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The old prices were restored in the winter, when the London performers left.
From the great increase of rent, and the restrictions in their lease, the general opinion was that it would be impossible to pay the rent from the proceeds, instead of which they made a handsome profit, and renewed in 1817 at an additional rent.
Master Betty played there fourteen nights, in 1804, at an average of 3001. each performance : on the night after his first appearance, with the first representation of a new and popular play, the receipts were only 201., and for several nights they increased but little. This is generally the case in London, as well as in the country, after any very extraordinary attraction. It was at the Liverpool theatre that the play of “ Oroonoko was hooted from the stage, because it reflected on the slave trade.
In 1803, at his benefit at Covent Garden, Knight produced a new farce in two acts, called “ Hints to Painters.” It was not repeated. His benefit produced 3791.
He remained at Covent Garden but one season after he became Lessee of the Liverpool theatre: his farewell benefit took place on the 15th of May, 1804, when he respectfully informed his friends and the public, that in consequence of finding his health during the winter season inadequate to the discharge of his theatrical duty, his last appearance on that stage would take place on that evening. He acted on the occasion the Farmer in “Speed the Plough,” spoke a farewell address, and played Lenitive in “ The Prize” for the first time.
HIS FAREWELL ADDRESS.
“ Twenty-three times hath Phæbus' car gone round
Since first I ventured on theatric ground;
Upon my honour that is all gone by;
Yet should the scribbling whim take no denial
hen, who can tell, if not in substance plain,
I give my heartfelt, my sincerest thanks.”
After quitting Covent Garden, Mr. Knight devoted a great part of his time to the Liverpool Theatre ; in 1816, he negociated an engagement with his old friend Elliston. In one of his letters he says :-“ I have done my utmost once more to have the pleasure of shaking you by the hand:-may your success never fail you!" He then lived at Norton Hall, Litchfield, a distance of eighty-seven miles, and at the time of his death at Woore, sixty-five miles from Liverpool, in which all his property was seated, and to the improvement of which all his efforts were directed. His head-quarters, it must be confessed, were considerably distant from the scene of action.
In 1817, a new lease was granted of the Liverpool Theatre, to Knight and Mr. Thomas Lewis, son of the late admirable actor of Covent Garden Theatre; they admitted Banks, the manager, to a share of the profits and Knight and Lewis had a part of the Manchester concern with Banks. The following is a copy of the last letter Mr. Knight ever wrote:
“ January 29th, 1820; Manor House,
· Woore, near Stafford, Shropshire. “Dear Elliston,-I should have been happy to have rendered you all the services your letter requested with our popular performer, but Mr. Lewis, knowing my advocacy would have been unavailing, wisely answered for me without delay, and I rejoice you succeeded without my interference.
"The purport of this is, to introduce to your notice a gentleman (whose education and manners merit the distinction) of the name of Raymond Hicks; who is inclined, should the like success attend his future efforts as on his first appearance at Liverpool, to make the stage his profession. If convenient to the arrangements of your theatre, he would esteem himself much obliged by the favour of your permission to perform there the character of Hamlet, in which he lately appeared at our Liverpool Theatre with marked success. I heard him twice rehearse the part, and was much pleased; but previous to the night of his performing it, I was obliged to leave Liverpool, which I regret: several, however, of my critical friends there, together with my partners, who attended his performance, agree that they have seldom, if ever, witnessed a better first appearance.
As I know, my old friend, ‘you love to do good,' should it be in your power (with tolerable ease to yourself, for Heaven knows you have enough to do) to aid in the development of the theatrical talents of the gentleman
herein-named, (of which I augur well), I shall, if possible, feel myself personally obliged to you, more than I already am.
“With best wishes for the entire success of your arduous and great undertaking, I am, dear Elliston, very faithfully yours, &c.
“Thomas Knight." The gentleman above-named is the same who appeared at Drury Lane on the 6th of April, 1820, and who has been so frequently before the public lately by the name of Otway.
Mr. Knight died suddenly at the Manor House, at Woore, on the 4th of February, 1820, only five days after writing this letter.
Mr. Knight possessed in a high degree the requisites for an actor; his person was light and elegant, his deportment that of a finished gentleman; his voice was rather melodious than otherwise. With great flexibility of countenance, and that self-possession, guided by good sense, which constitutes tact, whatever he undertook in the line of his profession, he did well. His Count Cassell, Farmer Ashfield, and Plethora, three very different characters, were all very superior performances; his assumption of Farmer Ashfield riveted the attention of his audier.ce for the purity and richness of its delineation. Emery succeeded him in the character, and made it totally different; he was equal, perhaps better, in the broad and rough parts, but unquestionably fell short of Knight in the nice touches of feeling.
His Plethora, in “Secrets worth Knowing,” showed the extent of his theatrical knowledge, and his ability to execute the designs of the author; it was an original and unique performance, which no actor who has since attempted the character has in any degree approached; nor has the easy, elegant, frivolous foppishness of Count Cassell ever been so well hit off. And so distinct did he keep these characters, that it was scarcely possible to recognise him in any one of them, as the person who had acted either of the others.
By great perseverance he succeeded in correcting the deficiency of his early education, and was thereby enabled to cultivate the acquaintance of eminent and scientific men; one of his most intimate associates was Nicholson, celebrated for his knowledge of natural philosophy. His natural ambition was to live in good society, which, from his first coming on the stage, he succeeded in doing, though in a provincial theatre; but his good sense pointed out the necessity of conducting himself as a gentleman, and from that determination he never departed; and, to his honour be it recorded, that although the company he kept was attended with more expense than he ought perhaps to have incurred, so provident was he in his financial arrangements, that he was never in debt; and some years before his death had realised a handsome independence. By his death, his associates sustained the loss of an enlightened companion and a sincere friend.
EXCURSIONS IN THE ENVIRONS OF DIEPPE.
The Cité des Limes. Chance has, at times, given me some smart slaps, but it has never failed afterwards to stroke the cheek that yet tingled from the last blow. I have in consequence arrived at so truly Christian a philosophy that I patiently hold forth the right cheek when I have been smitten on the left. At Dieppe I had again the luck of being at first unfortunate; all the strangers who had visited the town for the sake of sea-bathing were gone. That, of itself, would have been a subject of regret; but, as these guests had left the place on the first of October, the public library had been closed on the same day, and this grieved me much, for, though I am by no means a book-worm, yet I hoped to have there found information on this or the other point. I therefore resolved at once to call upon the librarian, and to arrange the matter with him; and lucky it was that I did so. P. J. Feret, librarian of Dieppe, is incontestably one of those men who have studied the history of their country with most industry and success. He offered immediately to accompany me to the library, where we stayed a considerable time; and I had occasion to congratulate myself on the disappointment which had forced me to make his personal acquaintance. He coincided in my notions of the importance of popular customs, traditions, and dialect. He showed me in the library several Roman and Gallic antiquities mostly dug up in the Cité des Limes; and when I mentioned my intention of inspecting this historical riddle, Feret offered to accompany me thither the following day.
Half a league from Dieppe, on the top of the cliff, you come to an earthen dike, or rampart, thrown up in the form of a semicircle of about two thousand yards, and having at its foot a ditch, which leave no room to doubt that this place was fortified at some remote period by the hand of man. This wall and ditch on the land-side, and the cliff about sixty yards in height towards the sea, defended those who were within the enclosure from any sudden surprise. Places fortified by walls and ditches are in general not very remarkable; they are to be found everywhere, and belonging to all the periods of history; but these seem to be the work of a gigantic race. Such, at least, is the first impression produced upon the mind by the wall, in many places more than sixty feet high, and, by the extent of the fortification, capable of containing an army of several hundred thousand men. I am not aware that there exists in Europe an historical monument of the kind on so large a scale.
Within the fortification, you perceive, especially along the wall, several excavations, all of them ncarly in the form of a blunt half-moon. Researches in some of them have convinced Feret that these were anciently the sites of habitations. There were found in them pieces of Gallic urns, ashes, and bones, burned and unburned, also stone axes, finished and unfinished, and some coins of the period antecedent to the Roman conquest of Gaul. Among the bones dug up, were several which are supposed not to belong to any of the animal species now known in Europe.
In the left half of the enclosure was found a series of hillocks, which, on examination, proved to be barrows or burial-places; on one side of Dec.- Vol. LIV. CCXVI.
these graves was discovered a canal, also in the form of a half-moon, constructed of stones laid one upon another; and Feret is of opinion that it served to admit a current of air to the spot where the dead, whose ashes were found, were burned. Lastly, on digging nearly in the centre of the wall, near the margin of the cliff, there were discovered the ruins of a Roman building, and in it bones and sculls, likewise Roman vases, glass rings, pins, hair-pins, and coins of the emperors.
The question, who constructed this gigantic work? naturally occurs to every mind, and there the dispute commences. There is not one of the races that, so far as the records of history extend, ever set foot in Normandy, to which it has not been attributed. The English, the Normans, Charlemagne, the Romans, the Gauls, the Saxons, the Belgians, have all had their advocates. The two hypotheses which have maintained their ground to the present day are, firstly, that of Feret, which represents the Cité des Limes as a Belgio-Gallic oppidum, whither, according to Cæsar, the Gauls living dispersed retired on the approach of an enemy, with wives, children, and effects; and secondly, that of another investigator, Fallue, who considers it as a Roman-Gallic work, and brings it into connexion with other similar fortifications, though on a smaller scale, in Normandy; which, according to him, were constructed to protect the country against the attacks of the northern Germans, and especially of the Saxons. Both hypotheses are supported by a great display of erudition, which struck terror into a poor lounger like myself, when I ventured to turn over the publications in which they are set forth ; but I must confess that I am rather disposed to coincide in Feret's views.
One remark, however, I will venture to subjoin; I have read here and there descriptions of the American antiquities,left by a civilization of which no other traces exist, and I was strongly reminded of the latter. These gigantic walls, enclosing a tract of some miles, capable of harbouring the population of a Belgio-Gallic district two hundred miles in circumference, defying the revolutions of ages, of nations, nay, of the earth itself, seem, like those American ruins, to indicate an extinct civilization. Among the coins that were found was one, on which was a head decorated with feathers, as was the custom with the savages of America; a circumstance that served still more to recall to the mind those mute witnesses of by-gone times in another hemisphere.
I am upon the whole no friend of ruins and monuments whose language we no longer understand; but it is impossible to pass the Cité des Limes without pausing in astonishment and admiration. If these walls could speak, if one of the sleepers in those graves could rise and relate to us what has happened during his slumber of some thousand years, the whole phalanx of the literati would fall upon him and despatch him once more, because he had disturbed their dreams, and spoiled their sport, which, by the by, no dead dreamer has a right to do.
In going and returning, Feret related much that was highly interesting to me. When he first commenced his researches here, the wise in their own conceit set him down for a fool, who was throwing away his own money and that of his friends; for a society had been formed at Dieppe to defray the expense of the excavations. Presently, the antiquities that had been discovered began to be talked of in the town, and then these wise men plumply declared Feret a sly fellow, who buried