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and knew the reputation he had acquired; but, steady to the opinions they had originally entertained, they could not think him worthy of being received into their service. During the course of this Summer, application was made both to Mr. Garrick and Mr. Foote in his favour, but without effect. In the Autumn of 1774, he was obliged again to resume his former situation in Bath.
After many ineffectual efforts to appear in London, accident at last brought him forward without any application on his part. In 1777, Mr. Colman having purchased the patent of Mr. Foote, of the little Theatre in the Haymarket, and convinced of the necessity of novelty, engaged Mr. Henderson for that Summer. So advantageous was this union to the manager, that, in thirty-four nights' performance, no less a sum than four thousand five hundred pounds was taken. The first character Mr. Henderson represented was Shylock, (" Merchant of Venice," June 11. This was followed by Leon, Falstaff, Richard III., Don John, Bayes, and Falstaff, ("Merry Wives of Windsor.") The avidity of the public filled the Haymarket Theatre every night he performed. The manager, who derived
so much advantage from his success, gave him a free benefit, which produced him a considerable sum; and before the Winter commenced, he was engaged by Mr. Sheridan (who then succeeded Mr. Garrick) for two years, at Drury Lane Theatre, at a salary of ten pounds per week, with an indemnification from the penalty of his articles with the Bath manager.
In the summer of 1778, he went to Ireland, and was introduced to most of the literati of that kingdom. Jan. 13, 1779, he married, and that Summer went again to Ireland; and, at the commencement of the Winter season, removed to Covent Garden Theatre, with an increased stipend. He was now as much courted by the managers, as formerly he was despised by them!
In the course of the last three months of his life, he performed, several nights successively, very long and fatiguing characters, and sometimes when he should have been with more propriety in his bed. His last performance was Horatius, ("Roman Father,") Nov. 3, 1785. He was soon after seized with a fever, which seemed to have submitted to medicines, but at a time when his disorder put on every favourable
appearance, he was unexpectedly seized with a spasm in the brain, and died November 25. He was interred at Westminster Abbey.
The fame of Henderson rests principally on his performances of the very opposite characters of Iago and Falstaff, in the former of which our portrait represents him.
The following eloquent tribute to his merits in "The Facetious Knight," is from Boaden's Life of Kemble, and elicited our admiration so strongly that we could not forbear inserting it. After relating bis decease, the Biographer says, "He had not completed the 39th year of his age, and yet had long been a perfect master in his art, the range of which he carried to an extent, that seems hopeless to succeeding actors. 'I will not,' said Mr. Kemble once to me, speak of Henderson's Falstaff; every body can say how rich and voluptuous it was: but I will say, that his Shylock was the greatest effort that I ever witnessed on the stage.' I remember it in its principal scenes, and I have no doubt whatever, that it fully merited so high a praise; but I respectfully insinuate, that Macklin, in the trial scene, was superior to him and all men. Yet it may be proper here to say, that in many of
his characters, Henderson's superiority may be disputed; but that his performance of Falstaff is as much above all competition, as the character itself transcends all that was ever thought comic in man. The cause of this pre-eminence was purely mental-he understood it better in its diversity of powers-his imagination was congenial: the images seemed coined in the brain of the actor; they sparkled in his eye, before the tongue supplied them with language. I saw him act the character in the second part of Henry IV., where it is more metaphysical, and consequently less powerful. He could not supply the want of active dilemmas, such as exhilirate the Falstaff of the first part, but it was equally perfect in conception and execution. I have already described his Falstaff at Windsor, which completed this astonishing creation of the poet. I have borne with many invasions on this peculiar domain of Henderson. It has, in truth, been an ungracious task to most of his successors; they seem all to have doubted their right of possession; to have considered themselves tenants only upon sufferance; and thus it was with King, and Palmer, and Stephen Kemble, and Ryder, and a whole tedious chapter of fat knights, who
have roared and chuckled, at the slightest possible expense of thought; and, laughing much themselves, in their turns, perhaps, set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too.' Peace to all such! It was the strong sense of Henderson's excellence in Falstaff, that made me miserable whenever Mr. Kemble announced his intention of assuming the character."
VORTIGERN AND ROWENA.
THE story on which this play is said to be founded, is thus related by Sir Richard Baker, the historian.
"When the Romans had left the country to take care of itself, King Lucius dying without issue, and the Picts and Scots destroying all before them by frequent invasion, the Britons made choice of Vortigern, Earl of Cornwall, one extracted from the regal line, to be their King; who, ill-advised by the sage Merlin, applied for aid to the Saxons, a warlike people of Germany.
“Hengist and Horsa came over with nine thousand Saxons, and were presented with the Isle of Thanet. Like Cæsar, they came, saw, and overcame; and, shortly after, Hengist, erecting Thong Castle, invited Vortigern to a feast, who there fell in love with Rowena, the niece of Hengist, whom he married. Hengist presuming on this match, and the doating fondness of the royal bridegroom, grew intolerable and insupportable to the Britons, who, at length, deposing Vortigern, placed his son Vortimer on the throne.