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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
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 205 ter of Martia, in Crisp's tragedy of Virginia ;l and, before the end of the season, she performed, with applause, the difficult part of Jane Shore, with Mr. Garrick, Mrs. Cibber, and Mr. Mossop in the other principal characters. From this period Mrs. Yates continued to rise in public estimation, taking her place in the " shining constellation " which then " illuminated the dramatic hemisphere ;" and one of the highest gratifications arising from her success was the means which it afforded her of effectually administering to the wants of her unfortunate father, for whom she made ample provision, and kindly cherished him in his declining years. Her talents were not less versatile than they were uncommon. Limited to no particular line of acting, she appeared with approbation in above ninety characters, many of them the very opposite af each other. In the sublime of tragedy, in elegant or simple comedy, she was equally meritorious and true to nature. '' Great in all," is the words of a contemporaneous notice, " we have seen her, with the same unerring pencil, delineate the haughty, injured, vindictive Margaret of Anjou ; and the patient, uncomplaining, penitent, suffering Shore : the cruel, ambitious, murderous Lady Macbeth, exciting her husband to crimes at which humanity shudders; and the generous, exalted, patriotic Louisa, mildly persuasive-the wife, the mother, and the queen-urging her irresolute Eraganza to mount, by the paths of rectitude and honour, the hereditary throne, of which his ancestors had been unjustly deprived, and defying, in the hour of danger, the swora of the assassin, with that steady heroism which is the companion of conscious virtue ; the tenderly maternal Andromache, Mandone, Zapphira, Thanyris, Lady Randolph : the raving Constance, in the delirium of affliction, lamenting her pretty A~thu;r a nd the despairing Horatia, uttering pretended execrations of her country ; and provoking, with dissembled fury, the dagger of her triumphant brother ; have seen her paint, in the same vivid colours, the lofty Medea-the sublime, wildly-impassioned, commanding daughter of the Sun-and the gentle, artless, bashful Viola, Eut let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek.' " ' Who never told her love, In comedy she played a variety of characters. Her Lady Townly was peculiarly admirable, having no equal in this character save Mrs. Woffington-an actress of similar beauty, figure, and accomplishments. The private character of Mrs. Yates is said to have been virtuous and exemplary. Mr. Yates, to whom she was married, was an actor of some eminence in Drury Lane when they became acquainted. Their summer residence was for many years at Mortlake, on the Thames. Here the poor experienced the generosity of her disposition to an extent which long endeared her memory. Though accustomed to the highest circles, possessed of a fortune realised by her own 1 This Tragedy, from the pen of Fbbert Jephson, Esq., M.P. f d the borough of Old Leighlin in the Irish Parliament, a dramatic author of the last century, was, on its original appearance, very successful, but fell into neglect after the first season. Jephsoo waa a vigorous and spirited writer, and his dramas are in general well constructed. He died May 31, 1803. It was printed in 8vo. 1775.
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