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appeared at no great distance before him. From this attraction he acquired additional celerity, and so effectually bestirred himself that in less than an hour he had completely satisfied the clamors of his appetite. To his inexpressible satisfaction too, he found that there was a stage coach preparing to go to Taunton. So, thinking that after such a long and hasty walk, he might indulge himself with a ride, he got in and was conveyed to the end of his journey.
The Taunton company, which was under the management of Tag Davis, was a very good one, being composed of Dowton, who now stands so deservedly high in estimation on the London boards; Ryley, who wrote the Itinerant; BIGNELL, who since was partner with West and died at Charleston; BAYNES; JONATHAN Davis, the singer; and that curious character old Jack MONTAGUE. As it was near the close of the season when Warren arrived, and the company was quite full, he was fain to take such business as was offered him, and, in common with the other actors, played on shares; to very little purpose however, for he scarcely got any thing. But this was not to be ascribed to Davis, who dealt fairly with his actors, and was at this time himself almost as much distressed as any of them. At the end of three weeks from our hero's arrival in Taunton, however, the season closed, and Davis having arranged his plans to spend the summer months at Lyme, a small seaport town and watering place in Dorsetshire, where he purposed opening in two or three weeks from his leaving Taunton, Warren found it expedient to put about ship and run into his old secure port, his father's house, to victual and refit. Had he been able to pay for a place in the stage, he would have been ashamed to go into one, his wardrobe was become so exceedingly shabby; wherefore, taking a short stick in his hand, he set out on foot and once more arrived at Bath: this being the termination of his second sally.
Before his departure from Taunton he made Davis a promise to rejoin the company in a short time: accordingly, having by means of ease, comfortable living, and the endearments of a most excellent mother, got again into heart and condition, and his wardrobe being replenished with a new assortment of clothes of every kind by his father, he resolved to set out on his third sally and to join Davis's company at Chard, a town twelve miles beyond Taunton, where in order to dispose of the interval between his leaving Taunton and opening at Lyme, Davis had fitted up a room as
a theatre, and was performing. On his arrival, Warren found the prospect very far from flattering. He however resolved to take his share in the fate of the company, and continued with them; but nothing was to be got there; so, according to their usual custom of moving in hopes of bettering themselves, the company left Chard, and proceeded bag and baggage to Lyme. Here they could scarcely obtain a bare subsistence, though the celebrated David Ross, the actor, was then master of the ceremonies of the place, and exerted all his power and influence to promote their success.
There was in the character and conduct of Davis, the manager, something so irresistibly conciliating, that the performers would endure distresses of the most sharp and aggravating kind as long as it was possible for human nature to subsist under them, rather than entirely desert him. By this time our readers will have formed some conception, though it be a slight one, of the habits of strolling players in England. Young healthy bachelors of vigorous constitution and lively animal spirits, who have no wants but their own to supply, no concerns or feelings but their own to think of, after some hard struggles with their wayward fate, not only become reconciled to their distresses, but turning their calamities to cheerfulness make their very miseries a source of merriment, and endeavour to alleviate by laughter the evils they cannot remedy. Thus they spin out years of existence in a checkered series of good and evil; an alternation, unknown in any other department of life, of pain and pleasure; of grinding want and careless merriment; of hunger and fatigue, and joke and revelry. Apimated by the example of those about him, the young itinerant soon learns to draw upon his spirits for the deficiencies of his purse, and this at length obtains so fully the force of habit in him as rarely to be affected by change of place or circumstances, and ultimately imparts to the whole corps, with very few exceptions, one general outline of character, compounded of thoughtless gaiety, extravagance, festive sociability, and fondness for luxuriating in humor.
Humor, with arched brow and leering eye,
'Tis theirs who rule the realm, or till the earth. . No mnan exceeded poor Davis in the kind of philosophy here
alluded to. He laughed incessantly, and made a joke of every thing. Was there a full house, it was a good joke and he laughed; was there an empty house, he laughed too, and was merry at the prospect of the next. His mind, like that of Zanga, though on a more laudable principle, could
Turn all occurrence to its own advantage,
And one would think too that, like Zanga, he was proud of it; for if, by any auspicious accident, a little money came into his hands, rather than not have the calamity of an empty pocket to jest upon, he would lend his cash to persons, to whom to lend was the same thing as to give away; and thus he had treasured up a fund of anecdote respecting his past misadventures, his arrests, imprisonments, poverty and sufferings, which he would relate in convivial hours with inexpressible glee, while those who heard him were astonished how human nature could support itself under the pressure of such weighty calamities. In a word, as Warren says, his laughter seemed to bear exact proportion to his poverty. Honest, benevolent, warm in his friendships, incapable of long enmity, and full of sensibility to the distresses of others, he was careless about himself, and so very absent that he would frequently be drawn away, and suffer himself to be occupied by the most trivial incident or employment, while the most important concerns and unavoidable duties were entirely forgotten. Just at the moment when his presence was necessary upon the stage, the company would have to send messengers in different directions to search for him, on which occasions he would often be found either asleep or intently engaged in some puerile amusement. One day, while he and the company were at Chard, he was missed at a time when business of the utmost importance demanded his presence; the funny rogues of his company called in the aid of the bellman, who, having at his usual places of outcry rung his bell and collected a mob about him, proclaimed poor Davis in the following words, which were written down on paper for the purpose by the company.
“Lost-supposed to be left asleep at some public house, Mr. John Davis, commonly called Tag Davis, manager of the theatre in this town. This is to give notice, that whoever will bring the said John Davis and deliver him into the hands of his friends at the Angel inn, shall receive four pence reward, and no questions
asked.” Good humored as Davis was, he did not relish this treatment by any means. But, though it hurt his feelings, it made no alteration in his conduct.
Of our company's adventures at Lyme, Ryley has in his “ Itinerant" given a description so circumstantial, lively and interesting, and tallying so exactly with that of Warren in conversation, that we think it would be paying a compliment to ourselves at the expense of our readers, to take it out of the language of that ingenious and humorous writer.
“ The inauspicious fortnight at Chard expired," says Ryley, " and manager Davis was overwhelmed with debt. I had already lent' him, at different times, twenty pounds of my small capital, and ten pounds more must be forthcoming ere the landlord would suffer the scenery, &c. to leave his premises; my purse was reduced to five pounds ten shillings, and his sole dependence rested upon me. But five pounds ten shillings could not, by any rule of arithmetic, pay ten pounds, and the landlord was governed by no other principle. If the scenery and wardrobe were incarcerated, a body of people must give over eating, and that was a prejudice of education of which no argument or system of philosophy could cure them.
“ If I had left this unfortunate concern when we closed at Taunton, I had saved both my purse and reputation; but a something like gratitude attached me to this thoughtless mismanaging manager, and ere I was aware we were ingulfed in the vortex of poverty and disgrace. To make short of the ungrateful theme, I disbursed my five pounds, and left two trunks containing the greatest part of my wardrobe, as security for the remainder, the manager solemnly promising to redeem them the first week we opened the theatre at Lyme. This promise, however, was not ful-filled till several months afterwards, to our great loss, inconvenience and misery.
66 We had twelve miles to travel, and my ten shillings comprised the whole stock of the company. Miss Stanley, and my wife, Warren, Dowton, Jonathan Davis, and myself made a party to walk. We set off early in the afternoon, (meaning to take refreshment at Axminster, seven miles on our road) followed by little Fan, and alternately carrying a cage containing four tame goldfinches. The day was remarkably fine, the party in high health and spirits; young, ardent, and thoughtless, we reflected not on the future,
but grasped pleasure with an eager hand while she was yet within our reach.
« Arrived at Axminster, we entered the principal inn, where I ordered tea and coffee, and, to wash down the dust by which we were nearly choked, added a bottle of cider; the feathered prisoners were restored to liberty, water was placed in the middle of the room, and after they had laved their limbs, their little throats swelled in carols of thanksgiving.
“ The joke passed round, good humor was the order of the day, and Jonathan Davis swore we were the most happy undone beings in the world. In the midst of our laugh the door was by accident left
open, and one of my birds flew out; I followed, and found him perched on the pipe of a decent looking man in the bar. Sir,' said he, 'I am as fond of pets as you are, and never without one about me;' saying which he opened his shirt bosom, and showed me the head of a snake. Much surprised, and I confess a little alarmed, I retreated. Don't fear,' said he, “the creature is perfectly harmless;' placing it on the floor, it hissed round the room, and as he held out his hand, coiled itself upon it; then opening his bosom, it sprung in, apparently as to a place of choice.
“ I suppose my looks spoke surprise, for he continued, you would scarcely perhaps have believed this without ocular demonstration. We are the children of prejudice, and brought up with an idea, that reptiles of this description are poisonous. You may rest assured of the contrary; I speak from experience, from the most accurate investigation; and I do not confine myself to this species of animal, but firmly believe that England is exempt from venomous creatures as much as Ireland, which is generally allowed to be so.'
“ I did not at the time give full credit to this assertion; but, from after experience, am led to believe he was right. From conversation I have held with farmers and other people, whose whole lives have passed in the country, I could never find a single instance in their own immediate knowledge where injury was sustained from the bite or sting of these animals, more than would have followed the bite of a cat, or the sting of a wasp, and any thing to the contrary I believe to be mere hearsay and prejudice.
“ The bill discharged, I had a surplus of three shillings, with which we began our last stage; but poor Fan, from age and bulk, was incapable of walking, in consequence of which we carried her in turn, and pursued our way with renovated spirits. VOL. III.