Thomas Shepherd Munden.

Memoirs of Joseph Shepherd Munden, comedian online

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found Mr. Dowton in a similar position. On
the secession of the two first-mentioned emi-
nent performers, he became the principal
comic actor at Covent Garden (Mr. Fawcett
was a later importation) and entitled to the
choice of characters, which usage had ren-
dered sacred, and which had been enforced, as
we have seen, in a manner disagreeable to
Munden. when he had been required to surren-


der the part of Silky, in the " Road to Ruin,"
after having studied it. Neither Mr. Quick,
Mr. Wilson, nor Mr. Dowton, so placed, would
have consented to play the part of Sir Simon

Good feeling- seems to have been restored
between the manager and the actor, by the
following letter, which, though bearing no
date, must, by its reference to the young Ro-
scius, have been written in 1804-5.

Theatre, Sunday.

I hear you have a large addition sent you for
the new comedy, however I depend on your good na-
ture and friendship that we shall not be disappointed of our
play for Wednesday. Your benefit will be on Tuesday the
14th May it is very late to be sure, but the benefits are un-
avoidably deferred this year on account of the Young Roscius,
and the unlucky delay of Mr. Colman's comedy ; but I trust
this will be of no injury to you or any body.

Ever truly yours,

Joseph Munden, Esq.

The following correspondence will best ex-
plain the new grievances that arose. The
draft of Munden's first letter is not to be

No. 1.

Treasury Office,

, January 9, 1811.

The Proprietors of Covent Garden Theatre, having taken
into consideration Mr. Munden's request of being allowed hi


salary from the commencement of the present season, to the
time when he was able to join the company, and to attend to
his theatrical duties they find that it would establish a
most dangerous precedent to grant Mr. Munden's request, as it
would break through a long established regulation in the the-
atre ; viz, "That no performer can receive any salary until
they* had either acted, or given notice of their readiness to do
so, when called upon." In fact the interests of the proprie-
tors have recently suffered most severely by the protracted
illness of performers, too frequently occasioned, not by their
professional exertions at Covent Garden Theatre (which they
should always think themselves bound to remunerate), but
brought on by their irregularities and over exertions elsewhere,
which it would be very bad policy to encourage.

The present situation of the concerns of the Theatre pre-
cludes the probability of the proprietors indulging in any ex-
traordinary act of liberality, for, without any reservation of
emolument to themselves, they are compelled to divide among
their numerous claimants the whole receipts of the theatre.
The proprietors therefore can only express a hope that the in-
creased size of the new theatre and the raised prices (which the
proprietors have effected entirely at their own risk, and which
Mr. Munden thought proper so loudly and unadvisedly to
condemn, during the distressing contest of last year) may now
enable him at his benefit, to retrieve the loss that he will sus-
tain this season.

No. 2.

No date probably July, 1811.

In the apprehension that, after a cool and dispassionate
review of Mr. .Munden's appeal for salary, during his cpnfine-
ment in the earlier part of this season, the managers of Covent
Garden Theatre would, before its close, yield him some satis-

* So in the original letter.


faction, he has thus long abstained from further pressing upon
their attention : but, having been disappointed in his expecta-
tion, he now begs to offer the following remarks on such his
appeal, and their reply.

Mr. Munden's claim for salary from the commencement of the
current season was founded on the following circumstances :
that, notwithstanding he was in a state of confirmed malady
at that time (which the managers may assure themselves was
not attributable to either of the causes alleged in their note,
but to the mere visitation of Providence), he hastened from
Liverpool to town, with no other view or inclination than to
perform his theatrical duties ; his anxieties to effect which
increased his complaint, and defeated the accomplishment of
his wishes.

Mr. Munden is avowed by the managers to be proscribed
their indulgence, only because his affliction originated before he
could join the company ; but he is desirous to impress on
their minds that he received numerous characters for study
before he was capable of such a junction ; and he appre-
hended himself so employed, as much in his professional duty,
constructively, as if he had given formal notice of his readiness
to perform; besides which, it must be in Mr. Kemble's re-
collection, that he kindly dissuaded Mr. Munden in more in-
stances than one from too early an attendance at the theatre.
He therefore asks, and still confidently trusts to receive a
more favourable answer from the managers than the one
already communicated.

The advantages hinted at by the managers' note as likely to
result to Mr. Munden from the increased size of the new theatre^
and the raised prices, he assures them have not been realized ;
as his benefit, owing to the advanced season at which it was
announced, proved more unproductive than it has been for a
series of preceding years ; and Mr. Munden conceives it hardly
fair that the managers should advert to raised prices, when, for
the chance of an advantage to result from them, he was made
an additional charge of forty pounds.


His late detention in town he also feels to be an extreme
evil, precluding, as it does, the power of making country en-
gagements, which are ever most profitable, and the opportunity
for which is yielded to some of his brother actors, but withheld
from him ; though it was stipulated in a private agreement
between Mr. Harris and himself that should any other
actor be permitted to leave the theatre before the close of
the theatrical season, Mr. Munden should enjoy the same

On the whole, Mr. Munden's emoluments and advantages
have been so reduced, during the current season, that the in-
come derived from his town engagement has proved insufficient
for the liberal * support of his family. He, therefore, should
his appeal be conceived irregular, solicits that he may be re-
lieved from his present articles, and possess the liberty to exer-
cise his talent to better advantage.

No. 3.

The causes assigned by Mr. Munden for his request to quit
the theatre are so frivolous, unfounded, and unreasonable, that
the proprietors have no doubt that Mr. M. has some more
profitable pursuit in view; they therefore do not hesitate to
comply with his desire.

Mr. Munden's expectation of being paid for the length of
time he was absent, being from the opening in September to
the 15th Dec. before he set his foot in the theatre this season,
is contrary to all justice, and to the unvarying rule of the
theatre. Mr. M. must be aware of the great loss, and incon-
venience sustained by the theatre, in consequence of his long
absence, and that a new piece, as well as several attractive
plays, were laid aside on that account.

* The copy of this letter is not in Munden's hand-writing ;
assuredly, this phrase was not his ; his general style was sim
pie and unostentatious.


Does Mr. Munden expect (at a time too when the pro-
prietors are so much pressed by their creditors) that they
should shut up their theatre in the midst of successful and
profitable business, in order to give Mr. M. an opportunity of
making a better engagement in the country ? Has not Mr.
M. received his salary at this theatre, although engaged and
performing at the Haymarket Theatre ?* Notwithstanding
Mr. M. did not commence his acting this season until the
29th Dec. he was paid from the 15th Dec., a fortnight before
he performed, and has cleared this season (including his
benefit) between 7 and 800/., a sum much greater than has
come to the share of the principal proprietors ; but Mr. M.
appears to have no feeling for any one's family but his own.
He says : " That his present emolument is not sufficient for the
liberal support of' his family, and desires to be relieved from his
present articles, and to possess the liberty to exercise his talent to
better advantage."

In reply, the proprietors acquaint Mr. Muriden that they
inclose him his articles cancelled, and as they shall not expect
Mr. M.'s assistance the next season, that they have made
their arrangements acordingly.

P.S. Mr. Munden has made an unaccountable mistake in
regard to the charge of his benefit, the truth being that he has
been charged no more this season, and the last, than he was
in the old theatre, and ever since he entered into his last
engagement, notwithstanding the late advance in the prices of
admission to the boxes. It is true that some years ago the
charge for benefits was 40/. less ; but Mr. Munden may recol-
lect that his salary was then much lower, and that when he
first came to the theatre he had but 61. per week, and that
since, his salary has been gradually raised to 171. per week.

* This could only have been from the 13th, when he made
his appearance at the Haymarket, until the 23rd, when Covent

Garden closed.

K 5


Yet Mr. Munden is still dissatisfied with the reward of his
talent, and thinks it insufficient "for the liberal support of his

Covent Garden Theatre,
July 25th 1811.

Upon this correspondence (the gravamen
of which was the sick clause*) we forbear
making- any remark, although, as Sir Roger
cle Coverley observes, " much might be said on
both sides." From that time forth Munden
never set his foot into Covent Garden Theatre,
except for a benefit. He engaged, as he had
done before, for the summer season at. the

* See Mr. Smith's letter to the editor of " The Monthly



Munden at the Haymarket The " Quadrupeds of Quedlin-
burgh" Lord Eldon's opinion of the Actors' Merits Act of
Parliament passed for rebuilding Drury Lane Our Actor's
great success in his provincial excursions Introduction to
Sir Walter Scott Mrs. Siddons' retirement from the Stage
Extraordinary honours paid to her Mr. Terry's appear-
ance at the Haymarket Opening of New Drury Lane.
Theatre under a sub-committee of management The Re-
jected Addresses The Drury Lane Company Munden's
engagement at Dniry Lane Bannister's mimicry, and its
unfortunate result.

MUNDEN came out at the Haymarket (July
13th) in " Old Dornton." Harry Dornton,
Mr. Elliston ; Sulky, Mr. Grove ; Silky, Mr.
Barnes ; Goldfinch, Mr. Jones ; Milford, Mr.
R. Jones ; the Widow Warren, Mrs. Grove ;
Sophia, Mrs. Barnes. Harry Dornton was
played by Elliston in his best manner. Mr.
Jones' volatile spirits and lively manners were
displayed to great advantage in Goldfinch ;
and Mrs. Barnes played Sophia with simplicity
and animation. " The Road to Ruin" was
repeated on the 17th ; on the 18th Munden


played in " The School for Authors." The
Lyceum, the rival house, boasted at this
period of a company in which were Mr.
Knight, Mr. Lovegrove, Mrs. Orger, and,
above all, Miss Kelly, who was then winning
her way towards that high rank in her pro-
fession which she afterwards attained. The
Haymarket partners continued to disagree.
Mr. Morris had objected to the engagement
of Mr. Elliston, at a salary of 40. per week,
and two clear benefits. He published an
appeal to the public, complaining that this
engagement, as well as Messrs. Munden and
Jones's, had been concluded without his
knowledge. He refused to pay the salaries ;
but offered Mr. Elliston 20L per week and
one benefit ; and Messrs. Munden and Jones
" such salaries as they can reasonably be
entitled to :" these offers were refused. Mr.
Colman appealed to the Court of Chancery,
and the difference being arranged, Messrs.
Colman and Winston published the following
advertisement on the 25th July.

" Messrs. Colman and Winston, most grateful for past pa-
" tronage, and solicitous to deserve its continuance by every
" effort in their power, are happy in announcing to the public
" that they have surmounted the great difficulties opposed to
" them by their partner, and effected the return of Messrs.
" Elliston, Jones, and Munden ; in consequence of which, this
" evening will be performed ' The Road to Ruin.' "

July 2fith was produced a tragico-comico-


angle - Germanico - hippo - dramatico romance,
in two acts, called " The Quadrupeds of
Quedlinburgh ; or The Rovers of Weimar,"
which, it was announced, had been " long in
preparation, and the public is respectfully
informed that every effort has been strained to
surpass nature !"

This piece was adapted, with alterations
and additions, from a dramatic sketch en-
titled " The Rovers," written by Mr. Can-
ning, and published several years previously,
in the " Anti-Jacobin." Mr. Canning's ob-
ject was to ridicule the prevailing taste for
German Dramas, with their sickly sentiment,
and undisguised immorality. Colman added
some introductory matter, and introduced
some smart hits at the quadruped performers
at Covent Garden.



Mr, Bartholomew Bathos, (an English dramatist
on the German model, and student in the
veterinary college) .... Mr. Elliston.

Manager of the Haymarket Theatre (a very

" poor gentleman") ". . + - - \ .... Eyre.

Call-boy (a go-between) . . . . . . . Minton,.


Duke of Saxe Weimar, (a sanguinary tyrant^

with red hair, and an amorous complexion) . Noble.


Rogero (prisoner in the Abbey of Quedlinburgh,

in love with Matilda Pottingen) . Mr. Listen,

Casimere (a Polish emigrant in Dombrowski's
legion, married to Cecilia, and having
several children by Matilda) . . . Munden.

Beefington and Puddingfield* (English noblemen
exiled by the tyranny of King John, pre-
viously to the signature of Magna
Cfiarta) . . by Mr. Shaw and Mr. Grove.

Doctor Pottingen (L.L.D.) .... Mr. Martin.

Waiter at Weimar (a knight templar in disguise) . Finn.

Monk with a firelock (a military ecclesiastic) . . Lewis.

Matilda Pottingen (in love with Rogero, and

mother to Casimere's children) . . Mrs. Glover.

Cecilia Muckinfield (a passenger in the dilly,

and wife to Casimere) .... Gibbs,

Dame Schiittenbruch (widow and landlady of the

inn at Weimar) ..... Grove.


Neddy Crantz (jackass to the wheel of the well

in the Abbey of Quedlinburgh) . by a new performer.
Female captive (a corpulent virgin) . . Miss Leserve.

Pantalowski and Britchinda, children of Matilda, by Casi-
mere ; Joachim, Jabal, and Amarantha, children of Matilda, by
Rogero ; children of Casimere and Cecilia, with their respec-
tive nurses; several children, fathers and mothers unknown.
Officers, soldiers of the light and heavy horse, grenadiers,
troubadours, monks, donkeys, &c. &c. &c.

# * # Pedigrees of the horses, when published, will be distri-
buted in the theatre.

The trio and chorus (in a stunning whisper) composed by
Mr. Reeve, by Mr. Munden, by Mr. Payne, Mr. Shaw, &c.

The following prologue was spoken by Mr.
Elliston :


To lull the soul by spurious strokes of art,

To warp the genius, and mislead the heart ;

To make mankind revere wives gone astray,*

Love pious sons who rob on the highway ;f

For this the foreign muses trod our stage,

Commanding German schools to be the 'rage.

Hail to such schools ! Oh, fine false feel ing, hail !

Thou badst non-natural nature to prevail ;

Through thee, soft super-sentiment arose,

Musk to the mind, like civet to the nose,

Till fainting taste (as invalids do wrong)

Snuff'd the sick perfume, and grew weakly strong.

Dear Johnny Bull ! you boast much resolution,

With, thanks to Heaven ! a glorious Constitution :

Your taste, recovered half from foreign quacks,

Takes airings, now, on English horses' backs ;

While every modern bard may raise his name,

If not on lasting praise, on stable fame.

Think that to Germans you have given no check,

Think how each actor hors'd has risk'd his neck ;

You 've shown them favour : Oh, then, once more show it

To this night's Anglo-German, Horse Play Poet ! J

The first act went off exceedingly well. A
scene, wherein Matilda Pottingen and Cecilia
Muckenfield meet, called forth loud bursts of

* Vide " The Stranger." -f " Lover's Vows."

The first twelve lines of this excellent parody on Pope's
prologue to Cato bear so close a resemblance to " New Mora-
lity," that I conceived them to be the composition of Mr.
Canning, until a reference to "The Anti-Jacobin" satisfied
me I was mistaken. Column's Muse seldom soars so high.



" The Hovers ; or, The Double Arrangement.'' 1

Scene represents a room at an inn, at Weimar. On one side of
the stage the bar-room, with jellies, lemons in nets, syllabubs,
and part of a cold roast fowl, Sfc. ; on the opposite side, a win-
dow looking into the street, through which persons (inhabi-
tants of Weimar) are seen passing to and fro in apparent
agitation. Matilda appears in a great-coat and riding habit,
seated at the corner of a dinner table, which is covered with a
clean huckaback cloth : plates and napkins, with buck's-horn
handled knives and forks, are laid on as if for four persons.

Matilda. Is it possible that I can have dinner sooner ?

Landlady. Madam, the Brunswick post-waggon has not
yet come in ; and the ordinary is never before two o'clock.

Matilda (with a look of disappointment, but immediately re-
composing herself). Well, then, I must have patience. (Exit
Landlady.} Oh, Casimere ! How often have the thoughts of
thee served to amuse these moments of expectation ! What a
difference, alas ! Dinner it is taken away as soon as over,
and we regret it not ! It returns again with the return of
appetite. The beef of to-morrow will succeed to the mutton
of to-day, as the mutton of to-day succeeded to the veal of
yesterday. But when once the heart has been occupied by a
beloved object, in vain would we attempt to supply the charm
by another. How easily are our desires transferred from one
dish to another ! Love only dear, delusive love restrains
our wandering appetites, and confines them to a particular
gratification !

(Post-horn blows. Re-enter Landlady.}

Landlady. Madam, the post-waggon is just come in, with
only a single gentlewoman.

Matilda. Then show her up, and let us have dinner in-


stantly (Landlady going) ; and remember (after a mo-
ment's hesitation, and with great earnestness) remember the
toasted cheese. (Exit Landlady.)

(Cecilia enters, in a brown riding dress, as if just alighted from
the post-waggon.)

Matilda. Madam, you seem to have had an unpleasant
journey, if I may judge from the dust on your riding habit.

Cecilia. The way was dusty, madam, but the weather was
delightful. It recalled to me those blissful moments when the
rays of desire first vibrated through my soul.

Matilda (aside.) Thank Heaven ! I have at last found a
heart which is in unison with my own. (To Cecilia.) Yes ;
I understand you. The first pulsation of sentiment : the silver
tones upon the yet unsounded harp.

Cecilia. The dawn of life when this blossom (putting
her hand to her heart) first expanded its petals to the pene-
trating dart of Love !

Matilda. Yes, the time the golden time when the first
beams of the morning meet and embrace one another ! The
blooming blue upon the yet unplucked plumb ?

Cecilia. Your countenance grows animated, my dear ma-

Matilda. And yours, too, is glowing with illumination.

Cecilia. I had long been looking for a congenial spirit !
My heart was withered, but the beams of yours have re-
kindled it.

Matilda. A sudden thought strikes me. Let us swear an
eternal friendship.

Cecilia. Let us agree to live together.

Matilda. Willingly. ( With rapidity and earnestness.)

Cecilia. Let us embrace. ( They embrace.)

Matilda. Yes ; I too have lov'd ! You, too, like me, have
been forsaken ! (Doubtingly, and as if with a desire to be in-

Cecilia. Too true !


Both. Ah, these men ! These men !

Landlady enters, and places a leg of mutton on the table, with
sour krout and pruin sauce ; then a small dish of black pud-
dings. Cecilia and Matilda appear to take no notice of her.
Matilda. Oh, Casimere !

Cecilia. Casimere ! That name ! Oh, my heart how it
is distracted with anxiety !

Matilda. Heavens ! Madam, you turn pale.
Cecilia. Nothing a slight megrim. With your leave, I
will retire.

Matilda. I will attend you. (Exeunt Matilda and Ce-

Casimere arrives soon after, and falls in
first with Matilda, and then with Cecilia.
Successive eclaircissemens take place, and an
arrangement is finally made, by which the two
ladies are to live jointly with Casimere. But,
tired at last of this " double arrangement,"
Casimere resolves to attempt Rogero's release,
and to make over Matilda to him as the price
of his rescue.

The following humorous song was written
by Mr. Canning ; and Liston (the captive
Rogero), holding a tattered handkerchief to
his eyes, sang it in so ludicrous a manner, that
the audience were convulsed with laughter:

Whene'er with haggard eyes I view
This dungeon that I'm rotting in,
I think of those companions true
Who studied with me at the U
niversity of Gottingen
niversity of Gottingen.


Weeps, and pulls out a blue 'kerchief, with which he wipes
his eyes ; gazing tenderly at it, he proceeds

Sweet 'kerchief, check'd with heav'nly blue,

Which once my love sat knotting in !
Alas ! Matilda then was true !

At least I thought so at the U '
niversity of Gottingen
niversity of Gottingen.

(At the repetition of this line Rogero clanks the chains in

Barbs ! barbs ! alas ! how swift you flew,

Her neat post-waggon trotting in !
Ye bore Matilda from my view.
Forlorn I languished at the U
niversity of Gottingen
niversity of Gottingen.

This faded form ! this pallid hue !

This blood my veins is clotting in.
My years are many they were few
When first I entered at the U
niversity of Gottingen
niversity of Gottingen.

There first for thee my passion grew,
Sweet ! sweet Matilda Pottingen !
Thou was't the daughter of my tu *
tor, law professor at the U
niversity of Gottingen
niversity of Gottingen.

Sun, moon, and thou, vain world, adieu,
That kings and priests are plotting in :
Here doom'd to starve on water-gru
el, never shall I see the U
niversity of Gottingen
niversity of Gottingen !


The latter part of this romance was less
successful. The force of the satire was not
always felt by a mixed audience. That scene
in " Pizarro," in which Rolla rescues Alonzo
from prison, was ridiculed in a manner too
plain to be misunderstood. Casimere (Mun-
den) releases Rogero (Liston), by getting into
the prison in the disguise of an apothecary,
and giving the sentinel (a monk with a fire-
lock) two seven shilling pieces. The idea was
instantly taken, and loudly applauded. The
romance concluded with a grand battle, in
which the last scene of " Timour the Tartar"
was imitated and burlesqued in the first style
of extravagance. Basket horses were seen on
the ramparts of a castle, and prancing about
in all directions. A battering-ram was intro-
duced, as in Timour; and with similar effect.

" The Quadrupeds of Quedlinburgh " was a
very humorous effort, and had a successful

The Haymarket proprietors continued to
play " The Road to Ruin," with " A Cure for
the Heart Ache," " She Stoops to Conquer,"
" The School for Scandal," " The Provoked
Husband," " Speed the Plough," " The Birth-
day," " The Poor Gentleman," &c. ; comedies
in which Munden filled a principal part, and
others in which Jones excelled. They per-
formed also both comedy and tragedy, in order


to display the varied talents of Elliston to
advantage. Mr. Holman and his daughter
were added to the company, and made a suc-
cessful debut (22nd August) in " Venice Pre-
served f Jaffier, Mr. Holman ; Pierre, Mr.
Elliston; Belvidera, Miss Holman. The sea-
son was so profitable, that the proprietors pro-

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