James C Dibdin.

The annals of the Edinburgh stage with an account of the rise and progress of dramatic writing in Scotland online

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was paying ^1000 rent. The Crown offered ^25,871, los. for the pro-
perty, being ^9000 less than it was estimated had been paid by the
proprietors to Jackson's estate. The proprietors, on the other hand,
wanted ;^49,6oo, in addition to 50 per cent, for the sale being a compulsory
one, making in all nearly _;^75,ooo. The feu-duty paid was ;^io, and the
insurance money at the time of closing £\o%. The actual sum accepted
by the proprietors was ;^30,ooo, with interest from May 26th 1859 to
time of paying. The entire space occupied by the building (without the
portico) was 9 1 2 square yards.



HE ruins of the Adelphi lay for a long time without any move
being made to rebuild the Theatre. At length a new building
was commenced, the design being by David Bryce. The
stage and auditorium were placed in the positions which they
still retain, thereby allowing much better means of egress. The new
house was seated as follows: — Stalls, 150; pit, 350; boxes, 300; upper
boxes and gallery, 1000. The stage was 58 feet long by 62 broad, and
at the proscenium 32 feet.

The new Theatre was let to James Black, a merchant in Leith, who
was a large shareholder in the building. Black had some years previous
to this made himself conspicuous in local dramatic circles by carrying on
and printing from time to time a correspondence with, in the first instance,
W. H. Murray, the manager; and, in the second place, James Spence,
W.S., secretary for the trustees of the Adelphi Theatre. The origin of
the correspondence was the non-fulfilment, on Murray's part, of the terms
of his lease of the Adelphi. It seems he was bound to play so many
nights a year in that building, and for many seasons he had failed to do
so. Spence, as secretary for the trustees and shareholders of the building,
should have seen that Murray kept to his contract ; but Black made out
a pretty good case against both him and Murray and showed that Spence
had deliberately " winked " at Murray's failure to implement his bargain.
When Wyndham got the Adelphi, there was no cause for complaint of any
kind, but Black seems all along to have nursed a secret belief that he
could — if he got the chance — make a far better job of managing a Theatre
than either Murray or Wyndham. When the Adelphi was rebuilt he
did get a chance, and conclusively showed by his complete failure soon

1 856-7. J The Annals of the Edinbtcrgh Stage. 471

after that something more is requisite for the successful management of
a theatre than self-conceit and dilettantism.

Black's first season* (1855-6) opened on December 19th, with the
" National Anthem," sung by Miss Cicely Nott and Miss Kate Saville,
after which Loves Sacrifice. The entertainments of the evening included
a violin solo by Master Charles Rossi.

On January ist Guy Mannering was put upon the stage. Henry
Bertram = W. H. Eburne; Dandie= Harker; Dominie = Cathcart; Gabriel
= Josephs ; Lucy = Miss Cicely Nott ; Meg Merrilees = Mrs Moorhouse.

On January 14th the pantomime Baron Munchausen was pro-
duced. Clown = Charles Le Clercq ; Harlequin = Arthur Le Clercq. An
important production was Tom Taylor's Still Waters Run Deep, on
January 23rd 1856, for the first time in Edinburgh. New scenery by
William Channing. John Mildmay = T. Mead ; Captain Hawksley =
Moorhouse; Dunbilk = Collier ; Mr Potter = Harker ; Gimlet = Everett ;
Jessop= Parker ; Mrs Mildmay = Miss Kate Saville ; Mrs Hector Stern-
hold = Miss Cleaver. Still Waters ran for six nights in succession, and
was frequently repeated during the season.

The season closed on April 22nd, and the house reopened for the
summer on the 30th of the same month, with Buckstone's King of the
Alps, for the first time in Edinburgh.

Mead took his first benefit at this house on May 19th, when he
played Ingomar in the play of that name. Miss Aitken, from the Theatre
Royal, Glasgow, made her appearance on June i6th, playing Juliet to
Mead's Romeo. On July 7th was produced Faust and Marguerite.
Mephistopheles = Mead ; Faust = Moorhouse ; Marguerite = Miss Kate
Saville ; Siebel = Lloyd, who was playing a sort of starring engagement.
This piece was played eleven successive nights. On July 21st Maritana
was produced by an opera company under the management of Henry
Corri. The season came to a close on October 20th with a benefit to
Black, the lessee.

The following winter season (1856-7) opened on November 5th.
Mead was no longer a member of the company, his place having been
taken by Swinbourne, who joined towards the close of the summer season
(1856). Miss Marriott, from Drury Lane, appeared in a round of leading
parts from November 24th to December 6th. Swinbourne left on

* The Theatre was now called " The Queen's Theatre and Opera House."

472 The Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. [1856-7.

December 20th, and on the 22nd the pantomine Puss in Boots was
brought out ; the scenery by Channing and music by R. B. Stewart.
Vandenhoff and his daughter paid a starring visit in January, extending
into February. It was announced as VandenhofTs farewell engagement
in Edinburgh ; but probably on account of the visit being a success, he
gave another series of farewell appearances a few weeks after.

The season came to a close on April i8th 1857, with Romeo and
fuliet. Mercutio = Mead (who had joined some time previously) ; Romeo
= Warden ; Juliet = Miss Kate Saville ; Nurse = Miss Cleaver.

The house again opened on May 2nd 1857. On June 5th Macbeth
was produced with great splendour. Macbeth = Mead ; Macduff = F.
Dewar ; Banquo= Robert Tindell ; Lady Macbeth = Miss Aitken. This
production was only played three times, and no doubt Black lost money
by it. On June 22nd Miss Cleaver took a farewell benefit before entering
upon an engagement at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. She played Lady
Constance in King John. King John= Mead.

Black's venture had proved a failure, notwithstanding the excellent
programmes and companies that he had provided. On June 26th 1857,
he announced his farewell benefit, when A Cure for the Heartache and
T lie Jacobite were played. So exit Black, a sadder, and perhaps a wiser,
but certainly a poorer man than when he entered upon a task for which
he proved himself unfitted.

The Government having determined to erect the General Post Office
on the site of the Theatre Royal, it behoved Wyndham to be ready
against the shortly to be expected warning to quit. The Queen's
was the only place for him to turn to, and as it now stood empty, the
proprietors were only too glad to get for their tenant the only one who
had proved himself worthy to stand in Murray's shoes.

A lease having been granted, Wyndham opened " The Queen's
Theatre and Opera House," on November 23rd 1857, with an occa-
sional address by himself and Mrs Wyndham ; The Love Chase following.

November 28th, Othello. Othello = Charles Verner ; Iago = Tom
Mead ; Montano= Irving ; Desdemona= Miss Henrietta Sims.

December 14th, Rob Roy. Rob = Verner; Bailie = Fisher ; Rash-
leigh= Irving ; Dougal = Gomersal ; Francis = Henry Haigh.

The pantomime St George and the Dragon was brought out on
December 21st.

February 26th, " for the benefit of Mr Vandenhoff^, and his last appear-

1858-9.] The Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. 473

ance in Edinburgh," Henry VIII. Wolsey = Vandenhoff; Earl of
Surrey = Irving. " At the end of the play Mr Vandenhoff will have the
honour of speaking a farewell address, when he will take his final leave of
the Edinburgh stage."

On the 19th April the season concluded with Mr and Mrs Wynd-
ham's benefit.

The summer season opened on June 23rd 1858, when no fewer than
twenty-three new artistes made their first appearances. Powrie and
Charles Verner each played for a few evenings, and the season closed
with a benefit to A. Younge, the manager, on July 27th.

The winter season opened on November 6th 1858.

On December 4th Toole was announced to commence his " farewell
engagement." There can scarcely be any doubt that this was one of his
little jokes! He played Joe in the Gipsy Farmer, it being his first ap-
pearance at this Theatre. The part of Luke Hatfield = Irving. The
pantomime this season was Tarn O'Shanter, and after January 29th
1859 no dramatic performances were given in this house until the old
Theatre Royal had closed its doors for ever, and the Patent had been
transferred to the junior house.

The first season of the Queen's under Royal letters patent opened
on June 25th 1859, when was played Everybody's Friend. Felix
Featherley = Wyndham ; Icebrook = George Fisher; Major Wellington
De Boots = George Smythson ; Mrs Featherley = Miss Sophie Miles;*
Mrs Major De Boots = Miss Nicol.

During this season Irving played in a great variety of parts. Light
comedy lead was his particular department, but he sustained many parts
in burlesque, heavy lead, low comedy, and walking gentleman — a com-
bination that Wyndham never again obtained in any single member of
his company.

July 7th, Heart of Midlothian. John, Duke of Argyle= Irving.
July 14th, Charles XII., in which Irving sustained the title role.
August 5th, Montague Williams, late of H.M. 41st Regiment, appeared
along with " that distinguished London amateur," " Tom Pierce, Esq. "
(F. C. Burnand), on the occasion of Miss Louise Keeley'st benefit. The
play was London Assurance. Charles Courdy = Montague Williams ; Sir
Harcourt Courtly = Ersser Jones ; Dazzle = Irving ; Adolphus Spanker =

• Afterwards married to George Fisher. t Mrs Montague Williams.

474 The Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. [1859-60.

E. D. Lyons ; Lady Gay Spanker = Mrs Wyndham ; Grace Harkaway =
Miss Louise Keeley. After which was played the comedietta Dearest
Elizabeth. Mr Lax = Tom Pierce, Esq. ; Betsy = Miss Louise Keeley.

August 6th, Guy Mannering. Dirk Hatterick= Irving. August
1 6th, Kenilworth, a comic operatic extravaganza, in which Miss Nicol
played Queen Elizabeth and Irving, Wayland Smith. August 22nd,
Hamlet. Hamlet = Charles Dillon ; Claudius = Irving.

On September 13th the playbills announced the " farewell benefit of
Mr Irving, previous to his departure for the Princess's Theatre, London."
The Lady of Lyons was played, with Irving as Claude and Miss Julia St
George as Pauline. Irving said a few words to his friends, after which
the performance closed with the farce Mother and Child are Doing

On November ist 1859, the Theatre opened with an Italian Opera
Company, which included the great Mdlle. Titiens. It performed for
four nights, and on the 5 th the dramatic season began with a performance
of Richard III. Gloster = Edmonstone Shirra ; Henry IV. = Charles
Cooke, a very good "heavy " actor from the Theatre Royal, Birmingham;
Buckingham = E. D. Lyons; Richmond = Wyndham ; Tressel = Alfred
Paget,* from the Theatre Royal, Bristol ; Lady Ann = Miss Sophie Miles;
Duchess of York = Miss N icol.

On November 28th, John Chester, who was engaged as principal
low comedian, made his appearance, playing Gregory in The Two
Gregories. He only played for a few nights, and on his leaving, his place
was filled by Fisher. The pantomime Babes in the Wood, produced
December 19th, was from Logan's pen, but it does not seem have taken.

June 4th i860, Charles Mathews made his first appearance here after
his return from America, where he had married Mrs Davenport,t whose
first appearance here was on June 4th, as Countess of Fresilian in The
Game of Speculation.

June i8th, last night of season and benefit of Mr and Mrs Wyndham,
when were played Soldiers Daughter and Rory O'More, in the latter of
which Wyndham made his first appearance in the part of Rory.

During the summer months the Theatre was open from June 23rd to
October 2 2 nd, and the winter season ( 1 8 60-6 1 ) commenced on N ovember 3rd.

* Was a son of Samuel Phelps. He was afterwards known in London as Edmund Phelps, and died in
Edinburgh, April 2nd 1870, aged 32.
+ February 1 858.

1860-62.] Tlie Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. 475

Miss Julia Day, an American actress, appeared for the first time in
Edinburgh on November 12th, the play being Our American Cousin.
The pantomime Jack the Giant Killer was produced on December 21st.
One scene, representing the exterior of King Arthur's Tavern, w^as
expressly painted by Sam Bough, A.R.S.A. The pantomime was from
the pen of H. J. Byron. King Arthur was played by Sam Johnson ; the
Giant =E. Saker, who had a splendid make-up for the part; Jack's
mother = R. Saker ; Jack = Miss Henrietta Watson ; Clown = Hildebrandt.

On the 1 8th February Wilkie Collins' Woman in fF/«V* v/as produced
with the following cast: — Sir Percival Clyde = Charles Cooke; Count
Fosco = Fitzjames ; F. Fairlie = Foote ; Laura = Miss Robberds ; Marian
Halcombe= Miss Agnes Markham. This piece was a great success, and
ran till March 2nd, when it had to be withdrawn to allow Mr and Mrs
Charles Kean to appear.

With the opening of the summer season on June 24th 1S61, occurred
one of the most important productions of Wyndham's management, namely.
The Colleen Bawn, which was then played for the first time in Edinburgh.
The cast was as follows ; — Myles = Wyndham ; Hardress = E. D. Lyons ;
Kyrle Daly = H untley ; Corrigan = Lewis ; Danny Mann = Charles Verner ;
Bertie 0'Moore = Fitzjames ; Hyland Creigh = Morton ; Father Tom =
D. Leeson ; Mrs Cregan = Mrs Hudson Kirby ; Ann Chute = Miss Sarah
Thorne ; Sheelah = Miss Eliza Terry; Kathleen Creagh = Miss S.
Davis; Eily = Mrs Margaret Eburne. It ran till July 27th, on which
evening Miss Lydia Thompson made her first appearance here, playing
Valentine in Magic Toys.

The Colleen Bawn was revived on February loth 1862, J. M.
Graham playing Danny Mann. It ran till the 21st, on which evening
was produced for the first time in Edinburgh The Octoroon. Scenery
by W. Gordon and Hart. Salem Scudder = Wyndham ; George
Peyton = C. Weston; Jacob M'Closkey = J. M. Graham; Wahnotee =
Ed. Saker ; Captain Ratts = C. Cooke ; Colonel Pointdexter = Courdy ;
Lafouche = R. Saker ; Picayune Paul = Miss S. Davis ; Pete = D, Leeson ;
the Clerk = Pillans ; Zoe = Mrs W. H. Eburne. Although a great success
the Octoroon did not take so well as the Colleen Bawn, and indeed the
latter drama was played along with the Octoroon for a number of
evenings towards the close of its run, so as to strengthen the
attraction. On March 15th the two plays were given for the last time.
On March 31st was produced for the first time in Edinburgh Edmund

476 The Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. [1862.

Falconer's sensational drama Peep Day. For this production several
special engagements were made ; including those of Miss Heath and Wilson
Barrett. This piece proved a great success, and ran till April 23rd.

The last nights of Miss Nicol's appearing in iDublic were during
May, on the 23rd of which month she took her farewell benefit, and
announced in the bills that she " offers her heartfelt thanks for the
kind favour bestowed on her during so many past years." She played
for her benefit Widow Warren in Road to Ruin, and Miss Durable in
Raising the Wind, and she spoke an address in company with some other
members of the company. May 31st was the last night of the season,
and was for the benefit of Mr and Mrs Wyndham. Miss Nicol appeared
on this evening for the last time on any stage, playing the Hostess in The
Honeymoon, and afterwards took her final farewell of her Edinburgh

Miss (Emma) Nicol's career was a most remarkable one; its first
connection with the stage is not on record, but it certainly dated back
almost to the time of her mother's first appearance in Edinburgh. She
was undoubtedly a member of the company in 18 12-13, so that when she
retired she had completed her stage jubilee. She had three sisters, all of
whom appeared on the stage at early ages. Chambers makes the mistake
of saying that Miss Nicol was the original Mattie in Rob Roy ; that part
was originally played at the Theatre Royal by Miss Stanfield, and Miss
Nicol was the Martha, a very small part; but in 1821 she appeared as
Mattie, and she played the same part before the King in 1822. In 1822 she
also played Madge Wildfire in The Heart of Midlothian, Maria in
Twelfth Night, Miss Neville in She Stoops, and many other good parts.
In 1823 she left Edinburgh, and did not reappear here till November 8th
1834, and was then described in the playbills as "from the Theatre
Royal, Drury Lane." She must have gained great experience during her
travels, for on returning to Edinburgh she immediately succeeded to
her mother's line of parts, which she continued to play till her retirement.
Miss Nicol was one of the last of the class of provincial actors (in Edin-
burgh, at any rate), who, having a comfortable home and engagement in
the country, were content to remain there in the full confidence and
respect of their managers, and regarded by the audience as friends.
There were many such throughout the country at one time ; but they
have all passed away, and the class is dead, never to be revived.

A proof of Miss Nicol's versatility is afforded by the success with

1862-65.] The Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. 477

which she adapted herself to the necessities of burlesque acting when such
pieces became popular. She was an old woman at the time, and yet in
many burlesque parts, notably Queen Elizabeth in Kenilworth, and
Dame Lucia in The Maid and the Magpie, she showed such extraordinary
humour and spirit, as to be pronounced not one whit inferior to Mrs
Selby, the original in these parts. After her retirement she removed to
London, where she died in November 1877.

Edward Saker rented the Theatre from Wyndham, and opened it for
an "after season" on June 7th 1862, with The Lady of the Lake. James
Fitzjames = Morton ; Roderick Dhu = Charles Cooke.

On April 19th 1863 the Pyne & Harrison Opera Company produced
for the first time The Lily of Killarney . Myles = W. Harrison ; Hardress
= George Perren ; Danny Mann = H. Corri ; Father Tom = J. G. Patey ;
Corrigan = J. Rouse; 0'Moore = Charles Lyall ; Ann Chute = Miss Thirl-
wall ; Mrs Cregan = Mrs Aynsley Cook ; Eily = Miss Louisa Pyne.

E. A. Sothern made his first appearance in Edinburgh on May 25th,
appearing in Our American Cousin.

On September 21st Mr and Mrs Dion Boucicault made their first
appearance, playing Myles and Eily in Colleen Bawn ; and on October
19th 1863, the season closed with the usual benefit to Mr and Mrs

About 3.45 on the afternoon of January 13th 1865, the gas man
belonging to the Theatre was employed lighting the "battens," when, as
was not uncommon as long as the old method of lighting by hand was in
use, the light on the end of the long pole came in contact with, and
ignited a sky piece or "border" that was suspended above. The gas
man as well as a carpenter immediately proceeded to cut down the burning
canvas ; but (through the knife of the latter slipping from his hand and
falling to the ground, it is said) before this had been effected, the flames
had caught hold of more than one piece of scenery, and in an incredibly
short space of time, notwithstanding the strenuous efforts of several other
men who rushed to help, the workmen not only had to retreat, but had
considerable difficulty in escaping from the building. The alarm was at
once given, but nothing could be done to save the Theatre, which, in less
than fifteen minutes, was a raging furnace. The firemen, who speedily
arrived, turned their attention to saving the adjoining property, St Mary's
Catholic Chapel principally attracting their attention, for the north gable
of the Theatre began to show unmistakable signs of bulging out. A

478 The Annals of tlie Edinburgh Stage. [1866.

large chimney stack that surmounted this wall bent over the roof of the
chapel, and almost without warning fell, crashing through slates, beams,
and everything. Several men were inside endeavouring to save such
moveables as they could ; but though a shout had gone up from those
outside for them to leave instantly, several had not had time to escape,
and were crushed under the fallen debris. Willing hands strove with
might and main to get at these poor creatures, in hopes they might still be
alive, Dean of Guild Lorimer in particular setting a splendid example to
those who had courage enough to follow him into the ruined building. In
a few minutes another cry arose that the whole north wall was falling, and
a rush was made by the rescuers ; Lorimer was striving to extricate a
poor fellow who was still alive, although jammed in with stones, and
remained a moment after the others had fled to complete the rescue, when,
with a noise like thunder, and a concussion that is said to have shaken the
ground, the wall fell into the chapel and killed both him and the man he
was trying to save. Wyndham (who was in London at the time) lost
considerably by the fire, and much sympathy was shown for the families
of those killed in the chapel. A subscription was set on foot for them,
and a benefit was given at the Princess's in their aid.

There was little delay in getting a new Theatre erected, for on
December 2nd 1865 the third building on the site (David M 'Gibbon,
architect) was opened by Wyndham, who was again lessee. An opening
address, from the pen of W. H. Logan, was spoken, after which the plays
of London Assurance and Aunt Charlotte s Maid were given. The prices
were 3s., 2s., is. 6d., is., and 6d. A pantomime, entitled Robin Hood,
from the pen of F, C. Burnand, was duly brought out ; and on March ist
Miss Siddons,* "great-granddaughter of the Mrs Siddons," was announced
to make her first appearance on the stage. She played Juliet to Henry
Vandenhoff's Romeo.

March 8th, Arrah-Na-Pogue was played for the first time in Edin-
burgh. M'Coul = Richard Saker ; Fanny Power = Miss Hunt ; O'Grady =
Powrie ; Shaun the Post = Wyndham ; Arrah = Miss Nelly Palmer; Major
Coffin = J. B. Howard.t It ran until April 14th. On August 27th 1866
Wyndham revived Rob Roy with much success ; the scenery and mountings
were all well got up, and the cast was strong. Rob Roy = J. B. Howard ;
Bailie = Campbell ; Rashleigh = Wyndham ; Dougal = E. Saker ; Helen

• Mrs Scott Siddons, now well known as a reader. | This was his first appearance in Edinburgh.

1866-69.] The Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. 479

= Mrs Wyndham ; Owen = Odell ; Galbraith = Anson ; Diana = Eva Stella.*
It ran till September 22nd, and was again put on in October, when Pillans
played the Bailie, t The pantomime 1866-7 ^"s^^ Little King Pippin, after
which no event of moment occurred until April 8th 1867, when J. B.
Howard 'took his benefit, and played Richelieu and John Mildmay (Still
Waters), both for the first time.

A new version of Guy Mannering was brought out by Wyndham on
July ist 1867. The alterations on the commonly played edition do not
seem to have been a success, at any rate they were criticised pretty
severely in the public press. Dominie Sampson = Odell ; Dandie =
Pillans; Meg Merrilees= Mrs Wyndham; Dirk Hatterick = J. B. Howard;
Lucy Bertram = Helen Kirk. \x. ran till July 27th ; and on the 29th Rob
Roy was again revived, with Diana = Helen Kirk; and Helen = Miss
Marie Billings ; the other parts being cast almost the same as during the
previous year. The Scotsman, speaking of Howard's Rob Roy, said : —
" From the first careful, painstaking, and hardworking, Mr Howard has
made wonderful progress and improvement, and presents a capital Rob
Roy, which bids fair to become one of the best on the stage."

The first of T. W. Robertson's plays performed in Edinburgh was
Oiirs on September 9th 1867, J. Clarke playing in his original part
of Hugh Chalcot, it being his first appearance here. Mrs Atkins was
Lady Shendryn ; Miss Sydney Cowell, Blanche Heye ; Miss Margaret
Young, Mary Nedey ; J. B. Howard, Angus M'Allister.

September 20th, Caste. Eccles = J. Clarke.

November 23rd, the Flying Scud, a silly play by Boucicault, which
ran till the production of the pantomime on December 21st. J. B.
Howard played Louis XL for the first time, at his benefit on April 27th

During the summer of 1869 Messrs H. J. Loveday (musical director),
J. B. Howard, and Fred. Dowland rented the Theatre from Wyndham
for a short season; and on July 15th " the farewell benefit and last appear-
ance but two of J. B. Howard, previous to his departure for Drury Lane."

The Haymarket company, under Buckstone, made their first visit
here on September 6th 1869. Compton, Kendal, Chippendale, Howe,
Buckstone junr., Mrs Chippendale, Miss Caroline Hill, Miss Madge
Robertson, Miss Fanny Gwynne, were all in the company.

Online LibraryJames C DibdinThe annals of the Edinburgh stage with an account of the rise and progress of dramatic writing in Scotland → online text (page 49 of 53)