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The Old Actors (London Magazine, October, 1822)
by [?]

I do not know a more mortifying thing than to be conscious of a foregone delight, with a total oblivion of the person and manner which conveyed it. In dreams I often stretch and strain after the countenance of Edwin, whom I once saw in Peeping Tom. I cannot catch a feature of him. He is no more to me than Nokes or Pinkethman. Parsons, and still more Dodd, were near being lost to me, till I was refreshed with their portraits (fine treat) the other day at Mr. Mathews’s gallery at Highgate; which, with the exception of the Hogarth pictures, a few years since exhibited in Pall Mall, was the most delightful collection I ever gained admission to. There hang the players, in their single persons, and in grouped scenes, from the Restoration–Bettertons, Booths, Garricks, justifying the prejudices which we entertain for them–the Bracegirdles, the Mountforts, and the Oldfields, fresh as Cibber has described them–the Woffington (a true Hogarth) upon a couch, dallying and dangerous–the Screen Scene in Brinsley’s famous comedy, with Smith and Mrs. Abingdon, whom I have not seen, and the rest, whom having seen, I see still there. There is Henderson, unrivalled in Comus, whom I saw at second hand in the elder Harley–Harley, the rival of Holman, in Horatio–Holman, with the bright glittering teeth in Lothario, and the deep paviour’s sighs in Romeo–the jolliest person (“our son is fat”) of any Hamlet I have yet seen, with the most laudable attempts (for a personable man) at looking melancholy–and Pope, the abdicated monarch of tragedy and comedy, in Harry the Eighth and Lord Townley. There hang the two Aickins, brethren in mediocrity–Wroughton, who in Kitely seemed to have forgotten that in prouder days he had personated Alexander–the specious form of John Palmer, with the special effrontery of Bobby–Bensley, with the trumpet-tongue, and little Quick (the retired Dioclesian of Islington) with his squeak like a Bart’lemew fiddle. There are fixed, cold as in life, the immovable features of Moody, who, afraid of o’erstepping nature, sometimes stopped short of her–and the restless fidgetiness of Lewis, who, with no such fears, not seldom leaped o’ the other side. There hang Farren and Whitfield, and Burton and Phillimore, names of small account in those times, but which, remembered now, or casually recalled by the sight of an old play-bill, with their associated recordations, can “drown an eye unused to flow.” There too hangs (not far removed from them in death) the graceful plainness of the first Mrs. Pope, with a voice unstrung by age, but which, in her better days, must have competed with the silver tones of Barry himself, so enchanting in decay do I remember it–of all her lady parts exceeding herself in the Lady Quakeress (there earth touched heaven!) of O’Keefe, when she played it to the “merry cousin” of Lewis–and Mrs. Mattocks, the sensiblest of viragos–and Miss Pope, a gentlewoman ever, to the verge of ungentility, with Churchill’s compliment still burnishing upon her gay Honeycomb lips. There are the two Bannisters, and Sedgwick, and Kelly, and Dignum (Diggy), and the bygone features of Mrs. Ward, matchless in Lady Loverule; and the collective majesty of the whole Kemble family, and (Shakspeare’s woman) Dora Jordan; and, by her, two Antics, who in former and in latter days have chiefly beguiled us of our griefs; whose portraits we shall strive to recall, for the sympathy of those who may not have had the benefit of viewing the matchless Highgate Collection.


O for a “slip-shod muse,” to celebrate in numbers, loose and shambling as himself, the merits and the person of Mr. Richard Suett, comedian!

Richard, or rather Dicky Suett–for so in his lifetime he was best pleased to be called, and time hath ratified the appellation–lieth buried on the north side of the cemetery of Holy Paul, to whose service his nonage and tender years were set apart and dedicated. There are who do yet remember him at that period–his pipe clear and harmonious. He would often speak of his chorister days, when he was “cherub Dicky.”