Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

quaintance. To eke out his scanty funds he borrowed horse and pistol, and played on the road the part of a highwayman; but he was arrested and thrown into Newgate, and escaped the gallows only through the favour of James II. His good looks and dashing ways soon afterwards secured him the favour of the Duchess of Cleveland. “This woman,” says Oldmixon, “ was so infamous in her amours, that she made no scruple of owning her lovers; among whom was Goodman the player ... and the fellow was so insolent upon it, that one night, when the Queen was at the theatre, and the curtain, as usual, was immediately ordered to be drawn up, Goodman cried,

Is my Duchess come ?' and being answered, no, he swore terribly the curtain should not be drawn up till the Duchess came, which was at the instant, and saved the affront to the Queen.”

Scum Goodman, however, was a villain at heart. Annoyed at the presence of a couple of the Duchess's children, and fearing, perhaps, that their portions would lessen his gains, he bribed an Italian quack to poison them. But the plot was discovered, and Scum for a second time became an inmate of Newgate. He was tried for a misdemeanour; had influence enough to save his worthless neck, but was compelled to pay so heavy a fine that it reduced him to poverty. He left the stage in 1690. Colley Cibber says that when he, a débutant, was rehearsing the small part of the Chaplain in Otway's “Orphan," Scum Goodman was so pleased that he swore with a big oath the young fellow had in him the making of a good actor.

Goodman, as became a man whose life had been saved by King James, was an ardent Jacobite, and joined in

Fenwick and Churnock's desperate scheme to assassinate William III. He had already distinguished himself as one of the first forgers of bank-notes; nothing, indeed, was too vile for him to engage in. While the details of the plot were being arranged, Goodman, Porter, Parkyns, and other confederates, endeavoured to raise a riot in London (June 10, 1695). They met at a tavern in Drury Lane, and, when hot with wine, rushed into the streets, beat kettledrums, unfurled banners, and began to light bonfires. But the watch, supported by the populace, soon overpowered the revellers, whose ringleaders were apprehended, tried, fined, and imprisoned. They regained their liberty after a few weeks, and resumed their more criminal design. It was discovered, however, and Goodman was then ready to turn informer. To save Fenwick’s life, his friends were anxious to get out of the way this all-important witness, and to buy him off they employed the agency of a daring Jacobite adventurer, named O'Brien. “This man,” says Macaulay, “knew Goodman well. Indeed, they had belonged to the same gang of highwaymen. They met at the Dog in Drury Lane, a tavern which was frequented by lawless and desperate men. O'Brien was accompanied by another Jacobite of determined character. A single choice was offered to Goodman, to abscond and to be rewarded with an annuity of five hundred a year, or to have his throat cut on the spot. He consented, half from cupidity, half from fear. O'Brien was not a man to be tricked. He never parted company with Goodman from the moment when the bargain was struck till they were at Saint Germains.”

What became of Goodman is not known. Probably he perished in a street brawl at the hands of rogues of more

as a

[ocr errors]

nerve than he had, for the man was always a coward as well as a knave.

One of the most popular of the Duke's Company was Harris, whose portrait in his favourite character of Cardinal Wolsey was painted by Hailes, and is preserved in the Pepysian Library at Cambridge. He was a man of versatile talents, a fine singer and dancer, and a good talker, who commanded respect even from the witty and learned company that gathered round Dryden at Will's Coffee-House. He was on intimate terms with Pepys : “I do find him," says Pepys, “a very excellent person, such as in my whole acquaintance I do not know another better qualified for converse, whether in things of his own trade, or of other kind; a man of great understanding and observation, and very agreeable in the manner of his discourse, and civil, as far as is possible.”

Then there was Scudamore, who took what is now called, we believe, the “juvenile lead,” and played the lover, and the fine gentleman, and the chivalrous knight with a grace and spirit that charmed all beholders. He “created” the part of Garcia in Congreve's “Mourning Bride.In 1700 he married a young lady of £4,000 fortune, who had fallen in love with the gay and gallant actor, though he was then wearing old age and grey hairs.

Reference must also be made to Anthony Leigh, whose portrait is one of those at Knowle, hung there by the great patron of art and letters, the first Earl of Dorset. Cibber speaks of Dominique in Dryden's “Spanish Friar” as his best part, and it is in this part the artist has painted him. “In the courting, grave hypocrisy of the Spanish Friar, Leigh stretched the veil of piety so thinly over him, that in every look, word, and motion, you saw a palpable, wicked shyness shine throughout it. Here he kept his. vivacity demurely confined, till the pretended duty of his function demanded it; and then he exerted it with a choleric, sacerdotal insolence. I have never yet seen anyone that has filled the scenes with half the truth and spirit of Leigh. I do not doubt but that the poet's knowledge of Leigh’s genius helped him to many a pleasant stroke of nature, which, without that knowledge, never might have entered into his conception." Leigh was on the stage from 1672 to 1692.

One of his fellow-actors was the celebrated Smith, the original of Sir Topling Flutter (1676), Pierre (1682), Chamont (1680), and Scandal (1695), of whom an interesting anecdote is told by Cibber. “Mr. Smith," he says, “whose character as a gentleman could have been no way impeached, had he not degraded it by being a celebrated actor, had the misfortune, in a dispute with a gentleman behind the scenes, to receive a blow from him. The same night an account of this action was carried to the King, to whom the gentleman was represented so grossly in the wrong, that the next day his Majesty sent to forbid him the court upon it. This indignity cast upon a gentleman only for maltreating a player, was looked upon as the concern of every gentleman, and a party was soon found to assert and vindicate their honour, by humbling this favoured actor, whose slight injury had been judged equal to so severe a notice. Accordingly, the next time Smith acted, he was received with a chorus of cat-calls, that soon convinced him he should not be suffered to proceed in his part; upon which, without the least discomposure, he ordered the curtain to be dropped, and having a competent fortune of his own, thought the conditions of

adding to it by remaining on the stage, were too dear, and from that day entirely quitted it.”

He returned to it, however, in 1695; not to meet with his old favour, for the Whig portion of his audiences resented his well-known Tory sympathies. He died in the following year.

Sandford made his first appearance on the stage in 1661, two years before his colleague Smith, and remained on it two years after his colleague's death, that is, until 1698. It was his peculiar fortune to play the villainthe villain of comedy as well as of tragedy; and the audiences were so accustomed to him in this line that once when he was cast for an honest man, they showed their annoyance by hissing the piece in which he was, to their fancy, so strangely out of place. He was very great in melodramatic characters, and in all was famous for his admirable delivery. The verses of the poet gained an additional attraction from the intelligence and spirit with which he rendered them.

In Hampstead churchyard, though without monumental record, lies Jevon, who, like Lacy, began his career as a maître de danse. He was a fellow of infinite fun and fancy, who, in one of Settle's bombastic tragedies, having, according to the stage direction, “ to fall on his sword,” placed it flat on the stage, deliberately fell over it, and duly “died.” At the coffee-house, an angry waiter exclaimed, “ You are wiping your dirty boots with my clean napkin ! ” “Never mind, boy,” retorted Jevon, “ I'm not proud—'twill do for me." The farce of “The Devil to Pay” is based upon his little play, “A Devil of a Wife,” in which he himself acted Jobson.

Cademan, like Cartwright, had been a bookseller, and

« ZurückWeiter »