Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - The Business of Pleasure, by Edmund Yates, 1879 - Chapter 28 - Sawdust and Lamps

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FOR the last twenty years of my life - and I am now only forty-five - I have been an old man, a heavy old man; burnt-cork furrows have ploughed up my cheeks; bald scalp wigs have worn away my once curly hair; crow's-feet of the blackest Indian-ink have encircled my eyes. In the prime of my life I lost my individuality, and became "Old Foggles" - Old Foggles I have remained. It is not of myself; however, that I am about to speak; my human, like my theatrical career, has been one of simple "general utility." He whose story I am going to relate was born to brighter and better things, and kicked down the ladder with his own foot when within reach of the topmost round.
    Twenty years ago I was engaged with Barker, who then managed the Flamborough Circuit, and, after playing at a few minor towns, we opened at Wealborough, the queen of the watering-places in that part of England, and Barker's surest card. An idle, pleasure-seeking, do-nothing kind of place was, and is, Wealborough. There are rows of grand stuccoed houses facing the sea, libraries, promenades, bands, old ruins, the very pitches for picnics, within an easy distance, horses for the swells to ride, officers for the ladies to flirt with, baths for the valetudinarians to endeavour to regain their used-up health in, and the prettiest pro-[-292-]vincial theatre in the world for evening resort. Theatricals then were at no low ebb; for there was the race week, and the assize week, the Mayor's bespeak, and the officers' bespeak ; and when things flagged Barker would send round to the different boarding-houses and hotels, and get the visitors to order what pieces they liked, pitting their tastes one against the other, as it were; so that business was brisk, actors were happy, and there were no unpaid salaries-for, as they say in the profession, "the ghost walked" every Saturday morning. At the time I am speaking of, however, and for the first season for many years, matters were not so bright as we could have wished. The combination of circumstances was against us. An evangelical clergyman, a tall man, with long black hair and wild eyes, was attracting everybody's attention, and was weekly in the habit of inveighing against theatrical entertainments, and denouncing all those who attended them ; while Duffer, the low comedian, who had been engaged at a large expense, in consequence of the enormous bit he had made in the manufacturing districts, proved too strong for the refined taste of the Wealborough visitors, and by his full-flavoured speeches, eked out by appropriate gesture, frightened half the box audience from the theatre. We were playing to houses but a third full, and were getting utterly miserable and dispirited, when one day old Barker, whose face had for some time resembled a fiddle, his chin reaching to his knees, called us together on the stage, after rehearsal, and joyfully announced that he thought he had at last found a means for restoring our fallen fortunes. He told us that a young man, utterly unknown, had offered himself as the representative of those characters which among the public are known as the jeunes premiers, but which we call "first juvenile tragedy;" that he had tried him privately, engaged him at once, and that, if he did not make a tremendous hit next Monday, the occasion of the officers' bespeak, [-293-] in Hamlet, he, Barker, did not know what was what in theatrical matters. The next day came, and the neophyte, who was introduced under the name of Dacre, attended rehearsal; he was tall, handsome, and evidently a perfect gentleman; he went through the part quietly and sensibly enough, but made no new points and gave no exaggerated readings; so that Duffer, the low comedian, by nature a morose and miserable man, and made more surly by his recent failure at Wealborough, shrugged his shoulders, and prophesied the speedy closing of the theatre. I myself held a different opinion; I thought the young man spoke with ease and judgment ; that he was reserving himself for his audience; and moreover that, in the presence of none but the other actors, who were grimly polite, and evidently predisposed against him, he felt nervous and constrained. I felt all this, but I said nothing, being naturally a reserved and cautious man. When the night came, the house was crowded to the ceiling. Barker, who well knew how to work the oracle in such cases, had been about the town talking incessantly of the new actor, of his handsome person, his gentlemanly manners, the mystery of his position, coming no one knew whither, being no one knew what; and, in fact, had so excited public curiosity that all the leading people of the place were at the theatre. The private boxes were filled with the officers, handsome, vapid, and inane, thankful for the chance of any excitement, however small, to relieve the perpetual ennui; in the centre of the house sat Podder, the genius of Wealborough, who had written seventeen five-act tragedies, one of which had been acted in London and damned, and who was intimately connected with the stage, his uncle having been godfather to Mr. Diddear ; the dress-circle was filled with the belles of the boarding-houses and their attendant cavaliers ; the pit was thronged with jolly young tradesmen and their wives, soldiers in uniform, and a sprinkling of the maritime popu-[-294-]lation of the place; while in the gallery, wedged as it was from end to end with shirt-sleeved and perspiring youths, not a nut was heard to crack from the rise of the curtain until the end of the play, except once, at the first appearance of the Ghost of Hamlet senior, when the chemist's boy, a lad of weak intellect, whose bedroom looked upon the churchyard, shrieked aloud, and was led forth by the lobe of his ear by the constable in attendance.
    Talk of a success Such cheering was never heard in Wealborough theatre before or since After Dacre had been on the stage five minutes the applause began, and whenever he appeared it was renewed with tenfold vigour, until the curtain fell. The sympathy of the audience seemed to extend to those actors who were on the stage with him ; but they would brook no delay which kept their favourite from them, and Duffer, who was playing the First Gravedigger, and who, as a last hope of retrieving his lost character, had put on seventeen waistcoats, and began to gag the "argal" speech tremendously, very nearly got soundly hissed. When the curtain fell, Dacre was vociferously called for, and his appearance before the curtain was a perfect ovation; the ladies waved their handkerchiefs - the officers nearly thumped the front of their boxes in - the pit and gallery shouted applause; while Podder, rising to his feet, spread his arms before him as if blessing the actor, and was heard to mutter, "The Swan! the Swan!" alluding, it is presumed, to Shakespeare - not Dacre. Barker was in the highest spirits, seized the new actor by both hands (we thought he was going to embrace him), and then and there invited him and the entire company to an extempore supper to be provided at the adjacent tavern. Dacre, however, declined on the plea of excitement and over-fatigue, and at once retired to his lodgings. From that night his success was complete; he played the entire round of juvenile tragedy parts, and on each occasion to [-295-] very large audiences ; he was the talk of the country for miles around; all the provincial newspapers sang his praises, and soon the London theatrical journals began to speak of him, and to hope that a gentleman of such talent would soon visit the metropolis.
    All this time he maintained towards Barker and all the members of his company the most studied politeness, the most chilling courtesy; except on business topics he never spoke-resolutely declined all attempts at intimacy, refused to partake of the proffered beer or spirits With which these jolly fellows refresh themselves of an evening; and upon one occasion, when the aforenamed Duffer was uttering specially blasphemous language, rebuked him openly in the dressing-room, and, on receiving an insolent answer, administered to him such a shaking that Duffer nearly swallowed his false teeth. I do not think that I myself; though much quieter and steadier than the rest of the company, should ever have become intimate with Dacre but for the following circumstance I was in the habit, when I had a new part to learn, of taking my manuscript in my pocket and going for a long walk upon the sands - not to the fashionable part, where the horses were perpetually galloping, the people promenading, and the children playing - but far away on the other side of the town, where I had it all to myself; and could declaim, and spout, and gesticulate as much as I pleased, without being taken for a lunatic. Several times, during my rambles, I had encountered Dacre walking with a lady of slight and elegant figure, closely veiled; but nothing beyond a mere bow of recognition had passed between us; one day, however, while declaiming to the winds the friendship I, as Colonel Damas, held for Claude Melnotte, in Bulwer's Lady of Lyons, then just produced, I thought I heard a cry for help, and looking round, perceived at some short distance Dacre kneeling by the extended form of the veiled mysterious lady. I hastened to him, [-296-] and found that the lady, who he stated was his wife, had been rambling among the rocks, gathering wild flowers, when her foot slipped, and she fell, striking her temple against a sharp flint, and inflicted a wound from which the blood was slowly falling. Her face, of a chiselled and classic beauty, was deadly pale, and she was senseless; but we bathed the wound with water, which I scooped up in my hat, and she soon recovered sufficiently for us to lead her gently to Dacre s lodgings. These were situated in one of the oldest parts of the old town, overlooking the sea, far from the bustle and confusion of the fashionable part; and after rendering all the service I could, I eventually took my leave. From that day I became a constant visitor to those rooms, and gradually won the confidence and friendship of their occupiers; many a night, after the theatre, I would accompany Dacre home, and after a light supper, prepared by his beautiful and affectionate wife, we would sit over the fire, while he, smoking an old German pipe, would talk of literature and poetry, or of what interested me even more - of his earlier life. He was the son of a wealthy Liverpool merchant, had been educated at a celebrated provincial school, and removed from thence to a German university, whence lie only returned to find his father dead, his affairs hopelessly involved, and utter ruin staring him in the face. Without the smallest notion of business, and having always had a passion for acting, he had taken to the stage as a profession, and had offered himself to Barker, of whom he heard good reports ; bringing with him as his wife a young portionless girl, the daughter of a clergyman, to whom lie had been attached since childhood, and who, at the period of their marriage, was gaining a subsistence as a governess in Liverpool. But the manners and habits of his fellow-actors disgusted him they were a loose-thinking, underbred, vulgar lot, to whom he could not introduce his pure-thinking, simple-minded wife, and with whom he himself had no feel-[-297-]ing in common; and he was but waiting an eligible opportunity to remove to the metropolis, where he thought, and justly, that his talents would soon secure him a position in that charming artistic society for which he pined, and for which he felt himself peculiarly fitted. This opportunity soon came. I had one night been playing Sir Peter Teazle in The School for Scandal and had been struck by the vehement applause and cries of "Bravo!" in a strident voice, which had proceeded from one of the private boxes, when Dacre as Charles Surface made his appearance on the scene; and on going into the green-room after the curtain fell, I found a stout, middle-aged, black-whiskered, vulgar-looking man, dressed in the extreme of the fashion, standing in the middle of the room, and holding both Dacre's hands in his. This gentleman, I learned, was the well-known Mr. Batten Flote, manager of the Theatre Royal, Hatton Garden, who had come from town expressly to witness Dacre's performance. As I entered the room he was pouring forth the most profuse laudation. "Capital," he said, "capital, my boy! There was the dash of Elliston, the grace of Kemble, and the rollicking humour of Wallack! That's the sort of thing to bring 'em down! Barker, my lad, you've been a fortunate fellow to get hold of such a trump card as this! Let's have a bottle of sham together! I I'll stand it, and curse the expense!" I well enough knew what this meant, and so did Barker ; he fought up against it, and tried to look cheerful. When Dacre gave him notice that he was about to leave him (which lie did the next Saturday), he gave vent to a burst of virtuous indignation, and bewailed the manner in which he had been treated; then he made a faint offer of an additional five pounds a week, and finally took consolation by engaging a troop of performing dogs and monkeys, which he had heard of from a metropolitan correspondent, and getting a new piece written to display their acquirements.
    [-298-] So Dacre left us; he took a farewell benefit, when the house was thronged; and he and I had a farewell chat, principally about his future. Mr. Flote had engaged him at an excellent salary, promised him the best parts in the best pieces, and pledged himself to forward his views, in every way; and as the young man told me all this, his eye lighted, and he appeared a different being from what I had ever seen him. The London public, he said, should see that the race of gentlemanly actors was not extinct ; that there were yet men who could understand the passions which they had to portray, and appreciate the language set down for them to declaim; he would not content himself with the creations of the old dramatists, but he would be the reflex of modern characters, the men of the day should see themselves represented by one of themselves, one equally well born, equally well educated, equally well dressed, equally well behaved, His wife, too, instead of passing her dreary evenings in a wretched lodging, should have companions worthy of her - companions to whose society his name would be a passport - society in which the most celebrated in literature and art were happy to mix. So he rattled on, and I, delighted at his prospects, but very sad at his departure, listened to him far into the night. Then we parted, with many promises of long letters to be interchanged, and of descriptions of all that had happened - on his side at least for my life seemed planned out, one unvarying dismal repetition of old men's characters in a country theatre.
    Dacre departed, amid I was left alone, more alone even than I had been before I knew him, for he had inflicted me with his distaste for my professional brethren, and I mixed with them no more. So I walked upon the sands, and studied and read, and in my despair I even made friends with Podder, went to his room, drank weak tea, and listened to three of his tragedies without going to sleep. At last three weeks after Dacre left us, I received from him a long [-299-] letter and a batch of newspapers; he had appeared as Claude Melnotte, and created a tremendous sensation. The press had unanimously pronounced in his favour, and their verdict was backed by the enthusiasm of the public. His letter was written in the highest spirits : from first to last he had been received with shouts of applause; a royal duke had come into the green-room when the play was over and begged to make his acquaintance; he was proposed at The Thespis, the great Dramatic and Literary Club; the wives of two or three well-known literary men had called upon Mrs. Dacre Mr. Flote was most kind and liberal, and everything was couleur de rose.
Six months passed away; we had visited the dull inland towns on our circuit during the dull winter season, and had been doing but a dull business; I had heard but seldom from Dacre, though the newspapers still continued to give the most flaming accounts of his success, when one day, soon after our return to Wealborough, Barker came to me with a face radiant with joy, and announced that Dacre was coming to us for a month on a "starring" engagement. I was hurt at not having heard this intelligence from my friend himself, but I reflected on the charms of his position and his numerous engagements, and anxiously expected his arrival. He came, and I was astonished at the difference in his appearance; from a fresh-coloured handsome youth he had become a pale anxious man, still handsome, but oh! so worn, so haggard-looking. The change was not confined to his appearance: now, instead of the old lodgings with their cracked furniture and their desolate sea-view, he took handsome rooms on the Marine Parade, in the very centre of the fashionable part of time town; every afternoon he was to be seen among the loungers on the promenade; he dined constantly with the officers and entered into every kind of gaiety, I might almost say dissipation. To his fellow-actors he had always been distant, now his manner was positively [-300-] rude; he avoided my society, and seemed ill at ease whenever he encountered me in the street; worst of all, for whole evenings together he neglected the society of his wife, and would pass his time after the theatre in mess-rooms, at billiard-tables, among the loose visitors to the town, and several times he was late in his arrival at the theatre, and when he did come he was evidently flushed with wine, most odd and incoherent in his speech. That I grieved deeply over this state of affairs I need scarcely say, and, after some deliberation, I took upon myself to speak to Dacre on time subject ; but his reply was so rude, so angry and decisive, that I saw at once all intervention was hopeless. He finished his engagement at Wealborough and returned to London, and from that time forth the accounts I received from him were bad indeed. Among theatrical people there is a great freemasonry and brotherhood; we provincial professionals hear of all the triumphs of our London brethren ; and if their successes travel quickly and are much talked about, what shall I say of their failures? Dacre's great success had made him many enemies; and the moment that there was anything to say against him a hundred tongues were but too ready to be the bearers of the news. Rumours reached us at Wealborough of his unsteadiness, of his want of care for his reputation, of his passion for dissipation, for excitement, for drink; "stars" on their travels reiterated these rumours, adding to them choice little bits of their own fabrication, and at last The Scarifier, an infamous weekly newspaper then in being, but now happily extinct, had weekly paragraphs in which Dacre's name was coupled with that of the loveliest and most abandoned women that ever disgraced the theatrical profession.
    About the time that these paragraphs appeared, I received an offer from the manager of the other great London theatre, the T. R., Gray's Inn Lane, an engagement as actor and stage-manager; and as, independently of the position [-301-] and pecuniary emolument held out to me, I saw an opportunity of once more meeting Dacre, and perhaps of rescuing him from the abyss into which he had plunged, I gladly availed myself of it. Curiously enough, immediately after my arrival in London, the manager told me he wished to employ me on a rather delicate mission. Mr. Dacre, he said, had quarrelled with the Hatton Garden proprietors, and he was most anxious to engage him for the Gray's Inn Lane Theatre. He, the manager, had heard of my former intimacy with Dacre : would I now consent to be his ambassador? Delighted at the thought of once more seeing my friend, and thinking nothing of our recent quarrel, I consented. The next day I called on Dacre at an address in Brompton, which the manager had given me, and found him sitting in a room most elegantly furnished, opening into a little conservatory and garden. He was dressed in a handsome dressing-gown, Turkish trousers and slippers, and was lounging in a large arm-chair near an open piano; on a round table in the centre of the room was a confused litter of playbills, manuscript "parts", books, light-kid gloves, some of the smallest size, some loose silver, and fragments and ashes of cigars ; on the wall hung a portrait of himself as Hamlet opposite to a print of Mrs. Lurley (the lady with whom his name had been associated in The Scarifier), in her favourite character of the Demon Page; on the sofa lay a handsome Indian shawl, and an elegant airy fabric of black lace, which looked like a bird-nest, but was a bonnet. I noticed all these timings as I entered, and my heart sank within me as I marked them. Dacre himself had much changed ; he had lost all his youthful symmetry, and had become a stout, bloated, unwholesome-looking man. He received me coolly enough, but when he heard my business he warmed into life ; and after listening to the terms proposed, accepted with an eagerness which I thought suspicious. Taking courage at his altered manner, I asked [-302-] after his wife. He became confused, hesitated, stammered, walked across to the cellaret, filled a liqueur-glass of brandy, which he drank, and then told me that she was not well, that she was out of town, that - in fact what the devil business was it of mine? I was about to reply, angrily enough this time, for his manner was most rude, and I knew I had right on my side, when a pert-looking lady's-maid entered the room and told Dacre that "the brougham was at the door, and missis was tired of waiting." He reddened as he heard this, muttered some half-inaudible excuse about "a matter of business," and bowed me out of the room. The next day, and for several days after, he attended rehearsal with great punctuality, and entered into the business of the piece with apparent attention ; he was evidently striving to keep up his character, which had been a little damaged by the version of his quarrel with the Hatton Garden people, which Flote had circulated. To me his conduct was studiously polite: he consulted me as to setting of the scenes and the arrangements of the stage, but except on purely business questions he never addressed me.
    The night of his first appearance at the Gray's Inn Lane Theatre arrived, a night which, to whatever age I may live, I shall never forget. Dacre's separation from Flote had caused a great excitement in the theatrical world, and all kinds of reasons were alleged for it ; and on this night the house was crammed, many friends of Dacre and many supporters of Flute being among the audience. The play was a new five-act tragedy by a gentleman who has now made himself a name among the first dramatists of modern times and all the London critical world was on tiptoe with expectation.
    The curtain rose, and the beautiful setting of the scene received a volley of applause ; two or three minor personages then entered and the audience settled themselves down, waiting in dead silence for Dacre's appearance. I saw him [-303-] for a minute before he went on to the stage, and noticed that he looked flushed and excited; but, busied as I was with matter of minor detail, I had not time to exchange a word with him. His cue was given and he rushed upon the stage; a thunder of applause greeted him, mixed within a few sibilations, which had only the effect of renewing and redoubling the approbation; he took off his hat in recognition of the reception, but in doing so he staggered, and had to clutch at a neighbouring table. Then he essayed to speak; but the words gurgled in his throat and he was inarticulate; a cold shiver ran through me as I stood at the wing; I saw at once the state of the case - he was drunk! The audience perceived it as readily as I did, a buzz ran round the house, a murmur, and then from boxes, pit, and gallery arose a storm of hissing and execration. Twice Dacre essayed to exert himself; twice he stepped forward and endeavoured to speak; but in vain. Stupefied with drink, dazzled by the glare of the lights, and maddened by the howling of the mob in front of him, he was fairly cowed, and after taking one frightened glance around, rushed madly from the stage and from the theatre.
    After this fatal night I did not see Dacre again for many months ; for though the management boldly contradicted the report of his drunkenness, and advertised boldly that the whole scene was the result of a scheme concocted by the enemies of the theatre, he never could be induced to return to the Gray's Inn Lane boards. Falling lower and lower in the social scale, he played for a week or two at a time at one after another of those dramatic "saloons," half-theatre, half-public-house, with which the East-end of London is thickly studded; then invent for a flying visit into the provinces, where he found his fame and position gone, and returned to the metropolis and his East-end patrons. I myself had also had my reverses of fortune ; the manager of the Gray's Inn Lane Theatre seemed to consider from [-304-] my previous intimacy with Dacre that I ought to bear some share in his failure, and made a point of snubbing me so outrageously that we soon parted company. I returned once more to Barker, who was glad enough to see me, though he did not forget to point the moral of that pleasant proverb relative to pride having a fall, in the presence of the whole company; and after being with him some time, I at last, through the medium of an agent, made an engagement with the manager of an American troupe, who was about to make a theatrical tour through California.
    At length, a few nights before I started for Liverpool to embark, and as I was sitting musing over past and future days, the servant of my lodgings brought me a small note, for an answer to which she said the messenger waited. It was written in a hurried tremulous female hand, amid signed "Emily Dacre." The writer stated that her husband was dangerously ill, and implored me, for the love of heaven, for the sake of our old friendship, to follow the messenger and come and see him. I hesitated but the instant; then casting aside all thought of danger, I seized my hat, and, preceded by a ragged boy who had brought the note, hurried into the streets. Across broad thoroughfares, and far away into a labyrinth of miserable little streets and courts, I followed this will-o'-the-wisp-streets where pinching and unwholesome poverty reigned triumphant, and where the foul miasma was already rising on the damp evening air - streets where the shops were all small and all within unglazed windows and flaring gas-lights, where everything was very cheap and horribly nasty; where the nostrils were offended with rank exhalations from stale herrings and old clothes, and where vice and misery in their most loathsome aspects met the eye. At last he stopped before one of the meanest private houses in the meanest street we had yet come through (though the neighbourhood was Clerkenwell, where all the streets are mean enough), and pushing the door open with his hand, beckoned me to follow him. He [-305-] preceded me to the second-floor, where he silently pointed to a door, and apparently delighted at having discharged his mission, instantly vanished down time stairs. I rapped, and, in obedience to a faint cry of "Come in," entered.
    I was prepared for much, but what I then saw nearly overcame me; there was a swelling in my throat, a trembling of my limbs, and for a minute I felt unable to step forward. On a wretched truckle-bed, covered by a few miserable rags, lay Dacre, worn and reduced almost to a skeleton. He was asleep in that fitful uneasy slumber, that mockery of rest, which is granted to the fevered. As I bent over him I saw that his face was ghastly pale, except just under the closed eyes, where were spread two hectic patches. His thin arm lay outside the coverlit, and the attenuated fingers of his transparent hand twitched nervously with every respiration. His poor wife, so changed from the lovely girl I had known at Wealborough, so pallid and woebegone, looking, in fact, so starved, sat on a broken rush-bottomed chair by the bedside; near her stood a rickety table with a few medicine-bottles, and the dried-up half of a lemon; an old felt-hat with a broken feather, an old cotton-velvet cloak with scraps of torn and tawdry lace hanging from it, and a pair of stage-shoes with red heels, were huddled together in a corner of the room. The poor woman told me, the tears streaming down her cheeks the while, that the dreadful propensity for drink had grown upon him hour by hour and day by day; that it had lost him every engagement, no manager caring to run the risk of his non-appearance at the theatre; and that for the past few days since he had been attacked with fever and delirium, they had been nearly destitute - the proceeds of the sale of his clothes being all they had to depend upon for support. The people of the house, she said, had been very kind to her, and had sent for the parish doctor, who came two or three times and sent medicine, but gave very little hope of his patient's recovery; indeed that morning he [-306-] had so evaded her questions, and shaken his head so solemnly, that she was terrified at his manner, and had ventured to solicit my presence and assistance.
    A low moan from the sufferer here arrested her speech, and she ran quickly to the bedside. I turned and saw Dacre sitting up in the bed and resting on his elbow. So completely had drink and illness done their work that I should scarcely have recognised him : his long black hair fell in a tangled heap over his forehead; his thin hollow cheeks, ordinarily, after professional custom, so closely shaved, were now covered within thick black bristles; while his eyes, before so calm and steadfast, now glared wildly round him. I advanced and took his poor wasted hand, so hot and dry, between mime, said a few words of consolation, and trusted he felt better after his sleep. He gazed at me without any sign of recognition. "Ah, sleep!" he murmured, "nature's soft nurse! steep my senses in forgetfulness! Oh, my God, I wish she could, I wish she could!" He burst into a fit of sobbing, and hid his head between his hands. His poor wife advanced, and touched him gently on the shoulder. " Here is your old friend, Charles," she said ; "your old friend from Wealborough, you know!" At the last words he raised his head. "Wealborough!" he cried. "What do you know of Wealborough? Yes, yes, we'll go back there; Barker, Foggles, I know them all - the long walks, the sea-shore, the blue, the fresh, the ever free! The mess-room too; and the claret, and - hush the overture's on. Not yet, not yet - now." And be raised himself in the bed - "Bravo! bravo! no gagging, the real words - stick to your author, sir - stick to your author! What a reception - again - again - Will they never let me speak for applause?"
    During his ravings he bowed his head repeatedly; then, suddenly seizing me by the shoulder, he crept behind me, muttering in my ear: "Do you hear that hiss? - paid to do it, sir - paid by - no! there! there it is - that serpent there [-307-] at the back of the house - see him slowly unwinding his coils ! It is from him that awful sound comes! See, he's creeping closer - he's about to spring upon me, and crush me in his folds. Help! help! Some drink; give me some drink, Titinius, like a sick girl, like a sick girl!" During this paroxysm he had clutched my shoulder tightly, and almost screamed aloud; but as he spoke the last words his grasp relaxed, he fell softly back upon the pillow, and slept quietly and peacefully. So we watched him during the night; but towards morning he began to mutter in his sleep. He was apparently living again his student days, for he murmured scraps of German and of Latin, not as it is taught in England, but with a foreign accent; his face wore a sweet smile, and he seemed happy. About day break he opened his eyes and clasped his hands, and moved his lips apparently in prayer. Then turning towards us, began speaking in disjointed sentences that magnificent soliloquy which, the wisest and sweetest of poets has put into the mouth of Hamlet, commencing, "To be or not to be?" So he continued for some time, muttering occasionally scraps of the same speech. At length a peculiar light broke over his countenance, and he beckoned to his trembling wife, who hastened to him. Twining his feeble arms around her, he imprinted one long kiss upon her forehead, then murmuring in an almost inaudible voice, "Nymph! in thine orisons be all my sins remembered," his grasp relaxed, and he fell back dead!
    So ended the career of one who, under different circumstances and beyond the influence of those temptations which are the curse of the theatrical profession, might have lived long and happily, and died with weeping children round his bed. Before I left London I saw him decently buried in one of the metropolitan cemeteries ; and, further, induced the relatives of his poor widow to receive her to her former home.