Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/567

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Vezizin
Vezin
557

Brandreth, R.E., F.R.S., and left a son (d. 1891) and two daughters.

[Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. clxxi. 421; Catalogue of the Library Inst. Civ. Eng.; Engineering, 20 Sept. 1907; Burke's Peerage.]

W. F. S.


VEZIN, HERMANN (1829–1910), actor, born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., on 2 March 1829, was son of Charles Henri Vezin, merchant, of French origin, by his wife Emilie Kalisky. His great-great-grandfather, Pierre de Vezin, married in the seventeenth century Marie Charlotte de Chateauneuf, an actress at the French theatre at Hanover; Rouget de Lisle, composer of the ’Marseillaise,' was one of the great-grandsons of this union. Hermann Vezin was educated in Philadelphia, entering Pennsylvania University in 1845. Intended for the law, he graduated B.A. in 1847, proceeding M.A. in 1850. In 1848–9 he underwent in Berlin successful treatment for threatened eye-trouble.

In 1850 he came to England, and an introduction from Charles Kean secured him an engagement with John Langford Pritchard at the Theatre Royal, York. There he made his first appearance on the stage in the autumn of 1850, and played many minor Shakespearean parts in support of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean, William Creswick, and G. V. Brooke. In the following year he fulfilled engagements at Southampton, Ryde, Guildford, Reading, and at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, where his roles included Young Norval in Home's 'Douglas,' Gaude Melnotte in 'The Lady of Lyons,' and Richelieu.

In 1852 Charles Kean engaged him for the Princess's Theatre in London, and he made his first appearance on the London stage on 14 April 1852, as the Earl of Pembroke in 'King John.' Minor parts in Shakespearean and modern plays followed- In royal command performances at Windsor Castle, Vezin appeared as Snare in the second part of 'King Henry IV' (7 Jan. 1853) and as the wounded officer in 'Macbeth' (4 Feb. 1853).

On the termination of his engagement at the Princess's in 1853 he returned for some four years to the provinces to play leading parts Uke Fazio in Milman's tragedy of that name, Lesurquea and Dubosc in 'The Courier of Lyons ' (which he repeated at the Gaiety on 4 July 1870), and Sir Giles Overreach in 'A New Way to Pay Old Debts.' In 1857 he crossed to America, where he remained two years. Returning to England in 1859, he undertook the management of the Surrey theatre for six weeks, opening there on 13 June 1859, as Macbeth. He improved his reputation in important parts like Hamlet, Richard III, Louis XI, Shylock, Othello, and King John.

After a further tour in the provinces he was engaged by Samuel Phelps for Sadler's Wells Theatre, where he opened, on 8 Sept. 1860, as Orlando in 'As You Like It.' He soon made there a great impression as Aufidius in 'Coriolanus,' and in various Shakespearean roles, including Bassanio, Mark Antony, and Romeo. At Windsor Castle, on 24 Jan. 1861, he played De Mauprat in Lytton's 'Richelieu,' in a command performance. He was Laertes (a favourite part) to the Hamlet of Charles Fechter [q. v.] at the Princess's Theatre on 1 April 1861, but he again supported Phelps at Sadler's Wells in June.

Vezin was now widely recognised as an actor of talent in both high tragedy and comedy. Engaged by Edmund Falconer for the Lyceum Theatre, he made a great success as Harry Kavanagh in Falconer's 'Peep o'Day' (9 Nov. 1861), playing the part for over 300 nights.

On 21 Feb. 1863, at St. Peter's church, Eaton Square, he was married to Mrs. Charles Young [see Vezin, Mrs. Jane Elizabeth, Suppl. II], a member of Phelps's company. After a 'starring' tour with his wife in the provinces he played at the Princess's Theatre on 2 Jan. 1864, Don Caesar in 'Donna Diana,' specially adapted for Vezin and his wife by Dr. Westland Marston from Moreto's Spanish play, 'Desden con el Deaden.' He then re-joined Fechter, this time at the Lyceum. Undertaking a three months' management of the Princess's Theatre, which proved an artistic success, he opened on 20 July 1867 as James Harebell in W. G. Wills's 'The Man o'Airlie.' The fine impersonation, which he repeated at the Haymarket in May 1876, placed him in the first rank of English actors.

For the next twenty years Vezin played almost continuously leading parts at the chief London theatres in new or old pieces of literary aims. At the recently opened Gaiety Theatre he, with Phelps, Charles Mathews, and John L. Toole, played Peregrine in the revival of George Colman's 'John Bull' on 22 Dec. 1873; supported Phelps during 1874 in a series of revivals of old comedies; was Jaques in 'As You Like It,' on 6 Feb. 1875, and Benedick in 'Much Ado about Nothing' on 26 April. His Jaques proved a singularly fine performance, full of subtle irony, humour, and poetry. Subsequently it