Page images


it was, in the inspired words of the chorus, “Wonderful.” The orchestra was led by the Cramers ; the conductors were Joah Bates, Esq. father of the present secretary of the Tax Office, Drs. Arnold and Dupuis. The band consisted of several hun dreds of performers. The singers were Madame Mara, Storace, Miss Abrams, Miss Poole, Rubinelli, Harrison, Bartleman, Sale, Parry, Norris, myself, &c. and the choruses were collected from all parts of England, amounting to hundreds of voices.

The King, Queen, and all the royal family sat opposite the orchestra ;' the body of the church, the galleries, and every corner crowded with beauty, rank, and fashion :-such was the rage to procure seats, that ladies had their hair dressed the night previous, to be ready to get to the Abbey in good time. The performers unanimously exerted their great talents to admiration; but what made an everlasting impression on me was, the powerful effect produced by Madame Mara, in the sublime recitative, “ Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously;" in that

Her voice was heard around,
Loud as a trumpet with a silver sound.


I have often sung with her the recitative tenor part, “ And Miriam the Prophetess took a timbrel in

her hand;" and never heard her but with increased delight.

No place could be more appropriate to give effect to the divine strains of Handel, than the spacious Abbey. His Majesty's partiality for Handel's music was generally spoken of; but I believe it was not universally known what an excellent and accurate judge he was of its merits. The fine chorus of “ Lift up your heads, Oye gates," was always given in full chorus, and indeed intended to be so given by Handel. The King suggested that the first part of it should be made a semichorus, and sung only by the principal singers ; but when it came to the passage, “He is the King of Glory!” he commanded that the whole orchestra, with the full chorus, should, with a tremendous forte, burst out; the effect produced by the alteration was awful and sublime.

A strange coincidence happened at one of the performances: the morning, during part of the grand selection, was cloudy and lowering; but when the grand chorus struck up “ Let there be light, and light was over all !” the sun burst forth, and with its rays illuminated every part of the splendid edifice. Every one was struck with the coincidence, and the effect produced by it.

About this time I received the melancholy news of my poor mother's death; she had died a few

weeks before, but the event had not been divulged to me: however, I was anxious to see my father and family, and set off for Dublin, the 8th of June, having previously entered into an engagement with the proprietors of Drury Lane for the ensuing season, stipulating not to perform more than three times a week. Mr. and Mrs. Crouch and myself

a hired a travelling carriage, had a most pleasant journey, and I arrived in Dublin on the 12th of June, at my father's house in Abbey Street. Mr. and Mrs. Crouch went to lodgings taken for them in College Green.

My father was, of course, delighted to see me, and I equally so to see him ; for the lapse of so many years had made no alteration in affection for him. I was most happy to see my sister, and my brothers, Joe and Mark; and on the 22nd made my first appearance in Lionel, to a crowded house ; my reception was highly gratifying, and the plaudits I received from my' warm-hearted countrymen, and in my native city, were ever most congenial to my feelings.

During my twelve nights' performance, I never shared less, upon an average, than fifty pounds per night; my benefit, a clear one, overflowed in every part, and the greater part of the pit was railed into boxes : two of our nights' performances were by the command of his Grace the Duke of


Rutland, then the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who was accompanied to the theatre by his Duchess, a most beautiful woman. Holman was then acting in Dublin; the Masque of Comus was got up; he played Comus, I, the principal Bacchanal, and sang, “Now Phæbus sinketh in the West,” and all the principal songs. Mrs. Crouch was the Euphrosyne, and looked as lovely as if she had been bathed in the fountain of the Graces; her acting in the song of “ The Wanton God," and singing “Would ye taste the noontide air ?” and “ Sweet echo,” were indeed a treat.

It struck me that there was a good opportunity to introduce, in the first act of the Masque, between the principal Bacchanal and Bacchante, a duet ; and I fixed upon the celebrated Italian duet of Martini, “ Pace, cara mia sposa," which created a great sensation at Vienna, but much greater in Dublin. The English words put to it, “Oh, thou wert born to please me,” were very good, and chimed in well with the scene; no piece of music ever produced a greater effect; it was always called for three times, and no performance was allowed to go on in which it was not introduced ; it was sung about the streets by the ballad-singers, and parodied by the news-boys, who used to sing to each other, “ Oh thou wert born to tease me, my life, my only love;" in short, it was completely

the rage all over Ireland, England, and Scotland, for many, many years.

During my engagement in Dublin, I passed many happy days in the delightful and hospitable society of numerous and kind friends. We took frequent excursions to Clontarf, Black Rock, Dunleary, Hill of Howth, and the Dargle, an enchanting spot. At Bray there was an inn, where every accommodation could be had; the red trout are delicious; and at Lord Powerscourt's place, the Dargle, the views are beautiful and picturesque, bearing a strong resemblance to many parts of Sicily, particularly about the environs of Palermo. However, these joys, like all others, were but transitory; and, in due time, I finished my profitable and pleasant engagement in Dublin, and sailed for Holyhead, on our way to the York theatre, where Mrs. Crouch and myself were engaged by the eccentric Tate Wilkinson, its proprietor, to perform during the race week. Mrs. Crouch was perfectly acquainted with the eccentricities of Tate, and told us many anecdotes of him; he was a great epicure, very fond of French cookery, and small dishes ; large joints he never allowed to come to his table, and above all, had the most sovereign contempt for a round of beef; hearing this, it came into my


« PreviousContinue »