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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/29

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Garric
Garrick
23

Indian' was given this season. The 'Institution of the Garter,' altered by Garrick from a dramatic poem by Gilbert West (Biographia Dramatica), was played 28 Oct. 1771. His 'Irish Widow,' taken in part from Moliere's 'Le Mariage Force,' came out 23 Oct. 1772. On 18 Dec. he produced his mangled version of 'Hamlet,' which, in consequence of the opposition it aroused, was never printed. On 27 Dec. 1773 'A Christmas Tale,' assigned to Garrick, saw the light.

The season of 1774-5 opened 17 Sept. with the (Drummer' and a prelude by Garrick never printed, called 'Meeting of the Company.' 'Bon Ton, or High Life above Stairs,' by Garrick, was played 18 March 1775. 'Theatrical Candidates,' a prelude attributed to Garrick, served in September for the opening of the season. 'May Day, or the Little Gipsy,' also attributed to him, followed, 28 Oct. During the spring of 1776 Garrick played for the last time a round of his favourite characters. His last appearance on the stage was made 10 June as Don Felix in the Wonder.' The profits of the night were appropriated to the Theatrical Fund, the customary address, one of the best and happiest in its line, being written and spoken by Garrick, who also took leave in a prose address. In the course of his farewell season his spirits and capacities were once more seen at their best. His successive representations had been patronised by all that was most brilliant in English society, and many of his distinguished French admirers were present. During one or two previous seasons the takings had diminished. Garrick's receipts had, however, been handsome, and the theatre had increased largely in value. Some important alterations in Drury Lane were made at the beginning of his last season. Consciousness of failing strength was a motive to retirement. The unrelenting animosity of contemptible scribblers, feuds with authors, and various managerial troubles had acted upon his singularly nervous temperament. Epigrams asserted that Garrick had been driven from the stage by three actresses, Miss Younge, Mrs. Yates, and Mrs. Abington. Garrick said that Mrs. Abington was 'the worst of bad women' (Correspondence, ii. 140). Miss Younge's letters are often querulous. The moiety of his patent and other possessions in Drury Lane Garrick sold to Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Lindley, and Dr. Ford for 35,000l., a sum which must be considered moderate, since the other moiety, belonging to Willoughby Lacy, was purchased two years later for upwards of 45,000l. Of this latter sum 22,000l. was due to Garrick, who held a mortgage on Lacy's share. Garrick maintained to the last his interest in Drury Lane, the fortunes of which, in spite of the success of the 'School for Scandal,' fell off under Sheridan's indolent management. His time, largely occupied with visits to country houses, allowed him to visit the theatre, and to offer suggestions, not always accepted in the best spirit, to actors who played characters previously his. A prologue by him was delivered on the opening of the season of 1776-7, and various prologues and epilogues were spoken during the following years at one or other of the patent houses. The best known of these are the prologues to 'All the World's a Stage' and to the 'School for Scandal,' both of them spoken by King. Both prologue and epilogue to the 'Fathers,' by Fielding, were also by Garrick, and constituted apparently his last contribution to the stage. 'Garrick's Jests, or the English Roscius in High Life. Containing all the Jokes of the Wits of the Present Age,' &c., 8vo, no date, is a catch-penny publication, for which Garrick is in no way responsible. Among his triumphs was the famous scene in the House of Commons, when 'Squire' Baldwin complained that Garrick had remained after an order for the withdrawal of strangers. Burke, who said that Garrick had 'taught them all,' supported by Fox and Townshend, successfully objected to the enforcement of the order in his case. Garrick foolishly retorted in some feeble and ill-natured verses against Baldwin (Poetical Works, ii. 538). While spending the Christmas of 1778 at Althorpe he was attacked by gout and stone, which had long beset him, and also by herpes. He was brought to No. 5 Adelphi Terrace, a house which he had taken in 1772, on 15 Jan. 1779. He rapidly sank, and died on 20 Jan. about 8 A.M. He was buried in Westminster Abbey on 1 Feb. with exceptional honours. The streets were crowded, and the string of carriages extended from the Strand to the abbey. The Bishop of Rochester received the cortege. The pall-bearers were the Duke of Devonshire, Lords Camden, Ossory, Spencer, and Palmerston, and Sir Watkin Wynne, and Burke, Johnson, Fox, and the 'Literary Club' generally were among the mourners. Sheridan wrote on his death the much-lauded monody, and Johnson uttered the famous phrase, 'I am disappointed by that stroke of death which has eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impoverished the public stock of harmless pleasure.' These words Mrs. Garrick caused to be engraved on his monument in Lichfield. His tomb in Westminster Abbey is at the foot of Shakespeare's statue, where, 16 Oct. 1822, his wife, then ninety-eight