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

  “The god of Love, enraged to see
    The nymph defy his flame,
  Pronounced his merciless decree
    Against the haughty dame: 

  “’Let age with double speed o’ertake her,
    Let love the room of pride supply;
  And when the lovers all forsake her,
    A spotless virgin let her die.’”

Next, with the sound of this horrible warning ringing in our ears, Sir Charles steps forward to give the tag:  “If then [turning to Lady Easy] the unkindly thought of what I have been hereafter shou’d intrude upon thy growing quiet, let this reflection teach thee to be easy: 

  “Thy wrong, when greatest, most thy virtue prov’d;
  And from that virtue found, I blus’d and truly lov’d.”

So ends the comedy in a blaze of morality.  We almost see Sir Charles fitting on a pair of newly-made wings, as he prepares to float away to some better planet; but let him go, by all means.  We shall remain here and watch that fair sinner, Oldfield.

CHAPTER IV

MANAGERIAL WICKEDNESS

Of all the vested rights that mankind is heir to none is more sacred than the right of an actor to abuse his manager.  It is among the blessed privileges which help to make life cheerful and sunny, for, when all is said, what would be the joy of existence if we might not criticise those whom Providence has placed above us.  Even a king may be abused, behind his royal back, and so an humble manager shall not escape.

There was a manager of Oldfield’s day who surely did not escape, and that was Christopher Rich, Esquire, one of the patentees of Drury Lane Theatre, and sole director, as a rule, in the affairs of that Thespian temple.  Thespian temple, indeed!  What cared Mr. Rich for Thespis or for art?  He looked upon actors as a lot of cattle whose sole mission in life was to make him rich in pocket as well as in name, and who might, after the performance of that pious act, betake themselves to the Evil Gentleman for aught he cared.  Several modern managers have been equally appreciative, but it is a comfort to reflect that a portion of the fraternity are vast improvements on crusty Christopher, who was described by a contemporary as “an old snarling lawyer, master and sovereign; a waspish, ignorant pettifogger in law and poetry; one who understands poetry no more than algebra; he wou’d sooner have the Grace of God than do everybody justice."[A]

[Footnote A:  Gildon’s “Comparison Between the Two Stages.”]

This was the measly director in whose company Nance figured for a time, and for whom she must have had a profound if discreetly-concealed contempt.  Cibber, who seems to have keenly gauged the man, has left us an account of how Rich[A] treated his actors.  “He would laugh with them over a bottle and bite them in their bargains.  He kept them poor, that they might not be able to rebel; and sometimes merry, that they might not think of it.” 

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