Drury Lane and the Bristol Theatre
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.