Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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performed two seasons, with great success, when the king and queen summoned her to play for them, Perdita, in the "Winter's Tale." As she appeared in the greenroom, there was a burst of admiration among the players, and the marked attention of the Prince of Wales, afterward George IV., then "the first gentleman in Europe," confused and trOURled her. From that time, the prince pursued her with daily letters, and every form of flattery; but for months she refused to see him, and worked on to support a husband whose ill-treatment of her stood out in painful relief where everybody else was kind. At last came a minature of the prince, with the motto, Je ne change qyCcn mouranl, and she met him, only to love him with all the strength of her deep, but untrained nature. One more dark spot, on a character that has little relief of brightness, is seen in the prince's treat­ment of "Perdita." In the midst of lavish words of tenderness, came his "We meet no more;" and she is left to brave the hatred of the people, and actual want, without a sign from him.
Here is her own account of some of her experiences on the stage: " The greenroom and orchestra (where Mr. Garrick sat during' the night) were thronged with critics. When I approached the side-wing my head throbbed convulsively; I then began to feel my resolution would fail, and I leaned upon the nurse's arm, almost fainting. Mr. Sheridan and several other friends encouraged me to proceed; and at length, with trembling limbs and fearful apprehension, I approached the audience. The thundering applause that greeted me, nearly overpowered all my faculties; I stood mute and bending with alarm, which did not subside till I had feebly articulated the few sentences of the first short scene, during the whole of which I had never once ventured to look at the audience. The second scene being the masquerade, I had time to collect myself. I never shall forget the sensation which rushed through my bosom, when I first looked toward the pit. I beheld a gradual ascent of heads; all eyes were fixed on me; and the sensation they conveyed was awfully impressive; but the keen and penetrating eyes of Mr. Garrick, darting their lustre from the centre of the orchestra, were beyond all others the objects most conspicu­ous. As I acquired courage, I found the applause augment, and the night was con­cluded with peals of clamorous approbation. * * * The second character which I played was Amanda in 'A Trip to Scarborough.' The play was based upon Vanbrugh's ' Pi elapse/ and the audience supposing it was a new piece, on finding themselves deceived, expressed a considerable degree of disapprobation. I was terrified beyond imagination, when Mrs. Yates, no longer able to bear the hissing of the audience, quitted the scene and left me alone to encounter the critic tempest. I stood for some moments as though I had been petrified. Mr. Sheridan, from the side-wing, desired me not to quit the boards; the late Duke of Cumberland, from the side-box, bade me take courage—'It is not you but the play, they hiss,' said his Royal Highness. I curtsied, and that curtsey seemed to electrify the whole house, for a thundering peal of encouraging applause followed; the comedy was. suffered to go on, and is to this hour a stock play at Drury-Lane Theatre."
At the age of twenty-four, while travelling abroad, she went to sleep in her carriage, with the windows open, and the result was a violent cold, rheumatism, and a complete paralysis of her limbs. A woman, writing some time after, gives this remembrance of a glimpse of her: " On a table, in one of the waiting-rooms of the opera-house, was seated a woman of fashionable appearance, still beautiful, but not in the bloom of beauty's pride. She was not noticed, save by the eye of pity. In a few moments two liveried servants came to her, and took from their pockets long, white sleeves, which they drew on their arms; they then lifted her up and conveyed her to her carriage—it was the then helpless paralytic, 'Perdita.'"
She wrote novels and poetry, which she published under the pseudonym of "Perdita* .Neglected by all her noble friends, after years of suffering, she died in 1799.