Garrick and Parson Bates

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Theatre
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After her marriage, Sarah's marrvellous tallents began to grow and increase, till her reputation reached even the Metopolis, the goal of every actor. Garrick, then in the zenith of his fame, heard of her and one day at Cheltenham, in the summer of 1775,  the company of strollers were put into a flutter by the announcement that the great man's manager, Mr. King, himself a noted actor was 'in front'.

Garrick was not convinced or satisfied by King's report, and in August he sent a second emissary in the shape of Parson Bates, a notorious clergyman of the time, who was anything but clerical. This worthy, being accounted a notable judge in such matters, came to our City as Garrick's ambassador, and his letters of report are still preserved in the British Museum. After travelling 'some of the cursedest cross-roads in the kingdom' he arrived in Worcester, and watched Mrs. Siddon's performance while standing at the wings of the theatre, which he described as a sort of barn, with a stage three yards wide. The part she played was Rosalind, and this was of the tragic and not comic mould.

Yet despite this circumstance, and the disadvantageous conditions under which she played. Parson Bates was enchanted, and declared that she would make a valuable accomplishments, and although she had been on the stage from her cradle, he said, the young actress 'had contracted no strolling habits', and remarked, 'Nay, beware yourself, great little man, for she plays Hamlet to the satisfaction of the Worcestershire critics'.