Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

command of attraction, but by producing him-
self as a new Marplot, &c. and this chafm in his
theatrical army, obliged him as a wife general to
be more pliant, and enter into an engagement
with Foote on his own terms, with me to act in
his diverfions of the morning. Revolutions in the
real state, occafion the fame compliance from policy,
and like Mr. Bayes's Rehearsal has its fudden
changes of government; instances need not be tra-
ced to fhew the ins and the outs.

Mr. Garrick had that year, during the fummer vacation, met accidentally with a young gentleman, an intimate friend of mine, with whom (on the lofs of Woodward) he took infinite pains, and formed a great partiality and friendship for him. He made his first appearance that year at Drury-Lane in Captain Brazen, in the Recruiting Officer, early in the month of October. I dined that day with my old acquaintance Mrs. Wier, near Pall-Mall (mentioned long before) of Harrow; to this lady I fhall again have occafion With Mrs. Wier lodged not a young lady, though named Mifs Roach, and in truth, an affected, bold, artful, (I dare not say plain) rude, disagreeable, woman; with Mrs. Wier dined alfo Mr. Baker, manager of the York company. Here I refer to an instance in the early part of this work; and remark how useful at

to recur.

[ocr errors]

tentive civility turns out, from whence there can be no reafon at the time to expect an advantage. My good behaviour, when I was thirteen or fourteen years old to this Mrs. Wier, grew into a lafting efteem which continued the acquaintance, and was the whole and fole occafion of bringing about, by that accidental meeting, my being manager of the York theatre.

For strangers of any reputation were then never admitted to play at York or Hull; which rule had I abided by, those stages had been on a more solid foundation than at the present day. I perceived while at dinner an oddity of humour and manner in this elderly gentleman, that demanded respect and esteem; and I also felt really an attachment for his apparent marks of worth and benevolence; this led into a strict intimacy, while the old gentleman remained his few days in London. He wished I would vifit him at York as a friend (I was not known at that time in London as a performer); and I regretted the lofs of that worthy character when he left the capital. After dinner we took a coach from PallMall to the theatre, and when arrived there hundreds were on their return-No room-no room, was the cry from every part of the houfe! Mr. Baker, with the ladies returned home; but, I from privilege, of course had admiffion behind the scenes.

[ocr errors]

My friend was received with candour, warmth, and univerfal applause; his person and manners were uncommonly genteel, and highly finished. A good representation of the real Fine Gentleman, it is often lamented, is rarely feen on the ftage, and to the truth of that obfervation I fubmit; but at the fame time let it be noticed, that in perfons of the first station in life, aided with every requifite accomplishment, all the necessary ingredients are feldom conjoined either in the real Fine Gentleman or the real Fine Lady, fo as to equal the expanfe of our ideas. Read Sir Charles Grandifon and we fhall find the poet has furnished him with a handfome and accomplished person, his mind with manliness, taste, feeling, generofity, courage, difcretion, affifted with all the arts and aids of education: But few, very few fuch paragons have been really seen, though, like the unicorn, fuch exaltation of the mind and perfon may perchance exift. Now an actor of understanding, and education, must certainly be in a good school for attaining ease, who performs before hundreds nightly, and part of that collected audience confifting of the first personages; and it is poffible the best speaker in the House of Commons if put really to act on the ftage would feelnot only awkward, but likely inferior in point of

freedom and expreffion to the actor, even in the reprefentation of the Gentleman.

The true Fine Gentleman is an arduous task to attain in the most exalted state, and rarely to be viewed near perfection (unless as visionary) either at the court, the bar, army, pulpit, or the stage. Indeed at the palace, eafe, elegance of manners, and liberal education, with every attendant accomplishment must give the trueft polish and deportment, and shine more confpicuous there than in any other department of life, as certainly the great circle will ever be the only criterion of true taste and fashion. But let us be informed of the moft finished character at any period, and enter our fenate purposely to view the perfon and manners of the paragon fo famous and extolled, I think from obfervation I may almost venture to affirm the reality would certainly fall far fhort of expectation. As a point in proof, about eight years ago I had the opportunity of hearing a great man's maiden fpeech in the House of Commons: The tones of voice feemed truly captivating (though he spoke not at that time in favour of court politics) my fituation was fuch I could not at the instant gain a glimpse at the fascinating prodigy. But when afterwards, with infinite pains and difficulty, that fatisfaction was obtained-Lo! How the great man leffen'd to my view.

The reason is demonstrative, true perfection is feldom found in Nature's works, fo many requifites being neceffary to the combination, renders it as difficult to find as the longitude. The late Lord Chesterfield employed his pen over numerous pages to illustrate this; yet with all his knowledge, labour, and pains, he could not create or realife. In short, the real Fine Gentleman may truly be termed the phoenix, and that phoenix rare, Great Britain, in our prefent golden days, may boast rising daily to full bloom, adorned with every art, humanity, and honour, that can fill the noble breast. Would the Lord Chesterfield (juft mentioned) could be restored to one hour's life, he then might clofe his eyes with transport, and from his quivering lips proclaim, he beheld all his boundless wishes gratified, when he viewed his favourite graces all united in


But to return, the young hero who played Capt. Brazen had more eafe than any young or old actor I ever remember, and in drawing his fword he threw all other performers at a wonderful distance by his fwiftness, ease, grace, and fuperior elegance; to him, was Mr. Garrick afterwards much indebted for the applause he received in Hamlet in the fen

« AnteriorContinua »