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.At this time Mr. Barry was somewhat in arrears for rent, and notwithstanding this favorable report, and the fact that he had paid $16,000 in repairs, gas fittings, etc., they demanded and obtained the full payment of the bond. His books, wardrobe, every thing came under the auctioneer's hammer, and Mr. Barry left Boston as poor as Lazarus.
Such a termination to his many trials was a hard recompense for his six years of toil. He had not only been obliged to contend against the crises in the money market, but Mr. Pelby proved an inveterate enemy through life to the Tremont Theatre, and sought its overthrow by every means in his power, as a retaliation for the treatment he had experienced from the first board of directors. No star came to this country of any note after Mr. Pelby opened the Warren, but received at once liberal offers to appear at his theatre. Mr. Barry was of course in the field, and to obtain them was obliged to outbid Mr. Pelby's offers, which he never wished to be accepted. We attach no blame to the latter gentleman for this piece of diplomacy, and merely mention it to give an idea of a not unimportant agent in the decline of the Tremont. This fact, coupled with the more important one that the theatre was too small, explains the question sometimes asked, Why did Boston not sustain the Tremont Theatre?
The Tremont under J. S.Jones. — Season '39-40.—The Company.— Mr. Ranger. — Charles Kean. — Death of Mr. Stimpson. — Mrs. Fitzwilliam. — Jack Falstaff, by George Andrews. — The Finn and Eberle Benefit. — Attempt to reduce the Prices. — Tyrone Power. — Fanny Elssler. — The Woods. — John Braham, etc. etc.
After the departure of Mr. Barry, the proprietors of the theatre had numerous applications for the lease, but our townsman, J. S. Jones, Esq., was deemed the best qualified for the post, and it was rented to him for four years, with the right to terminate in two or three years. The rent was $8000 the first year, and $8,500 the subsequent years.
The season of 1839-40, under Mr. Jones, commenced on the 2d of September, with the " Poor Gentleman," and the farce of the "Little Adopted." Mr. Gilbert, the stage-manager, delivered an opening address, in the course of which the following allusion was made to Mr. Barry:—
"Ay! look around — above — it is the same
The company included Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Muzzy, Mr. and Mrs. Ayling, Mrs. Sheridan, Mrs. Anderson, Miss Boquet, Fanny Jones, Messrs. George H. Andrews, J. F. Williamson, D. Whiting, A. W. Fenno, D. A. Sarzedas, W. H. Curtis, J. H. Ring. Leader of the orchestra, Holloway; James Kendall, clarionet; Edward Kendall, bugle; Geer, Warren, Woodhouse, etc.
The theatre was decorated throughout, and a splendid drop act was painted by W. M. Bayne, who has of late years acquired a fortune, by his Panorama of a Voyage to Europe.
Mrs. Anderson made a hit this season as Jane Lomax, and ably supported Mr. Forrest during his engagement, performing Julie de Mortimar to Mr. F.'s Richelieu, with an effect since unequalled.
On the 4th of November, Mr. Ranger appeared for the first time as Marquis St. Croix, in the comedy written by himself, entitled the "Romantic Widow." Many will remember this gentleman for his excellent impersonation of the French gentlemen, in which he excelled. This gentleman was more successful in New York than here. He belonged to the class of actors whose peculiarities may be summed up in the single word — beautiful. His every movement was symmetry and grace; but, notwithstanding these qualifications, he played to poor houses.
Charles Kean followed, and attracted good houses. His Hamlet was pronounced excellent throughout; his King Lear, beautiful and almost unrivalled; but as the "crook-backed tyrant," he was not so successful. Mr. Kean also appeared as Claude Melnotte, and performed Pizarro to Mrs. Anderson's Elvira on Thanksgiving evening, when Mr. Stimpson, the captain of the supernumeraries, was killed by the curtain weight falling upon him and fracturing his skull.
On the 16th of December, Mrs. Fitzwilliam, the same who still delights a London audience, appeared. The play of " Widow Wiggins," in which she sustained six characters, was very attractive. Her appearance on the boards, at a time when there was a depression in business, and consequently many long faces, was deemed a public benefit, for her faultless acting chased away the clouds of despondency, and smoothed the furrows of care. Her vocal as well as histrionic powejs were, at that time, exceedingly versatile, and her "Music Mad " called forth repeated rounds of applause. "Foreign and Native Graces" was one of Mrs. Fitzwilliams's most popular pieces; and this lady, although not remarkable for her beauty, won, by force of real talent, the suffrages of all theatre-goers. She played Rosalind to W. H. Smith's Orlando, and Frederick's Jacques, on the night of her benefit, which was honored by a full house.
After the departure of this lady, a series of stock benefits took place. Mr. George H. Andrews appeared as Sir John Falstaff. A wicked critic was bold enough to remark, that "he played Jack Falstaff to kill; that is, he killed off Falstaff to begin with—murdered him absolutely — and then played Jack Andrews very well during the rest of the performance;" a very just opinion of this effort. Mrs. Anderson's benefit was a good one. She was aided by Ranger, and her father, William Pelby, appeared in the 5th act of "Brutus," his first appearance on the Tremont boards for eight years.
On the 27th of January, 1840, a benefit was given at the Tremont to the widow and children of Henry J. Finn, whose recent loss in the Lexington (Jan. 13, 1840) then excited the greatest sympathy. A meeting of gentlemen was holden at the Exchange Coffee House, at which Josiah Bradlee, Esq., presided, and William Hayden was secretary, when a committee was appointed to superintend the benefit. Mr. and Mrs. Seguin, Mr. and Mrs. Wallack, Mr. Knight the vocalist, Mr. Kanger, and the stock company, volunteered their services, and the price was raised to $2 boxes, and $1 pit and second circle. The result was a house containing $1175. A benefit was also given to Mrs. Eberle, whose husband, an actor, was also lost on board the Lexington, which attracted' at the regular prices $1116. These benefits were honorable alike to the brother artists who so generously contributed their services, and to the finer feelings and sympathies that cluster around the heart. The public responded to the calls, and the truckmen turned out strong. At the Eberle benefit, a uniform band of marines from the Navy Yard came over. The families, after deducting a few expenses, received about $900 each.
Mr. Ranger's benefit was during this engagement fashionably attended. On that occasion a medal of splendid embossed gold, the free gift of a large number of his friends and admirers, was presented to him. It bore a suitable inscription, and Mr. Ranger in accepting it responded in a most courteous and appropriate manner.