EDITED BY GEORGE P. BAKER
THE HARASSMENTS OF A MANAGER
WHEN one reads the letters of the Leigh Collection it ceases to be surprising either that Garrick constantly feared misrepresentation, or that, in his effort to steer safely amidst so many conflicting human interests and so many hampering traditions, he should at times have seemed temporizing or vacillating. Two letters of the collection, both to Lord Holderness, show the maze of conflicting interests— the jealousy of rejected authors, desire to please noble patrons, and actual fear of Court disfavor — through which Garrick had to thread his way. Robert D’Arcy, fourth Earl of Holderness, (1718-1778) was naturally predisposed to serve Garrick, for in his earlier days he was passionately fond of directing operas and masquerades. Indeed, in 1743 he and Lord Middlesex had been sole managers of the London opera. Hence the fitness of the lampoon that greeted his selection, in 1751, as a Secretary of State.
In politics, is certain ;
Since Holderness, who gets the seals,
Was bred behind the curtain.
On his death it was said of him that he had been “not quite so considerable a personage as he once expected to be, though Nature never intended him for anything that he was.”
I have taken the Liberty to send Your Lordship a Copy of ye Guardian before publication; could I possibly shew my Respect & Gratitude in things of more importance I certainly would, but I deal in Trifiles, & have Nothing Else in my Power. Prince Edward ask’d me last Night, who was the Author of ye Farce; I was in great Confusion at ye Question, because I happen’d to be the Guilty person Myself, But I have so many Enemies among the Writers on Account of my refusing so many of their Performances Every Year, that I am oblig’d to conceal Myself in order to avoid the Torrent of abuse that their Malice would pour upon Me — I thought it proper (and I hope Your Lordship will Excuse Me) to discover this; lest his Royal Highness should be angry at my not answering his Question directly, as I ought to have done — as Your Lordship well understands my disagreeable Situation, may I hope to have so good an Advocate as Lord [erasure and blank] ? It is of Great Consequence to me to Conceal the Author of ye Guardian, but it is of ye Utmost to Me not to be found Wanting in ye least Article of my Duty to his Royal Highness.
most Oblig’d, & most
Obedient, humble Servt.
Febry. 11th. 1759.
The second letter to Lord Holderness and the two which follow it show the somewhat ticklish relations of a manager of one of the two patent theatres to the Court. Garrick’s words prove that he felt that his own comings and goings were under surveillance, and thought it was wise to ask for a consent, at least formally necessary, before leaving the stage during the season.
MY LORD. I have been so much indulg’d by your Goodness, that I shall venture to open my Griefs to Your Lordship — It is my greatest Ambition that the Company of Drury-Lane should not appear unworthy of his Royal Highness’s Commands — but indeed I am affraid, from a late Rehearsal, that the Comedy of Every Man in his humor will disgrace Us, If I have not a little more time for instruction — the Language & Characters of Ben Jonson (and particularly of the Comedy in question) are much more difficult than those of any other Writer, & I was three years before I durst venture to trust the Comedians with their Characters, when it was first reviv’d — however, my Lord, the Play will be ready in ye best Manner We are able to produce it, should his Royal Highness honour us wth. his Commands, but indeed I tremble for the little Reputation we may have acquir’d in other performances — I am affraid of being thought too bold, & Yet I could wish, that Your Lordship would favor us with Your Good Offices, & if the Rehearsal might be permitted to make It’s appearance first, I should hope, by having a little more time, to make the other Play less unworthy of his Royal Highness’s presence. I hope Your Lordship will attribute this Liberty I have taken to the Zeal of appearing in ye best Light I possibly can, as a Manager of a Theatre.
yr. Lordship’s most dutifull
& most Obedt. huml Sert
D: GARRICK. Evidently one of the many new friends made by Garrick during his vacation on the Continent which ended in April 1765 was Lekain of the Theatre Français. In July, 1765, the great French actor — who, said Horace Walpole, “is very ugly and ill made, and yet has an heroic dignity which Garrick wants, and great fire” — wrote Garrick that he hoped to visit London in or near the following Lenten season. In warmly friendly fashion he added: “ I shall find it very pleasant to join my applause to that which you receive daily from a people of whom you have sometimes had cause to complain, but who have made your talents immortal and have established your fortune : with such mitigations one may pardon many things. You are in the good graces of your clergy, and our archbishop has sent us all to the Devil; you are your own master, and we are slaves; you enjoy a glory that is real, and ours is always in dispute; you have a brilliant fortune, and we are poor; there are terrible contrasts for you!” As the following letter and one printed by Boaden show, Lekain arrived at a most inopportune time for Garrick and the expected meeting did not take place.
BATH, Mars 27e 1766.
Je ne scai pas, mon tres cher leKain, si Je suis plus étonné ou affligé de recevoir votre lettre: vous rn’avez mis dans le plus grand Embarras. Ma femme qui partage mon Embarras, et vous envoye mille amitiez a eté malade depuis quelques jours et garde la maison; J’ai commencé les eaux avec succes et nous sommes Entourés de la Neige; toutes ces considerations m’ont Empeché d’etre deja en route pour vous joindre: cependant si vous pouvez resté a londres Encore huit ou dix jours, Je partirai sur votre reponse que, Je vous prie, de me donner le meme jour que vous receverez la presente. vous pouvez contér de me voir avant le fin de la Semaine: mais quel Malheur pour moi que Je ne puisse pas suivre mon inclination en jouant expres pour vous — et en voici la raison — c’est que J’ai demandé permission au roi de m’absenter pour six semaines — dailleurs tous les jours sont engages pour les benefices des Acteurs exceptés les jeudis qu’on donne la nouvelle Comedie dans laquelle je ne joue pas. Mais mon cher LeKain, pourquoy n’avez vous pas fait attention a la lettre que Je vous ai ecrit d abord en reponse a la votre — Monsieur Bontems chez Monsr. le Comte de Guerchy, s’estoit chargé de vous faire parvenir ma Lettre, et il me rendra temoignage que Je vous ai prié de remettre votre voyage jusque a l’année prochaine, lorsque J’aurois été tout a vous — parlez, je vous prie, de cette affaire a Monsr Bontems, car ce contretemps me met au desespoir. En attendant j’ai prié un Ami de passer chez vous pour sçavoir s’il peut vous etre utile a quelques choses — peutetre serez vous dans le cas de faire quelques emplettes dans ce pais, Si cela vous arrive, je vous prie de disposer de ma bourse et de me regarder toujours, Comme Je le suis reellement, votre tres humble et tres affectione Ami
N’oubliez pas, je vous prie, de me faire reponse sur le champ — Vous ne scauriez croire dans quel Etat d’inquietude mon malheureux eloignement de Londres m’a jetté en me privant du plaisir de vous Embrasser sur le champs.
A brief but pleasant reply of Lekain printed in Boaden shows that the French actor took the situation in good part, but had to leave at once for the reopening of the Parisian theatrical season.
The next letter, to William Woodfall, seems to show that even after retiring from the stage Garrick felt some responsibility to the Court for his movements. Woodfall, son of the founder of the Public Advertiser, was actor, newspaper man, and dramatist, though his chief significance lay in the second activity. Richard Savage had intended to rewrite his Sir Thomas Overbury, produced unsuccessfully in 1724, but died before completing the work. The MS. came into the hands of Woodfall, who, changing both the arrangement of the scenes and the conduct of the plot, successfully produced it, as Garrick’s letter shows, at Covent Garden in Feb. 1777. Garrick’s reference to “your benefit” is interesting, for controversy had arisen as to the reward of Woodfall for his work. The manager, Harris, and the author agreed to refer the whole matter to Garrick and Colman the elder, who decided that Woodfall should have the receipts of two nights, less the usual charges deducted for a night. This the manager of Covent Garden said should be £100, although he admitted that heretofore the sum had been £70. His reason was recent improvements in the theatre. Woodfall felt that his case would be made a precedent for future authors and stood his ground for the old amount. The matter was adjusted by the offer of a liberal round sum in place of the probable profits of the two nights.
Sunday Feby. 2 
Thank you, Dear Woodfall, a thousand times for your kind attention to me — had you known my anxiety for you & yours, you would not think this very friendly Care of me thrown away — I was not merely content to have Your Account, I insisted upon Becket’s going & sending me his thoughts — which I inclose you — I am glad I did not quite destroy it in lighting my Candle. he seems to speak more confident of prodigious Success than Even yourself — If the play had not met with the publick approbation, I would never have given my opinion again — if a little Critique in my Way, will be of any Service, I will give it you when-Ever you please — as to the M舒he must be Dormente a little, for their Majesties have Employ’d me Every Minute — I have written within these last two days 3 scenes & 2 fables — if you behave well & don’t abuse Managers perhaps you may have a Slice before they are tasted by Royalty — when yr. Benefit Matters are to be settled — You cannot, if you have any doubts, have a better Chamber Councillor than the late Manager, who will be always ready to give you ye best advice he can — so much for that Overbury for Ever! — I grieve about Hull — & somewhat surprised about Hartley — all a Lottery! now to my own business — my old friend Sampson has said in his Publick Adr. Yesterday that I was in London to visit Mrs. B 舒 as I am here upon the舒’s Business, & got leave to recover myself in ye Country — they may take it ill at St. James’s —could you desire him to say in an unparading paragraph from himself — that he was Mistaken about Mr. G舒that he was in the Country & had been for some time in order to recover the great weakness which was caus’d by his late illness. — You or He will put it better & Modester for Me than that, which I have written upon ye gallop: pray let it be inserted in ye same paper tomorrow — HE always sees ye Publick Adr.
You must really take care that our Friend is not suspected of the M舒 Thompson [this word crossed out] if he can will be rude with C舒or me — his rudeness I would chuse to have — but letting the Cat (M. Joncan) out of ye bag — wd be ye Devil: I promis’d that I would speak to you for him that he may still be conceal’d — I laugh at him — but he is too foolish upon ye Occasion — Always in a hurry —
Yours Ever most Sincerely
under the Signature I now
T. OVERBURY Pray don’t forget ye Contradictory
paragraph in ye Publick Ad —
for tomorrow if possible.
I shall be at the Adelphi to Morrow
Drilling the Drury Lane company in difficult plays, a responsibility which we have already seen weighed at times on Garrick, was by no means the worst of the worries the actors, or rather the actresses, brought him. Vanity, ambition, petty jealousy led them, one and all, Kitty Clive, Mrs. Cibber, Mrs. Abingdon, Mrs. Yates, and Miss Pope, to write him irritating letters such as one of Mrs. Abingdon’s which he grimly labeled “Another fal-lal of Mrs. Abingdon.” In the spring of 1759 when Garrick was preparing to produce Arthur Murphy’s Orphan of China, with Mrs. Cibber as Mandane, Murphy, always suspicious, got an idea that some pretended illness of Mrs. Cibber would be used by the manager as an excuse for postponing the play. Murphy therefore arranged to have Mrs. Yates, then playing at a small salary, understudy the part. Mrs. Cibber fell ill, or said she was ill; Murphy much to Garrick’s surprise, produced Mrs. Yates ready with the lines; and the play ran for nine nights, lifting Mrs. Yates into fame. The reference to all this in the opening of the following letter to Dr. John Hawkesworth does not sound as if the refusal of Mrs. Cibber to act was with the connivance of Garrick. One of Samuel Foote’s famous mots is connected with this illness of Mrs. Cibber. He and Murphy were dining together when Mrs. Cibber’s note was brought. It ended with the statement that she was “praying most earnestly for the success of the piece.” “ What is Mrs. Cibber’s religion?” said Foote. “A Roman Catholic, I believe,” answered Murphy. “I thought so,” said Foote, “by her praying so earnestly for the dead.”
John Hawkesworth rose, largely by favor, from somewhat pinched conditions and hack work to a brief period of affluence and notoriety. In December, 1759, Garrick produced Hawkesworth’s alteration of Southerne’s Oroonoko, and from time to time the actor threw considerable hack work in his way. When the official history of Captain Cook’s expedition to the South Seas was to be written, Garrick by intercession with Lord Sandwich got the job for Hawkesworth. For his work, so great was public interest in the voyage, publishers paid Hawkesworth £6000. The results of the appointment were, however, disastrous. In the first place, Garrick was angered, apparently at what he considered the breach by Hawkesworth of some agreement to publish through Garrick’s friend Becket, and the friendship of the actor decidedly cooled. More important by far, when the book appeared, it raised charges of heterodoxy, and even of too great freedom in reporting certain Indian customs. There was a paper war, and the attacks so preyed on Hawkesworth’s mind that they were said to have hastened his death, by fever, November 16, 1773.
Thursday 9th. [1759.]
MY DEAR SIR,<BR/> Notwithstanding my late Troubles & Disappointments (for among others, you must know that Mrs. Cibber has sent us word that she can’t perform in the New Play, so that the holy Week was very ill Employ’d by Me — We have got another Person ready in ye Part & shall certainly act it on Saturday — In short, my dear Sir, I have had Nothing but care & Anxiety since you left us, & some revolutions & unexpected Matters have arisen which you shall know when I see you, that will absolutely hinder us from performing the Masque next Year, if it was all ready & to our Wishes — however we will loose No time & I will see you next Sunday by ten o’Clock if agreeable to you — Mrs. Garrick & Mr. Berenger will likewise partake of yr. Beef & Pudding & will be with Mrs. Hawkesworth & you before two — they will come after Me — so let not Mrs. Hawkeswth. lose her Church. If there is ye least Objection to our coming pray let me know it as freely as I propose troubling you — I have Much to say to you & am a little puzzled about Mr Stanley; has he done quite right ? — but I will open my Budget on Monday for I am quite dead with fatigue & some fretting.
Yours Ever my dear
Most truly &
What time shd you
like best next Season
for Oroonoko; I wish you
would hint yr. Mind to me for on Saturday
Night I must settle wth. Another Gentleman.
James Lacy, from 1747 to his death in 1774, partner in Drury Lane with Garrick, was often very exasperating. After Garrick’s return from the Continent in 1765, Lacy, presuming on his success in management during Garrick’s absence, began to take to himself some of his partner’s functions, though their contract clearly excluded him therefrom. This difficulty in 1766 was smoothed over, but in the summer of 1768 Lacy became troublesome again. This time he wished to get rid of George Garrick, who was a kind of acting manager at Drury Lane, and entirely devoted to his brother’s interest. In the midst of the disagreement Garrick Wrote to his friend John Paterson, “I have (and I believe you know it) withstood very great temptations to be easy at Drury-Lane, and to end my theatrical life there; but fate, and Mr. Lacy, who seems to be alone insensible of my merit and services, will drive me away, and they shall have their ends. — Mr. Lacy thinks and speaks very injuriously of my brother, and has lately done some things which I think shows a spirit contrary to that of our articles, and the terms of our reconciliation settled before you.” The letter now printed shows the warmth of relationship between the brothers.
[Circa August 15th, 1768. ?]
DEAR GEORGE.<BR/> Your Affair with Lacy cannot be in better hands than those of our friend Chamberlain — He is clever, knows Lacy’s Character, & is well assur’d that What we Ask is a triffle to what he (Lacy) ought to have done on his own Accord —• I would not have You go to Lacy, & could I have wished a Person to transact ye matter, it Shd be Chamberlain — therefore leave the Business to him, & I will through you tell him my thoughts of ye Person he is to treat with, & the thing he is to treat about. I have fix’d my resolution, that if he does not make it Easy to You, & consequently to Me, I will never upon my honor, let what will be ye ye Consequences, go on wth him as I have done. It is monstrous that he shd. seem to be (for it is only a Seeming) insensible of my very great, nay foolish Generosity to him who has return’d it so ungratefully the last year, my playing alone brought to ye house between 5 & 6 thousand pounds — I got up ye Pantomime for wch. I might have had a benefit & got 200 pds. for it — I wd. not let Barry or myself perform for ye Peep behind &c, & you know what [fame ?] I have given to ye house in altering Romeo — Every Man, &c &c &c without fee or reward — now my dear George — this is the ground that I wd. have our Friend take — let him talk ye Matter over with Lacy as from himself — & tell him that upon his behaviour to my Brother will depend my future behaviour to him — that He must tell Lacy as his friend — that I have had great inducements to quit Drury Lane, & if he shd be riotous Mr. Chamberlain may insinuate that Mr. Yorke has given it as his opinion that I may sell toMorrow without his leave, or giving him ye refusal — this I say in case of his being furious, for we must carry our point at all Events — We must have yr. Addition to yr. Salary without any Conditions of my doing this or that, which he wd. meanly barter for —
If he could nobly give You ye 200 pds. he has taken from me & give it you, he shd. have it again ten fold — but he is incapable of it, as I was foolishly Easy in giving it up —
Lacy must be frighten’d — if Chamberlain could settle this Matter so that I might think well of Lacy, I should be Easy in my Mind — but I am sick of his mean, ungrateful, wretched behaviour — I will prove to the Man that I am cheaper than ye Cheapest of ye lowest part of his Company — I have a thought — Suppose, you were to attend Mr. Chamberlain to Richmond or to Isleworth in his way to Lacy’s, on Wednesday Morng. I will be wth you at Eleven or 12 o’Clock sooner, or later (as he pleases) & at any house you will appoint we can talk over more in a qr. of an hour than we can write in a qr. of a Year — You then may drive with Me if you please, & we shall know wt. to do — If you can’t conveniently come, I will meet him on Wedy. at his own time & place, & then will settle ye Whole — Send me Word toMorrow Night, & I will do as you bid me —
I am so angry wth Lacy — that whatEver
plan Chamberlain & you settle I will pursue
Ever & Ever Yrs
No charge against the actor-manager is more often heard than that he sees nothing commendable in any play which will not let him shine. The widespread feeling of this sort in regard to Garrick, Horace Walpole phrased strongly in connection with his play, The Mysterious Mother. “I have finished my Tragedy,” he wrote; “I am not yet intoxicated enough with it to think it would do for the stage, though I wish to see it acted, — nor am I disposed to expose myself to the impertinences of that jackanapes Garrick, who lets nothing appear but his own wretched stuff, or that of creatures still duller, who suffer him to alter their pieces as he pleases.” On the other hand, three letters of Garrick’s to Captain Thompson, Hannah More, and Lord Bute, criticising plays by the first two and by John Home, show that he was a sound critic. What he says in the letter to Thompson of the relation of character to fable might well be taken as a first principle by young playwrights, and posterity has corroborated his judgments on the other two plays. Indeed, the Biographia Dramatica says of Captain Thompson’s Hobby Horse: “It would do discredit to any Author that ever existed.”
Captain Edward Thompson illustrates the treatment Garrick often met from those whom he befriended. After an adventurous career he had by 1762 reached the rank of Captain in the Navy. He then withdrew from it and devoted himseif to writing, in the main ephemeral verse of a low order both in subject — The Meretriciad, The Courtesan, etc. — and in quality. In 1766 Garrick produced his Hobby Horse, which failed. Garrick showed him repeated kindnesses, among others procuring for him in 1772 the commission of commander. This Garrick did in spite of Thompson’s satire, Trinculo’s Trip to the Jubilee, on the actor’s pet spectacle, the Shakespeare Jubilee at Stratford in 1769. But in 1776 a letter appeared in the Lundon Packet charging Garrick with conspiracy to destroy Thompson’s play, The Syrens, then acting at Covent Garden. Bate, the proprietor of the paper was so indignant when he learned the facts, that he published a reply, signed Mermaid, letting the town know of Garrick’s many kindnesses to the man. This letter Thompson tried to fasten on Garrick, who had Bate swear to an affidavit as to the authorship, and thus wrung an abject apology from Thompson. It is sad to turn from the very friendly letter here printed. with its evident enjoyment of Thompson’s letters from Scotland, to the words with which Garrick closed their relations after the final affront in 1776: “Be assured, Sir, that I have as totally forgotten whatever you may have written to me from every part of the world as I will endeavour to forget that such a person as the writer and his unkindness ever existed, and was once connected with, Sir,
Your most humble servant,
D. GAHRICK ”
Let me thank you most sincerely for yr. very Entertaining, & obliging letter. I am sorry that you so feelingly lament the loss of yr. Patron — He is only retir’d for a While, that he may return with more power & Splendor. I don’t like your remarks upon Fortune, she is certainly dim-sighted at times, but . . . you have at present no reason for Complaint — consider my dear Captain — that you are Young, Stout, have great health, great Spirits & one of ye finest women in England with you — what ye Devil would you have ? . . . let me hear no more, my good Captain, of yr. Complaints against fortune loss of friends &c &c — remember the burden of ye old Song — a light heart &c.
yr. Account of Scotland pleas’d me much — I read it to our friend Colman yesterday, & we laugh’d heartily — yr. accounting for their filth by way of preservation against ye Plague, & ye brokenwinded Priests are admirable touches; You must give me some more from ye fountain head, & we will send you some News from the banks of ye Thames in return for it — Colman sends his Love & Best wishes to you — & hopes to hear from you — he is still hoarse, & his friends are alarm’d about him — Mr. Lacy thinks he’s in great danger, I think, he’s past it, & begins, in spite of his hoarseness to be himself again.
I am sorry you did not see Aikin, but I have have [sic] a very good Idea of him from what you have pick’d up — I have Ever spoke my Sentiments to you about yr. dramatic Matters, & I will now, with a freedom, that you will not dislike because it is the result of very good Wishes & good liking to you, & proceeds from my honest Judgment; tho there were good things in the Hobbyhorse, & some Character; I never approv’d it — I always was afraid of it, & foretold the Event — it wants fable — Action, Action, Action, are words better apply’d to ye Drama, than to Oratory — be assur’d that without some comic Situations resulting from the fable, the Hobby horse will not run ye race we could wish it — all the knowledge of Character, with ye finest Dialogue would be lost without a proper Vehicle, to interest ye Audience. You will throw away much powder & Shot, if you don’t ram down both, & compress them wth a good fable; there is yr. great failure, & were I worthy to advise you (I am an old pilot & have brought some leaky vessels into port) I would not write a line till I had fix’d upon a good Story & consider’d it well upon paper — If you don’t you will sail without rudder, compass or ballast — whatEver you send to me, I will read it as I would any Brother’s & give you my opinion like a Brother — You on the other hand, must not be displeas’d with my frankness —& if you should, I had much rather you shd. be angry at my not thinking wth. You, than curse me for a Miscarriage upon the Stage.
My Brother is in Staffordshire — Mrs. Garrick sends her Compliments, I beg mine to Yr. Lady & may Success attend ye & Fortune see better for ye future.
I am Dear Sir
most truly yr. humle.
Samuel Johnson said of Hannah More, “I was obliged to speak to Miss Reynolds, to let her [Miss More] know that I desired she would not flatter me so much.” Somebody observed : “ She flatters Garrick.” Johnson answered: “ She is in the right to flatter Garrick. She is in the right for two reasons: first, because she has the world with her, who have been praising Garrick these thirty years ; and secondly, because she is rewarded for it by Garrick. Why should she flatter me ? I can do nothing for her.” If a boyhood friend of Garrick’s chose to put such an interpretation on the deep friendship of Hannah More for Garrick, what wonder that the world in general constantly misinterpreted him!
The following letter shows one of the ways in which Miss More was “rewarded”— by detailed and helpful criticism of her second play, the Fatal Falsehood, produced not till shortly after Garrick’s death. On October 10 1778, Miss More wrote to Garrick, “I have taken the liberty, dear Sir, to send you my first act. I have greatly changed my plan, as you will see : Emmeline is now my heroine, and Orlando my hero. Be so good as treat me with your usual candour, and tell me how I have failed or succeeded in unfolding the story or characters; and, above all, if you can recollect any other tragedy that it is like, as I shall be most careful of that.” In the Fatal Falsehood, as printed, any trained reader of plays must at once recognize the truth of Garrick’s criticism of the weakness in the scene of the two friends, which persisted, and of the slight complication the “fable” shows.
MY DEAR MADAM
I have read the three Acts & laid them by, & to them again — there are some Objections, which may be alter’d when we Meet, & can read them together: the two next Acts must determine of the former three — there are some Abrupt Endings of ye Acts or rather Scenes, & I think ye Scene, wch: shd. be capital between Rivers & Orlando in ye 3d. Act not yet warm enough — the last should inquire whether some Intelligence about his Family, or some female Connection may not lie heavy upon his Mind — Why shd. he doubt of his Father’s Consent for his union wth. Emiline ? If that had been mark’d or known before it would have done; & perhaps the Father’s Objecting to marry his Daughter to a stranger &c might be an addition to the Fable — however do not alter till I have consider’d ye Whole — You have good time before you, & we will turn it about in our Minds with Advantage — from the Father’s Objections might arise some good Scenes between the Son & him, & ye Daughter & him — then indeed Rivers might mistake, & Orlando being afraid to tell, might create an animated Scene and more confusion — but let it alone till I see ye Whole — I have been very ill with a Cold & Cough wch. tear my head & breast to pieces — has the Sincere, little, very little Gentleman deign’d to visit you — I have had such proofs of his insincerity to me upon many Occasions that I am more astonish’d, than displeas’d at his Conduct — Mrs. Cholmondeley gave him a fine Dressing at Sr. Jos: Reynolds’s. He was quite pale & distress’d for ye Whole Company took my Part — among other friendly Matters— he said, that it was no Wonder, Wits were severe upon Me, for that I was always Striking wth ye keen Edge of Satire all that came in my Way — Mrs. C. said it was ye reverse of my Character & that I was ye gayest Companion without Malignity — nay, that 1 was too prudish, & carry’d my dislike of Satire too far, & that, she was surpris’d to hear a particular Friend of Mine so Mistake Me so — this was a dagger — for all were against him — but let us brush this Cobweb from our thoughts I have sent some Nonsense to the Arab — dull truth without Poetry — I forgot her Christian name, so have given the Mahometan one:
I wish I could have written better verses for her book, & prov’d a little better title to my Place than I have done — I have finish’d my Prol: & Epil: for Fielding’s play, & have been very lucky — I have in ye first introduced the Characters in Tom Jones & Joseph Andrews pleading at ye Bar of ye Publick for ye Play — it is really tolerably done — I would have sent it, had I a written Copy — say nothing about it —
Yours my dearest
Nine at all Times
& in all places
Madam wraps her
Love up with Mine
to keep it warm, for
you, & your Sisters —
John Stuart, Lord Bute, on first coming to London in 1745, showed his fondness for acting by his enjoyment of masquerades, and of plays which he gave with his relations. It was said of him as a patron of letters, that he rarely favored any one outside his party and was over-partial to the Scotch. In 1756 his favor was something not to be treated lightly by Garrick, for he was the companion and confidant of the future King of England, and his relations with his mother, the Princess, were so intimate as even to rouse scandal. When, therefore, he recommended to Garrick’s attention the play, Douglas, of the Scotch clergyman John Home, the manager found himself in exactly the position he once feelingly described to his friend John Hoadley: “I have a Play with Me, sent to me by My Lord Chesterfield — but it won’t do, & yet recommended by his Lordship & patroniz’d by Ladies of Quality: what can I say or do? must I belye my Judgment or run the risque of being thought impertinent, & disobliging ye great Folks?” As the following letter proves for any one who knows the play of Douglas, Garrick refused it on good grounds, and courageously; yet there were no charges too mean to be made as to the reasons for the refusal. John Forster, who seemed to feel that he could not exalt Goldsmith without decrying Garrick, repeated with relish the gossip of the hour — which the letter here printed goes far to refute. Douglas, Forster wrote, “was not acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane, because Garrick, who shortly afterwards so complacently exhibited himself in Agis, & in the Siege of Aquileia, & other ineffable dullness from the same hand (wherein his quick suspicious glance detected no Lady Randolphs), would have nothing to do with the character of Douglas. What would come with danger from the full strength of Mrs. Cibber, he knew might be safely left to the enfeebled powers of Mrs. Woffington: whose Lady Randolph would leave him no one to fear but Barry, at the rival house. But despairing also of Coventgarden when refused by Drury-lane, & crying plague on both their houses, to the north had good parson Home returned, and, though not till eight months were gone, sent back his play endorsed by the Scottish capital. There it had been acted; and from the beginning of the world, from the beginning of Edinburgh, the like of that play had not been known — Even puffery of Home must have languished, but for that resolve of the presbytery to eject from his pulpit a parson who had written a play. It carried Douglas to London; secured a nine nights’ reasonable wonder; and the noise of the carriages on their way to Covent-garden to see the Norval of silver-tongued Barry was now giving sudden headaches to David Garrick.” Had John Forster read Douglas ? If he had, must he not have seen that it had no qualities to warrant expectation of the success it attained, and that its initial success could have come only from special conditions in Edinburgh? That Garrick should have acted other plays of Home, even though poor, is not surprising. It is one thing to refuse a play from an unknown dramatist; it is something wholly different to insist on one’s own judgment of a play by the same person when he has become famous and the public demands a chance to see whatever he has written. What manager could withstand that demand and hold his public ? The following letter proves that no such petty and silly reason as fear that Mrs. Cibber as Lady Randolph might overshadow him as Douglas determined his decision against a play at the time probably even more faulty than it now appears, for changes lay between its submission to Garrick and its final production.
July ye 10th. 1756.
It is with ye Greatest Uneasiness that I trouble Your Lordship with my Sentiments of Mr. Hume’s Tragedy — The little Knowledge I had of him, gave me the warmest inclination to Serve him, which I should have done most sincerely, had the Means been put into my hands — but upon my Word & credit it is not in my Power to introduce Douglas upon ye Stage with ye least advantage to the Author, & the Managers — the Tragedy (if possible) is in its present Situation, As unfit for representation as it was before, & Your Lordship must be sensible, that it wanted all ye requisites of ye Drama to carry it ev’n through ye two first Acts — Mr. Hume is certainly a Gentleman of Learning & Parts, but I am (as certain) that Either his Genius is not adapted to Dramatic Compositions or that he wants the proper Exercise & Experience to shew it to advantage:
I am oblig’d My Lord to be free in ye Delivery of my opinion upon this Subject, as I think, both Mr. Hume’s & my Reputation concern’d in it: I should have had ye highest Pleasure in forwarding any Peformance which Yr. Lordship should please to recommend; but Nobody knows as well as You do, that all ye Endeavors of a Patron & the Skill of a Manager, will avail Nothing, if the dramatic Requisites & Tragic Force are Wanting — I am so strongly convinc’d that this is the case of ye Tragedy in Question, that I durst not upon any Acct. venture it upon ye Stage of Drury Lane, & I would stake all my credit, that the Author would sorely repent it, if Ever it should be Exhibited upon any Theatre — As I ought to Second these strong Assertions with some few Reasons, I will Endeavor, for Yr. Lordship’s & Mr. Hume’s Satisfaction, to point out the (what I think) insurmountable Objections to the Tragedy.
The Story is radically defective & most improbable in those Circumstances which produce the dramatic Action — for instance — Lady Barnet continuing Seven Years togeather in that melancholly miserable State, just as if it had happen’d ye Week before, without discovering ye real Cause; & on a Sudden opening ye Whole Affair to Anna without any stronger reason, than what might have happen’d at any other Time since the Day of her Misfortunes — this I think, wch. is ye foundation of ye Whole, Weak & unaccountable — The two first Acts pass in tedious Narratives, without anything of Moment being plan’d or done — the introducing Douglas is ye Chief Circumstance, & yet, as it is manag’d, it has no Effect; It is romantic for want of those probable Strokes of Art, wch. ye first Poets make use of to reconcile strange Events to ye Minds of an Audience — Lady Barnet’s speaking to Glenalvon imediately in behalf of Randolph, forgetting her own indelible Sorrows, & Glenalvon’s Suspicions & Jealousy upon it (without saying anything of his violent Love for ye Lady, who cannot be of a Love-inspiring Age) are premature and unnatural — But these and many other Defects, wch. I will not trouble Yr. Lordp. with, might be palliated & alter’d perhaps; but the Unaffecting conduct of ye Whole & which will always be ye Case, when the Story is rather told, than represented; when the Characters do not talk or behave suitably to ye Passions imputed to them, & the Situation in Which they are plac’d; when the Events are such as cannot naturally be suppos’d to rise; & the Language too often below the most familiar Dialogue : these are the insurmountable Objections, which in my Opinion, will Ever make Douglas unfit for ye Stage, — In short there is no one Character or Passion which is strongly interesting & supported through ye five Acts —
Glenalvon is a Villain without plan or Force; He raises our Expectation in a Soliloquy at ye first, but sinks Ever after — Ld. Barnet is unaccountably work’d upon by Glenalvn. to believe his Lady fond of Randolph, & the Youth is as unaccountably attack’d by Ld. Barnet, & looses his Life for a suppos’d Injury which he has done to him, whose Life he just before preserv’d — & what is this Injury ? Why Love for a Lady, who is old Enough to be [h]is Mother, Whom he has scarcely seen, & wth. whom it was impossible to indulge any Passion, there not being Time, from his Entrance to his Death, ev’n to conceive one. these I think My Lord, are ye Chief Objections to the Tragedy — & these I flatter Myself Your Lordp. was sensible of before You sent ye Play to Me.
I have consider’d ye Performance by Myself, I have read it to a Friend or Two with all the Energy & Spirit I was Master of but without the wish’d for Effect — The Scenes are long without Action, the Characters want strength & Pathos, and the Catastrophe is brought about without ye necessary & interesting preparations for so great an Event —
A Friend of Mine has made some Slight Remarks upon ye Margin with his pencil, some of Which I agreed to but dissented from him in others — had I thought yt. the Tragedy could possibly have appear’d, I would have submitted some Alterations to ye Author; But upon my Word & honor, I think ye Tragedy radically defective, & in Every Act incapable of raising the Passions, or comanding Attention. I must now Ask Your Lordships Pardon for detaining you so long. I have submitted my Opinion to yr Lordp without Method or reserve — I am conscious that I have repeated my Thoughts, but as I intended to convince Mr. Hume more of my Sincerity & Friendship than my critical Abilities, I have written with ye Same openness & Freedom, that I would have convers’d.
I could wish that yr. Lordship would oblige me so far to permit this Letter to be sent with ye Tragedy into Scotland; I have Undertaken this office of Critic & Manager, with great Reluctance, being well convinc’d that Mr. Hume (for whom I have the highest Veneration) has a fatherly fondness for his Douglas — If I am so happy to agree with Lord Bute in opinion, it would be a less Grievance to Mr. Hume to find my Sentiments of his Play, not contradicted by so wellknown a Judge of Theatrical Compositions.
D. GARRICK. Was Samuel Johnson, by any chance, one of the “friends” to whom Douglas was read by Garrick? When most of London was acclaiming it, Johnson declared that there were not “ten good lines in the whole play.”
Garrick, Bonnel Thornton, and George Colman, were shareholders in the St. James Chronicle, and made it the most successful of such sheets as a retailer of literary contests, anecdotes, and humorous and witty articles. For it Colman wrote indefatigably essays and occasional articles, on every subject. One set, begun June 11, 1761, The Genius, was perhaps the most successful. The letter to Colman here printed shows another frequent harassment of Garrick, certain journalists of the time, — if such pirates of Grub Street deserve so worthy a title.
Decr. 17 th. 1761.
DEAR COLMAN. I rejoice that you are arriv’d safe at Bath, but most sincerely wish you as little pleasure there as possible, and You may guess the Reason — Fitzherbert being with you will, I fear, most powerfully counteract my Wishes, however, I have some small hopes from his not being under ye same Roof with you —
I have this Moment seen our Friend Churchill & told him a fine Scheme of Vaughn’s in conjunction with the Gang of Pottinger — they are going to publish a Set of Papers call’d the Genius, in order to forestall yrs & deceive the Public It is a most infamous design, & I desir’d Churchill would Let Thornton know of it, which he will do immediately, & prevent their Scoundrillity by some humourous Paragraph — If you wd have anything done, write directly & You shall be obeyed most minutely.
I have read yr. last & think it a fine Plan a little too hastily finish’d — there is Strength, & good Sense, but I would more laugh & pleasantry — our new Tragedy creeps on: We might steal it on to Six Nights with much loss, but I hope, that the Author will be reasonable, & satisfy’d with what We have already done, without insisting upon our losing more to force a Reputation — this Entre Nous — You have heard I suppose of a Col1 Barry who has taken ye Lyon by the Beard in ye Parliament house; Pmade no Reply to it, & lost his Question — the Town in general think that ye Col1. was rather too rough — there will be fine work anon! — Whitehead’s play has been once read, & has a great deal of Merit —
Pray let me see you soon with yr. Bundle of Excellencies — Mr. Murphy has at last declar’d off with us, & in a Letter to Oliver, says, that he has been so great a loser by ye Managers of Drury Lane that he can never more have any dealings with us — Wish me joy my dear Friend, but keep this to yr. Self for Many Weighty reasons —
My Love to Fitzherbert & believe me most
prests her Compts. to you —
On few subjects have the biographers of Garrick been surer than on his insincerity in talking, after his return from the Continent in April 1765, as if he thought seriously of not returning to the stage. Even the least prejudiced of the biographers, Joseph Knight, says, “When Garrick came back, his announced purpose was not to act. He purposed living in retirement at Hampton House, now known as Garrick Villa. ... In the arrangement of his new books and curios, and in the continued exercise of hospitality, he would find employment enough, and the ‘loathed stage’ should see him no more. Some there were whom these protestations took in, and Hoadley congratulated Garrick on his resolution. An ingenuous nature was necessary to accept such declarations. The wires were being dexterously pulled, and a royal puppet at length removed all Garrick’s scruples. Mr. Garrick must not retire, said George the Third. Would he not re-appear at royal command ? What could so loyal a subject as Garrick do ?” But Dr. Hoadley had good ground for believing that Garrick was seriously in doubt about his return to the stage, for the following letter of Garrick told him this in so many words,
You see my dear Dr. that I am not behind hand with You in friendly promptness, & that my retort cordial is upon the heels of your affectionate Congratulations — Madam & I are arriv’d from Abroad (as the Papers say) and as I say, safe & sound: which are bold Words considering Where we have been ; . . .
If by ye word Sound you include a general state of health I cannot so well answer your question — I am somewhat ye worse for Wear, a terrible malignant fever in Germany has a little blited me, & tho I get better daily, yet I am not able to answer the question which is so often put to Me, whether I shall strut & fret my hour upon ye Stage again: my fire is abated, tho my Spirits are all alive & merry — a Month or Six Weeks will make great discoveries — Your Account of Madam & You rejoices me Much & Madam & I take great part in yr. happiness —
My poor Girl was most vilely us’d by a terrible Neapolitan — Sciatica — I would willingly have compounded that she shd. have been a Cripple all her Life, to be rid of her pains: She underwent, like any of her own papistical Martyresses various violent operations, & was at last cur’d by an Old Woman’s recipe — blush physick blush —
We both send our Warmest love to You both — ten thousand thanks for yr. information about Dodd — I must intreat you to see them again & again, & let me know their qualities a little more minutely — they are to be with us but I shd. be glad of so good a guide, to set out the particulars — take care that you a[re] not deceiv’d by Comparison.
You must not let them know what we write about, it will add to their importance, wch. with the Gentleman’s double japan, will be death & ye Devil — I Detest a Coxcomb, & in my legacy to future Managers & Players (a posthumous work) I have laid it down as an invariable Maxim that no Coxcomb can be a theatrical Genius —
& most affecty
I shall be proud to be acquainted with Cromwell in his new Cloaths — pray give me some hints about the Dodds — it is of great Consequence to yr. friend — I need say no more — if you speak wth. Quin — don’t forget my respects to him & Madam’s Love.
Stronger evidence still that Garrick really seriously considered retiring is part of a letter to his brother George in November, 1765, only five days before he reappeared in Much Ado about Nothing. Why should he wish to deceive this brother, who had always been so devoted to the actor that Garrick was constantly wanting him for this or that? Indeed, when George Garrick died shortly after David, the mot of the town was that the cause of his death was “David wanted him.”
This letter of November 9,1765 begins Dear Brother, and after some business details continues: —
“ His Majesty has desir’d me to appear again to Oblige him & the Queen I shall Obey their Commands, but only for a few Nights; my resolution is to draw my Neck as well as I can out of ye Collar, & sit quietly with my Wife & books by my fire-side — if I could receive any great Pleasure from the Eager desire of all Sorts of People to see Me again, I might have it at present; for indeed their violent call for Me is as general, as it is particular — thinking People afraid of Mischief the first Night, & I wish from my Soul that it was well over ” —
What lends color to Garrick’s statement about “a few Nights” is the fact that during the season of 1765—66 he appeared but ten times, in contrast to seventy times as the lowest number of appearances in any previous whole season. In the second season of his return to the stage he acted but nineteen times, and till the last season of all he never again passed thirty-three performances in any one theatrical year. Clearly, though he yielded to pressure from friends, and even perhaps to the glamour of his work, he did in part withdraw after 1765.
Frances Brooke, the Biographia Dramatica declares, was “as remarkable for gentleness and suavity of manners, as for her literary talents.” Posterity has not remembered the talents, and “suavity,” “gentleness,” seem odd words to apply to her in the light of her virulent, and, as Garrick declares in a letter to Miss Cadogan, wholly ungrounded, attack on the manager in her novel, The Excursion. The heroine, Miss Villiers, has written a tragedy, and, encouraged by the hearty approval of it by Hammond, a poet of renown, submits it through him to the Manager of Drury Lane. The dialogue between Mr. Hammond and the Manager is worth quoting as an amusing if exaggerated picture of an harassed manager, too good-natured to dispose of the matter summarily and too busy to have considered carefully a play he does not need. The words of Hammond, however, in their unsparing directness, read rather like what one wishes one had said than what one says. After allowing the manager but a very short time for reading the play, Hammond calls on him at eleven in the morning.
“As he loves to keep on good terms with all authors of reputation who have the complaisance not to write for the theatre, as he has measures to keep with me on account of some of my connexions, and as he knows enough of my temper to be assured it is not calculated for attendance, I was admitted the moment I sent up my name. I found him surrounded by a train of anxious expectants, for some of whom I felt the strongest compassion. . . .
“ The train which compose this great man’s levee all retired on my entrance, when the following conversation took place:—
[Manager] My good sir, I am happy anything procures me the pleasure of seeing you — I was talking of you only last week —
[Hammond] I am much obliged to you, sir, but the business on which I attend you —
[Manager] Why — a — um — true — this play of your friend’s — You look amazingly well, my dear sir — In short — this play — I should be charmed to oblige you— but we are so terribly overstocked —
[Hammond] I am not to learn that you have many applications, and therefore am determined to wait on your time — You have read the play, I take for granted —
[Manager] Why — a — um —no — not absolutely read it — Such a multiplicity of affairs — Just skimmed the surface — I — a — Will you take any chocolate, my dear friend ?
[Hammond] I have only this moment breakfasted, sir. But to our play.
[Manager] True — this play — the writing seems not bad, — something tender — something like sentiment — but not an atom of vis comica.
[Hammond] In a tragedy, my good sir?
[Manager] I beg pardon: I protest I had forgot — I was thinking of Mr. What-d’ ye-call-um’s comedy, which he left me last Tuesday. But why tragedy ? why not write comedy ? There are real sorrows enough in life without going to seek them at the theatre — Tragedy does not please as it used to do, I assure you, Sir.
You see I scarce ever play tragedy now. The public taste is quite changed within these three or four years.
Yet Braganza—[a recent marked success in tragedy, in which Mrs. Yates, the intimate friend of Mrs. Brooke, added greatly to her reputation as an actress] a lucky hit, I confess — something well in the last scene — But as I was saying, sir—your friend’s play—there are good lines — But — the fable — the manners — the conduct — people imagine — if authors would be directed — but they are an incorrigible race —
Ah, Mr. Hammond ! we have no writers now — there was a time — your Shakespeares & old Bens — If your friend would call on me, I could propose a piece for him to alter, which perhaps —
[Hammond] My commission, sir, does not extend beyond the tragedy in question, therefore we will, if you please, return to that.
[Manager] Be so good, my dear sir, as to reach me the gentleman’s play: it lies under the right hand pillow of the sofa.
“He took the play, which was still in the cover in which I had sent it, & it was easy to see had never been opened. He turned over the leaves with an air of the most stoical inattention, and proceeded:
“ ‘ There is a kind of a — sort of a — smattering of genius in this production, which convinces me the writer, with proper advice, might come to something in time.
“But these authors — and after all, what do they do ? They bring the meat indeed, but who instructs them how to cook it ? Who points out the proper seasoning for the dramatic ragoût ? Who furnishes the savoury ingredients to make the dish palatable ? Who brings the Attic salt ? — the Cayenne pepper ? — the — the — a — ’T is amazing the pains I am forced to take with these people, in order to give relish to their insipid productions.’
[Hammond] I have no doubt of all this, sir, but the morning is wearing away.
You have many avocations, and I would not take up your time, I have only one word to add to what I have said : I know we are too late for the present season; but you will oblige me infinitely if you will make room for this piece in the course of the next.
[Manager] The next season, my dear sir ! — Why — a — it is absolutely impossible — I have six-and-twenty new tragedies on my promise-list — besides I have not read it. — That is — if — if — a — your friend will send it me in July
— if I approve it in July, I will endeavour
— let me see — what year is this ? — O, I remember — ’t is seventy-five — Yes — if I think it will do, I will endeavour to bring it out in the winter of— the winter of—eighty-two. That is, if my partner — if Mr. — should have made no engagement, unknown to me, for that year, which may put it out of my power.
“ I wished him a good morning, madam, and have brought back your tragedy. ...
“ The incoherent jumble of words without ideas, which I have been repeating to you, madam,” pursued he, “is, I am told, the general answer to dramatic writers, who are intended to be disgusted by this unworthy treatment, which the managers honour with the name of policy, from thinking of any future applications.
“That vulgar, unenlightened minds should act with this wretched imitation of craft (for even craft is here too respectable an appellation], I should naturally expect, but that a man of excellent understanding, of the most distinguished talents, the idol of the public; with as much fame as his most ardent wishes can aspire to, and more riches than he knows how to enjoy; should descend to such contemptible arts, with no nobler a view than that of robbing the Dramatic Muse, to whom he owes that fame and those riches, of her little share of the reward, is a truth almost too improbable to be believed.
“ Would it not have been wiser, as well as more manly, to have said in the clearest and most unambiguous terms, ‘Sir, we have no occasion for new pieces while there are only two English theatres in a city so extensive and opulent as London; a city which, in the time of Elizabeth, when the frequenters of the theatre were not a tenth part of the present, supported seventeen.
“We will therefore never receive any new production but when we are compelled to it by recommendations which we dare not refuse: nor will I read the tragedy you bring, lest its merits should make me ashamed to reject it.
“ This would have been indeed the language of a thankless son of the drama, the language of a man having no object in view but his own emolument, and wanting gratitude to that publick, and to the beautiful art, to which he was so much indebted; but it would have been the language of a man, and a man possessed of sufficient courage to avow his principle of action.
“ Indulge me a moment longer. The person, of whom I have been speaking, deserves, in his profession, all the praise we can bestow: he has thrown new lights on the science of action, and has, perhaps, reached the summit of theatrical perfection.
“I say perhaps, because there is no limiting the powers of the human mind, or saying where it will stop.
“It is possible he may be excelled, though that he may be equalled is rather to be wished than expected, whenever (if that time ever comes) his retiring shall leave the field open to that emulation which both his merit and his management have contributed to extinguish.
“ I repeat, that, as an actor, the publick have scarce more to wish than to see him equalled; as an author, he is not devoid of merit; as a manager, he has, I am afraid, ever seen the dawn of excellence, both in those who aspired to write for, or to tread, the theatre, with a reluctant eye; and has made it too much his object, if common sense, aided by impartial observation, is not deceived, ‘ To blast each rising literary blossom, and plant thorns round the pillow of genius.'”
Not content with this remarkably inclusive restatement of nearly all the current cavilings against Garrick, Mrs. Brooke added that when Miss Villiers told Hammond he should have urged that the piece was the work of a “young and amiable woman, and of family and unblemished character, and that the part of the heroine exactly fitted the abilities of the leading actress at Drury Lane, Hammond smiled sarcastically, because he ‘ thought them both extremely unfavorable to the cause.’”
Of course, some play declined lay back of all this, but, if Johnson is to be trusted, Mrs. Brooke’s plays deserved their fate. She had repeatedly urged him to look over her Siege of Sinope before it was acted, but he always found means to evade her. At last she pressed him so hard that he flatly refused, telling her that by carefully looking it over, she should herself be as well able as he to see if anything were amiss. “But, sir,” she said, “I have no time. I have already so many irons in the fire.” — “Why, then, madam,” said Johnson, “the best thing I can advise you to do is to put your tragedy along with your irons.”
It shows the sensitiveness of Garrick that such evident exaggeration should have troubled him seriously, but evidently it did.
July 17. 
Why should not I say a Word to my dear Miss Cadogan ? When shall we see & laugh with you at this sweet place ? I long to hear you idolize Shakespeare & yr. father unimmortalize him: We shall be here till Wednesday next & return again from London on Friday Evening after — will you & yrs. come before Wednesday or after Friday take Your Choice ? — I hope you have seen how much I am abus’d in yr. Friend Mrs. Brooke’s new Novel ? — She is pleas’d to insinuate that [I am] an Excellent Actor, a So So Author, an Execrable Manager & a worse Man — thank you good Madam Brookes — If my heart was not better than my head, I would not give a farthing for the Carcass, but let it dangle, as it would deserve, with It’s brethren at ye End of Oxford Road — She has invented a Tale about a Tragedy, which is all a Lie, from beginning to ye End — she Even says, that I should reject a Play,if it should be a Woman’s —there’s brutal Malignity for you—have not ye Ladies — Mesdames Griffith, Cowley, & Cilesia spoke of me before their Plays with an Over-Enthusiastick Encomium ? — What says divine Hannah More ? — & more than all what says the more divine Miss Cadogan ? — Love to yr father
Yours Ever most affecty
I never saw Madam Brooks —
What a Couple of wretches are ye Yateses Brooke’s partners — I work’d with Zeal for their Patent — wrote a 100 Letters, & they were Stimulating Crumpling all ye While to Mischief & they deferr’d ye publication till this time, that I might not cool in their Cause — there are Devils for you — If you send me a Line, let it go to ye Adelphi any day before 12—
Miss Cadogan, in a charmingly friendly reply to this letter, printed by Boaden, thus sums up the situation: “She is not of consequence enough to excite your anger, . . . While you will continue to be good and great, you must expect your
share of abuse. . . . Let them analyse you as much as they can, they can neither diminish your value nor destroy your lustre.” But Garrick would never have played St. Sebastian well.
In the midst of all these harassments, — by actors, partners, dramatists, and what not, — Garrick got much pleasure from writing occasional verse, most of which, but by no means all, is printed in his Poetical Works. Besides copies of three or four of the verses already known,
— notably a copy of the well-known lines to Peg Woffington which has a stanza not before known and other verbal differences, — the Leigh Collection contains five poems not before printed.
In the Poetical Works are two sets of verses, one by Chatham inviting Garrick as the
immortal spirit of the stage, Great nature’s proxy, glass of every age,
to visit him at his country seat in Devonshire, Mt. Edgecumbe; the other, wrongly entitled Garrick’s Answer. Garrick’s lines were, however, written first; then, apparently, Chatham’s; and finally, it would seem, the verses now printed for the first time.
TO LORD CHATHAM COMING INTO DEVONSHIRE
A Place well suited to yr. Mighty Mind !
O’er Hills & Vales & Seas, the lordly Land,
With boundless View exerts supreme Command,
Whether in stormy Majesty It towr’s !
Or charms the Soul wth. Pleasure’s calmer Pow’rs,
All from below to its Superior Heights,
Look up with Awe, with Wonder, & delight!
On the same sheet are four lines of epigram contrasting this visit to Mount Edgecumbe with a visit of Garrick to Warwick Castle in 1768. He had been pressed to pass a week en famille at the Castle, but when he went he was “shown the curiosities like a common traveller, treated with chocolate, and dismissed directly.”
Good, & Evil are ballanc’d to Mortals on Earth,
For the debt that was due from ye Castle of Warwick
With Int’rest is paid by Mount Edgecumbe to Garrick.
Garrick seems to have been given to writing lines on pictures of himself. One set is to Lord Mansfield, who was among the earliest of his distinguished friends.
UPON LORD MANSFIELD DESIRING MY PICTURE
Devour’d the plaudits of ye throng :
When the Same Coin to those was paid,
Whom Nature’s Journeymen had made,
My Judgment rip’ning with my Years,
My heart gave way to doubts, & fears,
Till He who asking grants a favor,
Mansfield, has fix’d me Vain for Ever!
Mansfield, whose censure or whose praise,
That of whole Theatres outweighs:
By ev’ry mark of favor grac’d,
I, in Fame’s temple shall be plac’d!
Superior Minds from Death retrieve
A favor’d Name, & bid it live;
Great Merit stands alone, but small
Will with its Patron rise or fall.
’T is not a proof of Tully’s power,
That Roscius has surviv’d this hour,
The Play’r tho not to Tully known,
Had liv’d by Merits of his own ;
But what must be our Tully’s claim,
Whose favor gives to Garrick Fame ?
In the autumn of 1766, apparently, Garrick sent M. Favart, of the Théâtre Français, his picture, for on the ninth of January, 1777, Favart acknowledged the gift, writing, in part, as follows: —
“ A propos, si je ne vous savois pas indulgent, je croirois que vous êtes fâché contre moi, pour ne vous avoir pas encore remercié du présent que vous m’avez fait; c’est un des plus agréables que j’aye jamais reçus. Voici l’épigraphe que j’ai mise au bas du portrait de nôtre cher Garrick.
“PLURES IN UNO
En lui seul on voit plusieurs hommes.
Lui seul nous offre les tableaux
De mille et mille originaux,
Tant des siècles passés que du siècle où nous sommes.
Les ridicules, les erreurs
Sont traées d’après eux par ce peintre fidèle,
Mais pour représenter l’honnête homme et ses mœurs,
Il n’a pas besoin de modèle.
En recevant ce charmant portrait, je vous avouerai qu’il m’a fallu quelques momens pour en démêler la ressemblance, et mon incertitude a donné lieu à ces autres vers.
Offre-t-’il à mes yeux le Roscius Anglois ?
Tu changes à ton gré de forme et de figure :
Mais ton cœur ne change jamais.
Si l’artiste eût pû rendre avec des traits de flamme
L’amitié, la franchise, et l’amour du bienfait,
Esprit, goût, sentimens, genie . . . enfin ton âme,
J’aurois reconnu ton portrait.”
Some verses in the Leigh Collection are evidently Garrick’s reply to these compliments from Favart.
VOILÀ MES VERS
May not the critick Eye,with rapture strike ;
But this, FAVART, thy partial fondness drew,
Not vanity will whisper it is like.
The first of Actors, best of Mortals paint ?
Let Fancy sleep. & Judgment place thy friend,
Far from a Genius, further from a Saint.
Struck with a Pride till now I never knew ;
Sooth not the folly of a Mind and Heart,
Which boast no Merit but the Love of you.
The reverse of the sheet containing these lines shows the following French version signed D. G., with this postscript, “N. B. Votre ami La Place peut vous donner une traduction excellente. Faite-lui mille Complimens pour moi.”
Ton Esprit suspendu chercha la ressemblance,
Penses-tu que celui qu’a dessiné ton Art,
Doit, pour l’exactitude avoir la preference.
Peint le Meilleur des Cœurs, le premier des
Chasse une Illusion qui m’est trop favorable,
Vois ton Ami d’un Œil plus sain:
II est loin d’etre un genie admirable,
Plus loin encore d’etre un Saint.
Tu portes dans mon Ame un Orgeuil seducteur,
Mais ma Vanité raisonable
Me montre le seul point en quoy Je suis louable,
C’est d’aimer tes talents et d’estimer ton Cœur.
On the last page of the sheets containing the next set of verses is this message to the Duc de Nivernois, who was on very friendly terms with Garrick when he was Ambassador Plenipotentiary to England in 1763 to negotiate conditions of peace after the Seven Years’ War: “If the Duke of Nivernois has the pleasure of knowing Mr. Horace Walpole, Mr. Garrick will take it as a great favour, if his Grace would shew the Ode to Him, as he promis’d a friend of Mr. Walpole to send it to him at Paris.”
The verses are in behalf of Alexander Schomberg, brother of the life-long friend of Garrick, Dr. Schomberg. He seems to have been a somewhat devil-may-care person. The lines were written before September, 1767, for on the fourth of that month Charles Townshend died.
DAVID GARRICK TO THE RIGHT HONBLE. CHARLES TOWNSHEND IN BEHALF OF CAPTAIN SCHOMBERG.
The Mem’ry’s in proportion small;
Ask Him, or Her, the first You meet,
They ’ll swear that You have none at all.
Again to urge my former suit ?
A thousand Grains are blown about,
For one that happily takes root.
Lets not the seeds of kindness rest;
But tho they ’re scatter’d from your mind,
They fall, & settle in your breast.
To feel neglected Worth submit,
And there will Schomberg find a friend,
Benevolent, in spite of Wit.
For one so helpless what relief ?
O sooth his Mis’ry thro’ his pride,
And raise him to an Indian Chief!
Again to cross th’ Atlantic Sea;
To Tomahawk, and Wampum bred,
He’s more than half a Cherokee !
He ’ll Ask no more of You, & fate ; —
Surrounded by his Scalping Court,
What Monarch would be half so great!
Create Love, awe, & Veneration!
In England lost, He there may rise,
The Townshend of a savage Nation !
It is certainly remarkable that a collection made originally solely for purposes of extra-illustrating should contain so little of unimportance, and even more remarkable that so small a collection as that of Mr. Leigh — some seventy-five MSS. — should set right the date of the death of Garrick’s mother; rectify certain impressions about his relations with Lady Burlington; throw light on the earlier part of his friendship with John Hoadley; reveal a friendship of his last days the closeness of which has hitherto been unsuspected — that with Miss Cadogan; go far to justify his treatment of Home’s Douglas; prove that he was really thinking seriously in 1765 of withdrawing from the stage; and in more than one instance so fill gaps in the Private Correspondence as to make letters printed therein much clearer and more significant. Above all, as a set, the Leigh Collection shows how perfectly the lines apply to Garrick of the “god of his idolatry,” Shakespeare, —
I never yet saw man, How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur’d, But Spleen would spell him backward.