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Life and Work of Joanna Baillie
Chapter 4 - Stage History

In spite of Joanna Baillie’s desire that her dramas should succeed on the stage, only seven of the twenty-eight—De Monfort, The Family Legend, Henriquez, The Separation, The Election, Constantine Paleologus, and Basil—have been professionally produced. Between 1800 and 1826 the leading theatres of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the United States produced one or more of them. The extent of this stage-history has not been appreciated, as most authorities content themselves with a general statement that De Monfort and The Family Legend were performed. Correction of many errors in detail would be of little value, so that only the most important are noted in this chapter.

Among the names of actors who attempted to impersonate her greatest characters will be found all the most famous of the age. The list is headed by John Philip Kemble, Edmund Kean, and Mrs. Siddons; it also includes Mr. and Mrs. Henry Siddons, Macready, Helen Faucit, and Ellen Terry. In America, Cooper, Hodg-kinson, and Wood played De Monfort. Such perfection of acting was required in the men and women who hoped to succeed in these dramas that few of lesser ability risked failure in them.

As De Monfort has the longest and most successful stage-history, it will be discussed first; the others follow in chronological order. Undoubtedly performances other than those recorded here occurred in Scotland and Ireland. The early notices of performances, however, are so incomplete that a full record is impossible to obtain.

De Monfort

I. England

1800, Tuesday, April 29, London, Drury Lane Theatre, was the first performance of this play.1 It endured the test in a creditable manner, as the announcement of its repetition met with little opposition at the close of the performance, and ‘the testimonials of approbation were loud and general.’ As a result, it was repeated on April 30, May 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9, a total of eight performances. The usual statement assigns eleven performances to this run. On May 1st, however, The Wheel of Fortune was given, on May 8th A Bold Stroke for a Wife, and on May 4th there was no production. Monday, May 5th, was Mrs. Siddons’ benefit performance, at which Dutton reports that ‘she was honoured with a fashionable, but not a numerous house.’

Several additional actors are mentioned in connection with the music, but their parts are not given; among them are Miss Stevens, Mrs. Crouch, and Mr. Sedgwick.

Mr. Kemble was directly responsible for the production of De Monfort at this time. In regard to Kemble's choice of this play Fitzgerald says, 'A leading actor is always exposed to the temptation of being blinded to the general merits of a piece, provided he finds a character which he thinks may suit him.' The implication of these words is established as a fact by the following statement by Boaden: Mr. Kemble, however, had been struck with De Montfort, which I then read by his desire, and he told me of his intention to make some alterations to bring it better within the scope of stage representation, and to act the character himself, consigning his noble sister to the care of Mrs. Siddons.' This intention was carried out, but the alteration was never published. The original authorship was evidently still in doubt at the time of the first performance. No name was given on the play-bill, and the Monthly Magazine mentions

the Plays on the Passions without any reference to its authorship.6 The first clipping in Genest’s scrap-book refers to ‘the author (whoever he may be)’ and another one says, 'Miss Baillie, daughter of the Physician of that name, is the supposed Author of the Play of De Monfort/ Genest’s second-night clipping, dated May 1, 1800, corrects this mistake, and says: Miss Bailey, %Sister of Dr. Bailey, of Great Windmill Street, is the Authoress of the New Tragedy De Monfort. She is a lady of a very fine genius, and promises to be a literary ornament to her country.

Dutton expended both time and effort in order to compare the drama as produced with the first printed edition. He found that the first edition was already exhausted, and there were no copies available in the libraries. A copy was finally lent to him, and he made his report. He had hoped that the scenes to which he objected were the work- of Kemble, but his final statement was that Kemble’s changes consisted largely in the correction of grammatical errors. One news-paper-critic came to a different conclusion, but apparently made no attempt at accuracy. He says, ‘Kemble, who has adapted the piece to the Stage, has successfully bestowed great pains upon the dialogue.' Genest was offended by an inconsistency in the first act of the printed drama. ‘The 1st scene closes with De Mont-fort’s going to bed at night' he says, ‘the scene changes, and he is instantly discovered at breakfast—it is to be hoped that Kemble removed this absurdity—but it does not appear from the Dramatic Censor how this was managed in representation.’ Dutton specifies only one dramatic change that Kemble made. In the last scene of the third act, he made Rezenvelt refuse the challenge to fight with De Monfort. He tells De Monfort to find out some free, some untried arm, some adversary, against whom he had not that very morning sworn never more to raise his arm in anger. “To such a one,” he says, “you may again be a trifling life in debt!—again acknowledge, and again forget!—I’ll not be guilty of your perjuries.” — This conduct . . . undoubtedly displays a dignified and manly mind; and . . . must have a greater tendency to inflame De Mont fort’s hatred, and prompt the assassination of the man, who denied him the means of open revenge, than had he a second time been the debtor to Rezenvelt's generosity.’

Several slight changes should be noted, the most important of which is the change of scene which accentuates the foreign local color of the play. According to all the printed editions, the scene is Amsberg in Germany, and no familiar localities are mentioned. In them the spirit is not true to a Teutonic people, but is rather that of a Catholic country. Since all the editions agree, it seems logical to attribute all peculiarities in the acting version to Kemble’s revision. In the reviews of the first performance, the statement is made that the scene is Augsburg, and that De Monfort fled from Vienna. That the names were given a German pronunciation is indicated by the fact that the first-night reviewers spelled Rezenvelt, Rasenvelt, and Raisenberg. The European Magazine assigns to De Monfort the name of Mattheus.

The production of the drama was as perfect as money and skill could make it. Kemble may have carried the pecuniary side, as well as the artistic. Every care wa$ taken that the play should receive a proper setting. The announcement promised Scenery, Musick, Dresses, and Decorations entirely new. The scenery was designed by Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Capon, who painted a very unusual pile of scenery, representing a church of the 14th century, with its nave, choir, and side aisles, magnificently decorated, consisting of seven planes in succession. In width this extraordinary elevation was about 56 feet, 52 in depth, and 37 feet in height. It was positively a building.’ The reviewers agreed that the scenery was magnificent, and must have been very costly. Fitzgerald adds, 'The carpenters, however, exhibited a prodigy of skill which might rival the ambitious efforts of our day: ... [last scene] I suppose one of the earliest specimens of “set” scenery.’

In order to increase the attractiveness of the play, music was added in several scenes. Mr. Shaw composed the 'highly pleasing and grand’ music for the third act, and. Mr. Kelly for the second and fourth acts. In the second act, a song by Miss Stevens' was enthusiastically applauded.16 In the third act, Mr. Sedgwick sang a glee written by Mr. Shaw, which occurs in the first edition, and was later omitted:

Pleasant is the mantling bowl,
And the song of merry soul;
And the red lamps’ cheery light;
And the goblets glancing bright;
Whilst many a cheerful face around
Listens to the jovial sound.
Social spirits, join with me;
Bless the god of jollity.

The sacred music came in the fourth act, according to the rearrangement. Mrs. Crouch sang a solo, which is a species of sacred music, adapted to the situation in which it is sung, and has a very sublime chorus.' Mr. Kelly's music for the requiem,

Departed soul! whose poor remains This hallow’d lowly grave contains, added to the solemnity of the scene. The performances at Drury Lane could not be censured in 1800 for a lack of show: ‘Besides Pizarro, the Egyptian Festival, and the Tragedy of Montford, are to be Grand Spectacles, and aided by the charms of music.'

According to the custom of the time, a prologue and epilogue were added. The prologue, written by Francis North, and spoken by Mrs. Powell, attempted a ‘vindication of British genius against foreign rivals,' and predicted that Joanna Baillie had restored Shakespeare to the stage. The epilogue, written by the Duchess of Devonshire, 'served to confirm the sentiments inculcated by the events of the piece.' Mrs. Siddons spoke it in her own costume, except on May 3d, when she was so exhausted at the close of the performance that she omitted it, and the drowsy audience' are said to have made no objection.

The stage-history of De Monfort during this early run at Drury Lane is the story of the Kemble family. Whether the play was written especially for them or not, is an open question. At an early date Joanna Baillie knew both John Philip Kemble and Mrs. Siddons, and in De Monfort produced a drama whose principal parts were particularly suited to their abilities. Frances Anne Kemble says that Joanna Baillie wrote expressly for Mrs. Siddons the part of Jane De Monfort. On the other hand, Miss Baillie herself said in 1804 that she made the mistake of writing Constantine Paleologus with definite actors in her thoughts, and adds, 'I hope also that this, standing alone, as a single offence of the kind, . . . may be forgiven.' In spite of this definite statement, her nephew says: 'It is probable that John Kemble and his sister had been present to the mind of Joanna when she composed the tragedy of De Monfort. Moulded as they were by nature for the stage; adapted in form, voice, gesture, to produce the greatest theatrical effects, once seen they could scarcely afterwards be absent from the contemplations of the dramatic poet.'

The part of Rezenvelt was intended for Charles Kemble, who was prevented by illness from appearing. Even without him, the drama was characterized as 'a true family Play, the avowed aim of which seems to have been the exhibiting of the Kembles to advantage, by putting an extinguisher on all the rest of the performers.'

Of the quality of the acting on the part of the two principals there can be no question. Mrs. Barbauld wrote shortly after the performance that she had received ‘great pleasure lately from the representation of De Monfort. . . . The play is admirably acted by Mrs. Siddons and Kemble.' According to Genest, De Monfort was one of Kemble’s greatest parts, and his delineation of it was a 'masterpiece of the histrionic art.’ Hazlitt says: There is in the chief character ... a nerve, a continued unity of interest, a setness of purpose and precision of outline which John Kemble alone was capable of giving; and there is all the grace which women have in writing. In saying that De Montfort was a character which just suited Mr. Kemble, I mean to pay a compliment to both.' Kemble was particularly successful in depicting intense passion; in this part he ‘was amazingly powerful; and he showed how well he could conceive and display the features of a passion, from which he was personally more free than most men of his time.' His performance was a fine example of the art; equally exhibiting the corroding effects of a passion fostered in secret, and the ravages of ungovernable fury.’ Twenty years later, De Monfort is still spoken of as 'a character in which Mr. Kemble had distinguished himself.'

After characterizing the acting of Kemble as 'without fault' the reviewer in the European Magazine continues: 'The other performers had but few opportunities of showing their talents; but what little they had to do, they did with propriety and spirit.' This statement suggests the great discrepancy of opinion in regard to Mrs. Siddons performance of the character of Jane De Monfort. One critic declared: ‘The character of Jane De Montford is a part very unworthy of the talents of Mrs. Siddons, as she has but little connection with the story, and appears brought forward merely to hear the wild ravings of De Montford, and apologize for his infuriate revenge.’ In accord with this opinion is Dutton’s statement that she fell 'at times into rant and exaggerated declamation.’ Dutton’s criticism is detailed. Disguising herself in a single fold of a thin veil, through which the audience could clearly distinguish each feature; he justly censures as a 'gross breach of propriety.’ The Monthly Magazine attributes Mrs. Siddons’ partial failure to the author: ‘The part of Jane De Mont fort... is of that kind, in which we see the author’s conception to be good, but the work to be unfinished; and Mrs. Siddons was not very successful in it.’

In spite of these criticisms, there are many indications of a contrary opinion. Campbell, in his Life of Mrs. Siddons, analyzes the drama at length from the point of view of the producer, and then says: 'Let it be remembered that Mrs. Siddons performance of Jane De Monfort is no uninteresting part of the great actress’s history. . . . His [Kemble’s] acting in the piece, as well as Mrs. Siddons’, was amazingly powerful. ... I cannot dismiss the subject without noticing that Joanna Baillie in her description of Jane De Monfort has left a perfect picture of Mrs. Siddons.’ In this connection should be quoted the following lines in Act II, Scene 1:

Page. So queenly, so commanding, and so noble,
I shrunk at first in awe; but when she smil’d,
For so she did to see me thus abash'd,
Methought I could have compass’d sea and land
To do her bidding.

Lady. Is she young or old?

Page. Neither, if right I guess; but she is fair:
For Time hath laid his hand so gently on her,
As he too had been aw’d.

I thought at first her stature was gigantic; But on a near approach I found, in truth, She scarcely does surpass the middle size.

... Is she large in stature ?

Page. So stately and so graceful is her form,

What is her garb ?


Page. I cannot well describe the fashion of it.
She is not deck’d in any gallant trim,

But seems to me clad in the usual weeds Of high habitual state; for as she moves Wide flows her robe in many a waving fold,

As I have seen unfurled banners play With the soft breeze.

Lady. It is an apparition thou hast seen.

Fre. Or it is Jane De Monfort.

If the satisfaction of the actress herself is important, we may conclude that Jane De Monfort is a well-drawn character, for Mrs. Siddons was so delighted with the part that she visited the author in Hampstead, and on leaving begged, ‘Make me some more Jane De Monforts.'

Of the other characters no notice was taken. Even Rezenvelt produced no effect upon the critics; he is ignored by all the reviewers except one, who dismisses him with a single sentence in regard to the forbearance and good humour of his character.36 In the hands of a Kemble, he would, in all probability, have made a strong impression, as he seems to have done in later productions in which the ability of the actors was more nearly equal.

On April 30th the play was performed, for the second time ... to a numerous audience with increased success. Some very judicious curtailments and alterations have been made, particularly in the fourth and fifth acts; and in this improved state we have no doubt of its becoming a permanent favorite of the Public.' Dutton says: ‘The piece is still much too long, and would receive great additional improvement by totally rescinding the part of Conrad, who is only an encumbrance of the Play. Various other alterations are necessary to take off the heaviness of the Tragedy, by shortening the term of its duration.' This curtailment was in accord with the first-night criticisms, which declared that many were necessary 'to shorten the performance and render it less tedious.' The criticism of the part of Conrad was hot accepted by Kemble.

The feelings of the period objected to such improper incidents as the introduction on* the scene of the dead body and of the murderer. Objectionable details may have been altered, but the dramatic situation required the introduction of both murderer and victim, unless the last two acts were entirely rewritten. If subsequent performances are accepted as evidence, public and professional opinion varied on this point. In a criticism of a later New York production, the statement was made that the hero failed most completely in these final scenes, because he did not compare with Kemble. The critic continues: ‘Mr. Kemble in repeating the following words,

How with convulsive life he heav’d beneath me,
E’en with the death’s wound gor’d
O horrid, horrid!
Methinks I feel him still!

always gave an effect as Garrett in his most impressive scenes. But when he exclaims:

It moves! it moves! the cloth doth heave and swell!

the audience as if animated by one spirit involuntarily rose from their seats.'

In spite of the fact that it ‘obtained the doubtful certificate of honour, a “succes d' estime”'— only these first two performances seem to have drawn large houses. At the first performance ‘the house was full in every part' and in the boxes were ‘some of the most accomplished ornaments of the Haut Ton/40 Dutton was a clear-sighted critic, for of later performances he wrote, ‘The crowded houses, and unbounded applause, with which De Montfort continues to be received, are unhappily confined to the Play-bills. The Theatre exhibits a “beggarly account of empty boxes!” 'On May 7 he wrote: ‘ To judge from symptoms, which grow more prominent and alarming every night, the new Tragedy is not much longer to linger out a miserable existence/42 His prediction was correct, as it had but one later performance. The reason for this failure is twofold. Sheridan expressed the first when he ‘coolly imputed its failure to the bad taste of the public' Joanna Baillie herself discusses this reason. She says: ‘It has been urged, as a proof of this supposed bad taste in the Public, by one whose judgment on these subjects is and ought to be high authority, that a play, possessing considerable merit, was produced some years ago on Drury-Lane stage, and notwithstanding the great support it received from excellent acting and magnificent decoration, entirely failed. It is very true that, in spite of all this, it failed, during the eight nights it continued to be acted, to produce houses sufficiently good to induce the managers to revive it afterwards. But it ought to be acknowledged, that that piece had defects in it as an acting play, which served to counterbalance those advantages; and likewise that, if any supposed merit in the writing ought to have redeemed those defects, in a theatre, so large and so ill calculated to convey sound as the one in which it was performed, it was impossible this could be felt or comprehended by even a third part of the audience/44 The latter part of this statement makes clear the second reason for the failure of De Monfort.

The cast was:

De Monfort—Mr. Kean Rezenvelt—Mr. Cooper Count Freberg—Mr. Barnard Manuel—Mr. Powell Jerome—Mr. Foote Conrad—Mr. Bromley Jane De Monfort—Mrs. Egerton Countess Freberg—Miss Smithson Abbess—Mrs. Knight Novice—Mrs. Orger De Monfort seems, in this case, to have been the choice of the management of the theatre rather than of the tragedian. Lord Byron records that while he was on the sub-committee of Drury Lane he was anxious to produce it. He says: 'I can vouch for my colleagues, and I hope for myself, that we did our best to bring back the legitimate drama. I tried what I could to get De Montfort revived, but in vain.' On November 12, 1815, Scott wrote to Joanna Baillie: ‘I do most devoutly hope Lord Byron will succeed in his proposal of bringing out one of your dramas; . . . I heartily wish you would take Lord Byron into your counsels, and adjust from your yet unpublished materials some drama for the public. In such a case, I would, in your place, conceal my name till the issue of the adventure. . . . The object of a drama is professedly to delight the public at large, and therefore I think you should make the experiment fairly.' Later he seems to have been successful, as the following letter from Edmund Kean indicates: ‘My Lord, — I have been some time acquainted with De Monfort, which according to your Lordship’s desire, I have re-perused, and think it a most excellent play, and the part particularly suited to my method of acting. But whether the circumstance of its having been acted and not succeeding, will not detract from any present success, I leave to your Lordship’s consideration.’ Kean’s production of the part in New York in 182051 may have been a preliminary trial as to its possibilities, and his success there have been the determining factor.

Kean hoped that he might do ‘wonders with the part,’ and that 'his peculiar aptitude for the delineation of an all-absorbing passion would permanently establish the play upon the boards.’ Miss Baillie, ‘with alacrity, carefully revised the play,’ says Hawkins, ‘bringing out the character of De Monfort in stronger relief.’ The end of the drama was changed to be more in accordance with the taste of the age. De Monfort was made to fall into a fit of raving at his misdoing, from which he was relieved by sudden death, upon which the curtain fell. 'This we can hardly consider an alteration for the better,’ says the Drama. The European Magazine regrets 'that the original was not left as it was written. These alterations, however, we presume, were made to suit the peculiar tact of Mr. Kean.’ Yet Joanna Baillie herself approved of the change, for on May 8, 1819, she wrote to Mr. George Bentley, ‘ The new ending which I have given it is not so good for the closet, but it still appears to me that it is better fitted for exhibition.' De Monfort’s hatred of Rezenvelt was strengthened by the addition of a new motive; Rezenvelt was made the victor not only in their school-boy rivalry, but also in a contest for the love of a woman. In 1869 the copy of De Monfort that Kean had marked for performance was in the possession of F. W. Hawkins, his biographer.

Details in regard to the staging of the play are almost entirely lacking. In Act I the program announces a festival, in which Miss Tree will dance a pas seul. This is evidently a mistake in naming the act, as the one newspaper-criticism refers to the gala-scene in the second act. In Act IV occurred a banquet, with a glee composed by Sir John Stevenson, and sung by Miss Povey, Mrs. Bland, and Mr. Mason; and in Act V a requiem, composed by Mr. T. Cooke. The European Magazine alone of all the reviews comments upon the staging as follows: ‘ A Gala Scene in the second Act was very splendid, and a requiem in the last was well performed.'

The attention of the critics seems to have centred in the acting of the leading parts. The emphasis, however, upon the parts was very different from that in the earlier production. Kean’s acting of De Monfort is now under discussion, and Jane De Monfort is insignificant. Cole says that the professional critics were' almost unanimous in Kean's favor. The following statements substantiate his decision. Macready was in London at the time, and says in his diary that ‘ in the revival of Joanna Baillie’s “ De Monfort,” with alterations by the authoress, he shone out in the full splendour of his genius, and that the performance was spoken of as singularly triumphant.’ Drama declares that in this ‘portrayal he was eminently successful/ as it offered him novel opportunities, of which he took advantage. This criticism concluded with the dictum that ‘ the piece was perfectly successful.’ One writer in the Dublin University Magazine says: ‘We have heard from some who saw it, that the performance was one of his greatest efforts; he acted with all his tremendous energy, and at that time his powers were undiminished.’55 Doran says that parts of it ‘were played in his grandest style.’ Campbell, in his Life of Mrs. Siddons, recalls the performance. 'It was brought out again in 1821,’ he says, ‘when Kean played the part of De Monfort very ably. I shall never forget that performance. There was a vast audience; among whom, I dare say, not three score persons were personally acquainted with the author of the play. But the poetic character of her who had painted the loves of Count Basil and Valeria was not forgotten; and there was a deep and placid attention paid to De Monfort, that might have led you to imagine every one present was the poetess’s friend. There was so much silence, and so much applause, that, though I had misgivings to the contrary, I was impressed at the end with the belief that the play had now acquired and would henceforth for ever retain stage popularity.’

Other critics were less enthusiastic in their decisions.

The European Magazine contained the most ferocious attack. ‘As acted by Mr. Kean,’ the reviewer says, ‘the performance was not only repulsive, but disgusting.' He then defends his decision: 'The seizure of the murderer, ... his approaches to and recessions from the corpse, his first horrors, and his final insanity, are among the most depressing, revolting, and hideous exhibitions of the stage. De Monfort lies beside the dead like a wild beast beside his prey; he fondles the legs, and lifts the arms, and presses the hands, and talks the most appalling language of familiarity of the murder. All this goes beyond Tragedy, for it goes beyond human sufferance/ The statement is later qualified; Mr. Kean * in the disclosure of his aversion of Rezenvelt in the second Act, his interview with the stranger, and his encounter in the fourth, was fully equal to any similar exhibition of the stage . . . It is, however, we should think, impossible, that his judges can be satisfied with the violent distortions and unnatural ferocity of his hero.' The Lady’s Magazine adopts the same tone, with more emphasis, perhaps, upon the pcrtrayal than upon the acting. In its opinion, De Monfort was in the first three acts a maniac, and in the two last a monster. Mr. Kean gave a terrific effect to the character, and, in some of the scenes, seemed ‘to harrow up the soul of the listening spectator.' The final sensation was one of disgust and horror.

When critics so widely disagree, who is more entitled to a deciding voice than the author? Miss Baillie, with a party of friends, sat in the dress-circle, and her ‘satisfaction was complete and unequivocal; she complimented Kean on his acting in the warmest terms, and from that time became one of the most ardent admirers of his talents.' It is evident, then, that her conception of De Monfort was as 'terrific’ as Kean’s, and that, in her opinion, the hero was not overacted.

The part of Jane De Monfort was much changed in the alteration, in order to throw Kean into greater prominence. Partly as a result of this fact, the acting of Mrs. Egerton received little comment. Drama says that she 'sustained her part with more effect than she has thrown into any of her previous performances.' The European Magazine is less tolerant: ‘Mrs. Egerton played tolerably well, but her shrill voice was rather “out of tune and harsh.”’

Cooper as Rezenvelt seems to have been acceptable, as the European Magazine says he was 'gentlemanly and animated' and Drama declares, ‘Mr. Cooper was never more happy than in his delineation of the frank and generous victim, Rezenvelt.'

In spite of the success of the drama, as mentioned above, it was withdrawn after five performances. The managers may have wished to clear the boards for the dibut of Miss Edmiston, but Genest gives December 4, Romeo and Juliet, as the next performance.60 Macready regretted that it was withdrawn so early that he was unable to witness it. He accounted for the brevity of the run by saying that it was 'too heavy and gloomy to be attractive.' That the failure was not a surprise to Kean is indicated by a conversation he held with Campbell. 'When I congratulated Kean.'Campbell records, '... he told me that, though a fine poem, it would never be an acting play.'

1822, June 19, Bath.63

Genest says that the drama ‘was altered to suit Kean. Instead of dying, as in the original fifth act, he was for a long scene on the stage with the body of Rezenvelt, and latterly left alone with it—after his last speech, he threw himself down, and the curtain fell. It did not exactly appear whether he was supposed to die or not— the alteration was much for the worse.' This was evidently the same alteration that Kean used at Drury Lane in 1821, and in all probability was the form that he had tried with success in New York in 1820.

In this version of the play, Kean's part was again put forward, and Jane was thrown into the background.

Kean was very great when he heard Rezenvelt's foot on the stairs—when he said to Conrad, “I will believe them"—very fair in his apology to Rezenvelt—and fine in some few speeches in the fifth act.' One critic said: ‘ De Montfort is peculiarly adapted for the display of Mr. Keane's powers. . . . But much as we admire Mr. Kean's delineation of the passions, and that of hate was certainly in this instance depicted with all the force of reality; still, unless the subordinate parts possess a share of interest, it cannot keep alive the attention of a theatrical audience.'

Miss Dance’s record on the Bath stage was short and unfortunate. Her reputation had been made in comedy; when she was announced as a tragic actress in 1821, the Drama printed this epigram:

On having heard that Miss Dance was to appear in Tragedy.

There’s nothing novel in this age,
To see a dance upon the stage;
But 'twill indeed be novelty,
To see a Dance in Tragedy.

Genest says that 'Miss Dance played very well—she reminded one strongly of Mrs. Siddons—she did not strike on her 1st appearance, but she had improved greatly— and the manager offered her a handsome engagement for the next season.’

1822, July 4, Birmingham, Theatre Royal.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Kean has the support of Miss Dance as Jane, as in the Bath performance, but that the Rezenvelt is changed. Aris’s Gazette of Monday, July 1st, 1822, announces under the heading, ‘ Theatre Royal, Birmingham,’ that 'the public are respectfully informed that, in consequence of the unprecedented success attendant on the exertions of the celebrated Mr. Kean, he has been prevailed on to extend his engagement six nights longer, being positively the only opportunity the public can have of witnessing his extraordinary talent.' This announcement states that Joanna Baillie’s tragedy of De Monfort will be performed on Wednesday. Presumably the arrangement was altered, for the playbill gives the date as Thursday, the ‘ fourth night of the reengagement of Mr. Kean, and the Last Night but Two he can possibly have the honour of appearing this season/ On July 8, 1822, the Theatrical Looker-on of Birmingham speaks of three performances (given under date of July 4)—Othello, A New Way to Pay Old Debts, and De Monfort. After criticizing the manner in which Mr. Kean * walked through Othello/ with the result that ‘the audience, to be even with him, walked off/ the Observer dismisses Sir Giles Overreach with a word of praise, and turns to De Monfort: ‘ Will any well-disposed Christian tell us what the play of De Monfort is about ? For ourselves, we give it up, and content ourselves with remarking, that Kean occasionally delivered some very fine poetry in very fine style, and was sometimes highly impassioned and effective. With Miss Dance we are much pleased, and her performance of Jane De Monfort induces us to pronounce her a lady of superior abilities, as well as of personal charms. The rest were all but leather and prunello.

II. In Scotland.

1810, Edinburgh. The date of this production is uncertain. A clipping from the Correspondent says: ‘De Montfort was subsequently acted' which would place the performance after The Family Legend on January 29th, 1810. This date is substantiated by the statements that The Family Legend was the first of Joanna Baillie’s
plays to be produced in her native land,1 and that ‘ the success which attended the performance of The Family Legend, induced the managers to bring forward in the same season the play of De Monfort.' According to Dibdin, Mrs. Siddons opened in Edinburgh on March 14th, 1810 in Macbeth, on March 15th played the Mourning Bride, and on March 16th, Macbeth. On March 18th, 1810, Scott reported that Mrs. Siddons had ‘a very bad cold. I hope she will be able to act Jane De Montfort, which we have long planned/4 From that date she was ill until she reappeared on March 24th. Scott writes to Joanna Baillie on March 30th, 1810, ‘I have, I understand, missed the very finest performance ever seen in Edinburgh,—Mrs. Siddons (the elder) in Jane De Monfort.' According to these statements, the performance of De Monfort must have occurred between March 24th and March 30th.

Only three members of the cast are known. Mr. H. Siddons played De Monfort, Mr. Terry played Rezenvelt, and Mrs. Siddons played Jane De Monfort. Joanna Baillie’s biographer says that ‘the part of Jane was not so well supported [as that of De Monfort]' Scott says:

Everybody agrees that she was never more herself than in that character; playing with her son, and upon his theatre was doubtless one great cause, not only of exertion, but of real enthusiasm. She fairly cried herself sick at her own part, so you may believe there was fine work in the front, as they call the audience part of the house; never was there such a night for those industrious females, the laundresses.

The critic in The Correspondent, however, is less enthusiastic. ‘It had little or no success' he says. ‘It paid no compliments to our country people. One would be almost inclined to believe, that if the manager had put tartan plaids and philibegs upon the characters in De Monfort, it would have had some of the success of The Family Legend.'

There was evidently a feeling among the spectators that the action was too improbable to be accepted. Scott write Joanna Baillie on June 10th, 1810, concerning a Scotch murder which he says he has referred to in order to substantiate the story of De Monfort.66 On the other hand, it was reported that, 'in that comparatively small theatre, the causes and development of the fatal passion were more clear, the force and beauty of the language more prominent. . . . The play met with much success. In the words of an eye-witness, “the effect produced was very great; there was a burst of applause when the curtain fell, and the play was announced for repetition amid the loudest applause".

III. In America.

1801, April 13th, New York, Park Theatre.68 ‘Never performed in America,’ says the Commercial Advertiser.

The cast was:

Jane De Monfort—Mrs. Melmoth Countess Freberg—Mrs. Jefferson Abbess—Mrs. Hogg De Monfort—Mr. Hodgkinson Rezenvelt—Mr. Martin Count Freberg—Mr. Harper Manuel—Mr. Powell Jerome—Mr. Hogg Bernard—Mr. Tyler Grimbald—Mr. Hallam


The only source of information as to the form in which the play was presented is the Commercial Advertiser of April nth and 13th, which speaks of it as ‘ performed at the Drury Lane Theatre with unbounded applause.’ The advertisement continues: 'In act 4th a Funeral Dirge, composed by Pelisser. The vocal parts by Messrs. Tyler, Fox, Lee, Shapter, etc., Miss Brett, Miss Harding, etc.’ From this statement we can see that the performance was given with due attempt at embellishment.

Hodgkinson was 'the ruling favorite of the States’ at this time, and was considered a wonder. ‘In the whole range of the living drama,’ says Bernard, an English actor of this period, 'there was no variety of character he could not perceive and embody, from a Richard, or a Hamlet down to a Shelty or a Sharp.’ After this high praise, it is a surprise to find equally strong opinions of Hodgkinson’s failure in the part of De Monfort.

'Hodgkinson was in every way unsuited to the character of the hero,’ says Ireland,71 and Dunlap thinks that,
'with all his versatility and excellence, [he] had nothing of the sublime or philosophic in his composition. He was incapable of understanding De Montfort.’

Mrs. Melmoth met with scarcely more favor. Ireland says: 'Beautifully as Mrs. Melmoth read her part, it required an accommodating imagination to identify her with the noble Jane De Monfort.’

The result of this performance was failure, and no further dates of performances are given. Dunlap philosophically adds: 'But let us remember that all the apparent sublimity and real black letter of John Kemble, and the greatly superior powers of his great sister, could not render De Montfort popular in London. It would not perhaps have been so in the time of Addison.’

1809, Nov. 8, 10, and 17, New York, Park Theatre.

The cast was :

De Monfort—Mr. Cooper Rezenvelt—Mr. Young Count Freberg—Mr. Robertson Jerome—Mr. Anderson- Jane De Monfort—Mrs. Twaits Countess Freberg—Mrs. Young

The Evening Journal of New York announced the coming performance, ‘with new scenery, dresses, and decorations.’ Aside from this, there seems to be no record of its staging.

The acting received severe criticism from several writers. Dunlap disapproved of the entire cast, and suggested another: Forrest for De Monfort, Wood for Rezenvelt, 'but where is Jane’?. Cooper was more successful than Hodgkinson, in his opinion, but was not the right man for the part, and failed to meet popular expectation. The reviewer in the Evening Journal was more detailed in his criticism. ‘Few characters' he says, ‘require more energy of feeling or more masterly shades of discrimination than that of De Monfort. To these we do not hesitate to say, Mr. Cooper, in a very few instances indeed, gave that delicate polish, which is so eminently in the power of genius and study to bestow. It was upon the whole a cold and artificial piece of acting. . . . His greatest failure was in the scene where he discovered the dead body of Rezenvelt.'

Mrs. Twaits also was unequal to the part she had undertaken.76 The Evening Journal says her acting 'was respectable and nothing more,’ as 'her appearance was far from answering the glowing description of the enraptured Page.’

Mr. Young as Rezenvelt received the most absolute condemnation. 'Mr. Young was as far from Rezenvelt as South from North' said Dunlap, and again the Evening Journal agress with him. ‘We certainly think a little more grace and elegance would have been no disadvantage to Mr. Young, in pourtraying the character of so finished a gentleman. Why was not the part given to Mr. Simpson? the only performer in the Company, whose easy carriage, persuasive manners and fascinating voice, could render the character interesting and attractive.'

There is no statement of the success of these presentations, or of the reason for the withdrawal of the play. In a letter written to George Bartley in 1819, Joanna Baillie says: ‘Both you and Mrs. Bartley are very kind in wishing to bring forward De Monfort in America, but you must not let your zeal for my honor and glory stand in the way of your own interest. I shall take the will for the deed; and if Mr. Cooper does not think the character of De Monfort one that he would like to act, it would be wrong to press it.' From this statement it is evident that she knew nothing of this presentation of De Monfort by Cooper in 1809.

1810, November 12, Baltimore, Baltimore Theatre.78 The advertisment called De Monfort a 'celebrated tragedy’ never performed in Baltimore. 'New dresses and decorations’ were promised. Only one member of the cast was specified—Mrs. Twaits was to play Jane De Monfort. There is little doubt, however, that the actors were the same as in the performance in Philadelphia on February 8, 1811. In the fourth act Wood advertised 'a procession with solemn dirge.'

1811, February 8, Philadelphia, Chestnut Street Theatre.

The United States Gazette published frequently from December 1 to 9, 1810, and January 14 to February 5, 1811, the following notice, with slight variations: ‘ New Theatre Notice. A celebrated play by Joanna Baillie, called De Monfort, "or the Force of Hatred" is in rehearsal, and will be speedily produced.’ On February 5, 6, 7, and 8 the notice was more extended, and specified the date of Friday, February 8, for the long-promised production. This was the first Philadelphia performance.

The cast was:

De Montfort81—Mr. Wood Jane De Montfort—Mrs. Twaits
Rezenvelt—Mr. Jefferson Countess Freberg—Mrs. Jefferis
Count Freberg—Mr. Cone Abbess—Mrs. Barrett
Manuel—Mr. McKenzie
Jerome—Mr. Warren
Bernard—Mr. Harris
Grimbald—Mr. West

Several minor parts were assigned for this performance. The nuns and lay sisters were assigned to Ladies . . .; in Act II, Scene 1, the waiting woman was Mrs. Petit; the first monk was Barrett, the second monk, Allen, and the porter, Drummond.

The manager of the Philadelphia Theatre at this time was William B. Wood, the actor whom Dunlap had wished to see play the part of Rezenvelt. In some way his attention was called to the play, and he himself arranged it for presentation.

On the first blank leaf of Wood’s prompt-book82 occurs the statement that ‘the production lasted for two hours and twenty minutes.’ In order to accomplish this improvement in length, Mr. Wood cut the text very judiciously. Most of the omissions are condensations, as in the case of Manuel’s account of his years of service with De Monfort, in which Wood omitted all the details of the trouble between servant and master, without injuring the coherence of thought. Examples of the same sort of condensation occur in Act II. There are also cuts in lines within the longer speeches in many places. It should be noted that in this case the character of Conrad or Grimbald is again retained. The only unusual change in the form in which the drama was produced occurs at the beginning of the second.scene of Act V of the stage-arrangement. Here Wood replaced the eleven original lines by a speech of Basil:

What shall I be some few short moments hence?

Why ask I now? Who from the dead will rise To tell me of that awful state unknown?

But be it what it may, or bliss or torment,

Annihilation, dark and endless rest,

Or some dread thing, man’s wildest range of thought Hath never yet conceiv'd, that change I'll dare Which makes me anything but what I am.

I can bear scorpions’ stings, tread fields of fire,

In frozen gulfs of cold eternal lie,

Be toss’d aloft through tracks of endless void,

But cannot live in shame.

From the newspaper announcements and the promptbook, it is evident that no effort was spared to make the production successful. The last two advertisements before the performance promised entire new dresses and decorations.

In scene one of Act II a band was used, and before the entrance of Jane De Monfort there was inserted, 'a Masquerade Scene and Dancing at change.'

In the course of this scene, 'Master Whale, the infant Vestris' was to dance fa new Pass eul [sic].' After the dancing, the entire company was to appear. 'Scene second a very splendid apartment in Count Freberg’s house fancifully decorated. A wide folding-door opened shows another magnificent room lighted up to receive company. As the Masqueraders retire Enter Jane and Freberg.’ In the first scene of Act IV there occurred ‘a funeral procession of nuns to the grave of a departed sister with a solemn Dirge.’ The stage-directions for that act are specially full: ‘Man at thunder,’ ‘Wind Ready,’ ‘Second Moonlight flat.’ At the end of the scene are explicit directions to use 'Storm, Thunder & Rain,’ as well as to repeat the tempest in place of the song by the nuns, and at intervals through the second scene. The storm covers the change from scene two to three, and is repeated at the entrance of the monks with De Monfort, and at the appearance of the monks carrying Rezenvelt’s body. In Act V ‘chains clank throughout one,’ the lamps are turned down, and the bell is tolled at the change of scene. At the very end the lamps are to be turned up again.

The newspaper accounts add that at the 'End of the play, Mrs. Wilmot will sing in character, the celebrated Song of Blanch of Devon, from Walter Scott’s poem of the Lady of the Lake.’ Earlier advertisements had announced ‘with the comick opera of Matrimony,’ but the later editions made no reference to any afterpiece.

No criticisms of this performance have as yet come to light. Most dramas on the Philadelphia stage had only one performance in those days, so that the fact that it was not repeated is not conclusive evidence of its failure. The performance was for Mr. Wood’s benefit, and the papers announced that box-tickets could be purchased for one dollar, pit-tickets for three quarters, and gallery-tickets for half a dollar. Durang says that Wood’s benefit in 1811 netted him 3,203.00. As there, is record of no other benefit for Wood during this season, we may infer that this production of De Monfort was fairly successful. Mr. Wood bespoke the enthusiastic support of his audience by his statement in the preliminary notices that De Monfort had been performed with unbounded applause at the Theatres of Drury Lane, New York, etc.’ The fact that it was eleven years before Wood revived the drama in Philadelphia would surely indicate that this first Philadelphia performance was not greeted with 'unbounded applause.'

1820, New York.

De Monfort was played by Kean, according to H. B. Baker. He says: ‘In 1820 he [Kean] paid his first visit to America. In New York as much as eighteen dollars were paid for the choice of a box to hold nine persons. He reaped a golden harvest by his tour, and returned to Drury Lane for the following season. He appeared as Hastings, Sir Pertinax Macsycophant, Wol-sey, Don Felix,—none of them good performances. In Miss Baillie’s “De Montfort,” however, he scored a success.'

1822, January 14, Philadelphia, Walnut Street Theatre. The first performance in eleven years, Durang says. Preliminary notices ran in the American Daily Advertiser from January 5 to 14.

The cast was:

De Montfort—Mr. Wood Jane De Montfort—Mrs. Wood
Rezenvelt—Mr. H. Wallack Countess Freberg—Mrs. Baker
Count Freberg—Mr. Darley Abbess—Mrs. Lefalle
Manuel—Mr. Burke Jerome—Mr. Warren Grimbald—Mr. Greene

The presence of Grimbald shows that Wood was using again his early edition as text. The drama was in five acts. It is evident that Mr. and Mrs. Wood were no more successful in their acting of the tragic brother and sister than earlier actors had been. Durang says: 'This play is well written, but it is too much colored with the metaphysics of passion to please a mixed audience They are not suitable for acting plays. Kean, Hodgkinson, Cooper, and all the bright performers essayed the part of De Mont-fort, but without the desired effect. The heroine, Jane De Mont fort, had been as carefully nursed by the lirst actresses without that success which the part promised.’

Wood says: 'An ill name hung on this Walnut Street theatre, rendering all our efforts fruitless,’ but he adds, 'Joanna Baillie’s “De Montfort or the Force of Hatred,” was revived and played to one good house.’ This performance was again his benefit. The prices were as usual—box, one dollar; pit, seventy-five cents; gallery, fifty cents—so that the performance must have netted him a fair amount.

1826, December 4, New York, Park Theatre, at half past six precisely.

The cast was:

De Monfort—Mr. Kean Jane De Monfort—Mrs. Barnes
Rezenvelt—Mr. Lee Countess Freberg—Mrs. Sharpe
Count Freberg—Mr. Woodhull Abbess—Mrs. Stickney
Jerome—Mr. Foot

There is no criticism available of Kean’s acting at this time, but Ireland states that * on this occasion Mrs. Barnes gave an admirable representation of the noble Jane De Monfort.’

This performance was Kean’s last benefit before leaving for England, and was heralded as such. It was also, so far as is known, the last performance of De Monfort on the professional stage.


I. In Scotland.

1810, January 29, and thirteen consecutive nights, Edinburgh,88 Theatre Royal. ‘Now acting for the first time.’ The first new play produced by Mr. H. Siddons.

The cast was:

Earl of Argyle—Mr. Terry Helen—Mrs. H. Siddons
John of Lorne—Mr. H. Siddons
Maclean—Mr. Thompson
Sir Hubert de Grey—Mr. Putnam

Although The Family Legend was written with the idea of offering it to the Edinburgh Theatre,91 its final acceptance was due entirely to the efforts of Walter Scott, who had become one of the acting trustees for the general body of proprietors the year before. As early as August 15, 1809, Scott had submitted the manuscript to Henry Siddons, and reported that he was ‘ delighted with the piece and determined to bring it out with as much force as he can possibly muster.’ By October 27, 1809, the discussion of the terms on which it was. to be produced was completed, and the details of costuming were under way. Joanna Baillie says in the preface to the published drama: ‘The following play is not offered to the public as it is acted in the Edinburgh Theatre, but is printed from the original copy which I gave to that theatre.”95 In 1809 Scott wrote her: ‘I will put all the names to rights, and retain enough of locality and personality to please the antiquary, without the least risk of bringing the clan Gillian about our ears.’ 'Knowing the strong feelings of pride and clanship which had existed amongst Highlanders, and which had not by any means become extinct, he suggested that the title of Duart, the name of the property of the Macleans, should be substituted for that the chief actually bore. The name of the clan was changed to that of Clangillian.' Further alterations in the manuscript were made by Mr. Henry Siddons, in order to adapt the play to the Edinburgh stage. Lockhart says that Scott ‘appears to have exerted himself most indefatigably in its behalf. He was consulted about all the minutice of costume, attended every rehearsal, and supplied the prologue.’

Most of our information about the scenery for this production is contained in Scott’s letter to the author, dated October 27, 1809. ‘With regard to the equipment of The Family Legend, I have been much diverted with a discovery which I have made. I had occasion to visit our Lord Provost (by profession a stocking-weaver), and was surprised to find the worthy magistrate filled with a new-born zeal for the drama. He spoke of Mr. Siddons’s merits with enthusiasm, and of Miss Baillie’s powers. almost with tears of rapture. Being a curious investigator of cause and effect, I never rested until I found out that this theatric rage which had seized his lordship of a sudden, was owing to a large order for hose, pantaloons, and plaids for equipping the rival clans of Campbell and Maclean, and which Siddons was sensible enough to send to the warehouse of our excellent provost.' In another letter he tells her: ‘There is a circumstance rather favorable to the effect upon the stage arising from the contrast between the tartan worn by the Macleans, which has a red glaring effect, and that of the Campbells, which is dark green; thus the followers of the Chieftains will be at once distinguished from each other.'

The Scots Magazine furnished the following details:

‘The scenery was very fine and striking, so far as the too limited extent of the theatre would admit. We noticed only one impropriety. One of the rooms in the interior of the Earl’s castle, instead of displaying Gothic architecture, and the traces of antiquity, is quite in the modern style, and crowded with Corinthian pillars.’ Scott was much pleased with the theatre, which he declared was ‘large enough for every purpose' and Mr. Siddons told Scott at this time that he preferred a small stage, 'because the machinery is pliable and manageable in proportion to its size.’ Yet in 1820 the manager was conscious of the limitations of this theatre, in connection with another of Joanna Baillie’s plays, De Monfort.

Scott completed the prologue for The Family Legend on January 214. The critic in the Scots Magazine says that it ‘appeared to us worthy of him, though we could not relish Mr. Terry’s recitation. Mr. T. should remember, that there is a difference between reciting and acting.' The epilogue was written by Mr. Mackenzie, and was spoken by Mrs. Siddons, in whose mouth 'it was truly charming* Her recitation of it is a model of sweet and graceful playfulness.'

Of the acting little can be said in addition to Scott’s report. The journals of the time, however, substantiate some of his opinions. 'Mr. Siddons, in John of Lome, was, as he usually is, highly respectable. He seemed to have a thorough conception of his part, and supported it well throughout.' The Dublin University Magazine describes Mrs. Henry Siddons as ‘one of the most accomplished actresses of her day,—in the very foremost list of those whose private virtues have enhanced the lustre of their professional excellence/ On January 21 Scott wrote to a friend: 'The principal female part is very prettily rehearsed by Mrs. Henry Siddons, our Manager’s better half.' A more detailed criticism is given by the Scots Magazine: 'Mrs. Siddons, in Helen, was also extremely pleasing. This lady excells greatly in all gentle and tender scenes, to which her mellow and liquid voice is admirably adapted. Scenes which require dignity she does also well, tho’ not without some straining/ Scott’s fine criticism will be found below.

This production of The Family Legend seems to have been very successful. The Monthly Mirror says: ‘ I will not trouble you with any remarks, because as the authoress is a Scotswoman, and the play founded upon a favorite Scots tradition, I might appear to you not to be actuated by strict impartiality. I shall only mention that it has been well received, although not with such unequivocal marks of approbation as “The Friend of the Family ” The writer in the Scots Magazine is also very guarded in his approval. 'It unfortunately happened.'

He says, 'that a rumour had really gone forth against Miss Baillie's capacity of adapting her pieces to theatrical representation. To all these causes it may probably be ascribed, that there has appeared a general disposition to talk lightly of The Family Legend. Hence we went (on the third or fourth night) perhaps with some prepossession against it. But though forced to admit that there were in the plot faults, very great faults, sufficient to give a plausible colour to this judgment, we were on the whole highly gratified. It appeared to us that there were beauties, even in point of stage effect, which might well establish its character as a popular and pleasing addition to our stock of acting plays.’ The same writer, however, gave as a final estimate an expression of opinion which summarizes the more favorable criticism. The appearance of this piece' he says, 'may fairly be considered as forming an era in the literary history of this metropolis. Since Douglas, no tragedy has made its appearance on our stage, none at least that we recollect of, or that has attracted any general attention/ The Correspondent for March 12, 1810, says: ‘Its success here was evidently owing to this nationality, and to no other recommendation. Applause was conferred almost entirely upon those parts in which high compliments were paid to the Scotch; the inhabitants of Edinburgh entirely forgot that there was nothing more ludicrous than that people should applaud praise given to themselves; and it was absolutely disgusting to see even some of those who had the external shape of gentlemen sillily nodding at and twitching one another, whenever any oi these absurd compliments were paid. A bookseller, we hear, proposes to publish the play!!! We would advise him to calculate on the sale of five-and-twenty, and to sell these at so high a rate as to defray his expence.'

The actor-manager who wrote on the plays for the Dublin University Magazine in April, 1851, assents to the statement of the disgusted critic quoted above, but with a different conclusion. ‘The Edinburgh public,' he says, 'were pleased and flattered by a national story, given to them by a country-woman; it was received with warm applause for fourteen consecutive nights, frequently repeated afterwards, and remained long on the stock list of the theatre.'

That this national appeal was deliberate is indicated by a letter written by Scott on January 21, 1810, in which he says: ‘The enclosed jangling verses are the only effort I have made in rhyme since I came to Edinburgh for the winter. They were written within this hour, and are to be spoken to a beautiful tragedy of Joanna Baillie .... Henry Mackenzie, author of The Man of Feeling, writes an epilogue; so the piece, being entirely of Scotch manufacture, has, independent of its own merit, every chance of succeeding before a national audience.'

Sir Walter Scott's letter to the author in regard to this presentation is so full of personal comment that it should be reproduced almost entire. On January'30, 1810, he wrote her:

You have only to imagine all that you could wish to give success to a play, and your conceptions will still fall short of the complete and decided triumph of The Family Legend. The house was crowded to a most extraordinary degree; many people had come from your native capital of the west; everything that pretended to distinction, whether from rank or literature, was in the boxes, and in the pit such an aggregate mass of humanity as I have seldom if ever witnessed in the same space. It was quite obvious from the beginning, that the cause was to be very fairly tried before the public, and that if anything went wrong, no effort, even of your numerous and zealous friends, could have had much influence in guiding or restraining the general feeling. Some good-natured persons had been kind enough to propagate reports of a strong opposition, which, though I considered them as totally groundless, did not by any means lessen the extreme anxiety with which I waited the rise of the curtain. But in a short time I saw there was no ground whatever for apprehension, and yet I sat the whole time shaking for fear a scene-shifter, or a carpenter, or some of the subaltern actors, should make some blunder, and interrupt the feeling of deep and general interest which soon seized on the whole pit, box, and gallery, as Mr. Bayes has it. The scene on the rock struck the utmost possible effect into the audience, and you heard nothing but sobs on all sides. The banquet scene was equally impressive, and so was the combat. Of the greater scenes, that between Lorn and Helen in the castle of Maclean, that between Helen and her lover, and the examination of Maclean himself in Argyle’s castle, were applauded to the very echo. Siddons announced the play ‘for the rest of the week,' which, was received not only with a thunder of applause, but with cheering and throwing up of hats and handkerchiefs. Mrs. Siddons supported her part incomparably, although just recovered from the indisposition mentioned in my last. Siddons himself played well indeed, and moved and looked with great spirit. A Mr. Terry, who promises to be a fine performer, went through the part of the Old Earl with great taste and effect. For the rest I cannot say much, excepting that from the highest to the lowest they were most accurately perfect in their parts, and did their very best. Malcolm de Gray was tolerable but stickish—Maclean came off decently—but the conspirators were sad hounds .... As the play greatly exceeded the usual length (lasting till half-past ten), we intend, when it is repeated to-night, to omit some of the passages where the weight necessarily fell on the weakest of our host, although we may hereby injure the detail of the plot. The scenery was very good, and the rock, without appearance of pantomime, was so contrived as to place Mrs. Siddons in a very precarious situation to all appearance. The dresses were more tawdry than I should have judged proper, but expensive and showy. I got my brother John’s Highland recruiting party to reinforce the garrison of Inverary, and as they mustered beneath the porch of the castle, and seemed to fill the court-yard behind, the combat scene had really the appearance of reality. Siddons has been most attentive, anxious, assiduous, and docile, and had drilled his troops so well that the prompter’s aid was unnecessary, and I do not believe he gave a single hint the whole night; nor were there any false or ridiculous accents or gestures even among the underlings, though God knows they fell often far short of the true spirit. Mrs. Siddons spoke, the epilogue extremely well: the prologue, which I will send you in its revised state, was also very well received. Mrs. Scott sends her kindest compliments of congratulation ; she had a party of thirty friends in one small box, which she was obliged to watch like a clucking hen till she had gathered her whole flock, for the crowd was insufferable. I am going to see the Legend to-night, when I shall enjoy it quietly, for last night I was so much interested in its reception that I cannot say I was at leisure to attend to the feelings arising from the representation itself.

Scott's reports did not end with the first night’s performance. On February 6th, he wrote the author:

Through this whole week the theatre has been fully attended, and by all the fashionable people in town; on Saturday in particular the house was as full as on Monday,—fuller was impossible,—and the most enthusiastic approbation was express'd in every quarter. All this while the Legend has been the only subject of town talk, where praise and censure were of course mingled. The weight of criticism falls on the head of Duart, and I observe that the fair critics in general think that he gives up the lady too easily. . . . Yesterday I went with all my little folks, who were delighted, and cried like any little pigs over Helen’s distress.

He adds, ‘Mrs. President Blair has requested the Legend for next Saturday; a large house is expected.’

On March 2, 1810, he wrote to his friend J. B. S. Morrit:

Miss Baillie's play went off capitally here, notwithstanding her fond and overcredulous belief in a Creator of the World. The fact is so generally believed that it is man who makes the Deity, that I am surprised it has never been maintained as a corollary, that the knife and . fork make the fingers. We wept till our hearts were sore, and applauded till our hands were blistered — what could we more —and this in crowded theatres.

The effect of this Edinburgh production is variously described. Scott says: 'I must not omit to mention, that all through these islands [the Hebrides] I have found every person familiarly acquainted with The Family Legend, and great admirers.; Lucy Aikin, on the other hand, wrote in a different tone to Mrs. Barbauld: 'The Highland minister told us that the clan McLeod are offended with Miss Baillie’s representation of their ancestor, and that their poet has written a long Erse ballad giving a quite different account of the matter. He was himself well acquainted with the traditions about it, and had once been nearly cast away on the lady’s rock.’

The pecuniary results of The Family Legend must have been entirely satisfactory to her. Scott estimated before the production that, 'supposing the piece to run nine nights and so forth, [the author’s rights] cannot be less than about £300 or £400.’ As the run was fourteen nights in succession, the proceeds must have exceeded even his hope.

II. In England.

1811, March 4, Newcastle, Theatre Royal.

‘A Tragedy, (never acted here) called The Family Legend; or, Caledonian Clans,’ and 'performed at the Theatre-Royal, Edinburgh, to overflowing houses, with universal applause.’

The cast was:

John of Lome—Mr. M’Cready Helen—Miss Phillips
Sir Hubert—Mr. Mansell

In his reminiscences, Macready says: ‘The public favour attended me in the fresh attempts I made, and the Earl of Essex, Roderick Dhu, in a drama called the “ Knight of Snowdon,” founded on Walter Scott’s “Lady of the Lake,” John of Lorne, in Miss Baillie’s play of the “ Family Legend,” and Julian, in a piece called the “Peasant Boy,” which was exactly suited to my years, and which, from my earnestness and reality, affected the audiences very deeply, all strengthened the partiality of my early patrons.’

1811, March 19, Bath.116 This was the first presentation there. There is no notice of repetition.

The cast was:

Earl of Argyle—Mr. Bengough Helen—Miss Jameson
John of Lorne—Mr. Abbott
Maclean—Mr. Stanley

For this production the play was reduced to four acts, but Scott’s prologue was retained. It was given for Mr. Abbott's benefit.117 Genest says that Miss Jameson * was a very pleasing actress—just the actress wanted at Bath—but not good enough to have played principal characters in London.’118

1813, March 24, Newcastle, Theatre-Royal.119
'Not acted here these 2 years.’

The cast was:

John of Lorne—Mr. M’Cready Helen—Miss' Sullivan
Earl of Argyle—Mr. Evatt Rosa—Mrs. Cuffley
Maclean—Mr. T. Short
Benlora—Mr. Lombe
Glenfadden—Mr. Gold
Loctorish—Mr. Lane
Dugold—Mr. Falkner

No details are available concerning this production.

1815, May 29, London, Drury Lane. 'Never acted here,’ the play-bill says.

The cast was:

Earl of Argyle—Mr. Bartley Helen—Mrs. Bartley
John of Lorne—Mr. Rae Rosa—Miss Boyce
Maclean—Mr. Wallack
Sir Hubert de Grey—Mr. S. Penley
Benlora—Mr. Waldegrave
Glenfadden—Mr. Elrington
Loctorish—Mr. Powell

If the drama was presented ‘as performed at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh,’ it is probable that the condensed form of the second night was used. The play bill announces, 'New and Appropriate Scenery, Dresses, and Decorations,’ but there seem to be no details as to the production.

The original prologue, was spoken by Mr. Bartley, and the original epilogue by Mrs. Edwin.

Mary Berry records her opinion of the acting and of the success of the performance: 'I was in Lady Hardwick’s box at Drury Lane to see Joanna Baillie’s “Family Legend” acted for the benefit of Mrs. Bartley. It succeeded better than I expected; the piece is really interesting, and the interest is sustained and does not finish with the catastrophe of the heroine. It could not have been worse acted; however, the fine lines, spoilt as they were, were appreciated and applauded by the pit.’

Joanna Baillie attended this performance with Lord Byron and Mr. and Mrs. Walter Scott.121 This was possibly the occasion that she described to a friend on which Lord Byron was ‘obliged by politeness, to escort her and her sister to the opera, and her perceiving that he was provoked, beyond measure at being there with them, and that he made faces as he sat behind them.’

Genest gives his opinion of the play in connection with this performance: ‘The last speech is contemptible, but on the whole this is a good play—the language is frequently beautiful, and the plot is interesting—in the 3rd act a little pleasantry is introduced, but not improperly.’

III. In America.

1816, March 22, Philadelphia.124 Brought out for the first time in America. The Daily Advertiser calls it a new serious drama, and a new historical drama. The national tone was emphasized by a Scots Medley Overture, composed by Mr. Reinagle. There is no record of the actors except that it was played for the benefit of Mrs. Wood. A second performance was given March 27 for the benefit of Mr. Francis.

1816, June 7, Baltimore.126 Baltimore Theatre.

‘First time here,’ ‘the serious play of The Family Legend’ in five acts, performed at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, with great applause. It was accompanied by the same Scots Medley as in Philadelphia.


1808, November 7th, Liverpool, Theatre Royal.

‘Never acted upon any stage,’ 'an entirely new historical play.’

The cast was:

Constantine Paleologus—Mr. Terry Valeria—Mrs. Weston
Mahomet—Mr. Jones Ella—Miss Grant
Rodrigo—Mr. Rae Lucia—Mrs. Parker
Othus—Mr. Hall
Justiniani—Mr. D. Grant
Petronius—Mr. Powell
Marthon—"Mr. Howell
Osmir—Mr. Moreton
Heugho—Mr. Banks
Othoric—Mr. Grant

The drama was here given a sub-title, The Band of Patriots. It was altered for representation by Mr. Terry, whose benefit it was.

1808, London, Surrey Theatre.128

Constantine Paleologus—Mr. Huntly Valeria—Miss Taylor.

This 'Melodramatic spectacle,’ under the management of Dibdin, was called Constantine and Valeria.

1820, Edinburgh.

The Dublin University Magazine gives the following detailed account of the Edinburgh production of Constantine Paleologus:

‘It was written expressly for Kemble and Mrs. Siddons129 and glorious representatives they would have been of the two leading personages, the last Caesar and his devoted partner. The reason why they rejected this fine tragedy has never been explained; ... On reading Constantine Paleologus I was much struck with its beauties and capability for producing stage effect. In 1820, ... I selected it for my benefit night, and bestowed much time and consideration in arranging it for the purpose. . . . Miss Baillie happened to arrive in Edinburgh on a visit to some friends, at this precise juncture, and while the rehearsals were going on.’ The writer wrote Miss Baillie, telling her his high opinion of her play, and saying that it was necessary occasionally to omit beautiful passages, which were not essential to the development of the plot, and sometimes even impeded the progress of the action. He concluded by recalling to her mind the fact that the play, in its original state, greatly exceeded the usual length of acting tragedies; that the taste of the present day inclined to the delineation of vehement passion, almost to the exclusion of declamatory and didactic composition; and, lastly, that the means afforded by a comparatively small theatrical company, render it indispen-sible to condense the principal characters, so as to place the weight of the representation in a few hands. . . . The event was satisfactory to all concerned.130 The house was crowded, the audience liberal of applause, and the authoress delighted. When I was introduced to her in her private box, after the curtain fell, she said “ she had never passed a happier evening in her life.”’

This production was very simply staged, and made no pretense at pageantry. In a note the writer adds that ‘ performers were so much annoyed with the constant rehearsals of this play, and the trouble it occasioned them, that they christened it, as a green-room joke, ‘ Constantine Plaguing-all-of-us.”’

1825, June 30, Dublin, Theatre Royal.

This was the first Dublin production, and was repeated several times.

The cast was:

Constantine Paleologus—Mr. Abbott Valeria—Miss Jarman Senator—Mr. Richard Barry

The advertisement states that it was a * New Historical Drama, in Five Acts, . . . altered and adapted for representation in this theatre.’ The alteration is undoubtedly the same as that used in the Edinburgh production, as the same actor-manager describes the production as his own.

The announcement promised 'new and appropriate Scenery, Dresses, and Decorations' and adds: ‘In the course of the Play the following Scenery will be introduced:—Suburbs of Constantinople and Distant View of Turkish Encampment. Grand Banquet in the Imperial Palace. Exterior of Palace of Constantine. Grand Chamber in the Palace, commanding view of the Bosphorus. The Imperial Galley and Fleet,—Burning Ruins of Constantinople/ The manager assigns this scenery to definite acts. 'We had here more extensive means than in Edinburgh. New scenery was painted, and much pageantry introduced. A splendid banquet in the imperial palace, in the first act; a singularly well organized mob, in the second; a grand military procession, in the third; the Bosphorus, with the imperial fleet and galley, in the fourth; and, in the fifth, the storming of the city and bearing off the body of the slain Emperor by his devoted band of brothers.' Music was also added, as ‘ The Greek and Turkish Marches' were composed by Mr. A. Lee.

‘Constantine Paleologus was very successful in Dublin, and repeated several times to applauding audiences, while the press unanimously spoke in liberal praise of author, adapter, actors, and the general arrangements. I would revive it, but revivals are unlucky, while the prestige in favour of new names and against old ones is too strong to be resisted. In the pride of my heart I sent copies of my adaptation to the two leading London theatres, thinking, with the host of talent they then commanded, one or the other might deem it worthy their attention, but I never could get an answer, although I asked more than once, and almost “with whispering humbleness” (as Shylock says), for that inexpensive and easy courtesy.'

1817, June 7, 9, 10, II, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 26, July 18, London, English Opera House. Genest lists this as the first run of the play;134 it was also Mr. Johnston's first appearance in that theatre.

The cast was:

Baltimore—Mr. H. Johnston Freeman—Mr. Bartley Truebridge—Mr. T. Short .
Miss Freeman—Miss Kelly Mrs. Baltimore—Mrs. Chatterly Mrs. Freeman—Mrs. Grove
Charles Baltimore—Mr. Horn Peter—Mr. W. S. Chatterley

Besides these principals, the play-bill mentions more than forty other actors and actresses, who had minor parts.

The play at this time was not produced as written, but was transformed into a three-act * Musical Drama with the approbation of the Authoress.' The lyrics were written by S. J. Arnold, and the music was 'selected, arranged, and composed by Mr. Horn.'

Several new scenes were painted for this performance, as it was the opening production of the year.

Little is known in regard to the acting. Genest says that Johnston was a 'good actor' but states that he was not engaged after the season of 1820—1821, a fact which affects somewhat our estimate of his ability. Genest also remarks that ‘Bartley looked and acted Freeman particularly well.' The European Magazine comments upon the minor characters: ‘Though she [Miss Kelly] makes more of the part than any other actress could do, the character is no compliment to her talent. Mr. Horn was a very tame lover—but sang sweetly. W. S. Chatterley . . . played the part with considerable humour, and Mrs. Chatterley was extremely interesting.'

The prices were the usual ones for this theatre: Boxes, 5s; Pit, 3s; Gallery, 2s; Upper Gallery, 1s.

Hazlitt ridicules The Election, as he saw it, as the ‘perfection of baby-house theatricals/ and says that it was performed * at the Lyceum with indifferent success.'


1836, February 25, London, Covent Garden.139 ‘First Night of Miss Joanna Baillie’s New Tragedy.' ‘Never acted.’

The cast was:

Garcio—Mr. Charles Kemble Revani—Mr. G. Bennett Marquis of Tortona—Mr. Pritchard Gonzalos—Mr. Thompson .
Margaret—Miss Helen Faucit Sophera—Miss Wyndham Nurse—Miss Partridge and minor characters.

Ludoviquo—Mr. Tilbury Gan vino—Mr. Fredericks Pietro—Mr. J. Webster Gomez—Mr. Griffith Hermit—Mr. Harris Pilgrim—Mr. Bannister Mendicant—Mr. Collett

The history of this play before its production is more varied than that of Joanna Baillie’s other dramas. As early as August 23rd, 1819, Scott wrote to Lady Louisa Stuart in regard to it; ‘I am in sad perplexity just now about a play of Joanna Baillie’s which she has sent to Mrs. Siddons (our manageress) to be acted in Edinburgh. It contains abundance of genius and of fine poetry and passion: in short, abundance of all that one expects particularly from her. But then it is not well adapted for the stage, and many things cannot be represented in the way the author has conceived them. There is a coxcomb who turns out a man of courage and spirit. This is rather a comic than a tragic character. Then there is a child,—an infant,—a personage which, unless in the single instance of the pantomime termed the Virgin of the Sun, has never succeeded. A wax doll is ridiculous; a living infant more absurdly ludicrous. . . . Whatever theatrical audiences may have been in former days, they are now such a brutal assemblage that I am lost in astonishment at any one submitting to their censure.’ Before January 18th, 1820, he had decided the question, and wrote to Joanna Baillie: 'On conversing with Mrs. Siddons when I came to town, and on seeing her company, I could not think of trying The Separation; the company is by no means strong in tragedy, and I own I could not have risked reputation so dear to me as yours upon imperfect playing. I read it twice to my family, and it drew tears.’ There is no record of the means used to persuade Miss Baillie to allow another play of hers to appear on the London boards. Evidently Henriquez and the Separation were ready at about the same time.

In February, 1836, Fraser's Magazine reported in regard to these plays that in Henriquez ‘there is not a single line but would prove effective in the hands of a skilful actor. The part seems made for Charles Kemble, and Charles Kemble born to play the part. He is, we have heard, most anxious to undertake it; and, with Miss Faucit to support him in Leonora, surely such a tragedy, so acted, could not fail of drawing houses, and proving profitable to the manager.’ Frazer's Literary Chronicle says: 'It was stated that Henriquez was the part C. Kemble had fixed on—but that Miss Helen Faucit objected, on the ground that the character of Leonora was not sufficiently prominent for her rising reputation, etc. etc. This is very characteristic.—C. Kemble was quite right in his selection, but like a considerate man, gave way to the whim of the Lady Helen.’ As a result of this family quarrel, Separation was substituted, as it gave Miss Faucit a good opportunity to show her skill as an actress in creating an ‘original ’ character. Henriquez was at once accepted by the rival theatre, Drury Lane, where it was produced on March 19th, 1836.

The play was in five acts, and was staged with new scenery. The play-bill announces 'new scenes. Hall in Count Garcio’s Castle.—Distant View of the Castle with Wild Alley and Grove, Dressing Chamber of the Countess—Ramparts and Battlements of the Castle.’ It seems to have had no embellishments of music or prologue.

The reviews of the day contain several criticisms of the acting. The Garcio of Kemble, a very difficult part, . . . was all that could be made of a character which could . excite no sympathy.’ He ‘looked a person of “mark and likelihood" and declaimed like one practised in the art.' The Literary Gazette criticizes only one thing about the drama. It says 'The scenes between Garcio and his friend Rovani. . . followed far too closely in imitation upon Othello and Cassio.'

Miss Faucit's performance of Lady Margaret ‘was creditable to so young an actress. Scenes of strong emotion were her best' said the Athenceum. ‘It was the first character she had been called upon to originate, and she was naturally very nervous, both before and during the performance. It was characteristic of her resourcefulness and self-command, however, that she was not only able to control her own nervousness on this occasion, but also to assist Charles Kemble, who was acting with her. Kemble, nervous himself, and occasionally at a loss for words, was so deaf that he could not hear the prompter. Whereupon the novice forgot her own terrors and repeatedly whispered his lines to him, a service for which he afterwards expressed much gratitude.' The scene between Kemble and MissFaucit in the third act was finely acted. The applause of the audience was honestly won and freely bestowed on this scene/150 The Literary Chronicle was less enthusiastic over Miss Faucit's acting than were the other journals. It says merely, ‘Miss Faucit was very "respectable” as all young ladies should be.'

On these two performers the. whole weight of the drama rested, and scant attention was paid to the minor performers. The Literary Gazette mentioned by name the three seconds, and the Athenceum makes a definite charge against Mr. Bennett. It says, 'Mr. George Bennett' played the part of Rovani with complete bouleversement of the author’s meaning/151 As usual, there is disagreement as to the success of the production. Macready recorded in his diary for February 26th, 1836: ‘Read in the Times the report of last night’s debate, and of the failure of Miss Baillie’s play of Separation.’ The Edinburgh Review said: ‘Separation and Henriquez have been represented on the stage; but neither with any brilliant success. That the "Separation” should not have succeeded we feel little surprise; for its faults are great as well as its beauties; and the interest, which is at its height in the third act, almost vanishes with the disclosure of the murder, and the announcement of the Countess’s determination.’ On the other hand, the Lady’s Magazine reported: 'The audience called for Mr. Kemble and Miss Faucit at the end of the play, and warmly greeted them.’ The uproarious character of the ovation is shown by the Literary Gazette: ‘At the fall of the curtain the applause greatly predominated and the dead hero and heroine were absurdly whistled and cat-called forward to receive the sweet voices of the foolish among the audience.’ Rowton says:

The success which has attended the performance of The Sep-aration and Henriquez shows that with performers sedulously bent on carrying out the author’s design, and willing to sacrifice momentary applause for ultimate appreciation, Miss Baillie's plays would be as forcible in acting as they are in striking on perusal. But our stage is too melodramatic for this at present: and possibly the taste of the public too melodramatic also. There is too great a love for blue-fire and tin-foil, and broadsword combats as yet: when once this taste for mere show is rendered subservient to the higher effects of moral beauty and fitness, the Plays on the Passions cannot fail to become popular upon the Stage.

Pecuniarily the production must have been fairly successful, as the Literary Chronicle reports: 'As occasionally happens on a first night the house was full.’153 That this drama was considered an experiment is indicated by the fact that the prices seem to have been lowered. The play bill quotes them as: Boxes 4s-Half Price 2s. Pit 2S-Half Price 1s. Lower Gallery is-No Half Price. Upper Gallery 6d.’ In spite of the excellent principals and the reduced price, 'the so much talked-of and wished-for experiment ... of producing some of Miss Joanna Baillie’s dramas at a large theatre' did not prove successful, and the The Separation was withdrawn.


1836, March 19, London, Drury Lane.

The 'First Night of the New Tragedy’ was apparently the last.

The cast was:

Alonzo—Mr. Warde Leonora—Miss Ellen Tree
Don Henriquez—Mr. Vandenhoff Mencia—Miss Lee Don Carlos—Mr. King Inez—Mrs. Newcombe
Balthazar—Mr. Baker Bias—Miss Poole
Antonio—Mr. Cooper and other minor actors.

The acting of Vandenhoff received unqualified praise from the Literary Chronicle: 'He performed the part better than any actor now on the boards could have done . . . He was most enthusiastically greeted on the first night of his performing “Henriquez" — and he merited the compliment. He had to sustain the whole weight of the piece, and throughout displayed discriminating energy and a fine perception of character.’ The same review speaks of Miss Ellen Tree as an 'incomparably superior actress’ to Helen Faucit, and says that she imparted to the role of Leonora the charm and grace of her own bewitching womanhood. Her performance was perfectly successful.' The Literary Gazette of the same date, however, speaks of Henriquez as 'not over well cast.'

At the close of the performance, Henriquez was announced for repetiton, amid 'some tokens of disapprobation.' Easter Week was the date set for its reappearance,155 but there are no further notices in regard to it during the spring months. Nothing has led us so completely to despair of the revival of true dramatic taste among us' said the Edinburgh Review, as the announcement we have just noticed in a newspaper that "Henriquez" when represented before a London audience, had been treated, like its predecessors, with comparative coldness.' Fraser’s Literary Chronicle says that it met with much the same reception as The Separation: ‘Every disposition to deal most favourably with the piece was evinced by the performers and by the audience—yet on the part of the latter we take upon ourselves to say that the drama was endured—nothing more.

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