Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MATHEWS, Charles, English actor, born in London, 28 July, 1776; died in Plymouth, 28 June, 1835. He was the son of a London bookseller and early educated to his father's business, but began to act in 1792 at the Richmond theatre, and, after a long provincial experience, found his way to the Hay-market theatre, London, in 1803, where, on 15 May, he appeared as Jubal in "The Jaw." In 1804 he connected himself with Drury lane theatre. After playing for many years in London and the provinces, he became one of the lessees of the Adelphi theatre in 1831. His connection with the London playhouses was varied with entertainments in concert-halls, in which ha impersonated numerous characters. Mathews made two visits to this country, in 1822 and 1834. His first venture, of less than a year's duration, yielded over $50,000 ; the second was less profitable. On 2 September, 1822, the actor began at the Holiday street theatre, in Baltimore, as Ollapod in "The Poor Gentleman," and then in succession he visited Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. On his second visit it was apparent that he had lost much of his former vivacity. His last effort was on 11 February, 1835, at the Park theatre in New York city. Dr. Pangloss, in "The Heir-at-Law," Ollapod, in "The Poor Gentleman," and Rover, in "Wild Oats," were among his favorite parts. He also gave his " entertainments," of about two hours' duration, entitled "A Trip to Paris," "At Home," " Mail-Coach Adventures," and " Country Cousins." all of which were highly diverting and well received. Mathews was tall and slim, with one lag shorter than the other. His features were cast for comedy, being nervously drawn to strange expressions for the provocation of laughter. He was excellent as an actor of eccentric characters and most remarkable as a mimic. He was endowed with ready wit, stored with anecdote, and sang comic songs with unusual effect. His alterations of voice and features and rapid changes of costume were marvels. In this he had no rival.--His son, Charles James, actor, born in London in December, 1803 ; died in Manchester, England, 24 June, 1878, was educated for the profession of an architect. In 1835 he made his debut at the Olympic theatre, in his native city, and for many years was connected as actor and manager with the British stage. He also appeared on several occasions in connection with the French comedians in Paris, and toward the close of his life visited Australia. Mathews made two visits to this country. The first, in 1837, in company with his wife, formerly Madame Vestris, was unsuccessful on personal grounds. The second, in 1857, yielded him ample returns. He was a finished performer in eccentric genteel comedy parts, which he played with remarkable ease and vivacity.
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