proved successful. But the fate of these tragic stars was not more auspicious than that of the comic luminaries already mentioned.

Perhaps it might be owing to the superior attraction of Mr. and Mrs. Barry, as much as to any thing else, that these failures took place. It has been always experienced, that in Dublin but one object of favour can be supported at one time. In this case, it is not to be wondered at, that the very superior abilities of Mr. and Mrs. Barry, and their established same should have born down all competition.

At all events, such was the fact. Their first appearances were in Lear and Cordelia, two characters than which none, I may venture to say, were ever more capitally represented. They were also very considerably supported, in their several representations, by Mr. Francis Aickin, whose abilities have always rendered him an acceptable visitor on those summer excursions

[Page 262]During the stay of Mr. and Mrs. Barry and Mr. Aickin they performed most of their fa­vourite characters, and with a success which compensated for any other deficiencies. The coffers of the theatre were amply replenished by their acquisitions.

With such performers, and with such eclat, was the season of 1774 concluded, on the 16th of July, with the Grecian Daughter, and Midas, for the benefit of Mr. William Barry, treasurer.

The review of this season, will shew it to have been one of the most splendid ever known in this kingdom. Whatever might have been the occasional struggles of the contending par­ties, whatever the disappointment of some in­dividuals, the public cause was amply provided for. The entertainments, upon the whole, were excellent, and the emoluments of the prevailing party, very considerable. At no time has the town been presented with a greater variety of excellence: at none, has it more li­berally rewarded it's providers.

[Page 263]Upon the whole, the season of 1774 may be said to have exhibited the Irish stage in a light of respectability, which has been seldom equalled, perhaps never excelled.


This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.