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Drury Lane and the Bristol Theatre

August 17, 2009
Delacroix discovered Shakespeare in 1825 on a trip to London, where the celebrated Edmund Kean was playing Richard III. In Paris, the equally famous Talma - whose town house was decorated by Delacroix - did much to popularise Shakespeare's work in French. Delacroix saw Hamlet in Paris, in the company of Hugo, de Vigny, Dumas, Nerval and Berlioz.

Delacroix discovered Shakespeare in 1825 on a trip to London, where the celebrated Edmund Kean was playing Richard III. In Paris, the equally famous Talma - whose town house was decorated by Delacroix - did much to popularise Shakespeare's work in French. Delacroix saw Hamlet in Paris, in the company of Hugo, de Vigny, Dumas, Nerval and Berlioz.

Nevertheless and notwithstanding, I was welcomed home, and a grand ball given by my father upon this important occasion. He was a most affectionate father, and fond of me to a fault, or should I probably have been a better man. He was extremely partial to legitimate theatricals, and certainly overestimated my dramatic ability. Many a night he has borne me on his shoulders in the throng at the entrance of Old Drury when Edmund Kean was at his zenith of popularity; and now, soon after my arrival from France, when he asked me what I meant to do for a living and I replied to “stick to the stage,” he was neither surprised or vexed. On the contrary’, he replied “Very well, my boy, then I will ask Munden Russell, (Jerry Sneak Russell) and some others to dine with us on Saturday and we will talk the matter over with then.” At the dinner Mr. Munden informed us that the manager of Drury Lane had consented to give me a first appearance, with an engagement conditional upon my success. After due consideration of this offer, I decided negatively, upon the ground that I did not feel competent, that I was not sufficiently master of my work, and was not up in an adequate range of characters to enable me to maintain my prestige if successful. To the enquiry, “What then, I intend doing,” I replied that I would seek an engagement in the country, that I might have practise, not in selected characters, but in the general business of the stage; and from that decision there could be no appeal.

In two or three days Munden wrote that he had secured me an engagement with Mr. Macready of the Bristol Theatre, to play anything and everything and make myself generally useful at thirty shillings a week; and to Bristol I went, accompanied by my young and beautiful wife, Elizabeth, and our infant daughter Eliza.

This new start, being completely independent from any parental influence, was the time that I resumed the ancestral name of Acland, learning that those unfortunate progeny who could not claim close bonds to the family titles and were obliged to become merchants and at the same time acquire a ‘k’ in the Ackland. Henceforth all my descendants will be, in name at least, on equal standing with the Magnates of the family.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2009 9:52 pm

    Having been married thrice and being blessed with two good wives, (no man ever had better) each for more than a quarter of a century, I hold myself qualified to advise those anticipating such, or half such, a blessing. The lady must be of the right sort, younger than yourself and undowered; upon which last qualification I would put great stress. For the man who marries a girl with money never knows the end of the demands upon his purse. Of course you cannot afford a new dress every month, or a new head-gear every week; but woe betide you if you tell her so; for the patent rejoinder of “Can’t afford, indeed! then pray what have you done with my money?” will drive you to the desperation of an arithmetical defence; and arithmetic is the special science which no women can understand. A wife should look to her husband for everything she needs or desires within his reasonable ability and pleasure to give – and not to her dower, be it paltry or insignificant. And, secondly, always have your own way, but always leading your wife to believe or fancy that she has hers; and if she has sense enough, having her will, to persuade you that is just what you were contending for, why you cannot quarrel, and may go in, metaphorically or substantially, for the Dunmow flitch, or, which is far better (and I speak from long experience) a happy home.

  2. James Stephen Garrett permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:27 pm

    Acland! Love your musings, but the time has come for a new Great Social Awakening, wouldn’t you say, old boy? Or at the very least, a kind of Blavatsky-ite shaking up of things.

    So the question is this, gentle sirrah: when are you going to roll the presses of the Bristolian again, and set things to rock and rumble?

  3. November 23, 2009 4:28 pm

    James, I agree wholeheartedly and you have my blessing to take up the mantle! I am merely an echo fading in and out of luminance, a phosphour lamp, a parlour seance trick.

    I’m sorry if you find the early part of my life tedious, but it maketh the man. There are many fascinating parallels between your world and mine which I hope to shed light on in the coming months.

  4. James Stephen Garrett permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:30 pm

    Not tedious at all; very illuminating, in fact, & consistently entertaining.

    As for flickering phosphor lamps, you should take heart that all Lamps can be rekindled, which is why I mentioned Blavatasky….

    ….or, given Mme. Blavatsky’s somewhat—ah, “crank” tendencies—perhaps a little Crowley would be more to your liking.

    At any rate, I’m partial to parlour seances, and am devoting a little filthy lucre to a big one come Walpurgisnacht. Our nefarious little group of vagrants, gadabouts, thugges, and footpads are presently looking for a place sufficiently exotic (and lenient) to practice some high-powered mummery. While I’d love to see a ghost, I haven’t yet—probably a function of either a) my baleful personality or b) my incurable Atheist gene. Ah well.

    At any rate, once we get the site (either a little south of Quito, Ecuador, Cairo, or Bangkok) I’ll drop you a line and then, once we’re in situ, we’re literally drop you a LINE. You’re more than welcome to attend. You will appreciate the fact that the vast majority of our mediums and mummers are young, female, and highly appreciative of 19th century radicals and, of course, ectoplasm…. Read more

    Cheers,

    JSG

  5. Foliate Head permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:31 pm

    oh phwoooooar filthy lucre! damn i stained the penthouse just thinking about that shit… oooh parlour seances? gizzzz oh fuck there i go again damn

  6. Foliate Head permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:32 pm

    excuse me.

  7. James Stephen Garrett permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:32 pm

    Foliate—-merely mentioning an adequately monetized seance (well, it’s really more occultic debauchery, but what the hell) causes you to ejaculate on your floor?

    My poor boy: you really must get out more.

  8. November 23, 2009 4:35 pm

    Groove with your space commander dad!

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