Delane, Dennis (DNB00)

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DELANE, DENNIS (d. 1750), actor, belonged to a good Irish family, and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. His first appearance as an actor took place about 1728 at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, then under the management of Elrington. Delane supported successfully a large round of characters in tragedy and comedy, his principal parts being Alexander in Lee's ‘Rival Queens’ and Young Bevil in the ‘Conscious Lovers’ of Steele. High terms were offered him by Giffard for London, and he opened at Goodman's Fields in 1730, assumably 24 Nov., as Chamont in the ‘Orphan.’ His success was conspicuous and immediate. During the four years in which he remained at Goodman's Fields he played in rapid succession Othello, Orestes, Oroonoko, Hotspur, Ghost in ‘Hamlet,’ Richard III, Brutus, Macbeth, Lear, Cato, and very many other rôles. On 25 Sept. 1735 he appeared as Alexander at Covent Garden, when he added to his repertory Antony, Lothario, Falstaff, King John, Jaffier, Richard II, Henry V, Volpone, Herod, &c. Six years later, 28 Dec. 1741, he is found playing Richard III at Drury Lane, where subsequently he took Comus, Shylock, Hamlet, Bajazet, Faulconbridge, Silvio in Fletcher's ‘Women Pleased,’ &c., and created the characters of Mahomet in James Miller's adaptation of Voltaire's tragedy (25 April 1744), Osmond in Thomson's ‘Tancred and Sigismunda’ (18 March 1745), and King Henry in Macklin's ‘King Henry the 7th, or the Popish Impostor’ (18 Jan. 1746). On 17 Oct. 1748 as Hotspur he returned to Covent Garden, where he remained until his death, which is mentioned in the ‘General Advertiser’ of 3 April 1750 as having taken place ‘on Saturday night,’ i.e. 29 March 1750. He returned frequently in the summer to Ireland, where he inherited a small paternal estate and was always well received. He was a well-built and a good-looking man, with some grace of motion, a good voice, and a pleasing address. According to Davies's ‘Life of Garrick’ (i. 27), ‘his attachment to the bottle prevented his rising to any degree of excellence.’ The same authority says ‘he excelled more in the well-bred men,’ in such characters, that is, as Bevil in the ‘Conscious Lovers’ and Manly in the ‘Provoked Husband,’ than in the heroic parts, ‘which pushed him into notice.’ Chetwood, speaking of Delane's later years, says he was ‘inclining more to the bulky’ (General History of the Stage, p. 131). In the ‘Apology for the Life of Mr. T——C——, Comedian,’ ascribed to Fielding (pp. 138–9), is an amusing comparison between Q—n and D–l–ne, in which it is said that admirers of both sexes gave the latter and younger artist preference over the elder. Quin is stated by Hitchcock to have behaved generously to Delane, drawn him forward, and divided with him the principal characters. Apart from the inherent improbability of this, Delane and Quin do not appear to have acted in the same theatre until both were near the end of their careers. Delane, who rose to a popularity he can scarcely have merited, was for a time patronised by Garrick, who was in the habit of walking arm-in-arm with him. During a visit to Edinburgh in 1748 Delane saw and admired Mrs. Ward, and recommended her to his old master Rich, by whom she was engaged. This was resented as disloyalty by Garrick, who thenceforward treated his former associate with coldness and disdain. Garrick was accustomed to mimic Delane in giving the famous simile of the boar and the sow in the ‘Rehearsal.’ Garrick's treatment was the cause of Delane's last migration to Covent Garden.

[Books cited; Genest's Account of the English Stage; Davies's Dramatic Miscellanies, 3 vols. 1783; Hitchcock's Historical View of the Irish Stage, 2 vols. 1788; Victor's History of the Theatres of London and Dublin, 3 vols. 1761.]

J. K.