The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 223 pages of information about The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield.

The still attractive Santlow (or rather Mrs. Booth) survived the tragedian, and her sorrow may have been assuaged by the remembrance that she was left the sole heir of her husband.  “I have considered my circumstances,” wrote Booth in his will, “and finding upon a strict examination that all I am now possessed of does not amount to two-thirds of the fortune my wife brought me on the day of our marriage, together with the yearly additions and advantages since arising from her laborious employment on the stage during twelve years past, I thought myself bound by honesty, honour, and gratitude due to her constant affection, not to give away any part of the remainder of her fortune at my death”; and with that eloquent stroke of the pen the testator cut off with nothing a sister and a brother whom he had sufficiently helped during his lifetime.

Surely so noble an actor deserves an epitaph.  Perhaps none could be more worthy than this estimate of the man, made by Aaron Hill:  “He had learning to understand perfectly whatever it was his part to speak, and judgment to know how far it agreed or disagreed with his character.  Hence arose a peculiar grace which was visible to every spectator, tho’ few were at the pains of examining into the cause of their pleasure.  He could soften, or slide over, with a kind of elegant negligence, the improprieties in a part he acted; while, on the contrary, he would dwell with energy upon the beauties, as if he exerted a latent spirit which had been kept back for such an occasion, that he might alarm, waken, and transport, to those places only, where the dignity of his own good sense could be supported with that of his author.”

If some players of to-day will take a lesson by this description, the judicious Booth need not have lived in vain.  His soul, like that of the late lamented John Brown, will go marching on.

CHAPTER XI

THE FADING OF A STAR

The life of Mistress Oldfield, like that of Barton Booth, was cast in pleasant places.  Yet the lady had her little agitations, and found them, no doubt, rather an incentive to existence than otherwise.  Take, for instance, the excitement surrounding the production, during the Drury Lane season of 1711-12, of Mrs. Centlivre’s play, “The Perplexed Lovers.”  To the lovely Nance was entrusted the duty of speaking the epilogue thereto, wherein Prince Eugene (at that time on a visit to England) and the Duke of Marlborough were lauded in the true spirit of ancient flunkeyism.  But the animosity which politics doth breed ran high, and the first night of the performance went by without the introduction of the eulogy.  Some patriots objected to the sentiments which it contained, and the managers were cautious.  As for Oldfield, she might have been cautious, too, and with reason, for she had received letters threatening her with dire pains and penalties if she spoke the offending words, but Anne stood ready to deliver them

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The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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