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These hopes were only in a measure fulfilled. The
Court granted the bankrupt a full discharge with all
honour ; a lease of the Lyceum was secured, a brilliant
benefit for Mathews and Madame was got up, and
once more the theatre was in their possession. But
fortune was still perverse. Disputes arose out of
the disposal of the subscription fund. Some of the
subscribers refused to join in the dispute and handed
over their subscriptions, but many availed themselves
of the opportunity to back out, and Mathews, made
desperate by impending responsibilities and continual
pinpricks, " took a bold resolve," to use his own words,
" and, defying consequences, abruptly brought the
season to a close, shut the doors, and cut management
for ever." This announcement was made on March
24th, 1855.

Meanwhile Vestris, fighting, as one may be sure
she did, against the fell disease which was gradually
consuming her, had her last days embittered by
the vanishing of everything that she valued. Never
more would she exercise that art which had always
been part of her life ; all her brilliant managerial


triumphs had ended in disaster ; the stimulus of
applause, the indescribable thrill at the sounds of
approbation of which she had been conscious on
thousands of occasions, she had experienced for the
last time. Everything that had once been pleasant
was now but a memory tinged with sadness.

Then came the final crash. Charles Mathews was
arrested for debt while fulfilling an engagement at
Preston and was thrown into gaol. This was on July
5th, 1856. In Mathews's Life will be found the
letters he wrote to his wife during this tragic time, and
pathetic indeed they are. Vestris's letters are not
given, and it is as well. That she did her best to cheer
him one may be certain. In one letter it would appear
she proposed, ill as she was, to journey to Lancaster
where he was imprisoned, but he implored her to
dismiss the idea. He obtained his release on August
1st, and hastened to London. He was in time to
soothe the last hours of his wife, but no more. She
died on August 8th.

The news of her death came as a shock both to the
public and to her friends, for with her optimistic
spirit she believed she would recover, though the
terrible pain she was suffering must have told her a
different tale. The press was full of eulogistic notices,
but only that of the Era need be quoted, as it epi-
tomises sympathetically her genius as an artist and her
versatility and charm of character, its strength and its
weakness, as a woman.

" Those," said the writer, " who have only seen
this gifted actress within the last ten or fifteen years
know nothing of that indescribable spell of fascination
which she threw around the spectator and which she
carried with her into private life. . . . Possessed of
the most refined taste, utterly divested of affectation,
and generous by impulse to an extent of which without
touching upon private matters we cannot definitely
allwde to, the gay, the gifted Vestris has been as
enthusiastically admired in some circles as she has


been as ruthlessly condemned and even calumniated
in others.

" It would be an easy task to rake the tales of scandal
from oblivion that have been freely uttered of her
days gone by, but she has expiated all her faults, even
if much that were said against her were true, and much
that has been said of a detracting kind is not true. . . .
But when the temptations of her early career are
remembered, when the coarse and lavish flattery to
which she was subjected as a child is considered, and
when the example of her first husband, who should
have guided her conduct and not have ridiculed all
the highest principles of morality before her eyes,
is called to mind, there will be a sufficient explanation
of, if not an excuse for, the errors into which she

" Of the good she did, of the refined influences
that were shed over dramatic art at her instigation,
and of the benefit the public and profession have
derived in consequence, too little unfortunately will
be remembered. But among those who during the
last half-century have contributed to the amusement
of the metropolis there is not a name that stands
more prominently forth or will be more missed than
that of Madame Vestris."

Vestris was fifty-nine when she died. She had
since she was eighteen been prominently before the
public until she was fifty-seven, and during those
thirty-nine years she had led a life of continual excite-
ment, of conflicting emotions, and of passionate
energy which would have worn out a dozen ordinary
women before their prime. Vestris, on the contrary,
never appeared to be growing old ; she never showed
signs of weariness in her art ; she rarely failed to give
an audience of her best, no matter what the characters
and their variety was amazing she was playing
might be. In one respect she was fortunate. She did
not outlive her reputation. She did not " lag super-
fluous on the stage." She did not become unwieldy

(From the collection of the late A. M. Broadley.)


like Siddons ; happier than Dora Jordan, she was
never unable to look the parts with which she had been
identified early in her career ; she was spared the
terrible collapse in the sight of the audience which
befell WofHngton. She did not have to suffer the
bitter pang of being relegated to play an old woman
and of seeing a new youthful " star " in the character
which once was hers. When past fifty her figure was
as symmetrical, her smile as bewitching, her voice as
fascinating as in her younger days.

Her personal charms and her subtle dramatic art
belonged to her life and died with her. What has
not died is the influence she brought to bear on theatri-
cal reform and progress. The debt which the drama-
tic profession and the playgoing public owe to Eliza
Vestris has never been adequately acknowledged.
Perhaps neither the one nor the other is conscious of
that debt. It remains all the same, and one has but
to study the record of her five-and-twenty years of
theatrical management to be convinced of this out-
standing fact.

At the present day Madame Vestris is to most
people but a name, yet when the list of remarkable
women of the first half of the nineteenth century is
scanned there is not to be found one who can be placed
anywhere near the plane which she occupied. Madame
Vestris stands by herself. She made the best of her
genius ; throughout her life she devoted her gifts
to the enjoyment of others. She entered the stage at
a time when the drama had sunk to a state of lethargic
artificiality ; she left it imbued with her own vitality,
freed from the fetters of conventionality, and
moved by an impetus the influence of which, despite
the changes in taste and fashion, it still retains.
Madame Vestris's management of the Olympic, of
Covent Garden, of the Lyceum tells the same
story of consummate art, of a devotion to the
beautiful ; of a passion for accuracy and complete-
ness, an abhorrence of all that was stilted, of bad



taste crusted by tradition, of the unforgivable sin

If any member of the dramatic profession can be
singled out for honour as one who, when she had the
directing hand, never ceased to work for the advance-
ment of the stage in its best aspects, that honour
unquestionably belongs to Eliza Vestris.





A list of the plays produced at Covent Garden and Lyceum
will be found at the end of the Life of Charles J. Mathews
(edited by Charles Dickens).

1831 (First Season)

January 3. Mary Queen of Scots (historical burletta). Miss

Foote. Olympic Revels. Vestris. Little Tochey (comic

burletta). Mrs. Glover.
January 24. The Grenadier added to the above. Vestris

with songs ; " Oh, they march'd through the town " ;

" A Savoyard's Song " ; " Listen, dear Fanny."

February 28. Duke for a Day ! Vestris as a page. Season

ended March 26 with My Great Aunt ; The Grenadier ;

Chaste Salute ; Olympic Revels.

1831-2 (Second Season)

October I (1831). Olympic Revels. Continued in the bill for

some weeks.

October 27. The Love Spell. Vestris.
November 21. The Widow, or My Uncle's Will. Vestris

with songs : " Under the Rose," and " Too soon I never

can forget."

December 14. Dumb Belle. Vestris.
December 27. Olympic Devils, or Orpheus and Eurydice.


February 28 (1832). My Eleventh Day. Vestris, Liston.
March 15. The Toung Hopeful.



1832-3 (Third Season)

October I (1832). Olympic Devils.

October 22. The Court of Queen's Bench (music by John

Barnett). Vestris.

November 28. The Conquering Game ! Vestris.
December 26. The Papbian Bower, or Venus and Adonis

(music by John Barnett). Vestris.
February 21 (1833). A Match in the Dark. Vestris.

1833-4 (Fourth Season)

September 30 (1833). A Match in the Dark. Vestris with

song, " Why did I love ? "
October I. High, Low, Jack, and the Game (music by Blewitt).

Vestris with song, " The Gavotte de Vestris."
November 13. Beulah Spa. Vestris. Songs: "I'll make

her speak out " ; " By the margin of Zurich's fair


December 16. The Welch Girl. Vestris.
December 26. Deep, Deep Sea, or Perseus and Andromeda.


1834-5 (Fifth Season)

September 29 (1834). Loan of a Lover. Vestris.

October 28. The Retort Courteous. Vestris. Songs : " No-
thing new," and " They don't propose."

November 27. How to Get Of. Vestris.

December 26. Telemachus, or the Island of Calypso (music by
Tully). Vestris.

January 5 (1835). A New Farce. Vestris as manageress of
the Olympic. Liston.

February 9. Why Don't She Marry ? Vestris.

February 24. Hearts and Diamonds. Vestris.

March 14. The Court Beauties. Vestris.

1835-6 (Sixth Season)

September 28 (1835). Love in a Cottage. Vestris. Songs :
" Love in a Cottage " ; " I'll be no submissive wife " ;
" Rory O'More."

October 8. The Two Queens, or Politics in Petticoats. Vestris,


November 16. The Beau Ideal. Vestris. Songs : " Can't
you guess ? " ; " The poor blind boy " ; " Beauty and

December 26. Olympic Picnic. Vestris.

Jan. ii (1836). One Hour, or A Carnival Ball. Vestris.
Songs : " Love is the theme of the minstrel," and a
Neapolitan Air. (First occasion on which Vestris and
Charles Mathews appeared together.)

February 15. A Handsome Husband. Vestris. Song, " What
can Beauty give one more ? " Charles Mathews.

1836-7 (Seventh Season}

September 29 (1836). Court Favour, or Private and Confi-
dential. Vestris, Mathews.

October 31. Olympic Devils. Vestris. He would be an
Actor. Mathews.

November 7. Barrack Room. Vestris.

November 30. The Two Figaros. Vestris, Liston.

December 26. Riquet with the Tuft. Vestris.

February 23 (1837). The Sentinel. Vestris, Mathews.

March 27. The Rape of the Lock. Vestris, Mathews.

1837-8 (Eighth Season")

September 29 (1837). Country Squire. Vestris. Song, " You

will not surely love me less." W. Farren.
October 23. Hugo Bambino. Vestris. Songs : " Nina dear,"

and " The chiming of the vesper bell."
November 6. A Dream of the Future. Vestris, Mathews.
December 16. The Ladder of Love. Vestris. Song, " There

never was so fine a show." Mathews.
December 26. Puss in Boots. Vestris.
January 18 (1838). The Black Domino (Auber). Vestris,

March I. You Can't Marry your Grandmother. Vestris,

Mathews, Farren.
April 1 6. The Drama's Levee, or a Peep at the Past. Vestris,


April 19. A Hasty Conclusion. Vestris, Mathews.
May 3. Naval Engagements. Vestris, Mathews, Farren.
May 31. Last night of season, and Vestris and Mathews

depart for America.


1838-9 (Ninth Season)

January 19 (1839). Blue Beard. Vestris.

February 22. Our Cousin German, or I did it for the Best.

February 28. Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady. Vestris,


March. Petticoat Government.
April i. Izaac Walton. Vestris. Songs : " Come, live with

me and be my love " (Bishop), and " Here's a health unto

his Majesty."
May 2. Revival of High, Low, Jack, and the Game and One

Hour. Vestris and Mathews.
May 31. Meet Me by Moonlight; A Dream of the Future ;

and One Hour. Vestris and Mathews.

(End of season and termination of Vestris's lesseeship.)

[Owing to the absence of American journals in this country
so far back as 1838, the tour of Mr. and Mrs. Mathews in the
United States is difficult to follow. To the details given in
Chapter XIX, an extract from a Theatrical Biography (1849)
compiled by Mr. F. C. Wemyss, a well-known American
theatrical manager, may, however, be added. Mr. Wemyss
says of Vestris : " The absurd cry that she was no actress and
unworthy of the reputation she enjoyed was raised by pre-
judice and was anything but creditable to the judgment
(which was never used) of the American public. The manner
in which she resented the mortification she experienced was
ill-judged ; and her attack upon Jim Crow Rice, although not
intended as ill-nature, was so construed, and gave him an
opportunity to lampoon her with effect, in what he termed
his own lyric style turning all her efforts into ridicule." Of
this passage of arms we can find no record elsewhere.]


Aldborough, Countess, her free-
dom of speech, 64

Anderson, Joseph, squabble of
with Madame Vestris, 154 ;
155 ; marriage of to Josephine
Bartolozzi, 172 ; bankruptcy
of, 215

Appendix, 307

Ayrton, musical director at the
King's Theatre, 98 ; 116

Barnett, John, unjust accusation
against, 138

Bartolozzi, Francisco, family his-
tory of, 27 ; 28

Bartolozzi, Gaetano, career of, 28

Bartolozzi, Josephine, description
of, 82 ; debut of at Covent
Garden, 28 ; marriage of, 172

Bartolozzi, Lucia Elizabetta (see
Madame Vestris)

Benelli, King's Theatre, manager
of, 91

Best, Capt., association of with
Madame Vestris, 61 ; fatal duel
of with Lord Camelford, 31 ;
name of coupled with Josephine
Bartolozzi, 82; 83; "Peagreen"
Hayne a friend of, 106

Beverley, wonderful scene paint-
ing of, 297

Billington, Mrs., 23

Bishop, H. R., 91 ; 129

Boucicault, Dion, the London
Assurance of, 263

Braham, John, popularity of, 42 ;
ornamental singing of con-
demned, 49 ; singing of de-
scribed, 50 ; acting of in Oberon,

Buckstone, acting of in Box and
Cox, 295

Bunn, Alfred, incompetent as a
manager, 207

Camporese, Madame, 65 ; a pas-
sage of arms of, with Madame
Ronzi di Begnis, 85

Cargill, Mrs., as Captain Mac-
heath, 52

Catalini, Madame, 23 ; first singer
to receive a " call," 36 ; rapa-
city of, 63

Charlotte of Wales, Princess, 42

Chester, Miss, beauty of, 88 ;
appointed reader to George IV,

Chorley, H. F., his opinion of
Madame Vestris's singing, 23

Colbran, Madame, prima donna
at the King's Theatre, 92

Colman, George, alleged to be
" Griffinhoofe," 25; joke against,

Coveney, Harriet, as Macheath,

Dance, Charles, collaboration of
with Planche, 167

Drury Lane Theatre and the
" Theatre Royal Elliston," 45 ;
Elliston's pageant of the Coro-
nation, 67 ; an unruly audience
at, 68

Duncombe, T. S., a man of fash-
ion, 75 ; fracas of with West-
macott, 183; generosity of , 185

Ebers, relations of with Taylor,
20 ; engages Madame Vestris,
65 ; troubles over operatic
stars, 86 ; transfers the King's
Theatre to Benelli, 90 ; opens
with opera at the Haymarket
Theatre, no

Elliston, Robert, engages Madame
Vestris, 48 ; his style of adver-
tising, 58 ; personates George
IV in the Coronation, 67 ; pro-
duces Giovanni in Ireland at
Dublin, 69



Fawcett, 125 ; 142

Fife, Lord, infatuation of for

ballet-dancers, 70 ; 71 ; Maria

Mercandotti and, 72
Fodor, Madame, 41 ; 42
Foote, Maria, her action for breach

of promise, 105 ; 106 ; 1071108
"Fops' Alley," 13

Gore, Montagu, association of
with Madame Vestris, 76 ; offers
to make her & settlement, 77 ;
failure of his intrigue, 79 ;
Disraeli's opinion of, 79

Gould, Mrs., the original Giovanni,

Goward, Annie (Mrs. Keeley), in

Oberon, 125 ; 126 ; 129
Grassini, Madame, 24

Harris, Charles, adviser to and

confidant of Madame Vestris,

77; 185
Harrison, W., in Th Beggar's

Opera, 252 ; in The Fortunate

Isles, 255
Hayne, " Pea-green," description

of by Lord William Lennox,

74 ; sued by Maria Foote, 103 ;

106 ; 107 ; 108
Horn, C. E., popularity of his

songs, 120
Hughes, " Ball," elopes with Maria

Mercandotti, 73 ; his history, 74
Humby, Mrs., 120 ; 149
Hunt, Leigh, writes A Legend of

Florence for Madame Vestris,


Incledon, sings with Vestris in
Arne's Artaxerxes, 48

Kean, Edmund, 102

Kelly, Michael, 34

Kemble, Adelaide, debut of, 267

Kemble, Charles, production of
Oberon by, 125 ; financial col-
lapse of, 152

Kemble, Fanny, description of
Weber by, 127

King's Theatre, interior of in
1815, 14 ; vicissitudes of, 19
management of by Waters, 19
management by Taylor, 20
his eccentricities, 21 ; laxity
of morals at condemned by
Arthur Griffinhoofe and Mr.
T. H. Duncombe, 25 ; debut of

Madame Vestris at, 35 ; rules as
to dress at, 35 ; " calls " first
introduced at, 35 ; lighted by
candles, 66 ; a green room
added by Ebers, 70 ; the
claque at, 112; payment of
chorus ladies at, 124 ; La-
porte's management of, 152
Knowles, Sheridan, Love and John
of Procida by, 257 ; Gerald
Griffin's opinion of, 258

Ladd, Sir John, 21

Ladd, Lady, her cure for inebriety,


Lee, Alexander, joint lessee of
Drury Lane Theatre, 156 ;
curious history of, 157

Lennox, Lord William, introduces
Madame Vestris to Elliston,
46 ; marriage of to Miss Paton,


Liston, in Paul Pry, 117; retire-
ment of, 217 ; letter of to
Charles J. Mathews, 220 ; plays
with Charles J. Mathews, 221

Lyceum Theatre, gas first used in,

Macready, W. C., unsuccessful
management of, 247 ; sharp
practice of, 271 ; engagement
of the Mathewses by, 280 ;
violent scene with Madame
Vestris, 286

Marston, Westland, analysis of
Madame Vestris 's art by, 233 ;
234 ; 250 ; description of green
room at Co vent Garden by, 261

Mathews, Charles J., introduction
of to Madame Vestris, 220 ;
first stage appearance of, 221 ;
artistic acting of, 222 ; bank-
ruptcy of, 278 ; flight of to
France, 289 ; experiences of
at the Lyceum, 292 ; bank-
ruptcy of again, 302 ; arrest of
for debt, 303

Mercandotti, Maria, pursuit of by
the dandies, 72 ; elopement of
with " Ball " Hughes, 73 ; Dis-
raeli's description of, 74

Moore, Thomas, delight of with
Madame Vestris as Giovanni,

Nathan, Isaac, 89 ; 96 f



Noblet, Mademoiselle, Lord Fife's
devotion to, 71 ; the Marquis
of Hertford and, 72

Paton, Miss, 23 ; singing of in
Oberon, 125 ; elopement of
with Wood, 158

Phillipson, 75 ; threat of to
" whop " Westmacott, 173 ; 173

Planch6, J. R., 124 ; attack on
by Westmacott, 171 ; pro-
duction of Riquet with tha Tuft
by, 238 ; pieces produced by
at the Lyceum, 297 ; last fairy
extravaganza of, 300

Polhill, Captain, joint lessee of
Drury Lane Theatre, 156 ; 183

Poole, quarrel of with Elliston,
45 ; assault by on Elliston, 109 ;
writing of Paul Pry by, 118

Price, Stephen, manager of Drury
Lane Theatre, 151

Rossini, fervour over in London,
85 ; fSted by society, 91 ;
conducting of operas by at the
King's Theatre, 92

Sala, Madame, singing of with

Madame Vestris, 141
Spohr, 92
Stephens, Miss, 23 ; exquisite

ballad singing of, 63

Vandenhoff, in a theatrical riot
at Liverpool, 1 10 ; his anecdote
of Madame Vestris, 120 ; re-
ferences of to Mr. and Mrs.
Mathews, 224 ; his opinion of
the Covent Garden green room,
260, 261

Velluti, mixed reception of in
London, 115; meanness of,
122 ; 123

Vestris, Armand, his character,
24 ; history and personal ap-
pearance of, 32 ; monetary
difficulties of, 38 ; differences
of with his wife, 40 ; his ballet
Gonsalves di Cordova at the
King's Theatre, 42 ; arrest of
for debt, 43 ; desertion of his
wife by, 43

Vestris, Lucia Elizabetta, beauty
of, 17 ; education of, 29 ; asso-
ciation of with Captain Best,
30 ; debut of at the King's
Theatre, 35 ; Molloy West-

macott 's scandalous stories of,
39 ; desertion of by Armand
Vestris in Paris, 44 ; doubtful
story of Windham Anstruther
and, 44 ; return of to Lon-
don, 45 ; engagement of by
Elliston, 48 ; acting of as Dolly
Trip , 51; fervour over as
Captain Macheath, 52 ; stupen-
dous success of in Giovanni in
London, 53 ; severe condemna-
tion of by the Theatrical In-
quisitor, 54 ; poetical tribute
to, 55 ; financial engagements
of, 60 ; Captain Best again
associated with, 61 ; return
of to Drury Lane, 62 ; contrast
of with Miss Stephens, 63 ;
engagement of at the King's
Theatre, 65 ; intrigue of with
Montagu Gore, 77 ; 78 ; extra-
vagance of, 84 ; dressing-room
candles of at the King's Theatre,
87 ; success of in Sweethearts
and Wives, 88 ; Rosina and
Zerlina of not liked, 93 ; acting
of in Shakespeare, 94 ; 95 ;
disapproval of at the King's
Theatre, 98 ; 99 ; squabble
over at Covent Garden Theatre,
100 ; mixed reception of at
Covent Garden, 109 ; acting of
in The Marriage of Figaro at the
Haymarket, in ; in Don Gio-
vanni, in ; refusal of to sing
with Velluti, 115 ; success of in
Paul Pry, 118; 119; 120; gallan-
tries of condemned, 132 ; 133 ;
ill-natured criticisms of, 135 ;
singing of at Vauxhall, 135 ;
journalistic sneers at, 136 ; 137;
defence of by the Age, 137 ;
1 38 ; tamperings of with
Mozart's music, 140 ; 141 ; 142 ;
*43 I poetical effusions con-
cerning, 144 ; 145 ; 146 ; news-
paper attacks on, 147 ; 148 ;
controversy over legs of, 150 ;
family quarrels of, 154 ; 155 ;
engagement of at Tottenham
Street Theatre, 160 ; Olympic
Theatre taken by, 161 ; Olym-
pic management of, 165 ; 166 ;
167 ; 1 68 ; 169 ; Olympic
leased by, 172 ; unfortunate
love intrigue of, 183 ; financial
troubles of, 186 ; 187; 188 ;
correspondence of with Mon-



tagu Gore, 191 ; 192 ; 193 ;
194 ; 195 ; 196 ; 197 ; 198 ;

letters of to Harris, 199 ; 200 ;
201 ; letter of to Lord W.
Lennox, 204 ; complications of
with Anderson, 210 ; attack of
Westmacott on, 21 1 ; bank-
ruptcy of, 213 ; 214 ; marriage
of to Charles J. Mathews, 223 ;
visit of to America with her
husband, 224, 310; the Americans
displeased with, 225 ; the tour
of a failure, 227 ; return of to
the Olympic, 229 ; wonderful
production of The Court
Beauties by, 235 ; 236 ; fare-
well of to the Olympic, 241 ;
Covent Garden Theatre taken
by, 243 ; production of Sheri-
dan Knowles's Love by, 250 ;
great success of A Midsummer
Night's Dream produced by,
259 ; excellent green-room
management of, 260 ; 261 ;
success of in London Assurance,
263 ; managerial anxieties of,
267 ; heated controversy of and
Macready over Comus, 269 ;
Covent Garden Theatre relin-
quished by, 272 ; final per-
formance, 273 ; a tribute to
by the Morning Post, 275 ;
engagement of by Macready,

280 ; ungenerous treatment of,
286 ; engagement of at Hay-
market, 287 ; the Lyceum
taken by, 291 ; great reception
of, 293 ; production of Box
and Cox by, 295 ; the many
productions of at the Lyceum,
298 ; decaying managememt
and ill-health of, 301 ; last
appearance of, 30 1 ; long illness
and troubles of, 302 ; death of,
303 ; the Era's appreciation of
the genius of, 305

Waters, manager of King's Theatre,

Watts, Walter, romantic tragedy
of, 296

Weber, his Der Freischutz and
Oberon, 124 ; disappointment
of and death, 128

Westmacott, Molloy, thrashed by
Charles Kemble, 159 ; attacks
Madame Vestris, 170 ; 171 ; his
scurrilities, 174 ; 175 ; 176 ; 177

Wilson, Baron-, Mrs., her refer-
ences to Madame Vestris, 30 ;
32 ; 40 ; 42 ; 51

Winter, Peter von, his II Ratto di
Proserpina, 32 ; 33

Wrench at Covent Garden, 140 ;

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Online LibraryCharles E PearceMadame Vestris and her times → online text (page 24 of 24)