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graceful dancing, and fine voice soon (and by no means reluctantly) attracted the attention of the King, whose conquest she completed by her admirable singing—in the character of Celania, in “The Mad Shepherdess”-of the old song, “My lodging is on the cold ground.” We will hope that Pepys romances when he declares that her own father acted the part of Pandar. The King caused a house to be furnished for her in Suffolk Street, and presented her with a ring worth £700. Pepys chanced, on one occasion, to be passing through the street as the King's mistress was stepping into her coach, and a "mighty fine coach " it was, he says.
The rise of this new favourite, who presumed not a little upon her scandalous prosperity, was very unwelcome at Court. When she was to dance a jig in the presence of the enamoured sovereign, the Queen, we are told, retired hastily, as if unwilling to be publicly insulted. The imperious Duchess of Cleveland was unable to conceal her indignation. On the authority of one of the ladies of the Court, Pepys relates that during some private theatricals at Whitehall the King's eyes were fixed so constantly on the charming Moll that the angry Duchess was “in the sulks” during the whole of the play. On another occasion, when Pepys was at the theatre, the King, throughout the evening, kept his gaze at a particular box, where shone the temporary loadstar of his fickle affections. The Duchess of Cleveland lifted her eyes to discover the object of the King's demonstrative regard, and when she perceived who it was, broke out into such a passion that “ she looked like fire."
Of the later history of Mary Davis nothing is known. She had a daughter by the King in 1673, who received the name of Mary Tudor, and in 1687 married the second Earl of Derwentwater. Their son was the brave and chivalrous young nobleman who lost his head for his. share in the Rebellion of 1715. Thus, the grandson of Charles II. became the victim of his loyalty to the royal house with which he was himself by blood connected. Before his death the Duke of Richmond, son of Charles II. by Louise de la Querouaille, was requested to present to the Lords a memorial on behalf of the young Earl, his kinsman. He presented the memorial, but with astounding inhumanity expressed his earnest hope that their lordships would not suffer themselves to be influenced by it.
About the time that Moll Davis left the stage a bright particular star rose upon its horizon in the person of Mrs. Elizabeth Barry, the original “ Belvidera” of Otway's “ Venice Preserved," and the “ Zara ” of Congreve's “ Mourning Bride."
Elizabeth Barry was the daughter of Robert Barry, a loyal barrister, who, in the Civil War, raised a regiment for the King, and was rewarded with the rank of Colonel. He fell into great poverty during the Protectorate, and left his daughter (who was born in 1658) nothing but his honourable name. She found a friend in Sir William Davenant, who, struck by her beauty and vivacity, sought to train her for the stage, but failed to awaken the dormant talent. Thrice she was rejected by the managers as possessing none of the qualifications of an actress. Such however, was not the opinion of Rochester, who lodged her in his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and with infinite skill and patience educated her for her profession. He made her repeat every sentence of her author until she
fully understood its meaning, and could render it with suitable expression. The management of the voice, the employment of appropriate gesture, the assumption of graceful attitudes; he neglected nothing which could render her proficiency indisputable; and to accustom her to the stage he superintended thirty rehearsals, twelve of which were “ dress rehearsals ” of each of the characters she was to represent. In all these pains he was actuated by his love of the charming young actress, who, to judge from his letters, exercised a considerable influence over him to the very end of his career.
About 1671 she appeared on the stage, but failed to captivate the fancy of her audience, until she enacted Isabella, the Hungarian Queen, in “Mustapha,” Lord Brooke's once-famous tragedy. Thenceforward her progress was sure, if slow; and, in 1680, sbe placed herself at the head of her profession by her brilliant performance of Monimia, in Otway's tragedy of “The Orphan; or, The Unhappy Marriage.” This was the nineteenth of her original characters; but the first with which she succeeded in really identifying herself. In 1682, all London flocked to see her Belvidera in Otway's finest drama, and to be moved to tears by the intensity of her pathos. Her genius was so true and profound that she could take the skeleton-character of the dramatist, and endue it with flesh and blood-a task she performed for Cassandra in Dryden's bombastic tragedy of “ Cleomenes” (1692). “Mrs. Barry," says the poet in his preface, “ always excellent, has in this tragedy excelled herself, and gained a reputation beyond any woman I have ever seen in the theatre.” “In characters of greatness," says Colley Cibber, “Mrs. Barry had a presence of elevated dignity;
her mien and motion superb, and gracefully majestic; her voice full, clear, and strong; so that no violence of passion could be too much for her; and when distress or tenderness possessed her, she subsided into the most affecting melody and softness. In the art of exciting pity, she had a power beyond all the actresses I have yet seen, or what your imagination can conceive. In scenes of anger, defiance, or resentment, while she was impetuous and terrible, she poured out the sentiment with an enchanting harmony; and it was this particular excellence for which Dryden made her the above-recited compliment, upon her acting Cassandra in his Cleomenes. She was the first person whose merit was distinguished by the indulgence of having an annual benefit play, which was granted to her alone in King James's time, and which did not become common to others till the division of this company, after the death of King William and Queen Mary."
Another of her finest impersonations was Isabella in Southern's drama of “The Fatal Marriage ” (1694). In 1697 she gave fresh proof of her versatility by enacting the two opposite characters of Lady Brute in Vanburgh's “Provoked Wife” and Zara in Congreve's “Mourning Bride.” In 1703 she enacted Calista in Rowe's tragedy of “The Fair Penitent” (founded on “The Fatal Dowry” of Massinger); and in 1705, Clarissa, in Sir John Vanburgh's comedy of “The Confederacy." About three years later, ill-health compelled her to retire from the stage; her last new character of importance being Phoedra, in Edmund Smith's tragedy of that name (1708). She returned, however, for one night, in the following year, to play with Mrs. Bracegirdle; and she performed Mrs. Frail, in Congreve's “Love for Love," on the occasion
of Betterton's benefit. Her last years were spent at Acton in the enjoyment of the wealth she had gained by her genius and preserved by her prudence; and she died of fever,* " greatly respected,”-in her case no inere form of words-on the 7th of November, 1713. She lies buried in Acton churchyard.
Two of her speeches, or phrases, which always commanded the applause of her admiring audiences, have been handed down to us: “Ah, poor Castalio!” in Otway's “Orphan,” and “What mean my grieving subjects?" in Banks's “ Unhappy Favourite.” In the latter play she represented Queen Elizabeth, and with so much dignity that Mary of Modena, the wife of James II., as a mark of her approbation, presented her with the dress she had worn upon her marriage.
The charm of Mrs. Barry's beauty lay in its expression. Her eyes and forehead were fine, but it was “the mind, the music breathing o'er the face” that rivetted the gaze of the beholder. Her rich dark hair, drawn back from her brow, revealed its gracious curve. Her mouth was mobile and full of expression, though, according to Tony Aston, it opened a little too much on the right side. She was not below the average height, and her figure was plump and well-made.
Her powers were seen to the best advantage in tragedy; but her comic characters were distinguished by their freedom and vivacity. “In comedy,” says Tony Aston, “she was alert, easy, and genteel, pleasant in her face and action, filling the stage with variety of gesture.”
* Cibber says that during her delirium, she dropped into blank verse, say. ing—in remembrance, apparently, of Queen Anne's creation, in 1711, of twelve peers at once :
" Ah, ah! and so they make us lords by dozens."