« ZurückWeiter »
Page 146. The Stone was called Jacob's Pillar (pillow). This is the stone or · Marble fatal Chair' which Gathelus, son of Crecops, King of Athens, is said to have sent from Spain with his son when he invaded Ireland ; and which Fergus, son of Gyric, won there and conveyed to Cove. The stone was set into a chair in which the kings of Scotland were crowned, till Edward the First offered it, with other portions of the Scottish Regalia, at the shrine of Edward the Confessor as an evidence of his absolute conquest of Scotland. A Leonine Couplet was cut in the stone which has been thus translated :
• The Scots shall brook that Realm as native ground
This prophecy was fulfilled, to the satisfaction of the faithful in prophecy, by the accession of James VI. to the English Crown. How it got the name of Jacob's pillow is difficult to trace. It is a piece of common rough Scotch sandstone ; and Sir Roger's question was extremely pertinent. - The other coronation chair was placed in the Abbey in the reign of William and Mary.
Page 146. Sir Roger, in the next Place, laid his hand upon Edward the Third's Sword. This, The monumental sword that conquered France,' is placed with his shield near the Tomb of Edward, and which he caused to be carried before him in France. The sword is seven feet long, and weighs eighteen pounds.
Page 147. The Figure of one of our English Kings without a Head. The effigy of Henry V. which was plated with
silver except the head, and that was of solid metal. At the dissolution of the monasteries the figure was stripped of its plating, and the head stolen.
Chap. XXIII. Sir Roger AT THE PLAY.
Spectator, No. 335. Tuesday, March 25, 1712. Ву Addison.
Page 148. He had a great mind to see the new Tragedy. This was the Distressed Mother by Ambrose, otherwise · Pastoral' Philips : and, as it was advertised in the above number of the Spectator to be performed for the sixth time, Sir Roger must be supposed to have witnessed its fifth perform
The 'first night' is thus announced in the Spectator and in the Daily Courant of 17th March, 1712.
By Desire of several Ladies of Quality; by Her Majesty's Company of Comedians :
• At the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, this present Monday, being 17th March, will be presented a new Tragedy called
• THE DISTRESSED MOTHER, • (By Her Majesty's Command no person will be admitted behind the scenes.) Pyrrhus, Mr. Booth.
Andromache, Mrs. Oldfield. Phænix, Mr. Bowman. Cephisa, Mrs. Knight. Orestes, Mr. Powell.
Hermione, Mrs. Porter. Pylades, Mr. Mills.
Cleone, Mrs. Cox.'
Addison had a strong friendship for Philips, and took
extraordinary pains, first to get his friend's play upon the Stage, and next to make it succeed; for, according to Spence he caused the house to be packed on the first night. No. 290 of the Spectator opens with a puff preliminary :
• The Players, who know I am very much their Friend, take all Opportunities to express a Gratitude to me for being so. They could not have a better Occasion of obliging me, than one which they lately took hold of. They desired my Friend WILL. Honeycomb to bring me to the Reading of a new Tragedy, it is called The Distressed Mother. I must confess, tho’some Days are passed since I enjoyed that Entertainment, the Passions of the several Characters dwell strongly upon my Imagination; and I congratulate the Age, that they are at last to see Truth and humane Life represented in the Incidents which concern Heroes and Heroines. The Stile of the Play is such as becomes those of the first Education, and the Sentiments worthy those of the highest Figure. It was a most exquisite Pleasure to me, to observe real Tears drop from the Eyes of those who had long made it their Profession to dissemble Affliction : and the Player, who read, frequently threw down the Book till he had given Vent to the Humanity which rose in him at some irresistible Touches of the imagined Sorrow.'
Whoever dips into this turgid translation of Racine's Andromache will be much amused at the green-room grief it is said to have drawn forth. Like many a worse play, some of its success was occasioned by the Epilogue as delivered by Mrs. Oldfield. This was the most successful composition
of the kind ever yet,' says Johnson, 'spoken on the English theatre. The three first nights it was recited twice ; and not only continued to be demanded through the run, as it is termed, of the play; but whenever it is recalled to the stage where by peculiar fortune, though a copy from the French, it keeps its place, the Epilogue is still expected and still spoken.' Its reputed author was BUDGELL; but when Addison was asked how such a silly fellow could write so well? he replied, “The Epilogue was quite another thing when I saw it first.' Tonson published the play; and when it was first printed, Addison's name appeared to the Epilogue; but happening to come into the shop early in the morning when the copies were to be issued, he ordered the credit of it to be given to Budgell that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place.' This story was told to Garrick by a member of the Tonson family. The prologue was by Steele.
Page 148. The Committee - good Church-of-England Play. This comedy, written by Sir Robert Howard, was popular so early as 1663. Pepys, in his diary of that year, under June 12 writes — To the Theatre Royal, and there saw The Committee, a merry but indifferent play; only Lacy's part, an Irish Footman, is beyond imagination.' Posterity has not ratified Pepys's criticism as to the “indifference of The Committee, for it kept possession of the stage in one form or another till very lately. The part of Teague was always the greatest favourite, and gave to the Comedy the second title of The Faithful Irishman.' After
Lacy it was filled with most applause by Leigh, whom Charles the Second called "his Comedian :' Griffin and Bowman respectively succeeded to it, and then the sponsor of the well-known jest book, Joe Miller; of whom a mezzotint likeness as Teague is still extant. The Committee, cut down to a farce, was till lately played under the title of Honest Thieves.
Much of its earlier celebrity was due to the political allusions in which The Committee abounds — to its being, in the words of Sir Roger, 'a good Church-of-England Play.' Sir R. Howard wrote it to satirize, in the character of Obadiah, the proceedings of the Roundheads; and at the saintest dawn of religious excitement its announcement in the play-bills was, even in Sir Roger's time, sure to attract large audiences. Some five-and-twenty years before, when James the Second attempted to inflict popery upon Oxford, an interpolation by Leigh - who was playing Teague in that city - caused an intense commotion. The head of University College, Walker, (whose first name was the same as that of the chief part in the play – Obadiah) had gone so far, in obedience to the wishes of the king, as to introduce popish rites, and to turn his college into a Catholic seminary. This brought upon him great indignation, a tremendous burst of which was vented after Leigh's exploit:— towards the end of the Comedy, Teague has to haul in Obadiah with a halter about his neck, and to threaten to hang him for refusing to drink the king's health. Here,' says Colley Cibber, 'Leigh, to justify his purpose with a stronger provocation, put him