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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/103

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Oldfield
Oldfield
97

she was engaged in 1692 at a weekly salary of fifteen shillings, soon increased to twenty. Concerning her hesitation to come on the stage, she said to Chetwood: 'I long'd to be at it, and only wanted a little decent entreaties' (sic). To the same writer she said, concerning her early performances in tragedy: 'I hate to have a page dragging my tail about. Why do they not give [Mrs.] Porter these parts? She can put on a better tragedy face than I can.' Mrs. Cross had in 1699 temporarily deserted the stage, and Anne Oldfield made in that year, according to her biographer Egerton, her first appearance in that actress's part of Candiope in Dryden's 'Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen.' No record of Mrs. Cross in that character is preserved, although she played five years later Florimel in the same piece.

The first character in which Mrs. Oldfield is traced is Alinda, an original part in a prose adaptation by Vanbrugh of the ' Pilgrim ' of Beaumont and Fletcher, produced in 1700 at Drury Lane. In 1700 she was also the original Aurelia in the 'Perjured Husband, or the Adventures of Venice,' of Mrs. Carroll (i.e. Susannah Centlivre [q. v.]), and Sylvia in Oldmixon's opera ' The Grove, or Love's Paradise.' In 1700 she was the original Miranda in the 'Humours of the Age,' attributed to Baker ; Anne of Brittanie in Mrs. Trotter's 'Unhappy Penitent,' the prologue to which she spoKe; and Queen Helen in Settle's ' Virgin Prophetess, or the Fate of Troy; in 1702, Uimene in Higgons's 'Generous Conqueror, or Timely Discovery;' Camilla in Bumaby's 'Modish Husband;' Lady Sharlot in Steele's 'Funeral, or Grief à la mode;' and Jacinta in Vanbrugh's' False Friend,' the prologue to which she recited ; and in 1703 Luda in Furfey's 'Old Mode and the New, or Country Miss with her Furbeloe : 'Lucia in Estcourt's 'Fair Example, or the Modish Citizens;' and Belliza in Mrs. Carroll's 'Love's Contrivance, or Le Médecin malgré lui.' She also played Hellena in 'The Rover.'

During this time her personal graces won recognition rather than her abilities. Wholly inexpert at the outset, she was long in acquiring a method. Colley Cibber, who watched her opening career, had grave doubts as to her future ; and Critick, in Gildon's 'Comparison between the Two Stages,' 1702, speaks of her and Mrs. Rogers as 'rubbish that ought to be swept off the stage with the dust and the filth' (p. 200). Cibber first recognised her merits when, at Bath in 1703, she replaced Mrs. Verbruggen [q. v.] as Leimora in 'Sir Courtly Nice' (see Gent. Mag. 1761, p. 264). From this time she began to improve, and two years later she stood high in public favour. In Steele's 'Lying Lover, or the Ladies' Friendship,' she was, on 2 Dec. 1703, the original Victoria; and on 6 March 1704 the original Queen Mary in Banks's 'Albion Queens.' Owing to the illness of Mrs. Verbruggen and the secession of Mrs. Bracegirdle, the part of Lady Betty Modish in Cibber's 'Careless Husband,' on 7 Dec. 1704, was, with some reluctance, confided to her. In a spirit more magnanimous than he often exhibited, Cibber subsequently owned that a large share in the favourable reception of this piece was due to her, praising the excellence of her acting and her manner of conversing, and saying that many sentiments in the character might almost be regarded as originally her own. In Steele's 'Tender Husband, or the Accomplished Fools,' on 23 April 1705, she was the original Biddy Tipkin. After the union of Drury Lane and Dorset Garden theatres, she was, on 30 Oct. 1705, the first Arabella in Baker's ' Hampstead Heath.' During the season she played the following parts, all original : Lady Reveller in the 'Basset Table' of Mrs. Carroll, Izadora in Cibber's 'Perolla and Izadora,' Viletta in the 'Fashionable Lover, or Wit in Necessity,' and Sylvia in Farquhar's 'Recruiting Officer.' Joining the seceders from Drury Lane to the Haymarket, she made her first appearance at the latter house as Elvira in the 'Spanish Friar,' playing also Lady Lurewell ; Celia in 'Volpone, Monimia in the 'Orphan,' and many other characters ; and being the original Isabella in Mrs. Centlivre's ' Platonick Lady,' Florimel in Cibber s ' Marriage k la mode, or the Comical Lovers,' Mrs. Sullen in Farquhar's 'Beaux' Stratagem,' and Ismena in Smith's 'Phædra and Hippolytus.' At the same house in 1707-8 she created Lady Dainty in Cibber's 'Double Gallant, or Sick Lady's Cure;' Ethelinda in Rowe's 'Royal Convert ; ' and Mrs. Conquest in Cibber's 'Lady's Last Stake,' and she also played Narcissa in Cibber's * Love's Last Shift.' Returning in 1708 to Drury Lane, her principal parts — none of them original — were: Angelica in 'Love for Love,' Elvira in 'Love makes a Man,' Semandra in 'Mithridates,' Second Constantia in the 'Chances,' Euphronia in Æsop,' Lady Harriet in the 'Funeral,' and Teresia in Shadwell's 'Squire of Alsatia.' On 14 Dec. she was the original Lady Rodomont in Baker's 'Fine Lady's Airs, or an Equipage of Lovers;' and on 11 Jan. 1709 Lucinda in 'Rival Fools,' Cibber's alteration of Fletcher's 'Wit at several Weapons.' Once more at the Haymarket, in partnership with Swiney, Wilks,

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