During one of my last visits to Worsley Hall, Lord Ellesmere’s seat in Lancashire, Lady Ellesmere had taken me all over the beautiful church they were building near their house, which was to be his and her final resting-place. After her death I made a pilgrimage to it for her sake, and when the service was over and the young members of the family had left their place of worship near the grave of their parents, I went into their chapel, where a fine monument with his life-sized effigy in marble had been dedicated to him by her love, and where close beside it and below it lay the marble slab on which her name was inscribed.
Our performance at Bridgewater House was highly successful and created a great sensation, and we repeated it three times for the edification of the great gay world of London, sundry royal personages included. Two of our company, Mr. Craven and Mr. St. Aubin, were really good actors; the rest were of a tolerably decent inoffensiveness. Mrs. Bradshaw, the charming Maria Tree of earlier days, accepted the few lines that had to be spoken by Donna Sol’s duenna, and delivered the epilogue, which, besides being very graceful and playful, contains some lines for which I felt grateful to Lord Ellesmere’s kindness, though he had certainly taken a poet’s full license of embellishing his subject in his laudatory reference to his Donna Sol.
The whole thing amused me very much, and mixed up, as it soon came to be for me, with an element of real and serious interest, kept up the atmosphere of nervous excitement in which I was plunged from morning till night.
The play which Sheridan Knowles came to read to us was “The Hunchback.” He had already produced several successful dramas, of which the most striking was Virginius, in which Mr. Macready performed the Roman father so finely. The play Knowles now read to us had been originally taken by him to Drury Lane in the hope and expectation that Kean would accept the principal man’s part of Master Walter. Various difficulties and disagreements arising, however, about the piece, the author brought it to my father; and great was my emotion and delight in hearing him read it. From the first moment I felt sure that it would succeed greatly, and that I should be able to do justice to the part of the heroine, and I was anxious with my father for its production. The verdict of the Green Room was not, however, nearly as favorable as I had expected; and I was surprised to find that when the piece was read to the assembled company it was received with considerable misgiving as to its chance of success.