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this was my excuse ; but there were other reasons more potent than filial duty for my not returning to dear Vienna : had I gone, and remained ten years, I should have had half my salary for the remainder of my life, and have been allowed to retire with ease and comfort; but, as his Grace of Bedford's motto sayeth, “ Che sarà, sarà ;" and I cannot be expected now to account for my conduct then. The oratorios were this
carried on under the direction of Doctor Arnold and Mr. Linley, and they wished to engage me; but Madame Mara, who was their great prop, as I have before mentioned, had an aversion to my singing wherever she was, for reasons before stated; of course, they were obliged to submit to the caprices of the Queen of Song, and I cared little about the matter at the time. I went one oratorio night into the green room to speak to Mrs. Crouch, but the only persons in the room were Madame Mara and Monsieur Ponté, first French horn player to the King of Prussia, and a very fine performer; he was an intimate friend of Madame Mara, and engaged to play a concerto at the oratorio that night. He said to Madame Mara in German,
dear friend, my lips are so parched with fear, that I am sure I shall not make a sound in the instrument; I would give the world for a little water or beer to moisten my lips.”
Madame Mara replied in German, “ There is nobody here to send; and yet if I knew where to get something for you to drink, I would go myself.”
During their dialogue, I was standing at the fireside; and addressing Madame Mara, in German, I said, “ Madame, I should be sorry for you to have that trouble, and I sit lazy by; I will, with great pleasure, go and get Monsieur Ponté some porter." I instantly despatched a messenger for a foaming pot; and as soon as it arrived, I presented it to the thirsty musician, in the nick of time, for he was called on to play his concerto just at this moment. Madame Mara desired me to accept her best acknowledgments for my attention, and gave me an invitation to call at her house in Pall Mall the next day, at two o'clock. I accordingly went; and she then told me honestly, that upon her first knowledge of me, she had taken a violent dislike to me, which my kindness to her timid friend on the preceding evening, convinced her was ill-founded ; she apologised, and concluded this amende (très-honorable) by asking me if I took a benefit at the theatre that
I answered in the affirmative: she then said, “It was my intention never to appear on the English stage ; yet if you think my playing for your benefit
; for the first and only time will be of service to you, I beg you will command me.”
I was thunderstruck at her kindness and liberality, and thankfully accepted it. She fixed on Mandane, in Artaxerxes, and brought the greatest receipt ever known at that house, as the whole pit, with the exception of two benches, was railed into boxes. So much for a little German proficiency, a little common civility, and a pot of porter.
The cast of Artaxerxes, upon this occasion, stood thus :
June 11th, I played at the Opera House, Count Almaviva, in the Italian opera of “ Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” for the benefit of Signora Storace; and on the 17th of the same month that theatre was destroyed by fire. I was an eye-witness to the dreadful conflagration; it was said to have been caused purposely, and I knew the person suspected. He was an Italian, who had been in the employ of Gallini, but having disagreed with him, it was reported that he set fire to his theatre; for my own part, I never believed it; but such was the report; certain it is, at all events, that the suspected incendiary was coolly supping at the Orange Coffee House, watching the progress of the flames.
The Opera company went to Covent Garden, and finished the remainder of the season, where I played six nights.
Shakspeare's Jubilee” was revived this year, and acted five nights to crowded houses ; all the performers walked in the procession, as the different characters of his plays. Mrs. Siddons personated the Tragic, and Miss Farren the Comic Muse. I had to sing the following lines, written by the present worthy Alderman Birch, author, amongst others, of three very popular musical pieces :-“ The Mariners ;" “ The Adopted Child ;” and “ The Smugglers :” they were received with unqualified approbation.
AIR-" The Mulberry Tree."
“ The cypress and yew tree for sorrow renown’d,
And tear-dropping willow shall near thee be found;
In the procession I walked, or rather danced down, as Benedick, and Miss Pope as Beatrice, in “Much Ado about Nothing;” both masqued. Moody came to me one evening, and requested I would lend my domino and masque to a friend of his, who wished to see the audience from the stage, and who would do exactly as I did, having frequently seen me and Miss Pope. On he went, but appeared instantly planet struck, and stood perfectly still; nor did he move until pushed off; the rage and disappointment of Miss Pope, who was an excellent dancer (and I not a very bad one,) at not receiving the applause which she had always brought, was very great; she stormed, and raged, and vowed vengeance against poor me. I wrote to her in the morning, asking her pardon, and signed myself “The Fair Penitent;” she took the letter in good part, and wrote me a friendly answer, admonishing me to be guarded against bad advisers : and to the day of her death was kindly attentive to me, but she never forgave Moody, by whose advice I had transgressed.
In the summer of 1788, I went to Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, and Birmingham ; Mrs. Crouch was also engaged at those places ; our reception was most flattering, and we reaped a plentiful harvest. From Birmingham, we returned to Drury Lane. The first novelty was Dryden's alteration of Shakspeare's “ Tempest,” which was received with marked applause for many nights. I composed a duet for myself and Mrs. Crouch, as Ferdinand and Miranda, which was a favourite: the whole of the delightful music by Purcell, was well got up by Mr. Linley; the accompaniments by himself.
The next operatical novelty at Drury Lane was the “ Haunted Tower," written by Cobb, the music