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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/175

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in the Waterford and Kilkenny circuit. Adopted at the age of two by the Rev. Dr. James Barrett of Ennis, she lived with him, apart from stage knowledge or influences, until his death in 1809, when she was placed at Mrs. Tounier's school at Waterford. Her father's health failing, she was reluctantly induced to turn to the stage, and, through the influence of Lord and Lady Castle-Coote, was engaged by Frederick Edward Jones [q. v.], and made her first appearance at the Crow Street Theatre about 1815 as Albina Mandeville, Mrs. Jordan's part in Reynolds's ‘Will.’ She also played Lady Teazle. At Belfast on 1 Jan. 1816 she joined Montagu Talbot's company, of which during the previous season her father and mother had been members, and on the 3rd played Mrs. Mortimer, Mrs. Pope's part in Reynolds's ‘Laugh when you can.’ During the season, which ended on 3 July, she was seen as Albina Mandeville, Aurelia in Mrs. Inchbald's ‘Lovers' Vows,’ Floranthe in Colman's ‘Mountaineers,’ Lady Emily Gerald in Mrs. C. Kemble's ‘Smiles and Tears,’ and for her benefit, on 1 April, as Letitia Hardy in the ‘Belle's Stratagem,’ to the Doricourt of her manager, Montagu Talbot [q. v.] She was seen to be inexperienced, but praised for naïveté and promise. With Talbot's company she visited Cork and Limerick, returning to Dublin, where she played Lady Contest in the ‘Wedding Day,’ Yarico in ‘Inkle and Yarico,’ Cora in ‘Pizarro,’ Mrs. Haller and Miss Woodburn in ‘Every one has his Fault.’

On the recommendation of the Castle-Cootes she was next engaged by Elliston at Birmingham, where she was seen by Henry Erskine Johnston [q. v.], and through him obtained an introduction to the committee of management at Drury Lane. There, under the title of Miss Smithson from Dublin, she made, as Letitia Hardy, her first appearance on 20 Jan. 1818. The theatre was at the nadir of poverty and in disrepute, and her performance attracted little attention. The ‘Theatrical Inquisitor,’ however, spoke of her as tall and well formed, with a handsome countenance, and a voice distinct rather than powerful. She ‘acted with spirit, over acting a little in the broadly comic scenes, singing with more humour than sweetness, and dancing gracefully in the Minuet de la Cour.’ As Ellen, in the ‘Falls of the Clyde,’ she won from the ‘Morning Herald’ a more favourable opinion. Her voice had the ‘tremulous and thrilling tones giving an irresistible charm to expressions of grief and tenderness.’ She played Lady Racket in ‘Three Weeks after Marriage,’ Eliza in the ‘Jew,’ and other parts, and was on 25 March the original Diana Vernon in Soane's ‘Rob Roy the Gregarach.’ After revisiting Dublin in the summer, she reappeared at Drury Lane, now under the management of Stephen Kemble at reduced prices, and was on 26 Sept. the original Eugenia in Walker's ‘Sigesmar the Switzer.’ She played Julia in the ‘Way to get married;’ Mary in the ‘Innkeeper's Daughter;’ on 3 April the original Scipio, an improvisatore, in Buck's ‘Italians;’ 3 May, the original Lillian Eden in Moncrieff's ‘Wanted a Wife;’ 11 May, the original Jella in Milner's ‘Jew of Lubeck;’ and the original Amestris in Joddrell's ‘Persian Heroine’ on 2 June. Next season Elliston took Drury Lane, and Miss Smithson went to the Coburg, where she played Selima in a version of ‘Selima and Azur.’ On 7 Nov. 1820, as Rosalie Summers in ‘Town and Country,’ she reappeared at Drury Lane. On the 21st she was the original Maria in Jameson's ‘Wild Goose Chace,’ on 24 March 1821 the first Rhoda in ‘Mother and Son,’ on 2 July Lavinia in Moncrieff's ‘Spectre Bridegroom,’ and on 8 Sept. Countess in ‘Giraldi Duval, or the Bandit of Bohemia.’ For her benefit she played ‘Lydia Languish.’ She subsequently appeared in Liverpool, Manchester, Margate, and elsewhere in the provinces. Oxberry charges the management of Drury Lane with studied neglect in keeping her out of parts such as Desdemona, in which she was excellent, and Cordelia, Juliet, and Imogen, to which she was well suited; but she played Lady Anne to Kean's Richard III, and Desdemona to his Othello. In Howard Payne's ‘Adeline, or the Victim of Seduction,’ she was, on 9 Feb. 1822, the original Countess; on 15 Feb. 1823 she was the first Amy Templeton in Poole's ‘Deaf as a Post.’ Lady Percy in the ‘First Part of Henry IV,’ Louisa in the ‘Dramatist,’ Lisette, an original part in Beazley's ‘Philandering,’ Margaret in ‘A New Way to pay Old Debts,’ Ellen in ‘A Cure for the Heartache,’ Anne Bullen in ‘King Henry VIII,’ Virgilia in ‘Coriolanus’ were assigned her during 1823–4. For three seasons longer she remained at Drury Lane without adding to her reputation. The only parts worth mentioning are Blanche in ‘King John,’ Florimel in the ‘Fatal Dowry,’ Princess Eglantine in ‘Valentine and Orson,’ Amanda (an original part) in ‘Oberon, or the Charmed House’ (27 March 1826), and Helen in the ‘Iron Chest’ (26 June 1827).

In the meantime, through her brother, who was manager of the English theatre at Boulogne, Miss Smithson appeared there on 9 Oct. 1824 as Juliana in the ‘Honeymoon,’ and Ellen Enfield in the ‘Falls of Clyde.’ She also played at Calais. Subsequently she