Beazley, Samuel (DNB00)

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BEAZLEY, SAMUEL (1786–1851), architect and playwright, was born in 1786 in Parliament Street, Westminster, where his father carried on the business of an architect and surveyor, and died at his residence, Tunbridge Castle, Kent, on 12 Oct. 1851. When at school at Acton, a boy of twelve years old, he wrote a farce and constructed the stage upon which he and his comrades performed it. As a youth he volunteered for service in the Peninsula, and experienced many romantic adventures, which he was fond of relating in after-life to his friends. As an architect he enjoyed a considerable practice, especially in the construction of theatres, of which he certainly designed more than any other architect of his day. The Lyceum, St. James's, City of London, the Strand front of the Adelphi, and the colonnade of Drury Lane were among those erected by him in London, and he prepared drawing for two theatres in Dublin, two in Belgium, one in Brazil, and two in different parts of India. Without presenting much artistic attraction, his theatres possessed the merit of being well adapted to their purposes. He designed one or two country houses and some new buildings for the university of Bonn. His last most important works were erected for the South-Eastern Railway Company, and include their terminus at London Bridge, most of their stations on the North Kent line, and the Lord Warden Hotel and Pilot House at Dover. Like his theatres, they were always well suited to their purposes. He was a most prolific writer of dramatic pieces, of which upwards of one hundred are ascribed to his pen. They are chiefly farces and short comedies, showing considerable mechanical dexterity. Among the best known are: 'Five Hours at Brighton,' the first of the author's plays performed, 'The Boarding House,' 'Is he Jealous ?' an operetta in one act composed for Mr. Wrench, and first performed at the Theatre Royal English Opera House on 2 July 1816, 'Gretna Green,' 'The Steward,' 'Old Customs,' 'The Lottery Ticket,' 'My Uncle,' 'Bachelors' Wives,' 'Hints to Husbands,' 'Fire and Water,' and 'The Bull's Head,' He also wrote English versions of the operas of 'Robert the Devil,' 'The Queen of Cyprus,' and 'La Sonnambula,' which last is said to have been adapted by him to the pronunciation of Malibran, by being written in morning interviews with her at her bedside. He also wrote two novels, 'The Roué,' 1828, and 'The Oxonians,' 1830. These are cleverly constructed, but to modem taste they seem tedious and formal.

In private life Beazley was a pleasant companion, a good and witty causeur, some of his bonsmots being remembered and repeated to this day, such as his reply to a lady's inquiry why the rooks near her house made so much noise, that they had caws for conversation. He died suddenly of an apoplectic seizure in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

[Builder, 1851; Gent. Mag. 1829, 1851.]

G. W. B.