Terry, Daniel (DNB00)
|←Terrot, Charles Hughes||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 56
TERRY, DANIEL (1780?–1829), actor and playwright, was born in Bath about 1780, and was educated at the Bath grammar school and subsequently at a private school at Wingfield (? Winkfield), Wiltshire, under the Rev. Edward Spencer. During five years he was a pupil of Samuel Wyatt, the architect [see under Wyatt, James]; but, having first played at Bath Heartwell in the ‘Prize,’ Terry left him to join in 1803 or 1805 the company at Sheffield under the management of the elder Macready. His first appearance was as Tressel in ‘Richard III,’ and was followed by other parts, as Cromwell in ‘Henry VIII’ and Edmund in ‘Lear.’ Towards the close of 1805 he joined Stephen Kemble [q. v.] in the north of England. On the breaking up in 1806 of Kemble's company, he went to Liverpool and made a success which recommended him to Henry Siddons [q. v.], who brought him out in Edinburgh, 29 Nov. 1809, as Bertrand in Dimond's ‘Foundling of the Forest.’ At that period his figure is said to have been well formed and graceful, his countenance powerfully expressive, and his voice strong, full, and clear, though not melodious. He is also credited with stage knowledge, energy, and propriety of action, good judgment, and an active mind. On 12 Dec. he was Antigonus in the ‘Winter's Tale,’ on 8 Jan. 1810 Prospero, and on the 29th Argyle in Joanna Baillie's ‘Family Legend.’ Scott, à propos of this impersonation, wrote: ‘A Mr. Terry, who promises to be a fine performer, went through the part of the old earl with great taste and effect.’ Scott also contributed a prologue which Terry spoke. On 22 Nov. Terry played Falstaff in ‘Henry IV.’ On 15 Jan. 1811 he was the first Roderick Dhu in ‘The Lady of the Lake,’ adapted by Edmund John Eyre; on 6 March he played Polonius; on the 18th repeated Roderick Dhu in the ‘Knight of Snowdoun,’ a second version, by T. Morton, of the ‘Lady of the Lake,’ not much more prosperous than the former; and was, for his benefit, on the 23rd, Falstaff in the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor.’ He was Lord Ogleby in the ‘Clandestine Marriage,’ 18 Nov.
In this part Terry made his first appearance in London at the Haymarket, 20 May 1812, playing during the season Shylock, Job Thornberry, Sir Anthony Absolute, Major Sturgeon in the ‘Major of Garratt,’ Dr. Pangloss in the ‘Heir at Law,’ Don Cæsar in ‘A Bold Stroke for a Husband,’ Megrim in ‘Blue Devils,’ Harmony in ‘Everyone has his Fault,’ Sir Edward Mortimer in the ‘Iron Chest,’ Leon in ‘Rule a Wife and have a Wife,’ Gradus in ‘Who's the Dupe?’ Romaldi in the ‘Tale of Mystery,’ Barford in ‘Who wants a Guinea?’ Selico in the ‘Africans,’ Heartall in ‘Soldier's Daughter,’ Bustleton in ‘Manager in Distress,’ Octavian, and Iago—a remarkable list for a first season. He created some original characters in unimportant plays, the only part calling for notice being Count Salerno in Eyre's ‘Look at Home,’ 15 Aug. 1812, founded on Moore's ‘Zeluco.’ He was announced to reopen, 14 Nov., the Edinburgh theatre as Lord Ogleby, but was ill and did not appear until the 23rd, and on the 24th he played Shylock. He was, 23 Dec., the first Lord Archibald in ‘Caledonia, or the Thistle and the Rose.’
On 8 Sept. 1813, as Leon in ‘Rule a Wife and have a Wife,’ Terry made his first appearance at Covent Garden, where, except for frequent migrations to Edinburgh and summer seasons at the Haymarket, he remained until 1822. Among the parts he played in his first season were Sir Robert Bramble in the ‘Poor Gentleman,’ Dornton in the ‘Road to Ruin,’ Ford, Sir Adam Contest in the ‘Wedding Day,’ Ventidius in ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ Shylock, Churlton, an original part in Kenney's ‘Debtor and Creditor,’ 26 April 1814, and Sir Oliver in ‘School for Scandal.’ Other characters in which he was early seen at Covent Garden included Marrall in ‘A New Way to pay Old Debts,’ Stukeley in the ‘Gamester,’ Sir Solomon Cynic in the ‘Will,’ Philotas in ‘Grecian Daughter,’ and Angelo in ‘Measure for Measure.’ On 12 March 1816 ‘Guy Mannering,’ a musical adaptation by Terry of Scott's novel, was seen for the first time. This appears to have been the first of Terry's adaptations from Scott. At the Haymarket he was seen as Periwinkle in ‘Bold Stroke for a Wife,’ Hardcastle, Hotspur, Sir George Thunder, Sir Pertinax McSycophant, Sir Fretful Plagiary, Eustace de Saint-Pierre, Lord Scratch in the ‘Dramatist,’ and very many other parts. In 1815, meanwhile, he had, by permission of the Covent Garden management, supported Mrs. Siddons in her farewell engagement in Edinburgh, where he played Macbeth, ‘The Stranger’ [sic] in ‘Douglas,’ Wolsey, King John, and the Earl of Warwick. Back at Covent Garden, he was, 7 Oct. 1816, the original Colonel Rigolio in Dimond's ‘Broken Sword,’ and on 12 Nov. the original Governor of Surinam in Morton's ‘Slave.’ On 2 Oct. 1817 his acting of Frederick William, king of Prussia, in Abbott's ‘Youthful Days of Frederick the Great,’ raised his reputation to the highest point it attained, and on 22 April 1818 he was the first Salerno in Shiel's ‘Bellamira.’ In Jameson's ‘Nine Points of the Law’ he was at the Haymarket, 17 July, Mr. Precise, and in the ‘Green Man,’ 15 Aug., exhibited what was called a perfect piece of acting as Mr. Green. At Covent Garden he was, 17 April 1819, the first David Deans in his own adaptation, ‘The Heart of Midlothian;’ played Sir Sampson Legend in ‘Love for Love,’ Buckingham in ‘Richard III,’ Prospero, Sir Amias Paulet in ‘Mary Stuart’ (adapted from Schiller), 14 Dec. 1819, Lord Glenallan, and afterwards was announced for Jonathan Oldbuck in his own and Pocock's adaptation, ‘The Antiquary,’ 25 Jan. 1820. Illness seems to have prevented his playing Oldbuck, which was assigned to Liston. On 17 May he was the first Dentatus in Sheridan Knowles's ‘Virginius.’ At the Haymarket during the summer seasons Terry played a great round of comic characters, including Hardy in the ‘Belle's Stratagem,’ Old Mirabel in ‘Wine does Wonders’ (a compressed version of the ‘Inconstant’), Peachum in ‘Beggar's Opera,’ Falstaff in ‘Henry IV,’ pt. i., Old Hardcastle, Sir Peter Teazle, Dr. Pangloss, Polonius, Lear, Sir Anthony Absolute, Pierre in ‘Venice Preserved,’ and Rob Roy. Among many original parts in pieces by Kenney, J. Dibdin, and others, Terry was Sir Christopher Cranberry in ‘Exchange no Robbery,’ by his friend Theodore Hook, 12 Aug. 1820; the Prince in ‘Match Breaking,’ 20 Aug. 1821; and Shark in ‘Morning, Noon, and Night,’ 9 Sept. 1822.
Having quarrelled with the management of Covent Garden on a question of terms, Terry made his first appearance at Drury Lane, 16 Oct. 1822, speaking an occasional address by Colman and playing Sir Peter. He afterwards acted Crabtree, John Dory in ‘Wild Oats,’ Cassio, Belarius in ‘Cymbeline,’ Kent in ‘Lear,’ Dougal in ‘Rob Roy,’ Solomon in the ‘Stranger,’ and Grumio, and was, 4 Jan. 1823, the first Simpson in Poole's ‘Simpson & Co.’ At the Haymarket, 7 July, he was the first Admiral Franklin in Kenney's ‘Sweethearts and Wives,’ and on 27 Sept. the first Dr. Primrose in a new adaptation by T. Dibdin of the ‘Vicar of Wakefield.’ The season 1823–4 at Drury Lane saw him as Bartolo in ‘Fazio,’ Lord Sands, Menenius in ‘Coriolanus,’ and as the first Antony Foster in a version of ‘Kenilworth,’ 5 Jan. 1824, and the following season as Orozembo in ‘Pizarro,’ Justice Woodcock in ‘Love in a Village,’ Adam in ‘As you like it,’ Moustache in ‘Henri Quatre,’ Hubert in ‘King John,’ and Rochfort in an alteration of the ‘Fatal Dowry.’ Among his original rôles were Zamet in ‘Massaniello,’ 17 Feb. 1825, and Mephistopheles in ‘Faustus,’ 16 May, the last one of his best parts. In 1825, in association with his friend Frederick Henry Yates [q. v.], he became manager of the Adelphi, opening, 10 Oct., in a piece called ‘Killigrew.’ On the 31st was produced Fitzball's successful adaptation, ‘The Pilot,’ in which Terry was the Pilot. He also appeared in other parts.
Terry's financial affairs had meanwhile become so involved that he was obliged to retire from management. Under the strain of the collapse which followed, Terry's powers, mental and physical, gave way. After leaving the Adelphi he temporarily retired to the continent, and then re-engaged at Drury Lane and played Polonius and Simpson. Finding himself unable to act, and his memory quite gone, he threw up his engagement. On 12 June 1829 he was struck with paralysis, and died during the month. Having previously married in Liverpool, Terry espoused as his second wife Elizabeth Nasmyth, the daughter of Alexander Nasmyth [q. v.] the painter. Mrs. Terry—who, after Terry's death, married Charles Richardson [q. v.] the lexicographer—had great taste in design, and seems to have taken some share in the decoration of Abbotsford. Terry left by her a son named after Scott (Walter), after whose fortunes Scott promised to look, and a daughter Jane.
Terry, who was almost as well known in Edinburgh as in London, was highly respected in both places. Sir Walter Scott, who extended to him a large amount of friendship, thought highly of his acting in tragedy, comedy, pantomime, and farce, and said that he could act everything except lovers, fine gentlemen, and operatic heroes. His merit in tragedy, Scott declared, was seen in those characters which exhibit the strong working of a powerful mind and the tortures of an agonised heart. While escaping from the charge of ranting, he was best in scenes of vehemence. Parts of tender emotion he was wise enough not to attempt. In comedy he excelled in old men, both those of real life and in ‘the tottering caricatures of Centlivre, Vanbrugh, and Cibber.’ In characters of amorous dotage, such as Sir Francis Gripe, Don Manuel, or Sir Adam Contest, he was excellent. His Falstaff was good. Terry's chief fault was want of ease. Disapproving of the starring system, he was conscientious enough not to pose as a ‘star.’
Terry's idolatry of Scott led him to imitate both his manner and his calligraphy. Scott, who appreciated Terry's knowledge of old dramatic literature and his delight in articles of vertu, who recognised him as a gentleman and corresponded freely with him on most subjects, declares that, were he called upon to swear to any document, the most he could do was to attest it was his own writing or Terry's. Terry had caught, says Lockhart, the very trick of Scott's meditative frown, and imitated his method of speech so as almost to pass for a Scotsman. Scott lent him money for his theatrical speculations, and gave him excellent advice. Being intimate with the Ballantynes, Terry had a financial stake in their business, and when the crash came Scott was saddled with his liability (1,750l.) Terry's architectural knowledge was of great use to Scott, who consulted him while building Abbotsford. Scott also consulted Terry upon many literary questions, especially as regards plays, and seems to have trusted him with the ‘Doom of Devorgoil,’ with a view to fitting it for the stage. On 8 Feb. 1818 Scott says concerning some play: ‘If any time should come when you might wish to disclose the secret, it will be in your power, and our correspondence will always serve to show that it was only at my earnest request, annexed as the condition of bringing the play forward, that you gave it your name, a circumstance which, with all the attending particulars, will prove plainly that there was no assumption on your part’ (Lockhart, Memoir, iv. 125, ed. 1837). In the same letter he suggests that a beautiful drama might be made on the concealment of the Scottish regalia during the troubles. How many of the numerous adaptations of Scott that saw the light between the appearance of ‘Waverley’ and the death of the actor are by Terry cannot be said, many of these being anonymous and unprinted. In addition to these Terry is responsible for the ‘British Theatrical Gallery,’ a collection of whole-length portraits with biographical notes (London, 1825, fol.)
A portrait of Terry by Knight, and one by De Wilde as Barford in ‘Who wants a Guinea?’ are in the Mathews Collection at the Garrick Club. One, as Leon in ‘Rule a Wife and have a Wife,’ is in the ‘Theatrical Inquisitor’ (vol. i.).
[Almost the only trustworthy authority concerning Terry is Lockhart's Life of Scott, from which the information as regards his intercourse with Scott is taken. His biographers contradict one another in numerous particulars, and the dates are not to be trusted. What purport to be memoirs are given in the Dramatic Magazine (1829, i. 189–90), the Theatrical Inquisitor (v. 131), Oxberry's Dramatic Biography (vol. vii.), Cunningham's Lives of Eminent Englishmen, New Monthly Magazine for 1829, Theatrical Biography (1824), and elsewhere. The list of his characters is derived principally from Genest's Account of the English Stage, and from Mr. Dibdin's Annals of the Edinburgh Stage. Other works which have been consulted are the Georgian Era, Life of Munden by his son, the Annual Register for 1809, Andrew Lang's Life of Lockhart, and Clark Russell's Representative Actors.]