Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/27

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of his own pieces. Garrick's alteration of 'Cymbeline,' 28 Nov. 1761, was, after the production of one or two pieces to commemorate the coronation, the first important event of 1761-2. On 10 Feb. 1762 Garrick was the original Dorilant in Whitehead's 'School for Lovers,' and on 20 March the Farmer in the 'Farmer's Return,' a trifle in verse of his own composition. For the following season the theatre was enlarged and further restrictions were imposed upon the presence of the public behind the scenes. Garrick was, 19 Jan. 1763, the original Don Alonzo in Mallet's 'Elvira,' and 3 Feb. the original Sir Anthony Branville in Mrs. Sheridan's comedy 'Discovery,' and played, 15 March, Sciolto in the 'Fair Penitent.' This is noticeable as the last new part he played. A production of the 'Two Gentlemen of Verona,' altered by Victor, was the cause of a serious riot. A certain Fitzpatrick put himself at the head of a set of young men known as f The Town,' and demanded in their names, on 25 Jan. 1763, ad- mission at half price at the end of the third act. A riot followed and was renewed next day, when Moody, for preventing a man from setting fire to the house, was ordered to go on his knees to apologise. He refused and was supported by Garrick, who, however, was compelled to promise that Moody should not appear while under the displeasure of the audience. Fitzpatrick, who had abused Garrick in newspapers and pamphlets, and spoken insultingly of him in a club at the Bedford (Cooke, Life of Macklin, 1804, p. 246), is the Fizgig of Garrick's ' Scribbleriad.' He was treated with much savagery by Churchill in the eighth edition (1763) of the ' Rosciad.' These things were largely responsible for Garrick's resolution at the close of the season 1762-3 to quit the stage, at least for a considerable time. A peaceful, and in the main long-suffering man, petted and rather spoilt by the distinguished men to whose society he was admitted, Garrick shrank from dependence upon the mob. The public interest was nagging. Receipts had fallen from hundreds to scores of pounds. Sir William Weller Pepys said, according to Rogers (Table Talk, ed. 1887, p. 7) that 'the pit was often almost empty.' Davies (Life, ii. 62) asserts that the opposition of Beard and Miss Brent at Covent Garden prevailed during the season against Garrick. It is difficult to believe, however, that Garrick and Mrs. Gibber jointly played on one occasion to an audience of five pounds. Change of air had been prescribed for Mrs. Garrick. It is a characteristic and an honourable trait in Garrick that Mrs. Garrick 'from the day of her marriage till the death of her husband had never been separated from him for twenty-four hours' (ib. ii. 67 ). After a visit to the Duke of Devonshire, the Garricks went to Paris, where they arrived 19 Sept. 1763. Drury Lane, where Garrick left his brother George as his substitute, opened the following day, and gave, for one night only, 23 Nov., his alteration of the 'Midsummer Night's Dream.' A manuscript journal which Garrick rather spasmodically kept, together with his voluminous correspondence, enables us to trace the actor throughout his long and triumphant tour. Englishmen were well received in Paris after the peace. At the dinners of Baron d'Holbach he made the acquaintance of Diderot and the encyclopaedists; he was made free of the Com6die-Francaise, and formed friendships with the members, especially Mile. Clairon. At the house of a Mr. Neville he was induced by Mile. Clairon to give various recitations in presence of Marmontel, D'Alembert, &c. After a stay of three weeks, and with a promise to return, he left Paris; proceeded by Lyons and Mont Cenis to Turin; received but did not accept an invitation from Voltaire to call on him at Ferney; visited the principal cities of Italy; stayed a fortnight at Rome; and reached Naples, where he was very popular with the aristocratic English colony of visitors and collected articles of virtu. By Parma, where the grand duke entertained him, he posted to Venice, which he quitted about the middle of June. Mrs. Garrick was restored to health by the mud baths of Albano, near Padua. The pair visited Munich, where Garrick had a bad attack, compelling him to go to Spa. He reached Paris once more near October 1764, and was welcomed more warmly than before. Beaumarchais, Marivaux, Grimm, and all the brilliant society received him with demonstra- tions more enthusiastic and more sincere than were often lavished upon English visitors. Mrs. Garrick was also received with the most respectful homage. French literature of this epoch furnishes many proofs of the influence he exercised. A dozen years later Gibbon found that Garrick was warmly remembered. Grimm or Diderot (July 1765) says that Garrick is the only actor who reaches ideal excellence, speaks enthusiastically of his freedom from grimace or exag- geration, and describes- the effect which he produced by performing the dagger scene in 'Macbeth' in a room and in his ordinary dress (Correspondance Litteraire de Grimm et Diderot, vol. iv. pt. i. pp. 500-1, ed. 1813). The same authority declares Garrick to be of middle height, inclining to be little, of agreeable and spirituel features, and with a prodigious play of eye. He tells how Garrick simulated drunkenness with Préville in pass-