Wallis, Miss (DNB00)

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WALLIS, Miss, afterwards Mrs. Campbell (fl. 1789–1814), actress, the daughter of a country actor, was born at Richmond in Yorkshire, and appeared in Dublin as a child under Richard Daly, whose management of Smock Alley Theatre began in 1781 and ended in 1798. For her father's benefit, announced as her own, she caricatured the Fine Lady in ‘Lethe.’ She played with her father in many country theatres, and, after the death of her mother, obtained through the influence of Lord and Lady Roslyn (Earl and Countess of Rosslyn?) an engagement at Covent Garden, where she appeared on 10 Jan. 1789 as Sigismunda in ‘Tancred and Sigismunda.’ Leading business appears at once to have been assigned her, and she played during the season Belvidera, Roxalana, and, for her benefit, Rosalind. In the character last named she made her first appearance (17 Oct. 1789) at Bath. Amanthis in the ‘Child of Nature’ followed on 21 Jan. 1790. She was subsequently seen as Lucile in ‘False Appearances,’ Letitia Hardy, Indiana, Calista in the ‘Fair Penitent,’ Lady Emily Gayville, Maria in the ‘Citizen,’ and Beatrice in ‘Much Ado about Nothing.’ At Bath or Bristol she remained until 1794, playing a great round of characters, including Violante in the ‘Wonder,’ Imogen, Widow Belmour, Julia de Roubigné (an original part) in Catharine Metcalfe's adaptation so named, on 23 Dec. 1790; Lady Townley, Portia, Monimia, Lady Amaranth in ‘Wild Oats,’ Juliet, Lady Teazle, Susan in ‘Follies of a Day,’ Isabella in ‘Measure for Measure,’ Cordelia, Jane Shore, Constance in ‘King John,’ Euphrasia, Lady Macbeth, Catharine in ‘Catharine and Petruchio,’ Mrs. Ford, Rosamond in ‘Henry II,’ Mrs. Beverley, Perdita, and very many other characters of primary importance. So great a favourite did she become that the pit was, for her benefit, converted into boxes (what is now known as dress circle). The benefit produced 145l., in those days a large sum. She also gave an address stating her reasons for quitting the Bath Theatre. A second benefit in Bristol produced 163l.

As ‘Miss Wallis from Bath’ she reappeared at Covent Garden on 7 Oct. 1794, playing Imogen. She repeated many of the prominent characters in which she had been seen in Bath, including Juliet, Calista, Beatrice, and Cordelia, and played several original parts, of which the following are the most considerable: Georgina in Mrs. Cowley's ‘Town before you,’ 6 Dec. 1794; Julia in Miles Peter Andrews's ‘Mysteries of the Castle,’ 31 Jan. 1795; Lady Surrey in Watson's ‘England Preserved,’ 21 Feb.; Augusta Woodbine in O'Keeffe's ‘Life's Vagaries,’ 19 March; Miss Russell in Macready's ‘Bank Note,’ 1 May, founded on Taverner's ‘Artful Husband;’ Joanna in Holcroft's ‘Deserted Daughter,’ 2 May; Ida in Boaden's ‘Secret Tribunal,’ 3 June; Emmeline in Reynolds's ‘Speculation,’ 7 Nov.; Julia in Morton's ‘Way to get Married,’ 23 Jan. 1796; Lady Danvers in Reynolds's ‘Fortune's Fool,’ 29 Oct.; Jessy in Morton's ‘Cure for the Heartache,’ 10 Jan. 1797; and Miss Dorillon in Mrs. Inchbald's ‘Wives as they were and Maids as they are,’ 4 March. She had also been seen as Olivia in ‘Bold Stroke for a Husband,’ Cecilia in ‘Chapter of Accidents,’ Julia in the ‘Rivals,’ Perdita, Eliza Ratcliffe in the ‘Jew,’ Arethusa in ‘Philaster,’ Lady Sadlife, Leonora in ‘Lovers' Quarrels,’ and Adriana in ‘Comedy of Errors.’ The last part in which her name as Miss Wallis is traced is Mrs. Belville in the ‘School for Wives,’ 22 May 1797. At the close of the season she performed in Newcastle and other towns in the north. She had during the previous season, unless there is a mistake in the year, played on 2 July at Edinburgh Juliet to the Romeo of Henry Siddons. In June or July 1797, at Gladsmuir, Haddingtonshire, she married James Campbell of the 3rd regiment of guards, and retired from the stage.

On 20 Feb. 1813, as Mrs. Campbell late Miss Wallis, she reappeared at Covent Garden, playing Isabella in Garrick's piece so named; but she lost nerve and was a failure. She repeated the character once, but attempted nothing else. In April she reappeared at Bath for six nights, acting as Lady Townley and Hermione. The following season she was again engaged, and was seen in many characters, including Rutland in ‘Earl of Essex,’ Lady Gentle in ‘Lady's Last Stake,’ Zaphira in ‘Barbarossa,’ and Marchioness in ‘Doubtful Son.’ She never quite recovered her lost ground, however, and from this time disappears.

Miss Wallis had a graceful figure and a pretty, dimpled face. She had capacity for the expression of sadness but not of deep passions. Her comedy was pretty, but artificial and simpering. She had a voice pleasing but uncertain, deficient in range and imperfectly under control. She was charged with inattention and walking through her parts. Of these, Miss Dorillon, in ‘Wives as they were and Maids as they are,’ was perhaps the best. She was also successful as Joanna in the ‘Deserted Daughter,’ Julia in the ‘Way to get Married,’ and Jessy Oatland in the ‘Cure for the Heartache.’ She was unrivalled in parts which required simplicity, an unaffected deportment, modesty and sweetness. This seems to have been her own character, her purity and simplicity of life having won her a high character and many friends.

A portrait as Juliet, by John Graham, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796, is in the possession of Robert Walters, esq., of Ware Priory, Hertfordshire. Romney painted her portrait in 1788, before she went on the Covent Garden stage, as ‘Mirth and Melancholy.’ This picture, sold for 50l. at Romney's sale, was engraved by Keating, and published 4 Jan. 1799. She seems to have been Romney's model at a later date.

[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Monthly Mirror, various years, especially September 1797; Theatrical Inquisitor, 1813; Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror; Thespian Dict.; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. xii. 176, 294; Gent. Mag. 1797, ii. 613.]

J. K.