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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 149 At last chance brought about that which his own fame and the strong recommendations of men of genius and nobles could not effect. Mr. Colmaa having purchased the patent for acting plays at the Haymarket from Mr. Foote, and fearing that the infirmities of that gentleman might incapacitate him from furnishing his quota of public entertainment in writing and acting, engaged Henderson to supply his place occasionally, at a salary of one hundred pounds for the season, which was eagerly accepted. He opened in Shylock, and, after appearing in one or two other parts, his success was complete. All the world ran to the Haymarket to witness his performances, and a considerable sum was realised by the manager, who, though no stipulation had been made to that effect, gave him a free benefit. Messrs. Harris and Leake, of Covent Garden theatre, insinuated that Henderson was not fit for the t'opping parts, but was only equal to a second or third rate character, and still withheld from engaging him ; but Sheridan, who had seen him act, Hamlet twice, was not to be swayed by their dictum, and, on his own responsibility, enrolled him as a member of the corps of Drury Lane for the ensuing winter season. His salary was fked at 310 per week, and Mr. Sheridan at the same time undertook to pay the forfeiture of articles to Palmer, the Bath manager, amounting to 3300, which was done by Sheridan giving Palmer the liberty of performing The School for Scandal. Nothing was now wanting but the countenance of Mr. Garrick ; but he, to use his own words, '' could not think of having any connection with a man who had ridiculed him by mimicry, and had exposed and laughed at his letters." The latter charge Henderson always denied. On the conclusion of the season, Henderson took a trip to Ireland, by which movement his purse and reputation were considerably increased. On his return to England, he espoused a lady bearing the Cockney plebeian name of Figgins, at her native place, Chippenham, Somersetshire, on the 13th January 1779. He again visited Ireland during the summer of that year, and in consequence of some disagreement between him and Mr. Sheridan, transferred his services to Covent Garden during the winter. It was during this engagement that he performed Macbeth for the first time. The summer of 1780 he passed at Liverpool, and returned to Covent Garden in the winter, when he appeared in the characters of WoEsey, Sir Jolm Bwte, and Iago; there is an engraving of him in the last character by Bartolozzi, which is rather scarce. In the summer of 1781 he was without an engagement; 1782, he played at Liverpool; and in November 1783, appeared as Tamerlane to Mr. Kemble's Bajazet. On Saturday, 31st July 1784, he made his first appearance on the Scottish stage at Edinburgh, in the character of Handet. The following is a notice of his performance of that character :-" On Saturday evening Mr. Henderson made his first appearance in this theatre, in the character of Handd, to a very genteel audience. The house was full, but not crowded. This gentleman is undoubtedly the most correct actor at present on the stage. His deportment is easy and unaffected ; his voice, when not carried too high, pleasing and comprehensive ; and his action is the result of good sense, taste, and a perfect know
Volume 8 Page 211
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Volume 8 Page 212
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