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RECOLLECTIONS OF THE LIFE OF JOHN O'KEEFFE.

Written by himself.

I was born in Abbey-street, Dublin, on the 24th of June, 1747; my father was a native of the King's County, and my mother of the county of Wexford. I was designed by my parents and my own inclination for a painter, and not above six years of age when I was placed at Mr. West's academy, Shaw's court, Dame-street, Dublin. West was a Waterford man, and took his painting-studies in Paris, under Bouchier, the disciple of Le Brun, distinguished for his painted series of Alexander's battles. My drawing gave me an early taste for the antique, and consequently set me reading. From the Greek, Latin, and French, acquired under Father Austin, to whose school, in Cookstreet, I went, my fancy soon strayed to Shakspeare, old Ben, Congreve, Cibber, and Farquhar. The first edition of Farquhar's comedies, with the prints prefixed to each of them, set me studying and acting private plays among my schoolfellows; and this transition from drawing to poetizing was ultimately (as my sight began to fail at sevenand-twenty) very fortunate for me:-a man can compose with his pen in the hand of an amanuensis; but the pencil he must hold in his own hand.

Whilst I was at West's academy, he took a very fine highly finished drawing of me, in black and white chalks: I was then about eight years old it is in the Guido style; and from this drawing the boys used to study. The late Mr. Francis West, successor to his father in the mastership of the academy, carefully preserved it, and it is still in being, as many of my friends latterly have told me they had seen it. Another fine drawing, done by John Bryan, one of the students, made me standing, leaning on the head of a Demosthenes, the port crayon in my right hand; a third of me, by Thomas Hickey, as sitting for a drawing (Hickey went draughtsman to China with Lord Macartney); and a fourth drawing, by Trotter, the centre of three heads; myself supposed to be singing, with Cartwright, one of the boys, playing the flute on one side, and Mr. Manning, the master of the Ornament Academy, (who had studied in Paris) playing the violin on the other. Mine is a front face, with the right hand appearing; and the two others, profiles. These three latter drawings, with others, were preserved with great care in the Dublin Society Rooms, as specimens of the proficiency which the students had made under old Mr. West's tuition; and indeed his drawing of what is technically called the Academy Figure was unrivalled. Before I dismiss my drawing adventures, to enter on my dramatic career, to which those drawing pursuits led me, I recall to my mind with pleasure, that I did many portraits of my friends; amongst others, two whole-lengths of William Lewis, the comedian, in the characters of Belcour and Captain Brazen,-the first in coloured wash, the latter in bistre, both highly finished; and another of the Bishop of Derry's female infant in her cradle. I also did four views of Belfast for Lord Donegal, who was then at that place; and set my pencil going for his pride and pleasure, and my emolument (I say pride, for he was owner of the town and territory round about it); and two views of Kilkenny, to employ and amuse myself.

One day passing through Parliament-street, Dublin, George FaulkApril-VOL. XVI. NO. LXIV. 2 A

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ner, the printer, was standing at his own shop-door; I was induced to stare in at a bust on the counter. He observed me, and, by the portfolio under my arm, knew I was a pupil at the Royal Academy. I mained in fixed attention, when he kindly invited me in to look at the bust, saying it was the head of his friend and patron Dean Swift. To display it in all its different views, he turned it round and round for me, and then brought me upstairs to see the picture of Swift.

George Faulkner was a fat little man, with a large well-powdered wig, and brown clothes: his precision of speech in using the word opposite instead of facing, was the cause of Swift choosing him for his printer. At this period of my boyhood Swift's memory was recent; he was greatly beloved and revered in Dublin. There were many signs of him in canonicals: they were called the Drapier's Head, from the signature of his letters against Wood's halfpence. Amongst a multitude of benevolent actions, he lent small sums to tradespeople, to be repaid at a shilling a-week, five pounds the greatest sum; which practice laid the foundation of many a fortune obtained by industry, and was the support of numerous families; but one neglect of the shilling a-week payment, no more money was lent to that person. Whenever the Dean walked out, the people followed him with shouts of blessings, and the children held his cassock. My early passion for the drama made me like Swift very much, from his having been a friend of Gay.

In 1755 the celebrated Mrs. Woffington acted in the first play I ever saw-Alicia, in "Jane Shore." I remember, some years after, seeing her mother, whom she comfortably supported; a respectable-looking old lady, in her short black velvet cloak, with deep rich fringe, a diamond ring, and small agate snuff-box. She had nothing to mind but going the rounds of the Catholic chapels and chatting with her neighbours. Mrs. Woffington, the actress, built and endowed a number of alms-houses at Teddington, Middlesex, and there they are to this day. She is buried in the church; her name on her tomb-stone.

1756, Hamilton (afterwards eminent in the first class of historical painters in England) was my fellow student in the R.A. in Dublin: he might have been five years my elder; and was remarkable for choosing, when drawing the human figure, the most foreshortened view, consequently the most difficult-(the finest specimen of foreshortening is that of King Charles's Apotheosis in the ceiling of the chapel at Whitehall.) Our premiums were adjudged once a year, in the House, of Lords, Dublin: the drawings of the candidates were pinned round the walls to be examined, as to their merits and classes. The boy wrote previously in chalk under his drawing "from the life," if it was so; and "from the round," if from a bust or statue. My brother Daniel was one of the younger candidates, and all full of their gambols, got to plucking off the large scarlet tassels and bobbins from the benches, and pelting them at each other. One of these struck Hamilton's drawing, which being in chalks was consequently much injured. He, enraged, thinking that poor Dan had done the mischief, gave him a most tremendous box on the ear. This accident, by the drawing being spoiled, lost Hamilton the premium. The names of those who obtained the premiums, and their different classes, were in the newspapers: this was the proudest stimulus to our emulation. I once obtained the head premium for my drawing of the Ariadne, the well-known fine antique.

My first sight of London was from Highgate-hill, on the 12th of August 1762, the day the Prince of Wales was born. I, being at that time about fifteen years of age, was consigned by my mother to an aunt, a sister of her's, living in London; and sailed from Dublin to Parkgate, in the Royal Charlotte, the elder Captain Cauzier. Robert Nugent, Lord Clare, afterwards Earl Nugent, was on board; he, a Privy Councillor, was in a hurry to post on to London time enough for the Queen's delivery. His daughter, afterwards Marchioness of Buckingham, was with him,—a fine sprightly little child about four years of age. Lord Clare had purchased in Ireland two remarkably fine horses, which, with the man who had the care of them, were to follow him at leisure. My Irish friends thought this a good opportunity for me to have the riding of one of these superb horses, with the protection of the servant, the two hundred and twelve miles from Parkgate to London.

I was happily settled with my aunt and her husband Mr. Bartlett, (a German,) at their very handsome house in Cleveland-row. A few weeks after my arrival, I was standing in the court of St. James's Palace that opens opposite to St. James's-street: there was a great crowd :—the Queen came to an open window on the left hand, near the passage leading to the Park, with the infant Prince of Wales in her arms, to display him to the admiring people; the babe, frightened at their loud shouts and loyal huzzas, cried, and the Queen delivered him to a lady who stood by. I can acquit myself of any share of voice in terrifying the infant; for at that time, and for the first year or so in London, I was afraid of opening my lips, lest I should be laughed at for my Dublin brogue. This was the first sight I (his poet) had of my illustrious and royal patron.

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During my two years' residence in London I often saw Garrick; the delight his acting gave me was one of the silken cords that drew me towards a theatre. I liked him best in Lear. His saying, in the bitterness of his anger, "I will do such things-what they are, I know not," and his sudden recollection of his own want of power, were so pitiable as to touch the heart of every spectator. The simplicity of his saying, these tears wet?—yes, faith," putting his finger to the cheek of Cordelia, and then looking at his finger, was exquisite. Indeed he did not get his fame for nothing. I saw him do Abel Drugger the same night; and his appalled look of terror, where he drops the glass globe, drew as much applause from the audience as his Lear had done. Some years after, hearing Lord Mansfield on the bench, his voice and manner brought Garrick forcibly to my recollection. In 1779 I saw Garrick's funeral procession pass to the Abbey; a short time before I had seen him walking very quick (his way) on the terrace of the Adelphi, before his own house (the centre of the Terrace). He caught cold sitting in the orchestra, at a night view of the scenery preparing for R. B. Sheridan's opera of "The Camp.'

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In 1762, I saw at St. James's William Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland; I was close to him; he walked leaning with his hands stretched out upon the shoulders of two gentlemen: I thought him the fattest man I had ever seen. The King's three brothers lived in Leicester-fields: Edward Duke of York, who died at Monaco, in

Italy, lived in the house up high steps (long afterwards a carpet warehouse); the Princess Dowager of Wales in a house behind it; and the Dukes of Gloucester and Cumberland (not Dukes then) lived together in a small house in the square, turning to the left from Cranbournealley. In the same year I saw Jean Jacques Rousseau, in one of the upper boxes at Covent-Garden; I was in the pit; he wore his sort of Armenian dress, a dark gown furred, and fur cap, and attracted greatly the attention of the audience.

I recollect Bamfield, the giant hatter, of Fetter-lane, London: he was much above seven feet high. He walked about the streets, on his affairs, with perfect unconcern; and thus, every body knowing him, he was but little stared at. I thought this expedient showed him to be a wise man. They had him at Covent-Garden, to do the Dragon, in the burletta of "The Dragon of Wantley." Bamfield had a tremendous loud voice, just suited to the Dragon's dying exclamation of "Oh! Mr. More! I wish I had known of your tricks before—Oh, oh! the devil take your toe!"

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In 1764 I returned to Dublin, my beloved native city; and in 1765, at the age of eighteen, began, with best foot foremost, my dramatic career. Mossop, the great tragedian, and manager of Smock-alley theatre, brought out my first attempt at the drama, the "She Gallant." My previous two years' abode in London had given me so much insight into its ways and characters, that I was enabled to lay my scene there, and ventured to begin my play with two young gentlemen and their Irish servant walking in the Mall in St. James's Park, &c.

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In 1767 I knew Mr. Ferrar, of Limerick, a printer, bookseller, and author: he wrote an excellent history of Limerick, which, a few years ago, I read with much pleasure. His little shop was at the corner of Quay-lane. Ferrar was very deaf, yet had a cheerful animated countenance; thin, and of the middle size.

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Counsellor and Mrs. Costello were great supporters of the Drama in Mossop's time. He was a distinguished pleader, and remarkable for his brogue, which many of the most eminent men at the Irish Bar affected; it made them favourites, and sent their sarcasms with more force in irony. A poor country-fellow came one day to surrender himself to take his trial at the assizes on a capital charge. Drawing Costello aside, he gave him a guinea as a fee, and asked his advice. The counsellor desired him to tell him frankly his case, without any concealment. He did so. Having patiently listened to it, "My good fellow," said Costello, you see that staircase: my opinion and advice is, that you walk down instantly into the street, turn the corner on the right hand, make the best of your way to the quay, get into the first ship you can find ready to sail, and never again be found in Ireland, England, or Scotland; and here, take back the guinea you gave me for my advice, towards travelling charges." Costello saw that the unfortunate man, though not culpable, from some particular points of law, which he foreknew would come out upon the trial, must have suffered. What is called barrister in England, is called counsellor in Ireland: the word barrister is not known there.

When I was a child I saw the famous Sir Toby Butler, a favourite lawyer of his time, his oratorical powers being great; but he always drank his bottle before he went to the courts. A client, very solicitous about

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the success of his cause, requested Sir Toby not to drink his accustomed bottle that morning. Sir Toby promised on his honour he would He went to the court, pleaded, and gained a verdict. The client met him exulting in the success of his advice; when, to his astonishment, Sir Toby assured him that if he had not taken his bottle, he should have lost the cause. "But your promise, Sir Toby ?""I kept it faithfully and honourably, I did not drink a drop--I poured my bottle of claret into a wheaten loaf and ate it. So I had my bottle, you your verdict, and I am a man of my word."

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Sir Toby Butler is buried in St. James's Church-yard, Dublin, not far from the entrance; an iron rail round the tomb, and a stone figure of himself in wig and gown, lying all along on the top of it.

On one of the King's nights at Drury-lane, the lords being about behind the scenes, in and out of the green-room, &c. as customary, Garrick said to a nobleman near him, who was soon to go over to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant: "My lord, here's a young spark so plagues us behind the scenes, night after night, always troublesome, I wish you would take him with you over to your Ireland, or any where out of our way." The nobleman took the goodnatured hint, spoke to the play-loving youth, who was loitering near them, and gave him a handsome appointment in Dublin Castle. This is one of the many instances of Garrick's seizing every opportunity to do a good action. The youth was Captain Jephson, author of "Braganza," the "Law of Lombardy," &c. In 1770 I brought out at Cork a two-act piece, "The India Ship," and a pastoral, with songs, "Colin's Welcome," which was acted at Limerick and in Dublin with great applause. I chose the music myself, from Claggitt, Tenducci, and the Witches' Chorus in Macbeth, and wrote a song to the tune of Rule Britannia! my song beginning, Hibernia! happy, favoured Isle.

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In this year I became acquainted with James Solus Dodd. and recited a "Lecture on Hearts;" but, the public remembering G. A. Stevens's "Lecture on Heads," it gave little entertainment. He was a most wonderful character, had been all over the world; at Constantinople had the pleasure of being imprisoned for a spy. His learning and general knowledge were great; and, though he had but small wit himself, delighted to find it in another. He turned actor, but was indifferent at that trade. He was a lively smart little man, with a cheerful, laughing face. It was Solus Dodd who established the Buck Lodge, the first ever in Ireland. The title certainly conveyed ideas of levity; but our Buck Lodge was an institution really honourable and moral; so much so, that a good character was the only means of admission. I saw Solus Dodd in 1781, when he was president of a debatingsociety in Piccadilly; but I believe few people went there either to talk or to listen.

I was once asked by Spranger Barry (who knew my skill in drawing) to make his face for Lear. I went to his dressing-room, and used my camel-hair pencil and Indian ink, with, as I thought, a very venerable effect. When he came into the green-room, royally dressed, asking some of the performers how he looked, Isaac Sparks, in his Lord Chief Joker way, remarked, " As you belong to the London Beefsteak club, O'Keeffe has made you peeping through a gridiron." Barry was so doubtful of his own excellence, that he used to consult the

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