Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


204 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. MRS. YATES was an actress of the first class, and had few superiorsnot excepting the great Mrs. Siddons herself. Her performances in Edinburgh, at the period to which the Print refers, 1785, were paid at the rate of one hundred guineas each night. Though not her first visit to the Scottish capita1,l and at the time pretty far advanced in years, her talents were such as to ensure crowded houses. The tragedy of Braganza' was performed the first and second nights of her engagement. " It must give pleasure," says a newspaper notice of the day, "to all lovers of the drama, to perceive that this justly celebrated actress still pos'sesses, in a high degree, those powers which made her so distinguished a favourite of the public. The tragedy of Braganza is esteemed among the best of our modern plays. The story is well chosen-the situation interesting- and the language pure, nervous, and classical. The scene between Velasquez and the Monk, in the third act, is perhaps equal to any on the stage. Mr. Woods was everything the author or audience could wish for in Velasquez. Mr. Clinch and Mr, Ward were spirited and respectable in the characters of Don Juan and Ribero." During her stay Mrs. Yates played Lady Macbeth ; Jane Shore ; Margaret of Anjoa,'in the Earl of Warwick; Portia, in the merchant of Venice; Lady Townly ; Medea ; Zulima, in the Prince of Tunis ; and Lady Randolph. Her performance in the last of these characters was thus announced in the bills of tlie day :- " BY PARTICULAR DESIRE. Mrs. Yaks has deferred her journey to England for one day, in order to have an opportunity of performing the part of Lady Randolph, being expressly her last ffi;yearance in Scotland this season." Mr. Powell of Covent Garden enacted the part of Douglas. Mrs. Yates was born in London, but her parents were from Scotland. By the death of her mother, she was left at a tender age under the sole guardianship of her father, who was a sea-captain, and at one period in affluent circumstances. Unremitting in his parental care, the education of his daughter was prosecuted to advantage ; and no accomplishment within his means was withheld ; but her adoption of the stage was probably more the result of unforeseen occurrences than premeditated choice. Her father-depressed by the loss of all his children save herself, and overwhelmed by a sudden reverse of fortune-was at last still more severly afflicted by the total loss of sight. Thns urged by the ruin in which a respected parent was involved ; and possessed of surpassing beauty-a full, clear, and mellifluous voice-a tall and commanding figure, together with a well cultivated taste and judgment-the young debutante found little difficulty in obtaining an opportunity of appearing before a London audience. She iiiade her first attempt at Drury Lane, in the charac- Both Mr. and Mrs. Yates were in Edinburgh while Digges had the Theatre. a Printed in 1754, London, 8vo. he held a situation in the Custom-House. Of the author, Henry Crisp, nothing is known, except that
Volume 9 Page 274
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print