Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 37.djvu/55

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Cock Robin?’ In one act he wrote ‘Cousin German,’ ‘Cherry and Blue,’ ‘Dowager,’ ‘He would be an Actor,’ ‘Humpbacked Lover,’ ‘His Excellency,’ ‘Little Toddlekins,’ ‘Mathews & Co.,’ ‘Methinks I see my Father,’ ‘My Mother's Maid,’ ‘My Usual Luck,’ ‘Nothing to Wear,’ ‘Patter v. Clatter,’ ‘Paul Pry Married and Settled,’ ‘Pyramus and Thisbe,’ ‘Ringdoves,’ ‘Too Kind by Half,’ ‘Two in the Morning,’ ‘Wolf and the Lamb,’ ‘Why did you Die?’ ‘You're Another.’ Many of these are trifles, intended to serve a temporary purpose, and more than one is now forgotten. Into all the pieces in which he played he put sometimes so much that it is difficult to say where he is to be credited with collaboration. He translated ‘Cool as a Cucumber’ into French as ‘Un Anglais Timide,’ Paris, 1864, 12mo. One or two of his pieces were translated into German. He also wrote a ‘Lettre aux Auteurs Dramatiques de la France,’ London, 1852. A translation of this was published the same year. The burlesques which were a feature in the Lyceum management are dealt with in the biography of his wife. A complete gallery of brilliant sketches of Mathews in various characters is exhibited in the Garrick Club. The costumes are innumerable, but it is not especially difficult to trace the same man under each disguise.

[The Life of Charles James Mathews, chiefly autobiographical, with selections from his correspondence and letters, edited by Charles Dickens, 2 vols. 1879, is the principal authority. His early life is depicted in the Memoirs of Charles Mathews by Anne Mathews. Personal information, backed up by files of the Literary Gazette, the Athenæum, and the Sunday Times, has been used. See also Mr. Clark Russell's Representative Actors, G. H. Lewes's Actors and Acting, the New Monthly Magazine, and Dibdin's Edinburgh Stage.]

J. K.

MATHEWS, LUCIA ELIZABETH or ELIZABETTA, also known as Madame Vestris (1797–1856), actress, the daughter of Gaetano Stefano Bartolozzi [q. v.] and his wife, Theresa Jansen, daughter of a dancing-master of Aix-la-Chapelle, was born in January 1797 at 72 Dean Street, Soho, London, or, according to another and improbable account, in Naples. She received rudimentary education at Manor Hall, Fulham Road, and learned music with Dr. Jay and Domenico Corri [q. v.] She married, 28 Jan. 1813, at St. Martin's Church, Auguste Armand Vestris (d. 1825), a dancer and ballet-master at the King's Theatre, the witnesses being Gaetano Bartolozzi, Lucy Elizabeth Tomkins, and Cecilia Voilet. Possessor of ‘one of the most luscious of low voices,’ great sprightliness and vivacity, a beautiful face, and ‘an almost faultless figure,’ she took at first to Italian opera, making her appearance, 20 July 1815, at the King's Theatre, as Proserpina in Peter Winter's ‘Il Ratto di Proserpina.’ Her success was immediate; she was said to possess a perfect contralto voice, a correct harmonious expression, to appear about eighteen, and to have ‘a countenance expressive rather of modest loveliness than of any very marked passion’ (Theatrical Inquisitor and Monthly Mirror, vii. 57). Her training was, however, deficient, and her voice needed cultivation. The following year she reappeared as Proserpina, and played in Winter's ‘Zaira,’ 17 Feb. 1816, Martini's ‘Cosa Rara,’ Mozart's ‘Così fan tutte,’ and Susanna in his ‘Nozze di Figaro.’ In the winter she acted at the Italian Opera, Paris, at the Théâtre Français, where she enacted Camille to the Horace of Talma, and at other theatres. Her husband, who had been arrested for debt and cleared himself by bankruptcy, and who had full occasion to doubt her fidelity, deserted her while in Paris, and was never reunited to her. Her first appearance on the English stage (non-Italian) was made at Drury Lane, 19 Feb. 1820, as Lilla, a part created by Signora Storache, in Cobb's ‘Siege of Belgrade.’ On 25 March, for one night only, she was Caroline in Prince Hoare's ‘Prize;’ on 5 April Artaxerxes in the opera of that name, translated from Metastasio; on 18 May as Adela in Cobb's ‘Haunted Tower;’ and on 30 May caught the town as Don Giovanni in Moncrieff's ‘Giovanni in London,’ transferred by Elliston from the Olympic. On 4 Nov. she played Macheath in the ‘Beggar's Opera,’ and 28 Nov. was the original Monsel in ‘Justice, or the Caliph and the Cobler.’ Little Pickle in the ‘Spoil'd Child,’ Rose Sydney in ‘Secrets worth knowing,’ Edmund in the ‘Blind Boy,’ and Effie Deans in the ‘Heart of Midlothian’ were among the parts taken in this second season. On 19 June 1821 she played Macheath at Covent Garden, apparently for one occasion only. At Drury Lane, 22 Dec., she was Giovanni in ‘Giovanni in Ireland,’ an unsuccessful attempt to obtain an aftermath of the success of ‘Giovanni in London.’ During the season she played in a version of Scott's ‘Pirate,’ was Paul in ‘Paul and Virginia,’ the original Bell in Knight's opera ‘The Veteran, or the Farmer's Sons,’ 23 Feb. 1822, Betty Blackberry in the ‘Farmer,’ and Nell in the ‘Devil to Pay.’ In the summer she was at the Haymarket, where she was the original Lisette in a musical farce called ‘Love Letters,’ 24 June 1822, and played Patrick, the hero of O'Keeffe's ‘Poor Soldier.’