« ПредишнаНапред »
had taken the name of Strangeways; and Charles Fox, afterwards the great Whig statesman, who was then a youth of eighteen, or thereabouts. Lady Susan is looking down from one of the lower windows of Holland House ; Lady Sarah is lifting a dove towards her; and Charles Fox holds a copy of verses in his hand, which he is understood to be repeating to Lady Sarah.
Lady Sarah, who was beautiful, is supposed to have been the heroine of the song “ On Richmond Hill there lives a lass,” and to have been nearly raised to the throne by the young King, George the Third, who is said to have frequently ridden past Holland House, on purpose to catch a sight of her. She became the wife of Sir Charles Bunbury, who forsook Mrs. Inchbald for her; but a divorce ensued, and she married a Napier. Lady Susan Fox is stated in the Peerage to
have married William O'Brien, of Stintsford, in the county of Dorset, Esquire ; but upon that little word “esquire”-a very little word now-a-days, but at that time a designation of some pretension—hangs a tale of dramatic interest.
One of the amusements in Holland House was the performance of plays. It had formerly been a court custom, as it now is again ; but Queen Elizabeth, like Queen Victoria, had the plays performed by professional actors. Among those actors, in the days of the Tudors and Stuarts, were children ; and hence children in private life subsequently figured sometimes as amateurs. We have mentioned a picture in Holland House, by Hogarth, representing the performance of a play of Dryden by children, one of whom was a grand-niece of Sir Isaac Newton. It may be here added, that another was of the Pomfret family, and that two figures in the background are said to be a Duke and Duchess of Richmond.
In the January of the year seventeen hundred and sixty-one, Horace Walpole was present at a performance of this kind in Holland House, which greatly entertained him. But the account of it had better be given in his own words.
“I was excessively amused (says he) on Tuesday night. There was a play at Holland House, acted by children; not all children, for Lady Sarah Lenox and Lady Susan Strangeways played the women. It was Jane Shore. Mr. Price, Lord Barrington's nephew, was Gloster, and acted better than three parts of the comedians ; Charles Fox, Hastings; a little Nichols, who spoke well, Belmour ; Lord Ofaly, Lord Ashbroke, and other boys, did the rest. But the two girls
were delightful, and acted with so much nature and simplicity, that they appeared the very things they represented. Lady Sarah was more beautiful than you can conceive, and her very awkwardness gave an air of truth to the shame of the part and the antiquity of the time, which was kept up by her dress, taken out of Montfaucon. Lady Susan was dressed from Jane Seymour; and all the parts were clothed in ancient habits, and with the most minute propriety. When Lady Sarah was in white, with her hair about her ears, and on the ground, no Magdalen by Corregio was half so lovely and expressive. You would have been charmed, too, with seeing Mr. Fox's little boy of six years old, who is beautiful, and acted the Bishop of Ely, dressed in lawn sleeves and with a square cap. They inserted two lines for him, which he could hardly speak plainly.” (This little
boy died a general in the year eighteen hundred and eleven.)
So far, so good; and Horace Walpole is enchanted with young ladies who act plays. But ladies who act plays are apt to become enchanted with actors; and three years after this performance of Jane Shore, a catastrophe occurs at Ilchester House, which makes Horace vituperate such enchantments as loudly as if he never had encouraged them. O'Brien, a veritable actor at the public theatres, runs away with the noble friend of Jane Shore, the charming Lady Susan ; and the Foxes, and the Walpoles, and all other admirers of amateur performances, are in despair ; not excepting, of course, the runner away with the Duke's daughter. Horace, forgetting what he said of Sir Stephen, or perhaps calling it desperately to mind, declares that it would have been better had the man