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have pity on my incapabilities and nonconformities! Then, as he lobbled down stairs she still kept thumping him with the mop, and finally threw a bucket-full of dirty water upon him.
Soon after that time, these old people lost the assistance of their children, by their being engaged at Bath, and other large Theatres.
Biggs himself, though very illiterate, as the reader must have already perceived, had still a degree of shrewdness and low-cunning about him, that in matters of business, sometimes prove more productive of profit, than abilities of higher estimation: His son Mr. James Biggs, was not only a good Comedian, but a very good Burletta-singer. He could play on the violin and violincello: this gave the father the idea of taking young men as apprentices to learn music; though the old man himself, scarcely knew a crotchet from a semi-breve.
For two or three years before old Biggs diod, he resided at Barnstaple, and pretended to turn methodist ! I say pretended, because I wish not to hurt the feelings of methodists, or any other people on account of their religious opinions. I have known many good and worthy men of different sects, and various creeds. But I cannot help for a moment alluding to this subject, merely to give a trait of Biggs's character; a circumstance that has in it something truly hypocritical, and laughably ridiculous.
His last apprentice was a worthy young man of the : name of Blagrové. On Biggs declining Management, which he was soon obliged to do, after his son and vol. ii.
daughters left bim; he transferrel lis apprentice (Richard Blagrove) to me and my partner, Mr. Shatford at Salisbury, It was just about the time of my leaving that circuit for London. I shall never forget the letter I received from this old Biggs, on the subject of his apprentice. It contained a paper in the form of a prayer, which he desired me to insist on the said apprentice getting by rote, and hoped I would take the trouble, occasionally, of hearing bim repeat it. The advice the old man gave him, was very good-very proper ; recommending him to keep sober, steady and honest to his employers and all persons he had dealings with :--but the “ prayer” though meant to be serious, had something in it that might offend a truly religious man, unacquainted with the character of the writer.
I kept the letter for many years, and the following is the substance of the "prayer" with the slight alteration of the word “ heaven” in lieu of one more sacred, and therefore better avoided on this occasion.
"I Richard Blagrove, pray to heaven to bless and preserve my health, so as to keep me steady in the service of my employers, Messrs. Shatford and Lee : and also, to hold in remembrance the many acts of kindness received from my late worthy master, Mr. Biggs,' still living at Barnstaple; and I pray to have a due sense of gratitude for the instructions on the fiddle, which I got from his son, Mr. James Biggs, now of the Theatres
Royal, Bath & Bristol. In return for their acts of kindness, I hope my present managers will send to my worthy old master, such sum, or sums, as I may be enabled to spare out of my weekly wages; as well as part of what I may otherwise gain by benefits, and other means.And all this I faithfully promise to consent to and perform. Amen.”
Some of the stories often told of different characters especially stories of Theatrical characters, cannot be well relished, or accurately conceived, unless the reader is made to fancy that the said characters are at the moment, actually present in sight, strutting on the stage, or walking in the streets, at a trifling distance before him.
In personal appearance, old Biggs was rather short and bulky, weighed about eighteen stone, had a full round face, a club foot, and a squeaking voice! It is said by the bye that in the early part of his life he had been the master of a Puppet-show, and acquired his squeaking manner of delivery, by his habit of carrying on his daily conversation with Mr. Punch, bis old wife Judy and the rest of his bighly-bred, well painted and superbly polished friends and acquaintance !
Biggs generally walked with a crutched stick in each hand; a wig with a tremendous large curl on each side his face; a pig-tail half a yard long; had a particular method of raising his club foot whenever he said a good thing: (which he did, as he imagined, every minute) he never opened his mouth, but to swallow food, or to broach bad English : his conceit kept pace with his contemptible pom posity !
The man had really not so much harm in him as be appeared to have ; and those not immediately connected with him in business, might pleasantly look at and laugh with him: and when those who heard him talk, loudly laughed at his blunders, he always fancied they were delighted with his wit, and on he would proceed, though he had not any wit about him, but what was too low to be laughed at. “Why don't you play the School for Scandal, Mr. Biggs ?” said a gentleman one day at Taunton. “Oh, bless you! (the old man squeaked out) we cann't do it by the next night, sir ! we have nobody that's ready in Sir Francis Gripe !” “Well then, Mr. Biggs, what say you to the Rivals ?” “Why, sir, we can do that very well: I have often played Faulkland : if the ladies will excuse my not playing it in boots ! for I cann't get on boots, on account of my lameness and confirmity !”
" Boots ! Mr. Biggs ! you mean, perhaps, the part of Acres !” “Oh yes, I did, I meant Acres !”
“ Well, Mr. Biggs, can you do Sheridan's other play, his Opera ?” “ What Love in a Village, madam ?” “No, Mr. Biggs, The Duenna; I suppose your son is clever in Little Isaac the Jew?”. “Oh, he does not play the Jew; he always plays the Jew's man, Jabal, and sings a song in it: Amo Amas, I Love a Lass !" “Oh, you mean Lingo!” “Yes, madam, I mean "Liogo's Travels,' written by Doctor Arnold, set to music by Garrick,
and afterwards sung by Mr. O'Keefe: we can do that next week, but not now; for the musician's wife who generally plays Miss Biddy (the Miss in her Teens) is not quite recovered from her confinement!” Thus would this old man run on, without sense or connection, blunder upon blunder, callous, and even unconscious of the numerous mistakes he was committing.
I believe 'tis upwards of forty years since the farco of " The Village Lawyer” was first brought out at the Haymarket: we soon afterwards had it in the country; I remember playing the part of the Lawyer ( Scout) one night at Dorchester. In the side-boxes particularly noticed two gentleman who laughed very heartily; and their enjoying the humour of it, seemed to add to the pleasure of the audience. The next day I was walking through the Antelope Inn yard, near the Tbeatro, and on passing these two gentlemen one or them spoke to me thus —" I believe you are the manager of the Theatre here !" I bowed assent : he coatinued—“My friend, this gentleman, was with me ia your
Theatre last night, and he conceives that you knew he was a lawyer, and from a village in Devonshire : and that you consequently played the farce to insult him ! if so, perhaps he may commence an action against you !" I suppose I looked somewhat con