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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Mathews’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Frederic Hervey Foster Quin
12 February 1799 – 24 November 1878

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Frederic Hervey Foster Quin

Frederic Hervey Foster Quin was born in London, and passed his early years at a school at Putney, kept by a son of Mrs. Sarah Trimmer, the author. In 1817 he was sent to Edinburgh University, where he graduated M.D. on 1 August 1820. In December 1820 he went to Rome as travelling physician to Elizabeth Cavendish. He afterwards attended her in that city during her fatal illness in March 1824. On his return to London he was appointed physician to Napoleon I at St. Helena, but the emperor died (on 5 May 1821) before he left England. In July 1821 he commenced practice at Naples, and his social gifts made him popular with all the English residents there, who included Sir William Gell, Sir William Drummond, and the Countess of Blessington. At Naples, too, Quin met Dr. Neckar, a disciple of Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, and was favourably impressed by what he learned of the homeoopathic system of medicine. After visiting Leipzig in 1826, to study its working, Quin returned to Naples a convert. On the journey he was introduced at Rome to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, afterwards king of the Belgians, and soon left Naples to become his family physician in England. Until May 1829 he continued a member of the prince’s household either at Marlborough House, London, or Claremont, Surrey, and extended his acquaintance in aristocratic circles. From May 1829 to September 1831 he practised in Paris, chiefly, but not entirely, on the principles of Hahnemann. In September 1831, after consulting with Hahnemann as to the treatment of cholera, he proceeded to Tischnowitz in Moravia, where the disease was raging. He was himself attacked, but soon recommenced work, and remained until the cholera disappeared. His treatment consisted in giving camphor in the first stage, and ipecacuanha and arsenic subsequently.

At length, in July 1832, he settled in London at 19 King Street, St. James’s, re- moving in 1833 to 13 Stratford Place, and introduced the homœopathic system into this country. The medical journals denounced him as a quack, but he made numerous converts, and his practice rapidly grew, owing as much to his attractive personality as to his medical skill. But the professional opposition was obstinately prolonged. In February 1838, when Quin was a candidate for election at the Athenæum Club, he was opposed by a clique of physicians, led by John Ayrton Paris, who privately attacked Quin with a virulence for which he had to apologise. From 26 June 1845 he was medical attendant to the Duchess of Cambridge.

In 1839 Quin completed the first volume of his translation of Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura, but a fire at his printers’ destroyed the whole edition of five hundred copies, and failing health prevented him from reprinting the work. In 1843 he established a short-lived dispensary, called the St. James’s Homœopathic Dispensary. In 1844 he founded the British Homeopathic Society, of which he was elected president. Chiefly through his exertions the London Homeopathic Hospital was founded in 1850. It became a permanent institution, and is now located in Great Ormond Street. On 18 October 1859 he was appointed to the chair of therapeutics and materia medica in the medical school of the hospital, and gave a series of lectures.

Quin was popular in London society. In aristocratic, literary, artistic, and dramatic circles he was always welcome. He was almost the last of the wits of London society, and no dinner was considered a success without his presence. His friends included Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, the Bulwers, Macready, Landseer, and Charles Mathews. In manners, dress, and love of high-stepping horses he imitated Count D’Orsay. After suffering greatly from asthma, he died at the Garden Mansions, Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster, on 24 November 1878, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery on 28 November.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Charles James Mathews
26 December 1803 – 24 June 1878

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Charles James Mathews

Charles James Mathews was born in Liverpool the son of Charles Mathews. After attending Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, he was articled as the architect Augustus Charles Pugin’s apprentice. For some years, Mathews worked at this profession.

His first public appearance on the stage was made on 7 December 1835, at the Olympic Theatre in London, as George Rattleton in his own play The Humpbacked Lover, and as Tim Topple the Tiger in Leman Rode’s Old and Young Stager.

In 1838, he married Madame Vestris, then lessee of the Olympic, as her second husband. That year he also toured the US, to lukewarm reviews. In 1856, Mme Vestris died.

The following year Mathews again visited the U.S., and there in 1858 he married Mrs A. H. Davenport, whose son Charles Willie West assumed his stepfather’s surname by deed poll.

Mathews started managing the Olympic Theatre soon after his marriage to Mme Vestris, but did not succeed financially. Despite introducing innovations of more realistic and detailed scenery, his following management of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, and the Lyceum Theatre also had limited financial return. They did have quite a success with their production of the Victorian farce London Assurance (1841), commissioned for their company and written by Dion Boucicault. This was Boucicault’s first major success.

As an actor in England, Mathews held an unrivalled place in his unique vein of light eccentric comedy. He had an easy grace combined with “imperturbable solemnity”, a combination which amused people; his humour was never broad, but always measured and restrained. It was as the leading character in such plays as the Game of Speculation, My Awful Dad, Cool as a Cucumber, Patter versus Clatter, and Little Toddlekins, that he especially excelled.

After Mathews’ return to England with his second wife, in 1861, they gave a series of “At Home” tabletop reviews at the Haymarket Theatre. These were nearly as popular as those of his father had been.
Charles James Mathews was one of the few English actors who successfully played French-speaking roles. In 1863 he appeared in Paris in a French version of his play Cool as a Cucumber, and was received with praise. He played there again in 1865 as Sir Charles Coldcream in the original play L’Homme blasé (English version by Boucicault was known as Used Up.)

At age 66 in 1869, Mathews set out on a tour round the world, including a third visit to the U.S. He made his last appearance in New York at Wallack’s Theatre on 7 June 1872, in H. J. Byron’s Not such a Fool as He Looks.

After his return to England in 1872, he continued to act until within a few weeks of his death. His last appearance in London was at the Opéra Comique on 2 June 1877, in The Liar and The Cosy Couple. At Stalybridge he gave his last performance on 8 June 1878, when he played Adonis Evergreen in his comedy My Awful Dad.

Mathews died June 24, 1878.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Charles Mathews
28 June 1776 – 28 June 1835

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Charles Mathews

Charles Mathews was born to James Mathews (died 1804), a Wesleyan Methodist bookseller, printer, and pharmacist on the Strand, who also served as minister in one of the Countess of Huntingdon’s chapels. Charles was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School in London, which had some openings for common boys. He was next apprenticed to his father. For religious reasons, the father forbade his children from visiting theatres. During his youth, Charles met the actor Robert William Elliston; after attending the Drury Lane theatre, he was utterly fascinated by that world. Charles left his father in September 1793 for his first public stage appearance at Richmond. The following year his father allowed him to take up acting in Dublin, writing, “Charles, there are your indentures, and there are twenty guineas ; I do not approve of the stage, but I will not oppose your wishes. At any time hereafter, should you feel inclined to turn to an honest calling, there are twenty guineas more, if you send for them, and your father’s house is open to you.” Charles never claimed the extra 20 guineas.

For several years Mathews took bit parts, but on 15 May 1803 he made his first London appearance at the Haymarket, as Jabel in Cumberland’s The Jew and as Lingo in The Agreeable Surprise. As a continued public success, he was taken on at the Drury Lane. His gift for mimicry enabled him to disguise his personality without a change of costume. His versatility and originality were displayed in his one man show, or “monodramatic entertainment,” entitled At Home or Matthews at Home, which he initiated in the Lyceum Theatre in 1808. Leigh Hunt wrote that his table entertainments “for the richness and variety of his humour, were as good as half a dozen plays distilled.” The show combined mimicry, storytelling, recitations, improvisation, quick-change artistry, and comic song.

In 1822-1823 Mathews toured the United States to great success. During his stay, he developed a number of impressions of American types. One of these was the African American, said to have been based on the American black actor James Hewlett, who performed Shakespeare roles at the African Grove. In his next show, A Trip to America, Mathews sang a version of the popular slave freedom song, “Possum Up a Gum Tree”, performing in dialect and possibly in blackface. One author called him “the paterfamilias of the Yankee theatre and the progenitor of all native American dialect comedy.” Mathews won 3,000 crowns’ damages after bringing an action for libel against the Philadelphia Gazette.

Returning to England in autumn 1823, he joined Frederick Henry Yates, manager of the Adelphi Theatre. During his successful career, Mathews, together with John Kemble and John Braham, was received as a guest by George IV. A few years after his return from the US, Mathews bought a half-share in the Adelphi Theatre. His connection with the Adelphi was a critical and popular success for Mathews, but not a financial success. In 1834, he made a second tour performing in the United States. He cut his trip short and returned ill from the tour, after his last appearance in New York City on 11 February 1835.

Failing to recover his health, Mathews died poor in Plymouth in June 1835, without appearing again on a British stage.

In 1797, Mathews married Eliza Kirkham Strong of Exeter, the author of a volume of poems and some novels, and an actress. She retired from the stage in 1801 and died in 1802.

In 1803, Mathews married Anne Jackson, an actress and half sister to the actress Frances Maria Kelly. Anne Jackson Mathews wrote a biography of Mathews. His only child by his second wife was Charles James Mathews, who became a successful actor in turn.

The character of Alfred Jingle in Charles Dickens’ novel, The Pickwick Papers, is said to have been inspired by Mathews.

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