The First Night of 'The Lady of Lyons.'
In W. P. Fcith's new work there are scores of good anecdotes about famous literary men, but we have space here for only a couple. One of the best records the experience of Bulwer as a dramatist. Bulwer had made himself personally offensive to the dramatic critics, and they took occasion to wreak their revenge on his first two plays, 'The Duchesse de la Valliere' and 'The Sea Captain.' The plays were bad, but Bulwer got the idea that they were damned because his name was attached to them. So the next play he wrote was announced anonymously, and no one except Macready, who played the chief rule, was in the secret of its authorship. It was 'The Lady of Lyons.' Dickens long afterward gave Frith an account of its reception, and Frith has reproduced it in this lively style: Dickens was the intimate friend of both actor and writer, and on the invitation of Macready took his place among the audience on the first niqht in total ignorance of anything and pverything connected with the play. The curtain fell to a storm of applause. Dickens went delightedly behind the scenes to congratulate the great actor on a well-deserved success.
In Macready's dressing room Dickens found Bulwer, looking a little disturbed. "A capital play! good idea—well and dramatically worked out. The author, a young fellow, I suppose, has been looking a little at our friend here," indicating Bulwer. " If this is his first work I predict a fine future for him. As for you, my dear Macready, you are in for a long run, deEend upon it." Then, turning to Bulwet, lickens said : " Did you see the play from the front ? I did not notice you among the audience."
" No," said Bulwer, " I saw quite enough of it from the wings." " Well," exclaimed Dickens, " are you not satisfied with it ?"
" Not a bit of it," said Bulwer. "It was capitally acted, fortunately for the author, Without our friend here it might have been a hideous failure."
" My dear Bulwer, if I did not believe you to be free from the slightest tinge of jealousy of other writers what you have just said would make me uneasy. The fellow has written a bright, capital play, and you should be the first to acknowledge as much."
"Not if I don't think so, I suppose," said Bulwer, with a smile.
The morning following the production of the ' Lady of Lyons' was a triumph for Bulwer, who was requested by the papers to take a lesson from a rival who had shown by his admirable play that he had dramatic powers which were conspicuous by their absence in such works as had hitherto proceeded from the pen of Mr Bulwer.
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The First Night of 'The Lady of Lyons.', Evening Star, Issue 8028, 3 October 1889
The First Night of 'The Lady of Lyons.' Evening Star, Issue 8028, 3 October 1889
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