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LA BELLE ASSEMBLÉE;
For MARCH, 1812.
a few and Jinproved Series.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF ILLUSTRIOUS AND
The Thirtieth Mumber.
It is truly grateful to the Biographer, as || came a favourite, not only on the stage, well as to the general observer on life and || but in every private eircle that she entered. manners, to direct his attention to cha- || The most fashionable people of Bath began racters in whom he can trace the elements to countenance and encourage her, and she 'of future eminence. And it is with such I was frequently invited to the houses of se. feelings that we can now enter on the veral of those ladies who direct this little biography of Miss Smith.
metropolis of the west. Miss Smith entered upon the stage at a There are some persons who, however very early period in life. Her first en- solid may be their understandings, and gagement was with Stanton, the Lan- | however excellent their hearts, yet from caster Manager. Here she made her first | some deficiency of address, cart by no appearance as Joanna, in Mr. Holcroft's means succeed in obtaining the rank to Deserted Daughter. She shortly after- which they are entitled amid society. wards left Lancaster, and formed an en- | Miss Smith has, fortunately for her comgagement, with Mr. Stephen Kemble, at fort and connection inlife, been completely Edinburgh. Her next engagement was exempt from any such awkwardness of with Mr. Tate Wilkinson, at York,
| manner. She has a particular affability, with whom she continued till his death. which conciliates nine people out of ten : Upon this occurrence she formed an en-she has an undeviating perseverance in obgagement with Mr. M Ready, the ma- tainingthe most creditable introductions: nager of the Birmingham company, who || she has a habit of yielding her own opitreated her with remarkable kindness; and nions to the opinions of her well-informed was instrumental in procuring for her an || and sensible friends: and with all these engagement at Bath. To Bath her talents i requisites for advancing herself in societve were now transferred : and a city, which || she of course has procured herself many yields to Londou alone in all the arts agreeable and useful acquaintances. In that make life agreeable, appeared the | Loudon, as well as at Baths, these insinuat. most favourable sphere in which the ability lling qualifications have been attended with of Miss Smith could display itself. How- |very advantageous effects. ever ardent her expectations may have ll The Proprietors of Covent-Garden hav. been, they certainly were not disappointed. ing heard of the celebrity of Miss Smith, Both in tragedy and in comedy she was made an offer to her of an engagement in conspicuously successful; and she soon be. "their theatre. But she was not inclined to
leave so comfortable a situation as that in 'l is well proportioned; the face is extremely which she then stood, and agreed to sign interesting, and be:iss an extraordinary re. an article for four years longer with Mr. semblance to that of Mrs. Siddous. The Dimond of Bath.
five dark eyes of Miss Smith, the acqui. In about a fortnight after this arrange line nose, and the straight, expressive ment had been made, Mr. Harris, the prin-brow, continually give the sensation of a cipal Proprietor of Covent-Garden, was in-family resembiance, although every body duced to take a journey to Bath for the knows there is no sort of relationship. purpose of ascertaining how far the world's In London she made her first appearance favourable report of Miss Smith's abilities | at Covent-Garden theatre, early during deserved to be believed. On the evening the season of 1805-6. Her reputation has of his attendance at the Bath theatre, she been constantly increasing, and she has performed the characters of Juliana in the become a general favourite. She remained Honey Moon, and Lady Racket in Three at Covent-Garden till the conclusion of the Weeks after Marriage : and Mr. Harris season 1807, and then accepted an engage. professed himself so much gratified by the ment at the Dublin theatre. Mr. Harris, talent she evinced in these representations, however, fiuding Miss Smith an actress of that he proposed to engage her at a congenius, re-engaged her to return to Coventsiderable salary. Miss Smith still consi-Garden at the conclusion of her Dublin dered that her situation with the Bath and engagement. Bristol audiences was so agreeable and so The style of acting in which Miss secare, as to make any alteration of neces- Smith has acquired a reputatiou which is sity unpleasing and hazardous; but the daily increasing, is the same line to which desire of making a more effectual provision Mrs. Siddons owes her fame. She endea. for her family, at length prevailed over vours to represent to her own mind what every other consideration, and receiving the poet peculiarly intended, and having the liberal consent of the Bath Proprietors, lithus formed a just conception of the chaMiss Smith, in the year 1805, transferred racter she labours, with all her physical herself to Covent-Garden theatre. She powers, to exhibit it in the energy and was here engaged for three years, at the simplicity of natural feeling. Miss Smith, weekly sum of eighteen pounds for the therefore, has always been a favourite with first season, nineteen for the second, and all those who admire tragic sentiment and twenty for the third.
passion, and when Mrs. Siddons shall have She appeared for the last time at Bath, passed off the stage, there is certainly no in the character of Beloidera, and after one so well calculated to succeed her as the play recited Collins's ()de on the Passions. | Miss Smith. We must be allowed, howThe house was crowded in every part: lever, to express a wish that this Lady will and it is recorded, that on this occasion not suffer herself to be spoiled by the apher feelings were so overpowered by the plause of the pit and galleries, and thus situation in which the acclamations and whilst she is thinking of the energy of other favours of the audience placed her, Il passion, she will be careful not to overthat at the close of the Ode, where hope, step the modesty of nature. Many actors and mirth, and joy, are described by the land actresses of the most promising talents poet, the actress represented regret, and I have nipped the hope induced by their melancholy, and grief. She took leave early excellence, by a servile adoption of her friends and the public, not by ll of what seems to be the public taste. the usual mode of addressing the au- | The true means of excellence is to form dience from the stage, but by farewells |the taste by good models to a correct judgto the people of Bath and Bristol, made ment, and then to act up to that image public through the medium of the news of excellence, which study and attenpapers.
tion and genius will always pourtray in The figure of Miss Smith, though small, || the mind.
Sir Dennis O'NEALL conducted us that the whole of her family are so much over his grounds, which were laid out with attached to her. Such wealth as hers a degree of taste very uncommon in this usually excites envy; it requires, therecountry; but the disposition of the statues, fore, no small proportion of worth and the groves, &c. had still a character of their modesty to reconcile friends and neighbours own. It seems that this gentleman in early to this superiority." life had formed a kind of romantic attach- This warm praise of the lady from one ment, in which he had been disappointed; who, like my aunt, was not much given to and the result of which had given a tingell exaggerations of this kind, rendered ine of humour and extravagance to his ideas. ' very anxious to see her; and the coach
“ For six months," said my aunt, “after being ordered, and two gentlemen, stranhis disappointment, he coutined himself to lgers to me, but well acquainted with my his house and estate; during which time he aunt, having joined us, we all proceeded read all the ancient romances; he is thus a on our way to W - Housc. The gentlesingular mixture of the ancient chevalier men who accompanied us afforded me the and the inodern fine gentleman."
pleasure that I had anticipated. On the day following, my aunt proposed ." My Lord,” said the one to the other, a visit to a family and lady of whom the “how does your speculation answer? I whole country was full.-" This young think you'll pay to a good tune." lady," said my aunt, “ is the richest heiress il “Not at all," said the noblemu. “The in the United Kingdom; fame reports that matter is this:-I need not tell you that her annual income is not less than one il Madame N is under my protection; hundred thousand pounds per annum; and and a famous fine woman I think you will though fame generally exaggerates, in this allow her to be. Now, my friend, I need instance she rather falls short. She has not tell you that the protection of such a thus a greater annual revenue than all the lady must cost something, and therefore Princes of our own Royal Family put to have hit upon this method by way of saving. gether. One hundred thousand pounds, as Madame N- takes the conduct of the we all know, is considered as a princely establishment, and has a double allowance portion, even as a capital; what is to be from the committee of managers, and there. said then, when this lady can present it to fore wants little, or perhaps unthing, of me. her husband every new year's day?" \ It was better, I think, than setting her up as
"I have only to express my hopes," said a milliner." I,“that the young lady deserves her wealth “In plain words then," said the other by a suitable use of it."
gentleman, “ your Lordship has contrived “I understand," replied my aunt, “ that to saddle your mistress on the public, and her liberality is almost as boundless as her to have the honour of keeping her under means. The general qualities and dispo- your protection at the public expence." sition of any one may not unfairly be col- ! " Exactly so," said the wobleman; “I lected from the temper and virtues which think that is as clever as you have done they exhibit in their own families. Now yourself, who have got your mistress's hus. Miss - bears such an exalted character | band a pension of a thousand a year on the. as a daughter, a sister, and the head of a | Irish establislament." large household of servants, that it consti “Why, where is the difference," replied tutes a very reasonable presumption that the other, “wbether the country pays us her virtues, in mature life, will diguity her the reward of our services into our own station. It is no small proof of her worth, "hands, or pays it for us into those of our
mistresses. For my own part I would not “ That young man," said she,“ is the des. have gone to Ireland if I could not have pro- i tined husband of the rich heiress, and he vided for my dependants."
His so far remarkable, that he belongs to one The above conversation passed whilst the of the most fortunate families in England. gentlemen were riding by our carriage, and I myself remember when the family of in the true style of the present fashion, which he is a member (I do not speak though they did not expressly inteud that from any disrespect of them), was in we should hear them, yet they spoke in a | the most uncomfortable pecuniary cirtone as if they were addressing the whole cumstauces; so much so, indeed, that the county from the bustings.
Dowager, the mother of the W -s, was, “ Who are these gentlemen?" said I to I believe, a very humble pensioner upon my aunt.
Government, having apartments at Hamp“ They are both of them noblemen," said ton-Court, and the usual allowance to the my aunt; “one of them is the immediate decayed nobility. If any one had said at descendant of one of our bravest Admirals, that time, that within a few years the. and is himself one of the best whips in Eng- W family would become not only the land. The other was formerly at the head most wealthy, but the most distinguished of the government of Ireland, and the Irish family amongst our nobility, they would Pension List will very long have cause to not readily have proeured belief. Yet such remember him; he is one of the most pro has been the splendid success of that fas ftigate and worthless men of the day," li mily, that one of them possesses a reputa
«Then why is it,” said I, “that he seems ltion very little inferior to Marlborough to be on such intimate terms with you?" } himself; another has made not only a splen
“ Why, what does it signify to me," said i did fortune, but what is better, a civil my aunt, “ what his character is, as long l name and reputation in the East; and the as he is a man of a certain quality and fa- | third, of whom I am now speaking to you; shion, and generally well received in all and who will eventually become the bead companies; his vices do not in any way of the family, will, upon his marriage, bo affect me."
Il possessed of a fortime equal to that of any “I am truly sorry to hear you reason in two Dukes in England put together." this manner," said I. “ If profligacy were l “I have only to hope that he will merit as generally discountenanced as it is now | his success," said I. covered and protected, the public manners “It would be a gross flattery,” said my would be reformed perforce, and people aunt, “ to speak very fully upon that head. would find it necessary to be virtuous in The young man has not began his life in self-defence. This indifference to virtuella very promising manner, but as he is and vice is what keeps up the predominance | young, it is to be hoped that he may of the faster. Young persons have no in- ll eventually see his errors, and may learn in dacemeut to resist the impetuous impulses || good time, that the steady honourable con of their headlong passions when they have || duct, liberality, and the manners and into public praise or public censure to dread. formation of a gentleman, are qualities that As to these characters, I hope I shall never better become his rank and fortune, than to have the houour of meeting them again ; li be first in every folly and in vicious extra. for whatever may be their fortunes and | vagance." titles, they both of them deserve the most I must confess that the heiress did not fully exemplary panishment; the one of them as answer the expeetation which my aunt's the corrupter of youth, and the other as | aecount had taught me to expect. Het one who has degraded a very noble name, manners, however, were interesting, and and therein impaired and diminished the her appearance simple and unaffected. glory of his ancestors."
These were qualities certainly very land. . Upon reaching our destination, we were able in circumstances such as those in received with great distinction by the which the beiress was placed. To be ladies, the mother and her daughters. A simple, modest, and unaffected, in the young man was présent, of whom my aunt | midst of an opulence, and the flattering afterwards spoke of in some detail. distinetiono attendant upon it, which might
hare spoiled a strong head, unless go distribution of it. If I had such wealth I verned by a good heart; these qualities, I would educate half the children in the I say, argue very strongly in favour of her county, and cover every parish almost with natural goodness. But ought not the pos Sunday schools and alms-houses; and still session of such a fortune to have rendered I would have sufficient for all my own its possessor somewhat more prominent ? pleasures and dignity. It is inconceivable, The fault of this, perhaps, is in the my dear aunt, what good might not be done fashionable education which is now given by private charity, and I think that the pos. to our ladies,
şessor of such a fortune as this ought to set Before we took our leave, we were con- | the example," ducted into a room in which were the “ It is very wisely contrived by the laws bridal paraphernalia ; for matters, as I un of this country," said my aunt, “ that these derstood, were now nearly fully arranged I immense fortunes should not long remain between the parties. The dress was eer- |dead in any hands. Even the dissipation tainly very magnificent, but I was sorry to l of one rich man feeds the necessities of a see that the family seem more fully pos- || hundred poor men; and evil is thus made to sessed, in their thoughts and actions, of the administer to good." potions of the consequence, importance, « The fault of the present age," said I, ad value of this maguificence than I is not so much the deliberate pursuits of thought it merited. This overvalue for || vice, as the indifference to virtue, and a trifles is the sure root of levity and insigni. || blind, precipitate pursuit of pleasure, and ficance of character, Teach a family of || in seeking that pleasure in every folly and in daughters that nothing is so worthy of every insignificance. One young man seeks their admiration as such dresses, and what || only to distinguish himself by being the must you expect? Will they cousume their best driver of the age; another is possessed time in the acquisition of real virtues, good with the perverse vanity of being the best morals, and amiable domestic manners and walker; a third, perhaps, will lift a weight, qualities, when they are taught that it is l or eat a beef-steak for a wager; a fourth, as net virtue, it is not morals, it is not good foolish, and more vicious than the others, domestic qualities, but that it is Brussels i will fight a duel, keep an Opera mistress, lace, sprigged muslins, and embroidered or head a theatrical establishment. Now I hems, which really deserve attention and do not know which of all these pursuits is admiration.
the most contemptible, and the folly of all I understood further, that it was the in these either begins or ends in vices. There tention of the mother of the young ladies is something, I am afraid, radically wrong to issue tickets of admission to see this liu our system of education, or the young bridal dress, and to advertise in the Morn. l men who are formed by it would present ing Post, I presume, that it was hung up themselves in a very different shape and for the inspection of all respectable per- || form." sons. I should hope that this report is not “I am glad at least," said my aunt, “ that true; it would be the extreme of folly. Il you do not extend the same censure to our The excessive admiration and importance || female mode of education." assigned to it is foolish enough and mis. ll “ I am sorry," said I, “ that I cannot chievous enough; but such an exhibition exempt it. No one, I am afraid, can say would be more than ordinarily ridiculous. ll that the general characters of our fashion
When we had taken our seats in the car- || able women are perfect, or such as men riage, my aunt observing me in rather a wish in their wives. Too much time, and thoughtful mood, asked me what was the too much attention, and too much money, subject of my meditations.
are thrown away on frivolous pursuits and “I am thinking," said I, “ what an in- ll attainments, and even these are but half finite portion of good the possessor of such learned. After a fashionable girl has gone a fortune both might and ought to do; l, through a fashionable boarding-school, what charities, what patronage, what im- what is she but a thing of gay shreds provements in their county and neighours and patches, with a something of every hood might be effected by their proper l' thing, and nothing complete.”