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NEW FACTS REGARDING GARRICK AND HIS WRITINGS.
GARRICK may be said to have been among players what Shakspeare was among dramatists. I am not sure if the comparison (making due allowance for the wide difference between an author and an actor-a creator and an imitator) be not to the disadvantage of Garrick. Dryden, in his loose and sweeping way, tells us, in the preface to his Juvenal, that dramatic poetry owed its very existence to Shakspeare; but this notion is now known to be ill-founded, inasmuch as our great poet had many models before him, which at first he was content to follow, and which, subsequently, he only improved. Garrick was the inventor of an entirely new style of acting: the truth of its resemblance to nature was ad mitted at once he sprang in a moment to the summit of popularity—and the cold, formal mouthing of Delane and Quin was remembered only to be contrasted. His talents as an author were considerable, and under any circumstances would have made him distinguished; but they sink into much less than their real importance, when compared with his surprising abilities as an actor. I am not one of those who think that those abilities were at the time, or have since been, over-estimated. The Larpent Manuscripts, or the copies of plays, &c. sent to the Examiner of theatrical productions, from the year 1737 to 1824, throw a good deal of new light upon Garrick in both capacities. I shall trace his progress from his first outset in authorship (for he was a writer for the stage before he became an actor upon it) in 1740, to his retirement in 1777, and to his death in 1779.
"Lethe" was in existence, and ready for representation, prior to April 1740; for on the first of that month it was sent by Charles Fletewood to the Licenser for his approbation. Garrick did not commence player, even in the country, until the summer of 1741; but his intimacy with Giffard began some time earlier; and when "Lethe Drury-Lane, it was for the benefit of the latter. The manuscript allowed on this was originally represented, on April 15, 1740, at occasion was written by a copyist, but it was corrected by Garrick himself; and it is the more interesting, as it contains some songs, as well as dialogues, not found in any of the printed copies. Surely such a picture as the following of the manners of the time, by an observer so acute, is worth preserving. It was sung by the famous Mrs. Clive, who had the part of Lucy, as appears by the first cast, of which I shall speak presently.
All morning, while others are up and employ'd,
She breakfasts at noon, just slips on her gown,
Then trips up the Mall and soon joins with the rest;
She seldom attends either high church or low,
Her dinner and dressing employs her till eve;
All evening she visits, sips tea, plays her fan,
It is to be remarked, that in all the subsequent representations of "Lethe," a prose description of the life of a fine lady was inserted, instead of this song: such appears to have been the case, when, on the 7th of April, 1741, the farce was played at Goodman's-fields Theatre, for the benefit of Giffard. The other principal parts were given at Drury-Lane to persons of no mean eminence: Beard was Mercury; Esop was played by Taswell; the Beau by Woodward; Mr. Thomas by Raftor; the Drunken Man by Macklin, and the Attorney by Tarbut. The mention of this last character leads me to notice another peculiarity in the earliest MS. of "Lethe." In the biographical accounts of Garrick it is said, that when he was called upon, as late in life as 1777, to read "Lethe" to the King and Queen," he added an excellent new character (which has never been acted or published), of a Jew wishing to forget his gratitude to a benefactor in distress." This scene is now before me, in the MS. of 1740; the only difference being that the principal person in it, instead of being a Jew, is an Attorney; and as no trace of it is found in any of the printed editions, from the surreptitious copy of 1745 downwards, a considerable extract from so severe a satire cannot be unacceptable.
Plays balls and ridottos each night she attends,
"Attorney. My case will appear very particular: I had one of the best friends in the world-a worthy generous man, and one who had done me signal services."
Esop. I guess your misfortune, Sir. That friend is dead."
"Attor. Would he was, that I might be at peace."
Esop. He's ruined then, and has not sufficient to support him."
"Attor. You have said, Sir; he is become very poor and necessitous, and, what is worse, daily torments me with a recital of his misfortunes."
Esop. If it is in your power to assist him, why do you not ease yourself of that torment and make your friend happy?"
Attor. I would rather choose some easier method to be at rest."
Esop. Propose it, Sir."
"Attor. I would drink of your Lethe, forget the obligations I have received from him; then his complaints would have no more effect upon me than those of a common beggar."
Esop. A very easy method, truly, and what such men as yourself can easily follow without the help of the waters."
"Attor, You seem to dislike my proposal, but I will assure you no man has more humanity and charity in theory, than myself; but I have such an uncommon indolence in my nature that can never be persuaded to put it in practice."
Esop. Indolence! call it ingratitude; nor think it a crime peculiar to yourself: it is an indolence almost every man is inclined to, and oftentimes the men who are the most obliging are the most ungrateful."
"Attor. That's impossible; for how can a man oblige and be ungrateful at the same time?"
Esop. By neglecting those who have obliged him, and obliging others from whom he expects greater obligations."
"Attor. 'Tis a necessary piece of prudence; and when a man may reasonably expect an ample return for his services, he must be a very great fool to be idle upon such
Esop. Even you, Sir, at such a time perhaps, might forget your natural indolence and offer your services."
"Attor. Oh, Sir, where my interest is concerned, I am as active and obliging as any body."
Esop. Pray, Sir, of what profession?"
"Attor. I study the law, Sir; I am an attorney at your service."
"Esop. Not at mine, Sir; for you will get nothing by me. But if you understand law, I am surprised you should have no greater regard for equity than to forsake a man in distress who has once obliged you."
"Attor. Equity! why, Sir-I have nothing to do with it; my study is the commonlaw."
Esop. I wish you would study common honesty, and do something for your friend."
If Garrick's letters are worth preserving in two quarto volumes (which I am far from disputing), these entirely new specimens of his dramatic authorship will probably not be thought undeserving a place here. In 1748, he made many additions to his "Lethe," which were sent to the Licenser in his own handwriting; but (with the exception of the scene between Charon and the Attorney, which is omitted) they are tolerably accurately printed in the edition of 1749. In 1756, he introduced the character of Lord Chalkstone for Mrs. Clive's benefit; and in 1771 he added the part of Fribble, which was extremely popular. Before I quit this production, of which there were several imitations (among them, "The Anniversary," licensed in 1758), it may be noticed that it was in itself an imitation of Miller's "Hospital for Fools," acted in 1739, which was taken from Walsh's "Hospital of Fools;" a piece introduced into no dramatic list, but printed in 1714, and a copy of which is in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire.
While Garrick still continued to perform in Goodman's Fields, he brought out his "Lying Valet," regarding which the Larpent MSS. furnish no additional information. It was acted in 1741, and printed in 1742 (the " Biographia Dramatica" says, erroneously, 1741) and the title-page states that it was "performed gratis at the theatre in Goodman's Fields." I may take this opportunity of inserting an amusing, and a novel scrap of intelligence, regarding the early career of "the British Roscius," in the form of an advertisement, which I copy from the "London Daily Post" of February 18, 1741.
"Whereas it has been industriously reported to my prejudice, that I was at the masquerade in the habit of a madman: this is to assure the gentlemen and ladies who are offended at me without a cause, I was not at either of the masquerades this season, as can be testified by several gentlemen in whose company I was.
"If any person has a mind to be farther satisfied, I will fully convince them of the truth of this advertisement.
It is just possible that this trait may have some connexion with the story Murphy tells of Garrick's repeated imitation of the madness of a father, whom he had seen drop his child from a window, while Garrick was still playing at Goodman's Fields.
After having played for a summer in Ireland, Garrick was engaged by Fletewood at Drury-Lane, in the season 1742-3. He subsequently again went to Dublin, and returned to an engagement with Rich at Covent-Garden. In this interval he composed his farce of "Miss in her Teens," which, as appears by the Licenser's copy, now before me, throughout corrected by Garrick, was originally called "The Medley of Lovers ;" and this was long afterwards continued as the second title. The changes he made are not in general material, but the subsequent addition to the part of Biddy, in Garrick's hand, is worth quoting-it precedes the epilogue:
"I am afraid the town will be ill-natured enough to think I have been a little coquettish in my behaviour, but as I have been constant to real worth, I think I have a right to be excused diverting myself with the other two.
"Ladies, to fops and braggarts ne'er be kind,
No charms can warm 'em and no virtues bind :
This, by comparison with the printed copies, will show, not only the verbal fastidiousness of the author, but that the admired epigrammatic conclusion to "Miss in her Teens" was an after-thought.
In the season of 1747-8, we find Garrick commencing his adaptations of Shakspeare, by "alterations in The Taming of the Shrew,'" which were sent to the Examiner on Nov. 14, 1747, with a letter signed by Garrick and Lacy; their partnership in Drury-Lane Theatre having commenced just before that date. The biographers of Garrick, and among them the Editor of the "Garrick Papers,' ,"have told us that his reduction of Shakspeare's "Taming of the Shrew" to a farce was not made until 1754; but the MSS. before me establish, that the work was not only written but performed seven years earlier. It was not printed until 1756, but it was acted in 1747. The Larpent Plays afford evidence of another remarkable omission of a similar kind: in 1749, Garrick converted Beaumont and Fletcher's "Little French Lawyer" into a farce; and the copy furnished to the Examiner for his approbation is elaborately corrected, from beginning to end, in Garrick's hand. I will only give a single specimen, from near the close, to show how, upon consideration, he varied and improved his points. La-writ and Sampson have been quarrelling, and Mrs. La-writ parts the fray, and tells them
"Here, take your clothes, ye fighting fools, and take warning for the future lest you overheat your brains to the prejudice of your bodies."
This, as he first wrote it, did not please Garrick, and he substituted—
"There, put on your clothes, ye fighting fools, and let your quarrels strip your clients only for the future,'
which is an obvious epigrammatical improvement. Garrick, as we find by the cast which precedes the Examiner's copy, took no part in the representation, leaving it to Woodward, Shuter, Palmer, Winston, Taswell, Mrs. Bennett, and others of inferior note.
The MSS. in my hands furnish nothing deserving particular remark in connexion with Garrick for several subsequent years. He revived "Lethe," with additions (as has been already noticed); altered "Romeo and Juliet," and "Every Man in his Humour," and produced "The Fairies.”
In 1756 he brought out "Florizel and Perdita;" perhaps incited to this alteration of "The Winter's Tale" by the success of Macnamara Morgan's "SheepShearing," which was played at Covent-Garden in 1754, and had been sent by Rich for licence on the 18th of March in that year.
I mention Garrick's conversion of "The Tempest" into an opera, only for the sake of stating that the MS. of it contains a smart introductory dialogue between Wormwood and Heartley, one attacking, and the other vindicating the violence done to Shakspeare. This is not found in any of the printed editions. Among the Examiner's plays of the year 1757, is an alteration of Beaumont and Fletcher's "Tamer Tamed," which was sent by Garrick and Lacy for licence on the 25th of April. It is inserted in no dramatic catalogue, and never was printed: although Garrick's writing is not seen on the MS. he had doubtless, as usual, a hand in the reduction of the original comedy to three acts.
Home's "Agis" was produced in 1758, and Garrick, in order, perhaps, to make some amends for the rejection of "Douglas," wrote a prologue to it, which has hitherto been considered anonymous, and which originally terminated thus tamely:
"The widow'd mother show'd her parting son
Garrick substituted these among other lines in his own hand-writing :
"Whilst beauty thus with patriot zeal combin'd,
And round the laurel'd head the myrtle twin'd;
Whilst, but the virtuous none were term'd the great,
There are two copies of Reed's "Register Office" among the Examiner's MSS. It was sent to him by Garrick and Lacy on the 7th of March, 1761, and returned marked, "not thought fit to be acted." In the same season (the date of the month is not given) the Manager "ventured to lay it again before the Lord Chamberlain," with some alterations, and it was licensed, though not without many marks and remarks by the Examiner. My reason for noticing it is, that Garrick (although the fact has not till now been stated) made some improvements and changes in the additional scene between Mrs. Doggrel (acted by Miss Pope) and Gullman. He has pointed Reed's dialogue throughout, and has made sundry erasures, particularly of an extravagant compliment to Mrs. Cibber. I may here add, that all Reed's dramatic pieces among the MSS. are in his own hand-writing. It is a scrawl worthy of a rope-maker.
We have now arrived at the most important point of Garrick's literary character and history-the writing and production of "The Clandestine Marriage," in which he was assisted by Colman. That Garrick was the author of the part of Lord Ogleby, and of what relates to him, may be gathered (although not conclusively) from what has recently appeared in the "Garrick Papers;" but it has been several times stated that he was greatly indebted to a farce by the Rev. James Townley, called "False Concord," which was acted at Covent-Garden in 1764, two years before the appearance of" The Clandestine Marriage" at Drury-Lane. This is a curious and important question, which it was supposed could never be decided, because no copy of "False Concord" was in existence. Mr. Galt, in his "Lives of the Players," tells us that he had not been able to procure a sight of one. It is now lying before me, the MS. having been sent for licence by the Widow Rich and John Beard, the celebrated singer. We are thus able to settle at once, and definitively, the extent of Garrick's obligation to it. The "Biographia Dramatica," on the authority of Mr. Roberdeau, who married the Rev. Mr. Townley's daughter, asserts that the three characters of Lord Ogleby, Stirling, and Brush, were "transplanted to The Clandestine Marriage,' ,"" with "the dialogue of some scenes nearly verbatim :" a charge that is by no means borne out by the fact. At the same time there is, I think, sufficient resemblance, both in the characters, plot, and execution of the two pieces, to make it clear that Garrick, when he wrote his portion of "The Clandestine Marriage," had "False Concord" in his eye, if not actually in his hand.
First, with respect to the leading personages. The Lord Lavender of Townley (who answers to Garrick's Lord Ogleby) is represented hump-backed, and somewhat decrepit. One of the characters says of him
"He is old and ugly, deformed by nature, and made more disagreeable by the art which he uses to conceal his deformity. He is the son of a nobleman, but that cannot give him real merit."
Here is a glimpse of resemblance, but it is caricatured: Garrick needed no personal defect to make a distinct character of his hero. Another person in the farce remarks of Lord Lavender what makes the likeness stronger :
"The lady will find him a choice composition-a piece of patch-work from head to foot, painted and padded with a vengeance."
Sudley is also an exaggerated original for old Stirling; but if we feel inclined to blame Townley for the coarseness of his delineations, we ought to recollect that he was writing a broad farce, while Garrick was composing a regular comedy. Sudley is a retired soap-boiler, who has no objection to marry his daughter to a lord, especially as his vulgar wife, like Mrs. Heidleberg, is very