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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


North Bridge.] MR. AND MRS. WYNDHAM. 351 who was present can ever forget. Scott, it may be remarked, was sensible to various impulses which are utterly blank to other men. There were associations about Mr. Murray and his sister as ? come of Scotland?s gentle bluid? and the grandchildren of a man prominent in the Forty-five which helped not a little to give him that strong and peculiar interest in the Theatre Royal, which he constantly displayed from 1809 downwards.? The association here refeAed to was the circumstance that Mrs. Henry Siddons and her brother were the grandchildren of John Murray of Broughton, who was secretary to Prince Charles Edward, and gained a somewhat unenviable notoriety by turning king?s evidence against Lord Lovat and others, when he was taken prisoner subsequent to the battle of Culloden. Mrs. Henry Siddons? twenty-one years of the patent ended in 1830; but her completion of twenty-one annual payments of L2,ooo to the representatives of Mr. John Jackson made her sole proprietor of the house; and on the 29th of March she took farewell of the Edinburgh stage, in the character of Lady Townley in the Prmuked Husband, and retired, into private life, carrying with her, as we are told, ?the good wishes of all in Edinburgh, for they had recognised in her not merely the accomplished actress, but the good mother, the refined lady, and the irreproachable member of society.? Her brother, Mr, Murray, obtaining a renewal of the patent, leased the house from her for twentyone ye?ars; but, save Rob Roy and Gzry Manner- &, the day of the Waverley dramas was past, yet to him the speculation did not prove an unsuccessful one; and the supernumerary house, the Adelphi in Leith Walk, was alike a rival, and a dead weight on his hands, till, on the expiring of his lease, he retired, in the zenith of his favour with the Edinburgh public, in 1851, and with a moderate competency, withdrew to St. Andrews, where he died not long after. After being let for a brief period to Mr. Lloyd the comedian, Mr. Rollinson, and Mr. Leslie, all of whom failed to make the speculation a paying one, it passed into the management of its last lessees, Mr. and Mrs. R. H. Wyndham, the greatest favourites, as managers, and in public and private life, that the Royal had ever possessed, not even excepting Mrs. Henry Siddons. Mr. Wyndham, a gentleman by education and position, who adopted the stage by taste as a profession, came to Edinburgh, about 1845, as a member of Mr. Murray?s company, to support Miss Helen Faucit, and after being in management at , * the Adelphi, he obtained that of the Royal in succession to Messrs. Rollinson and Leslie, and, as managed by him and Mrs. Wyndham, it speedily attained the rank and character of one of the best-conducted theatres in the three kingdoms. The former, always brilliant in light or genteel comedy, was equally pleasing and powerful in his favourite delineations of Irish character, while Mrs. Wyndham was ever most touching and pathetic in all tender, wifely, and motherly parts, and could take with equal ease and excellence Peg Woffington or Mrs. Haller, Widow Smilie or Lady Macbeth. Under their rkiime, the scenery and properties attained a pitch of artistic excellence of which their predecessors could have had not the slightest conception; and some of the Waverley dramas were set upon the stage with a magnificence and correctness never before attempted. While pleasing the public with a constant variety, these, the last lessees of this famous old theatre, did much for the intellectual enlightenment of Edinburgh by producing upon their boards all the leading members of the profession from London, and also giving the citizens the full benefit of Italian opera almost yearly. Kean and Robson, Helen Faucit, old Paul Bedford in conjunction with Wright, and latterly J. L. Toole, the unfortunate Gustavus V. Brooke, Madame Celeste, Alfred Wigan, Mrs. Stirling, Sothern, Mesdames Ristori and Titiens, Mario and Giuglini, and all the most famous artistes in every branch of the modern drama, actors and singers, were introduced to the Edinburgh public again and again ; and, though last, not least in stature, Sir William Don, of Newton-Don, ? the eccentric Baronet.? In recognition of these services, and their own worth, a magnificent service of plate was presented to them in 1869. It was unquestionably under Mr. Wyndham?s management that the Edinburgh stage was first raised to a perfect level with the stages of London and Dublin, and it was under his auspices that both Toole the comedian and Irving the tragedian first made a name an the boards. The acquisition of the site occupied by the old theatre by the Government for the sum of A5000 for the erection of a new General Post Office thereon, though the latter had long been most necessary, and the former was far from being an ornament to the city, was a source of some excitement, and of much regret to all old playgoers; and when the night came t k t the curtain of fate was to close upon it, after a chequered course of niriety years,
Volume 2 Page 351
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