Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/216

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Faucit
Faucit
204

warmer than his own. Théophile Gautier, the most observant and inspired of French critics, found her gracious and expressive, with something of the beauty rather maniérée of the English ‘Keepsakes.’ Higher praise was accorded her Ophelia, and her Lady Macbeth, especially in the sleep-walking scene, was pronounced sublime. A year later Gautier credited her with an infinity of grace, sensibility, and poetry. Juliet and Virginia were also seen. Among her warmest adherents was Alexandre Dumas, who contemplated writing a play for her on the subject of Henriette d'Angleterre, the daughter of Charles I. On 23 Feb. 1845 she appeared in Dublin in what was perhaps her greatest tragic triumph, Antigone. The warmest tributes to the beauty and power of this were borne by De Quincey and other writers. Though making occasional appearances in London, Miss Faucit was at this time most frequently seen in the country. On 4 Oct. 1847, at the Haymarket, she was the original Florence Delmar in Marston's ‘The Heart and the World,’ which was scarcely a success. In 1848 she played in Edinburgh and elsewhere Anne Bracegirdle in ‘A Tragedy Queen,’ translated by Oxenford from the ‘Tiridate’ of Marc Fournier. Miss O'Neill's part of Evadne in the piece so named was played in Manchester and Dublin. In her brother's theatre in Sheffield she was seen for the first time as Iolanthe in Mr. Theodore Martin's translation of ‘King René's Daughter,’ one of her favourite parts. Her Marie de Meranie in Marston's ‘Philip of France’ was first given at the Olympic on 4 Nov. 1850.

Miss Faucit's marriage with Theodore (afterwards Sir Theodore) Martin took place at St. Nicholas's Church, Brighton, on 25 Aug. 1851. Her first appearance after this event was as Adrienne Lecouvreur at Manchester in April 1852. Browning's ‘Colombe's Birthday’ was given at the Haymarket on 25 April 1853, Mrs. Martin playing Colombe. Margaret in ‘Love's Martyrdom,’ by John Saunders, given at the Haymarket on 10 or 11 June 1855, was her last original part.

From this time she played occasional engagements in London or in the country. In March 1857 in Edinburgh (Sir) Henry Irving was Pisanio to her Imogen. At Her Majesty's (19 Jan. 1858) she was Lady Macbeth to Phelps's Macbeth, and a month later played the same part with Charles Dillon at the Lyceum. Paris, where she recited once only, and in private, and did not act, was revisited. During 1857–8 Matthew Arnold was very anxious for her to perform the chief part in ‘Merope,’ which he thought of putting on the stage. ‘In a tragedy of this kind,’ he wrote, ‘everything turns upon the nobleness, seriousness, and powers of feeling of the actor,’ and he added that, should she be unwilling to play the part of heroine, he would abandon his purpose altogether, which he ultimately did. She appeared at Drury Lane on 17 Oct. 1864 as Imogen. She also played Lady Macbeth there, and in the spring of 1865 Juliet and Rosalind. In 1866 she was seen at the same theatre as Pauline and Julia. This was her last London engagement, her subsequent appearances in town being confined to benefits. Up till 1871–2 she continued to act in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and Liverpool. She played many times for the benefit of the Royal Theatrical Fund, of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, and for other charitable objects, and gave readings, one of which, in Glasgow, was for the sufferers by the City of Glasgow Bank, and produced 500l. She was the frequent guest of Queen Victoria, both at Osborne and Windsor Castle, and performed before her in public, and read before her in private. The investiture of Mr. Martin with the order of K.C.B. in 1880 gave her the rank and title of Lady Martin. Her last appearance on the stage took place on 2 Oct. 1879 at Manchester as Rosalind for the benefit of the widow of Charles Calvert, the manager of the Manchester Theatre. She died at her country house on 31 Oct. 1898, and was buried on 4 Nov. in Brompton cemetery. A fine alto relievo, containing a full-length figure of Lady Martin, by John Henry Foley [q. v.], was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856; a reproduction in marble has been placed by Sir Theodore Martin, as a memorial to her, in the chancel of the church at Llantysilio, situated near her husband's country house at Bryntysilio, where, during her late years, she spent each autumn, while a replica of this relief was in December 1900 placed in the Shakespeare Memorial building at Stratford. A marble pulpit, designed by Mr. Bodley, has also been erected to her memory in the nave of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon. Many portraits of her exist. A drawing by Sir F. Burton as Antigone, a painting by Miss Myra Drummond as Pauline, and a drawing by Miss Clara Lane, and one dated 1881 by Miss Annette Elias are reproduced in her husband's ‘Life.’

Helen Faucit was the greatest interpreter of the poetical drama that living memory can recall. In later days, even when her face had lost some of its youthful charm, her performance of parts such as Rosalind and Imogen had gifts of imagination and expression which have not since been equalled. Testimony to the value and beauty of imper-