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His whole life and livelihood did not depend, as did that of many of his correspondents, on the success of a single play. So that cheerfulness of constitution, mixed up with his satisfaction of situation, gave him a decided advantage over his troublesome correspondents. He had every thing to put him into good humour, and very little to put him out.
Another circumstance in this Correspondence appears worthy of remark, and that is the frequeut evidence of his liberality, and the abundant acknowledgment of pecuniary obligation to him. Oliver Goldsmith, we think, used to say that Garrick was about to perforın an act of generosity, but was frightened from it by the ghost of a halfpenny. How can we reconcile what we see in these Jetters, with what we hear of the reputation he bore among his contemporaries as to the matter of pecuniary facility? Easily, we guess. Prosperous artists of almost any description are seldom prudent in the management of their resources, “ Lightly come, lightly go,” is often their motto and their maxim, the wantonness of their tongue and the rule of their conduct; moreover they are generally surrounded with needy, irregular, indolent associates, or fellow artists, who are continually making assaults on their generosity, and they gain less gratitude for ninety-nine favours than they gain reproach for one refusal. Probably Garrick could not have purchased the reputation for generosity by any thing short of the sacrifice of all he had. If he had squandered all his resources, he might have been called by some a fine fellow; but even so he must have disappointed some applicants.
There is a third personality which has forced itself on our attention in the perusal of this Correspondence, and that is the infrequency and coldness of his correspondence with Johnson. They came up to London together from the same town as fellow adventurers, and they filled half a century with their great names, with a greatness too in which there was no collision and no rivalry. The following is a specimen of their epistolary intercourse :
DR. JOHNSON TO MR. GARRICK.
“DEAR SIR :
May 18, 1765. “I know that great regard will be had to your opinion of an edition of Shakspeare ; I desire, therefore, to secure an honest prejudice in my favour by securing your suffrage; and that this prejudice may really be honest, I wish you would name such plays as you would see, and they shall be sent to you by, Sir,
is Your most humble servant,
“SAM. Johnson." Bah! Most humble servant! This is “ affectations :" if Garrick had ever behaved to Johuson so as to preverit any more familiar style of address than this, the great Lexicographer ought not to have written to him at all, especially to ask a favour; and if Johnson by this distant style of address was offering an artificial and forced homage to the wealth and success of the actor, then all that we can say is that the great moralist looks very little. Garrick's letter to Johnson is quite as cool.
MR. GARRICK TO DR. JOHNSON.
"Dear Sir :
May 31st, 1765. “My brother greatly astonished me this morning by asking me, if I was a subscriber to your Shakspeare? I told him yes, that I was one of the first, and as soon as I heard of your intention; and that I gave you at the same time some other names, among which were the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Beighton, &c. I cannot immediately have recourse to my memorandum, though I remember to have seen it just before I left England. I hope that you will recollect it, and not think me capable of neglecting to make you so triðing a compliment, which was doubly due from me; not only on account of the respect I have always had for your abilities, but from the sincere regard I shall ever pay to your friendship. “I am, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
“ David Garrick." It is not perhaps an easy matter at this time of day to find out which of the two first began humble-servanting the other. But we strongly suspect it was
the sturdy moralist. Dr. Johnson, we are told, would not suffer any one to abuse Garrick but himself; and we know that the Doctor in many of his recorded couversations used to speak very contemptuously of the profession of an actor, affecting to think that an actor was a mere imitator of the outward and visible signs of human emotion. We say, affecting to think so, because it is impossible that a man of Johnson's powers of mental analysis, should not be easily aware that, for the formation of an accomplished actor, as much of mind is requisite as for the construction of a moralist. Johnson was clearly jealous of Garrick's success, and was irritated perhaps at the pecuniary difference between himself and his fellow adventurer. It is possible too that Garrick was too much a man of the world for Johnson, and that the Doctor felt that he could not visit him as what we call an equal, and that he would not associate with him as a patron. It is also imaginable that the expression in the above letter“ so trifling a compliment,” might be a specimen of the style which would annoy a susceptible mind; it looks, or it might have looked to a jealous eye as something like saying that what may be a matter of importance for you to receive, is a mere trifle for me to give." Be it, however, as it may, it exhibits a melancholy feature in the history of human nature, and is one of the many traits which assist in bringing down greatness to the level of littleness.
Garrick certainly was a great man, and he exhibited the true and infallible test of greatness-power over others, and leaving an impression on one form of society. Every really great mind produces a revolution, more or less, in the age in which it lives. Garrick produced a revolution in the stage; he gave a new life to the great drama of Shakspeare, and was by the power of his acting the means of extinguishing his own contemporary artificial dramatists. He improved the dramatic taste, but he could not create a dramatic power; therefore, Though we have myriads of writers who could make such tragedies as Irene, Cleone, and the Siege of Damascus, yet none are made, for our taste outruns our power. In the course of this Correspondence are several letters, for the most part anonymous, criticising in a free, candid, and liberal spirit several minute particulars in Garrick's acting that are exceedingly interesting and curious. In a note to one of these, the editor observes :
“There is no clue to the date of this really anonymous criticism, which is of the soundest kind. What difficulty I have, is to believe that Garrick could truly be so open to censure. The very reform introduced by him
was the destruction of that eternal chaunt, which was the vice of the old school. The reader will admire, however, the humility of so great a genius in preserving the lecture among
We confess we do not see the difficulty which the editor sees. Let us take a sample of the criticism alluded to. “ Thus again, in the prologue to ‘Henry the Fifth,'
*Oh! for a muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention.' As you removed the stop at fire to the conclusion of the verse, you could not, of course, connect ascend with the subsequent line, to which it is related. But you was more remarkably incorrect in Venice Preserved,' and made more slips of this kind than in any other part which I had seen before ; and this appeared the more singular, because the verses of that tragedy are, in general, far from being musical and flowing; at least they are not so harmonious as to deserve their being preserved entire, at the expense of the meaning. Take this example, from among many others—
• When in your brigantine you sail'd to see
The Adriatic wedded by our Duke,' &c. you went through the first line without any intermission, and stopped short at the end, which necessarily broke in upon the sense, and occasioned an ambiguity in the expression ; for it did not readily appear (as the ear could not distinguish) whether the poet had not wrote you sail'd to sen ; whereas had you made only a brief pause after sail'd, and joined to see with the next verse, you would both have spoke with propriety and removed all possibility of an equivoque : and this error you was frequently guilty of throughout the whole performance, though, as I have not the play by me, I am unable to point out the rest."
It is amusing to read this contemporary criticism of the performance of the great actor, and especially when there are laid to his charge mistakes which in these days a spouting schoolboy would avoid. But we cannot agree with the editor in seeing any difficulty in the matter. It is true that Garrick's innovation and reformation consisted for the most part in breaking up the old monotonous chaunt of what was called the Imperial tragedy; but when we consider how thoroughly corrupted the English ear had been with that see-saw, pendulumlike spouting, it is not conceivable that it could be surmounted at once. The most radical of reformers must be contented with something of a gradual reform, The age in which Garrick appeared was altogether an age of artificiality and formality in every thing. It was the age in which the choir of Canterbury cathedral was fitted up after the taste of a Presbyterian meeting-house. It was the age in which people wrote poetry that sounded like Pope's, and meant nothing at all. It was the age of carved holly and clipped yew trees, of
green walls and vegetable peacocks ; it was the age of Dutch cupids and hoop petticoats, of tamboured waistcoats, laced hats, and nine-inch pigtails just superseding the two-bushel wigs that made the “ human face divine” look like an owl in an ivy bush. The miracle is that Garrick did so much as he did; it is not to be wondered at that he did not do every thing at once; dryness and formality and unnaturalness of taste had been in his early days all the rage. It was his glory to break the ice so vigorously, to dissolve it so thoroughly ; we must not wonder if for a while some fragments of broken ice were left floating as yet unthawed
the stream. By the way, now that we are speaking of the editor, whose judgment we generally commend, whose diligence is praiseworthy, and whose brief illustrative notes are so valuable as to make us wish for more, we must take the liberty to dissent from an opinion which he has expressed in the brief memoir of Garrick which is prefixed to the volume.
“Incidentally,” says the Editor, “we would inform the reader of one error in the judgment of Mr. Garrick. The tragedy of Douglas, which he could not be persuaded to like, on the 14th of March, 1757, was acted with brilliant success at Covent-Garden Theatre."
In our opinion the error was not on the part of Mr. Garrick, but on the part of the Covent Garden audience. There was an adventitious interest in that tragedy on account of its author. There was an opposition in the public mind against the Puritanic rigidity of the Scotch clergy, who were scandalized at the anomaly of a reverend tragedian. The play itself is a mere barley-sugar tragedy, fit for such sucking actors as Master Betty, and a very nice play for a breakingup frolic at a young gentleman's boarding-school, or a young ladies' either for that matter. Garrick may have committed many errors in judgment, but we will not allow that he erred in not liking Douglas.
We see in this collection, as of course we should expect, the indefatigable zeal which this great master of the art had for his profession. He was a man of genius and of as much judgment as genius; and he has left the impress of his judgment and his genius yet upon the stage. Though his acting cannot be like the painting of a deceased artist, placed before younger competitors for fame, there has been naturally and instinctively handed down by an imitative tradition some savour of his genius, something of the inartificial though not unstudied elasticity of his style. It is manifest enough that he studied, and that he studied closely and successfully. His letter to Powell, as manifesting his zeal for the art and his affectionate solicitude for the success of a younger artist, is honourable to him mentally and morally. It does great credit to both parties. There is one part of it which receives a striking illustration in this volume. the public has marked you for a favourite, you may choose what company you please, and none but the best can be of service to you.” Garrick was here repeating his own experience. He had choice of company and made choice of the best, and this is a great charm of this publication. There may be some amusement in reading theatrical tactics and green-room squabbles of the last
century; there may be some sport in perusing the gravely-penned defences of a stupid tragedy, and in watching the developements of conceit and incompetence; but there is no book which a man would not lay down for the sake of perusing an original letter from Bishop Warburton, Lord Camden, Edmund Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Hoadly, Mrs. Montagu, cum multis aliis, whose communications enrich this volume. It would perhaps signify little what they wrote, and peradventure the least important the more interesting, for one likes to see how great minds manage little matters. We have had occasion to observe at the beginning of this article that the letters were characteristic of the writers; we may repeat the remark here with a special reference to Bishop Warburton. Take the following extracts :
“ Dodsley is a wretched fellow, and no man ever met with a worse return than you have done for your endeavours to serve him. I deny your position, that scholars and men of ability applaud his trumpery; for take my word for it, a learne blockhead is a blockhead still!”
"I am to thank you for myself, and your friends at Prior Park, for two copies of the new piece of High Life Below-stairs. I have read it with extreme pleasure and satisfaction. I add the last, because satisfaction in works of wit does not always go along with our pleasure."
“Somebody or other told me, that in the thing called 'Bibliogr.' or 'Biograph. Brit. there is a Life of Pope, in which Mr. Allen is spoken of as a rich Quaker. Is it possible there can be such creatures in the world? or is this scribbler an aboriginal Grubbeian, who was not only born in a garret, but had never in his whole life descended it and come down amongst men ?”
And yet once more:
“Speaking of eloquence, I am naturally put in mind of you and Shakspeare. It may. be a question who is most dishonoured ; you by the idle boys called spouters, or Shak. speare by the idler men called critics and editors ? Both of you are answerable for them. Your several excellencies have produced them, as weeds spring up and are ready to choke the richest gifts of Ceres. Editions on editions of our immortal favourite are daily springing up-I was ready, very improperly, to say, and showing their heads. But of all these idiots, the greatest sure is one Capell. While others have procured for themselves the advantage of being embalmed alive in the liquid amber of the poet, this man seems to have been only able to gibbet himself above-ground over his grave.”
There are several superb specimens of the epistolary facility and felicity of Mrs. Montagu, whose pen seems to have had a peculiar plastic power to form into the most graceful shapes and attitudes whatever it touched. Now Garrick must have been truly a great man to command such intimacies and to enjoy such society. He kept up, as Warburton rightly said of him, the dignity of his profession, and he certainly showed himself at once the man of genius and a man of the world. He did not seem to think it necessary to play tricks for distinction, or to wander into extravagance for the purpose of notoriety. not by running out of the path, but by outrunning others in it that Garrick was able to place himself so conspicuously in the world's eye. Judging from his correspondence, he seems not to have been a tuft-hunter, for though he reckoned men of title among his friends and correspondents, there was not one of the whole set whose society was not valuable, independent of any distinction from title; they were for the most part men who brought honour to their rank rather than derived honour from it.
We knew the character of Garrick before we read this Correspondence, weknow it better now. We have seen his picture and now we see his statue-an, honourable monument to his memory are these pages.
THE IRISH YEOMANRY,-THE IRISH MEMBERS,- AND 10. Anna
LORD GREY. The most insolent and base of human creatures is the low-bred Irish Protestant Loyalist. He is a local and unique production of an inveterate system of bad government-a sort of diseased excrescence upon the otherwise sound stock of loyalty and protestantism. Having nothing but his protestantism to boast of, he fancies that the ascendancy of religious caste gilds over his intrinsic vileness. The spirit of persecution is inborn with him, and his social position is such as to stimulate that most unsocial instinct to savage rancour. Clothe his sordid superiority in a red coat, place a tufted cap upon his head, a bayonet by his side, and a musket in his hands, and you have an infuriate zealot, ready and eager, upon the slightest provocation, or upon no provocation at all, to commemorate the events, or conclude the orgies of a party anniversary, by shedding blood. You have, in short, a personification of that Irish Yeomanry, to preserve which, Lord Grey seems prepared to hazard his existence as a minister, and the peace of Ireland.
It is difficult to conceive the motives of the Government. There is in them something that appears little short of infatuation. The Irish Yeomanry have long been a nuisance, without one redeeming advantage. They have neither past services, nor present need, nor respectable condition, nor numerical force, to plead for their preservation, or atone for the mischiefs which they have caused. Altogether their existing efficient force does not exceed 12 or 15,000 men. This probably is a great over-statement. They are, for the most part, of the mere populace: they are disowned by the great mass of respectable Irish protestants, and abhorred, of course, by seven millions of Irish Catholics.
· But it is said, “ they put down the rebellion of 1798, and preserved the connexion." This is their common cry, and that of their partisans. It is one of the grossest and rankest misrepresentations ever made. The Yeomanry provoked the Wexford insurrection by their atrocities practised upon the unprotected and unarmed peasantry; and, with the cowardice so commonly allied to cruelty, they fled from the armed, or rather half-armed rebels, and from the wretched handful of French desperadoes which landed in the West.
To come but very briefly to particulars :-The Irish Yeomanry were embodied and armed towards the close of 1796. It was a measure of defence adopted in imitation of a similar enrolment in England. But the elements out of which this armed force was constituted, and the public danger which was to be provided against, were essentially different in the two countries. In England, the popular feeling was not divided or embittered by Sectarian animosity and party hatred, and the chief, if not the only danger, was from the foreign enemy. In Ireland, all the furies of civil and religious war were raging, or struggling in the bosom of the community, from one extremity of the island to the other. To put arms into the hands of the dominant and less numerous faction, was to place at the mercy of its passions the adverse and more numerous, but unarmed one. Accordingly, many persons of great political authority and undoubted attachment to the connexion with Great Britain, strongly deprecated