Mountain, Rosoman (DNB00)


MOUNTAIN, Mrs. ROSOMAN (1768?–1841), vocalist and actress, was born in London about 1768. Her parents, named Wilkinson, were circus performers, and they appear to have named their child after one of the proprietors of Sadler's Wells. A brother, and Isabella, another member of the Wilkinson family, besides wire-dancing, played the musical glasses, the latter at Sadler's Wells about 1762. Charles Dibdin prepared Rosoman for the stage, and she seems to have made a few unimportant appearances at the Haymarket in 1782. On 4 Nov. of that year she achieved some success at the Royal Circus (afterwards the Surrey Theatre) in a burletta, 'Mount Parnassus,' in which she acted with other of Dibdin's pupils. ' Miss Decamp, Mrs. Mountain, and Mrs. Bland,' writes Charles Dibdin, 'are deservedly favourites as singers, merely because I took care they should be taught nothing more than correctness, expression, and an unaffected pronunciation of the words; the infallible and only way to perfect a singer' (Professional Life}. The performances were considered marvellous; they continued, under the generic title' The Fairy World,' for several years, and little Miss Wilkinson had a prominent part with a good salary until January 1784. She then travelled with her parents, arriving before the end of the year at Hull, where she called upon Tate Wilkinson, who was no relative, and succeeded in obtaining a hearing in public on 19 Nov. 1784 as Patty in the 'Maid of the Mill,' and on 3 Dec. as Rosetta in 'Love in a Village.' Tate Wilkinson soon gave her a regular engagement. She played Stella in 'Robin Hood,' and, for her benefit on 31 Dec., Clarissa in 'Lionel and Clarissa,' when Tate Wilkinson played Oldboy, and Mrs. Jordan generously came forward to play Lionel. The popular ' Lecture on Heads ' by G. A. Stevens was part of Miss Wilkinson's early repertory. Her performances at York, Leeds, Liverpool, and Doncaster gained for her fresh laurels ; she improved nightly, and when she accepted a lucrative engagement at Covent Garden, the manager deplored her loss as irreparable.

On 4 Oct. 1786 Miss Wilkinson made her London debut as Fidelia in the 'Foundling' and Leonora in the 'Padlock.' Her performance was widely praised. The pretty regularity of her features and the simplicity of their expression, with her neat figure (judged by Wilkinson to be too petite for characters of importance), won general approval, while her voice, her manifest musical ability, and her animation of manner lifted her above the rank of ordinary stage-singers. The critics recommended her for the parts once taken by Mrs. Stephen Kemble, but the Covent Garden managers employed her chiefly in musical pieces, where she was heard at her best, and otherwise kept her somewhat in the background. In 1787 she married John Mountain the violinist, whom she had first met at Liverpool. The son of a Dublin musician (Kelly), he played in the Anacreontic quartet, the Philharmonic Society's orchestra, and elsewhere ; and led at the Fantoccini Theatre in Savile Row, 1791, at Covent Garden, 1794 (Pohl), and at the Vauxhall Gardens. A son was born in 1791 (Gent. Mag.}

Mrs. Mountain still remained at Covent Garden, and her parts included Norah, 'Poor Soldier ; ' Maria, ' Love and War ; ' Aurelia, ' Such Things are,' in 1787 : Luciana, ' Comedy of Errors ; ' Harriet, ' Miser ; ' Pastoral Nymph, ' Comus ; ' Louisa, ' Duenna ; ' Clorinda, also Annette, ' Robin Hood ; ' Selima, ' Nunnery ; ' Louisa, ' Deserter ; ' Peggy, ' Marian ; ' Lucinda, ' Love in a Village ; ' Dorinda, ' Beaux' Stratagem ; ' Rosa, ' Fontainebleau ; ' Grace, ' Poor Vulcan ; ' Semira, ' Artaxerxes ; ' Jessica, ' Merchant of Venice ; ' Narcissa, ' Inkle and Yarico ; ' Clarissa, ' All in the Wrong,' in 1788 ; Rose, ' Rose and Colin ; ' Maria, ' Maid of the Oaks ; ' Victoria, ' Castle of Andalusia ; ' Jenny, ' Highland Reel ; '. Huncamunca, ' Tom Thumb ; ' Theodosia, ' Maid of the Mill,' in 1789; Constantia, ' Man of the World ; ' Isabinda, ' Busybody ; ' Nelly, ' Magician no Conjuror,' from 1790 to 1792. In 1793 ' she looked beautiful as Mary in [O'Keeffe's] "Sprigs of Laurel'" (O'Keeffe, Recollections). Between that year and 1795 she played Maria, ' World in a Village ; ' Ellen Woodbine, ' Netley Abbey ; ' Clara Sedley, ' The Rage ; ' Louisa Bowers, ' Arrived at Portsmouth ; ' Constantia, ' Mysteries of the Castle.' Between 1795 and 1798 she appeared as Shelah, ' Lad of the Hills ; ' Venus, ' Olympus in an Uproar ; ' Isabel, ' Italian Villagers ; ' Miss Sidney, ' Secrets worth knowing ; ' and Clara, ' Devil of a Lover.'

In 1798 Mrs. Mountain finally severed her connection with Covent Garden Theatre, after a series of disagreements with the manager (cf. Parke, Musical Memoirs, i. 109). For a year or two she retired from the London stage, studying under Rauzzini at Bath, and visiting Ireland and the provinces. Panormo, Mountain's pupil, accompanied her on the piano. During her provincial tours of a later date she performed alone a piece of recitations and songs, written by Cherry for her, and called ' The Lyric Novelist.'

A short summer engagement at the Haymarket in 1800 added little to her repertory (Quashee's wife in ' Obi,' Leonora in ' What a Blunder,' and Lucy in ' Review ') ; but on 6 Oct. of the same year Mrs. Mountain sang for the first time at Drury Lane as Polly in the 'Beggar's Opera,' 'bursting upon London like a new character, having made such wonderful advancement in her profession. . . . She had always been a very interesting singer, a good actress, and a pretty woman ; but she now ranked among the first-rate on the stage when considered as a vocal performer, and had arrived almost at the very summit of her profession in ... oratorio singing' (C. H. Wislcon). Some of the later parts she undertook at Drury Lane between 1800 and 1809 were: Jennet, 'Virginia ;' Cicely, the ' Veteran Tar ; ' Marianne, ' Deaf and Dumb;' Orilla, 'Adelmorn;' Antonia, ' Gipsy Prince ; ' Daphne, ' Midas ; ' Frederika, ' Hero of the North ; ' Eugenia, ' Wife of two Husbands ; ' Rosa, ' The Dart ; ' Belinda, ' Soldier's Return ; ' Clotilde, ' Youth, Love, and Folly; ' Celinda, 'Travellers;' Lady Gay land, 'False Alarms ; ' Carline, ' Young Hussar ; ' Leila, 'Kais,' with Braham; Zelma, 'Jew of Mogadore ; ' Lady Northland, ' Fortune-teller ; ' and Rachel, 'Circassian Bride.' At the Lyceum, between 1809 and 1811 she played Juliana, ‘Up all Night;’ Adelnai, ‘Russian Impostor;’ Annette, ‘Safe and Sound;’ Lauretta, Bishop's ‘Maniac;’ Emily, ‘Beehive;’ Lodina, ‘Americans;’ Miss Selwyn, ‘M.P.’ She reappeared at the new Drury Lane house in 1813 as Cecilia in ‘Who's to have her?’ but was greatly hampered by ill-health. For a few nights subsequently she appeared at the Surrey Theatre.

Mrs. Mountain took her farewell of the stage at the King's Theatre on 4 May 1815, when the ‘Cabinet’ (Mrs. Mountain as Orlando), the ‘Review,’ and a ballet, &c., were given, before a house crowded to excess. She died at Hammersmith on 3 July 1841, aged about 73. Her husband survived her.

Among portraits of Mrs. Mountain are: 1. A half-length, engraved by Ridley, published by T. Bellamy at the ‘Monthly Mirror’ office, September 1797. 2. As Fidelia, after De Wilde, by Trotter. 3. As Matilda, after De Wilde, by Schiavonetti, published August 1806 by J. Cawthorn. 4. Bust engraved by E. Makenzie, from original drawing by Deighton. 5. Half-length, with guitar, by Buck, engraved in tinted chalk and stipple by T. Cheesman, published by W. Holland, October 1804. 6. Half-length by Masquerier, mezzotint by C. Turner, published January 1804 by C. Turner.

[Percival's Collection in British Museum relating to Sadler's Wells, vols. i. iii.; Thespian Dict.; Public Advertiser, 1782–6, passim; Dibdin's Professional Life, p. 113; Miles's Life of Grimaldi, p. 16; Tate Wilkinson's Wandering Patentee, ii. 174 et seq.; Gent. Mag. 1841, pt. ii. p. 325; Morning Chron. 5 Oct. 1786; Kelly's Reminiscences, i. ff. 8, 179; Pohl's Haydn in London, passim; O'Keeffe's Recollections, ii. 234; P. C. C. Administration Grant, 1841.]

L. M. M.