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Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Baillie’

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.

Daniel Terry
1780?–1829

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Daniel Terry

Daniel Terry was born in Bath about 1780, and was educated at the Bath grammar school and subsequently at a private school at Wingfield (?Winkfield), Wiltshire, under the Rev. Edward Spencer. During five years he was then a pupil of Samuel Wyatt, the architect.

Having first played at Bath Heartwell in the Prize, Terry left Wyatt to join (in 1803 to 1805) the company at Sheffield under the management of William Macready the Elder. His first appearance was as Tressel in Richard III and was followed by other parts, Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII and Edmund in King Lear. Towards the close of 1805 he joined Stephen Kemble in the north of England.

On the breaking up in 1806 of Kemble’s company, he went to Liverpool and made a success which recommended him to Henry Siddons, who brought him out in Edinburgh, 29 November 1809, as Bertrand in William Dimond’s Foundling of the Forest. On 12 December he was Antigonus in The Winter’s Tale, on 8 January 1810 Prospero, and on the 29th Argyle in Joanna Baillie’s Family Legend. Walter Scott, à propos of this role, wrote: ‘A Mr. Terry, who promises to be a fine performer, went through the part of the old earl with great taste and effect.’ Scott also contributed a prologue which Terry spoke.

He was Lord Ogleby in the Clandestine Marriage, 18 November 1810 in Edinburgh. In this part Terry made his first appearance in London at the Haymarket, 20 May 1812. He created some original characters in lesser plays, including Count Salerno in Eyre’s Look at Home, 15 August 1812, based on John Moore’s Zeluco. He was announced to reopen, 14 November, the Edinburgh theatre as Lord Ogleby, but was ill and did not appear until the 23rd, and on the 24th he played Shylock. He was on 23 December the first Lord Archibald in Caledonia, or the Thistle and the Rose.

On 8 September 1813, as Leon in Rule a Wife and Have a Wife by John Fletcher, Terry made his first appearance at Covent Garden, where, with frequent migrations to Edinburgh and summer seasons at the Haymarket, he remained until 1822. Among the parts he played in his first season were Sir Robert Bramble in the Poor Gentleman, Dornton in the Road to Ruin, Ford, Sir Adam Contest in the Wedding Day, Ventidius in Antony and Cleopatra, Shylock, Churlton, an original part in James Kenney’s Debtor and Creditor, 26 April 1814, and Sir Oliver in ‘School for Scandal.’

On 12 March 1816 Guy Mannering, a musical adaptation by Terry of Scott’s novel, was seen for the first time. This appears to have been the first of Terry’s adaptations from Scott. At the Haymarket he was seen as Periwinkle in A Bold Stroke for a Wife. In 1815, meanwhile, he had, by permission of the Covent Garden management, supported Sarah Siddons in her farewell engagement in Edinburgh, where he played Macbeth, ‘The Stranger’ [sic] in Douglas, Wolsey, King John, and the Earl of Warwick. Back at Covent Garden, he was, 7 October 1816, the original Colonel Rigolio in William Dimond’s Broken Sword, and on 12 November the original Governor of Surinam in Morton’s Slave.

On 2 October 1817 his acting of Frederick William, King of Prussia, in William Abbot’s Youthful Days of Frederick the Great, raised his reputation to the highest point it attained, and on 22 April 1818 he was the first Salerno in Richard Lalor Sheil’s Bellamira.’ In Jameson’s Nine Points of the Law he was at the Haymarket, 17 July, Mr. Precise, and in the ‘Green Man,’ 15 August, exhibited what was called a perfect piece of acting as Mr. Green. At Covent Garden he was, 17 April 1819, the first David Deans in his own adaptation, The Heart of Midlothian; played Sir Sampson Legend in Love for Love, Buckingham in Richard III, Prospero, Sir Amias Paulet in Mary Stuart (adapted from Schiller), 14 December 1819, Lord Glenallan, and afterwards was announced for Jonathan Oldbuck in his own and Isaac Pocock’s adaptation, The Antiquary, 25 January 1820. Illness seems to have prevented his playing Oldbuck, which was assigned to John Liston.

On 17 May he was the first Dentatus in Sheridan Knowles’s Virginius. At the Haymarket during the summer seasons Terry played a great round of comic characters. Among many original parts in pieces by James Kenney, J. Dibdin, and others, Terry was Sir Christopher Cranberry in Exchange no Robbery, by his friend Theodore Hook, 12 August 1820; the Prince in Match Breaking, 20 August 1821; and Shark in Morning, Noon, and Night, 9 September 1822.

Having quarrelled with the management of Covent Garden on a question of terms, Terry made his first appearance at Drury Lane, 16 October 1822, speaking an occasional address by Colman and playing Sir Peter. At the Haymarket, 7 July, he was the first Admiral Franklin in James Kenney’s Sweethearts and Wives, and on 27 September the first Dr. Primrose in a new adaptation by T. Dibdin of the Vicar of Wakefield.

The season 1823–4 at Drury Lane saw him as Bartolo in Fazio, Lord Sands, Menenius in Coriolanus, and as the first Antony Foster in a version of Kenilworth, 5 January 1824, and the following season as Orozembo in Pizarro, Justice Woodcock in Love in a Village, Adam in As you like it, Moustache in Henri Quatre, Hubert in King John, and Rochfort in an alteration of the Fatal Dowry. Among his original rôles were Zamet in Massaniello, 17 February 1825, and Mephistopheles in Dr. Faustus, 16 May.

In 1825, in association with his friend Frederick Henry Yates, he became manager of the Adelphi, opening, 10 October, in a piece called Killigrew. On the 31st was produced Edward Fitzball’s adaptation, The Pilot, in which Terry was the Pilot. He also appeared in other parts. But he shortly left management because of outside troubles.

Scott consulted Terry on literary questions, especially on plays, and seems to have trusted him with the Doom of Devorgoil, with a view to adapting it for the stage. How many of the numerous stage adaptations of Scott that saw the light between the appearance of Waverley and the death of the actor are by Terry cannot be said, many of them being anonymous and unprinted. Terry was almost as well known in Edinburgh as in London, and Scott thought highly of his acting. Terry’s idolatry of Scott led him to imitate both his manner and his calligraphy. He also took off Scott’s speech, so as almost to pass for a Scotsman. Scott lent him money for his theatrical speculations, and gave him advice.

Terry’s architectural knowledge was of use to Scott, who consulted him while building Abbotsford; the introduction to Edward Blore was from him. Terry was responsible also for the British Theatrical Gallery, a collection of whole-length portraits with biographical notes (London, 1825)

Being intimate with the Ballantynes, Scott’s publishers, Terry took a financial stake in their business, and when their business crash came Scott was saddled with his liability (£1,750). Terry’s financial affairs became so involved that he was obliged to retire from management, and he suffered a breakdown.

After leaving the Adelphi he temporarily retired to the continent, and then re-engaged at Drury Lane and played Polonius and Simpson. Finding himself unable to act, and his memory gone, he gave up his engagement.

On 12 June 1829 he was struck with paralysis, and died during the month.

Having first married in Liverpool, Terry took as his second wife Elizabeth Nasmyth, the daughter of Alexander Nasmyth the painter. Mrs. Terry—who, after Terry’s death, married Charles Richardson the lexicographer—had good taste in design, and seems to have taken a share in the decoration of Abbotsford. Terry left by her a son named after Scott (Walter), after whose fortunes Scott promised to look, and a daughter Jane.

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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.

Joanna Baillie
11 September 1762 – 23 February 1851

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Joanna Baillie

Joanna Bailliewas born in 1762. Her father, Rev. James Baillie (c.1722–1778), was a Presbyterian minister and briefly, during the two years before his death, a Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow. Her mother Dorothea Hunter (c.1721–1806) was a sister of the great physicians and anatomists, William and John Hunter. The Baillies were an old Scottish family, and claimed among their ancestors the Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace.

Joanna Baillie was the youngest of three children; she had had a twin sister, but this child had died unnamed a few hours after her birth. Baillie grew up in close companionship with her sister, Agnes (1760–1861), and brother, Matthew Baillie (1761–1823), who became a celebrated London physician.

Baillie’s early years were marked by a passion for the outdoors. Uninterested in books, she preferred playing in the garden, riding her pony, splashing on the banks of the River Clyde, and listening to ghost stories by the fireside. Baillie’s own gift for narrative invention revealed itself early in stories told to her companions or acted out in impromptu amateur dramatics.

In 1769 the Baillies moved from Bothwell to Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, where Rev. Baillie had been appointed to the collegiate church. A few years later, at the age of ten, Joanna Baillie was sent to Glasgow to attend a boarding-school known for “transforming healthy little hoydens into perfect little ladies” (Carswell 266). Her intellectual and artistic faculties were here stimulated, and she displayed a talent for drawing, considerable musical ability, and a love of mathematics. Above all, however, was her facility in the writing and acting of plays. It was in Glasgow that she visited the theatre for the first time, kindling a passion which was to continue for the rest of her life.

With the death of their father in 1778, the Baillie family found themselves with little to live on. Matthew Baillie went to Balliol College, Oxford, following in his uncles’ footsteps in the study of medicine. Mrs. Baillie and her daughters retired to Long Calderwood, her family home near East Kilbride, where they led quiet lives as country gentlewomen.

Dr. William Hunter of Windmill Street, London, died in 1783, leaving Matthew Baillie his house and private museum collection (which is now the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery). The following year Joanna, Agnes, and their mother moved to London to keep house for Matthew. There Joanna Baillie had access to literary society through her aunt Anne Hunter, the wife of Dr. John Hunter. Anne Hunter was a poet of some renown and the hostess of a salon, which included among its circle Fanny Burney, Elizabeth Carter, and Elizabeth Montagu. Encouraged by her aunt’s example, Baillie began to write poetry. While at Windmill Street, Baillie also began seriously writing drama. She had a ready supply of books and studied the French authors Corneille, Racine, Molière, and Voltaire, as well as Shakespeare and the older English dramatists.

In 1791, Matthew Baillie married Sophia Denman, the daughter of a leading obstetrician, and relocated to the more fashionable Grosvenor Street. Mrs. Baillie and her daughters settled, after two or three moves, in Colchester. There, Joanna Baillie conceived the idea of her great work, the Plays on the Passions.

By 1802 Joanna Baillie had moved from Colchester to Hampstead, then on the outskirts of London, where she and her sister passed the remainder of their lives. In 1806 Mrs. Baillie died. The two sisters, having inherited a small competence from their uncle Dr. William Hunter, chose not to marry. They were on intimate terms of friendship with many eminent figures in the arts and sciences, and were sociable, hospitable, and much admired and visited. Anna Laetitia Barbauld and Lucy Aikin were neighbours and close friends, and Sir Walter Scott was a regular correspondent with whom Joanna Baillie stayed in Scotland and who visited her whenever he was in London.

In 1823, Baillie’s much-loved brother Matthew died. His children and grandchildren continued to display the affection and pride in their aunt’s achievements which had always marked the family. As she reached her seventies, Baillie experienced a yearlong period of unusual ill health which left her too weak to keep up her correspondence. However, she recovered and returned to her work.

Joanna Baillie was anxious that all her works with the exception of her theological pamphlet be collected in a single volume, and had the satisfaction of seeing this ‘great monster book’ as she called it, which appeared in 1851, shortly before she died. Though no longer robust—‘Ladies of four score and upwards cannot expect to be robust, and need not be gay. We sit by the fireside with our books’ (Carhart, 62)—she had remained in good health until the end. She died in 1851 in Hampstead, having almost reached her ninetieth year. Her sister, Agnes, lived on to be 100. Both sisters were buried alongside their mother in Hampstead parish churchyard, and in 1899 a sixteen-foot-high memorial was erected in Joanna Baillie’s memory in the churchyard of her birthplace at Bothwell.

In an 1804 prefatory address to the reader, Baillie defended her plays as acting plays. The criticism that she had no understanding of practical stagecraft and that her plays were torpid and dull in performance rankled throughout her life, and she was always delighted to hear of a production being mounted, no matter how humble it might be. She believed that critics had unfairly labelled her work as Closet drama, partly because she was a woman and partly because they had failed to read her prefaces with care. She pointed also to the conventions of the theatre in her time, when lavish spectacle on huge stages was the order of the day. Her own plays, with their attention to psychological detail, worked best, she argued, in well-lit small theatres where facial expressions could clearly be seen.

Growing up as a Presbyterian minister’s daughter, religion had always been important to Baillie. In 1826 she published The Martyr, a tragedy on religion, intended for reading only; and in 1831 she entered publicly into theological debate with a pamphlet, A view of the general tenour of the New Testament regarding the nature and dignity of Jesus Christ, in which she analysed the doctrines of the Trinitarian Order, Arianism, and Socinianism.

Financially secure herself, Joanna Baillie customarily gave half her earnings from her writings to charity, and engaged in many philanthropic activities. In the early 1820s she corresponded with the Sheffield campaigner James Montgomery in support of his efforts on behalf of chimney sweeps. She declined to send a poem, fearing that was ‘just the very way to have the whole matter considered by the sober pot-boilers over the whole kingdom as a fanciful and visionary thing’ whereas ‘a plain statement of their miserable lot in prose, accompanied with a simple, reasonable plan for sweeping chimneys without them’ was far better strategically (letter, 5 Feb 1824).

Where literary matters were concerned, Joanna Baillie had a shrewd understanding of publishing as a trade marked by gender and class distinctions and driven by profit. Baillie took seriously the power her eminence gave her, and authors down on their luck, women writers, and working-class poets like the shoemaker poet, John Struthers, applied to her for assistance. She wrote letters, drew on all her contacts, and used her knowledge of the literary world either to advise or to further a less well-connected writer. In 1823, she edited and published by subscription a collection of poems by many of the leading writers of the day, in support of a widowed old school friend with a family of daughters to support.

Few women writers have received such universal commendation for their personal qualities and literary powers as Joanna Baillie. Her intelligence and integrity were allied to a modest demeanour which made her, for many, the epitome of a Christian gentlewoman. She was also shrewd, observant of human nature, and persistent to the point of obstinacy in developing her own views and opinions. Her brand of drama remained essentially unchanged throughout her life, and she took pride in having carried out her major work, the Plays on the Passions, more or less in the form she had originally conceived. Her inventive faculties were widely remarked upon by “practically everybody whose opinion on a literary matter was worth anything” (Carswell 275), and she was on friendly terms with all the leading women writers of her time.

John Stuart Mill, in his Autobiography, recalled that in his childhood, Baillie’s Constantine Paleologus appeared to him ‘one of the most glorious of human compositions’ and that he continued to think it ‘one of the best dramas of the last two centuries’.

Two songs from Ethwald, Hark! the cock crows and Once upon my cheek he said the roses grew, were set to music by the English composer John Wall Callcott.

One of her few detractors was Francis Jeffrey, who in 1803 published a long condemnatory review of the Plays on the Passions in the Edinburgh Review. He attacked the narrow theory, practice, and purpose of the plays; and though he also praised her ‘genius,’ Joanna Baillie marked him down as her literary enemy and refused a personal introduction. It was not until 1820 that she agreed to meet him; characteristically, they then became warm friends.

Joanna Baillie offered the literary world a new way of looking at drama and poetry. Revered by poets on both sides of the Atlantic, many of her contemporaries placed her above all women poets except Sappho. According to Harriet Martineau she had ‘enjoyed a fame almost without parallel, and … been told every day for years, through every possible channel, that she was second only to Shakespeare’ (Martineau 358). At one time her works were translated into Cingalese and German, and were performed widely in both the United States and Great Britain.

But even when Martineau met her, in the 1830s, that fame seemed to belong to a bygone era. There were no revivals of her plays in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries; and yet, as psychological studies, her tragedies would seem very suited to the intimacy of television or film. It was not until the late twentieth century that critics began to recognize the extent to which her intimate depictions of the human psyche influenced Romantic literature. Scholars now recognize her importance as an innovator on the stage and as a dramatic theorist, and critics and literary historians of the Romantic period concerned with reassessing the place of women writers are acknowledging her significance.

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