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malicious. His Lordship at that time was very painfully circumstanced with regard to his Countess: there had been a separation between them, but no divorce. At all the interviews between Lord Derby and Miss Farren, Mrs. Farren, who resided with her daughter, was present; and not a whisper of calumny was ever breathed against them.
The exalted estimation in which Miss Farren's conduct and character were held, induced Mr. King, on his succeeding to the management of Drury Lane theatre, to pay her all possible respect and attention. When the Duke of Richmond became enamoured of private theatricals, Miss Farren was appointed to preside over the stage business, at his house in Privy Gardens. To this employment she devoted much attention, as it introduced her to a wider circle of nobility; and she was caressed by numerous ladies of rank and fashion. At the little theatre which the Duke had caused to be fitted up, Lord Derby, Lord Henry Fitzgerald, Charles Fox, General Fitzpatrick, Lord John Townshend, the Hon. Mrs. Darner,&c. were accustomed to appear in the principal characters.
At this time Miss Farren had a house in the vicinity of Grosvenor Square, kept her carriage, and was received in the first circles. Occasionally, she played with great success in Ireland; where, also, she was much noticed by the nobility. On the opening of the new theatre of Drury Lane, in April, 1794, she delivered an amusing epilogue, written by George Colman the younger.
The following character of Miss Farren, when she was in her meridian, was written by an eminent critic of that day: —
"It might be sufficient praise to say of Miss Farren's performances, if she had never deviated from the walk for which art as well as nature designed her, it might, perhaps, be sufficient praise to say, that, were we to collect every idea which has been suggested to us by books, or has been the result of our own observations on life, assisted by all that the imagination could conceive of a woman of fashion, we should find every idea realised, and every conception embodied, in the person and acting of Miss Farren. Pier figure is considerably above the middle height, and is of that slight texture which allows and requires the use of full and flowing drapery, an advantage of which she well knows how to avail herself; her face, though not regularly beautiful, is animated and prepossessing; her eye, which is blue and penetrating, is a powerful feature when she chooses to employ it on the public, and either flashes with spirit or melts with softness, as its mistress decides on the expression she wishes to convey; her voice we never thought to possess much sweetness, but it is refined and feminine; and her smiles, of which she is no niggard, fascinate the heart as much as her form delights the eye. In short, a more complete exhibition of graces and acplishments never presented itself for admiration before the view of an audience.
"To this enumeration of personal charms, we have to add the list of her talents. It is not wise, indeed, to separate them — they are mutually benefited and improved by each other. Dant simul ct accipiunt. A rarer combination of nature and art to qualify their favourite for the assumption of the principal characters in the higher comedy has never been known: she possesses ease, vivacity, spirit, and humour; and her performances are so little injured by effort, that we have often experienced a delusion of the senses, and imagined what in a theatre it is so difficult to imagine, the scene of action to be identified, and Miss Farren really the character she was only attempting to sustain: we cannot admit the supposition even, that St. James's ever displayed superior evidence of fine breeding than Miss Farren has often done in her own person."
Mr. Boaden also, in his "Memoirs of Kemble," thus speaks of her: —
. "In my remarks upon the leading actresses of the year 1783, I shall first pay my respects to Miss Farren, who in comedy, if not in tragedy, merited the highest distinction. She had succeeded at Drury Lane theatre to the characters which had been performed by Mrs. Abingdon, though it would be difficult to mention two actresses who differed more essentially in their comic style. They both delighted to exhibit the woman of fashion; but the character received the differences of its colouring from the personal and mental qualities of the representatives.
"Miss Farren, at this time, in her person was tall, and perfectly graceful; her face was beautiful and expressive; her voice was rather thin, and of.but slender power, but rendered effective by an articulation of the greatest neatness and precision. It was her practice, from the weakness of her organ, to stand rather forward upon the stage.
"When I carry my recollection back to the peculiar character of her acting, I think I may say that it was distinguished by the grace of delicacy beyond that of every comic actress I have seen. It was, as it were, the soul of every thing she did; and even in the comedies of Congreve she never lost it for a moment, amid the free allusions, and sometimes licentious expressions, of his dialogue. The eye sparkled with intelligence; but it was a chaste and purified beam, from a mind unsullied, though sportive. Her levity, therefore, was never wanton; her mirth had no approach to rudeness. She played upon a coxcomb of either sex with the highest zest, but refinement was the invariable attendant upon her ridicule, and taste seemed to preside alike over her action and her utterance.
"From her early habit of acting tragedy, she had drawn enough to give to the occasional pathos of comedy a charm of infinite value. The reproach of her Julia, in the "Rivals," to Falkland, was extremely affecting; and few scenes drew more tears than her sensibility commanded, on the return of Lady Townley to the use of her heart and her understanding. Many years have now elapsed since I first beheld this distinguished lady; but I can safely say that in her own line she has never been equalled, nor approached."
At length, by the death of his first Countess, March 14. 1797, the obstacle to Lord Derby's wishes was removed; and Miss Farren quitted the stage. Her last performances were — March 30. 1797, Violante; April 1. Maria, in "The Citizen;" 3d, Estifania; 4th, Susan, in " The Follies of a Day;" 6th, Bizarre, in " The Inconstant;" and finally, on the 8th, Lady Teazle. On the night of her retirement, the anxiety of the public to see the last of this delightful actress was so great, that the theatre was crowded by a brilliant audience immediately after the doors were opened. Towards the conclusion of the play Miss Farren appeared deeply affected; and, when Mr. Wroughton came forward to speak some lines which were written on the occasion, her emotions increased to such a degree, that she was under the necessity of receiving support from Mr. King. The fall of the curtain was attended with repeated bursts of applause, not unmingled with feelings of regret, for the loss of an actress then in the zenith of her charms, and while her dramatic reputation was in the highest esteem of the public. On the 8th of May following she was married to Lord Derby by special licence, at his Lordship's house in Grosvenor Square; and she was soon after introduced at Court, and was one of the procession at the marriage of the Princess Royal to the Duke of Wirtemburgh.
After her marriage, the Countess of Derby on no occasion obtruded herself on public notice, or in any way descended from the propriety of that acquired station of which she had become the ornament. The noble pair spent most of their time at their seat, Knowsley Hall; where Lady Derby was in the daily exercise of benevolence and charity, and where, after several years of ill health, and much suffering, she died, on the 23d of April, 1829.
The Countess gave birth to three children, of whom the youngest only survives. They were:' Lady Lucy-Elizabeth, who died in 1809, at the age of ten; the Hon. James, who died in 1817, at the age of seventeen; and Lady Mary-Margaret, married in 1821 to the Earl of Wilton.
Her Ladyship's remains were interred at Ormskirk, on the 30th of April.
The foregoing Memoir has been compiled from various dramatic and periodical publications.
No. III. LIEUT.-COLONEL DIXON DENHAM, F.R.S., &c.
LATE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR OF SIERRA LEONE.
Although it is our usual occupation to record the lapse of life among the brave, the learned, the wise, and the good, an unusually painful feeling accompanies its exercise in the present instance. Unhappily cut off at the age of forty-three, at the very moment when, by a fortunate and rare combination of circumstances, he became placed in a situation to which his talents and disposition were peculiarly adapted, the early doom of one so eminently qualified to do useful and honourable service to his country and the world, — of one who, in public and in private, was universally admired, honoured, and beloved, — is an event which cannot be contemplated without the deepest concern. In the Biographical Index to our last volume, we expressed our regret that we had been unsuccessful in our efforts to obtain materials which might enable us to give such an account of this active, intelligent, amiable, and celebrated man, as would at once do him justice and be gratifying to the public. Since that period, we have been favoured, from the most authentic source, with the following highly interesting little memoir.
The parents of Colonel Denham, although not prominent in station, were of exemplary character, and unimpeachable integrity. They had three sons, one of whom died in infancy. Of the survivors, Dixon was the younger, being born on the 1st of January, 1786, in Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, where his parents resided for several years.