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The late Celebrated My Edwin From w highly jimshed Miniature

by bridge?

Pub by Vonor& Hood, Poultry, Oct,31,1805



OCTOBER, 1805.




( With a Portrait.) The following notices are principally extracted from the memoirs of Edwin, published under the assumed name of Anthony Pasquin. This work is in two volumes, consisting, jointly, of near seven hundred pages; but the circumstances connected with the life of Edwin

as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff;" and abducting the few particulars which we have here borrowed, the remainder might be called the Life of Turk Gregory, or the Cham of Tartary, with just as much propriety as it is that of John Edwin.

The facts, however, we believe to be pretty accurately stated; and, in the absence of other data, we must be satisfied with the information to be collected from these volumes.

The father of John Edwin was a watch-maker,* who, with a liberality superior to his circumstances, gave his son an education that afterwards rendered him essential service in life, particularly his instructions in the science of music, which, with a happy. invention and droll manner of delivery, made him indubitably the first comic singer in the universe,

Mr. Edwin was born in Clare-street, Saint Clement's Danes, London, on the tenth of August, 1749; the ill state of his health, from his birth until he was nine years of age, induced his father to send him to a farm-house, in a healthy situation in the vicinity of Enfield, where he had not been long before he gave a sample of his acting in a private performance, with some young gentlemen in that neighbourhood; such amusements then were not embellished and attended as they are now; and, instead of a regular theatre, young Edwin and his associates received their audience in a stable, where, “ They cleav'd the general ear with horrid speech ;" and astonished the auricular and ocular faculties of some country ladies and gentlemen, with their domestics, by most WONDERFUL exertions in mad Lee's inflated tragedy of Alexander the Great.

* His mother, Hannah Edwin, was the daughter of Henry Brogden, a statuary, at York; a boy and two girls were the issue of this marriage : John was the first born, Mary the second, and Elizabeth the third. The latter, not Mrs. Williams, is a most conspicuous character in the metropolis, remarkable for her knowledge of astronomy and future events.

After this debút Mr. Edwin remained at school till he was fife teen, at which period we find him in the Pension-Office of the Exchequer; but that employment requiring his attendance only two hours in the day, it afforded him an opportunity of turning his thoughts to his favourite amusement, the stage, and he soon got information of a spouting club at the French Horn, in Wood-Street, Cheapside, where

“ Prentic'd boys alarm'd the gaping street,

“ And did such deeds of dreadful note." To this mirthful convocation of ambitious youth, Edwin ran with all the precipitation of young desire, and it was there that the singular humour of the late estimable Mr. William Woodfall, in Old Mask, in the Musical Lady, first suggested to Edwin's mind a serious idea of assuming the character of a comedian. The following summer he studied the tankard scene of Scrubmthe part of Simon in the first scene of the Apprentice, and the first scene of Polydore in the. Orphan, which, with the song of “I follow'd a Lass that was froward and shy,"--and those of Sir Harry Sycamore in The Maid of the Mill, he concluded might carry him very decently through the following winter, at the beginning of which a new spouting seminary was instituted at the Falcon, in Fetter-Lane. There Edwin made his first essay as an apology for a man-passed the ordeal of juvenile criticism, was warmly approved, and soon after chosen one of the six managers, in concert with Mr. Waldron of old Drury, and the late Mr. Webb of Covent-Garden theatre, &c. Mr. Edwin was always a great admirer of the professional merits of the late Ned Shuter, who entertained a great opinion of the promising abilities of our aspiring hero, and at several convivial parties used frequently to say, “My boy, you will be an excellent actor when I am laid low.” Edwin's imitation of that charming actor's songs, and his performance at the club of some of his parts, soon attracted the notice of the late Mr. Lee, of Drury-Lane theatre, who, seeing him enact Launcelot, in the Merchant of Venice, which was regularly performed in the club-room on a private night, engaged him for the ensuing summer at Manchester, as a low comedian, at a settled salary of one guinea a week, and the profits of half a benefit. About

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this period Edwin was made secretary to a trust of a Mr. John Edwin, of George-Street, Hanover-Square, a distant relation, who died, leaving near fifty thousand pound to be distributed in public charities, and had appointed twelve trustees to superintend the business--the principal of which, the late Mr. Way, was also one of his executors, and sub-governor of the South-Sea House.

That gentleman, fully sensible of the folly of his deceased friend, in leaving a kinsman destitute-bis donations to be expended in charities, and given to objects totally unknown to him, from an impulse of justice made Edwin secretary. The committee met twice every winter, and to this post was annexed an annual salary of thirty pounds, with douceurs from the fund, and other contingent advantages. The trustees, who were all old men, soon departed in peace, to sleep with their fathers, and their sons were deputed in their room; but this change of government was not for the advantage of the property; the principal was soon swallowed up by the dissipation of the new guardians.

When Edwin left his secretaryship, which he held only one year, he possessed five hundred pounds in specie, for which sum he was indebted to the kindness of Mr. Way, and was meant as a security for his going into the South-Sea House, in the capacity of accomptant, the gentleman who then held that office, Mr. Montague, being very old and infirm.

A strong propensity for dramatic pursuits, however, overcame every other consideration, and prompted Edwin to make an early attempt, and climb the stupendous hill of public fame-he took, as i is termed, French leave of his relations, and went off a la sourdins.* But previous to his departure, in order to assist his father, whose circumstances were rather embarrassed, and to operate as a palliation for commencing actor, and disappointing the old gentleman's future hopes in the intended line of life marked out for him, Edwin drew the money from Mr. Way, and made the five hundred pound a present to his father, together with some other valuable properties. He commenced an actor of old men, at the theatre át Manchester, then under the management of Mr. Lee, in the year 2765, and in the sixteenth year of his age. Justice Woodcock, and Sir Harry Sycamore, were also represented in that town by our juvenile adventurer.

* Edwin's father, when the comedian was only fifteen years of age, offered to give fifty pound towards erecting an organ in Islington church, provided the parish would make his son organist; however the offer was rejected by the parish, under the idea that they could not afford to pay a salary.

Before the conclusion of the performances that summer, Mr. Griffith, as agent to Mr. Mossop, engaged Edwin at the enormous salary of thirty shillings per week, to enact at the theatre-royal in Smock-Alley, Dublin. Under the hope of shaking off an ague, which he had acquired by going into the Duke of Bridgewater's improvements, and to take leave of his friends before his departure from his native island, he visited London for a short time, and then set out big with jocund expectation for the mirthful regions of Hibernia,

The first character that Edwin performed in Dublin, was Sir Philip Modelove, in the Bold Stroke for a Wife, and as in that part very little is expected by the audience, they were not disappointed by the execution of the actor. -Soon after Mr. Mossop got up the Jealous Wife, in which Mr. Edwin played Lord Trinket, but with little success.

The next character he assumed war Justice Woodcock, his applause in which amply atoned for his former disgrace.

[To be continued.]



With a Portrait, Among the many reasons whtch induce an Englishman, with partial and justifiable pride, to assert the superiority of his own country over her natural rival, let him not forget to count the domestic characters of those females whose talents support the British drama. If, in some few instances, our Calistas and Lady Townlys are tempted " to swerve from Virtue's rule," how greatly are they out-numbered by the list of those, who, with equal credit to themselves and edification to the public, perform the most important duties of female life. In our island, the characters of the fond mother, the attentive daughter, and the blameless wife, are frequently sustained with no less ability in reality than on the stage; and how must the British biographer exult, in contrasting the profligacy by which the name of many a French actress has been made notorious, with the virtues by which a Siddons, an Inchbald, a Farren, and many dignify the laurel-wreath bestowed on their dramatic talents !


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