Havard, William (DNB00)

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HAVARD, WILLIAM (1710?–1778), actor and dramatist, son of a Dublin vintner, was apprenticed to a surgeon. His first recorded appearance as an actor took place at Goodman's Fields on 10 Dec. 1730 as Fenton in the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor.’ Here he remained until the passing, in 1737, of the Licensing Act, when he went to Drury Lane, playing the Elder Worthy in ‘Love's Last Shift,’ on 21 Nov. 1737; Lancaster in ‘Second Part of King Henry IV,’ 13 Jan. 1738, and Horatio in ‘Hamlet’ 23 Jan. 1738. On 26 Jan. 1738 he was the original Hartly in Miller's ‘Coffee House.’ He remained at Drury Lane until the season of 1745–6, playing, among other parts, the Duke in ‘Rule a Wife and have a Wife,’ Burleigh in the ‘Unhappy Favourite,’ Dick in the ‘Confederacy,’ Albany in ‘King Lear,’ Lorenzo in the ‘Merchant of Venice,’ Voltore in ‘Volpone,’ Macduff, Edgar, Richmond, Valentine in ‘Love for Love,’ Bassanio, Cassio, &c., together with original characters in a few plays by Mallet and other writers. On 6 Oct. 1746 he played Worthy in the ‘Recruiting Officer’ at Covent Garden, and was, 12 Feb. 1747, the original Bellamy in Hoadly's ‘Suspicious Husband.’ On 15 Sept. 1747, as Bassanio, he reappeared at Drury Lane, at which house he subsequently remained. After his return he acted in a revival of Ford's ‘Lover's Melancholy,’ and was the original Colonel Raymond in Moore's ‘Foundling,’ Polyphontes in ‘Merope’ by Aaron Hill, Abdalla in Dr. Johnson's ‘Mahomet and Irene,’ Arnold in William Shirley's ‘Edward the Black Prince,’ Othman in Brown's ‘Barbarossa,’ Polixenes in an alteration of the ‘Winter's Tale,’ Arden in ‘Arden of Feversham’ upon its revival on 19 July 1759, Megistus in Murphy's ‘Zenobia,’ and Æson in Glover's ‘Medea.’ A great variety of characters, chiefly secondary, were taken by him. Now and then he was allowed to assume a part of primary importance, such as Ford in the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor.’ On 8 May 1769 he took his benefit, and recited an epilogue composed by himself. It was then announced that ill-health compelled him to retire from the stage. He died in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, on 20 Feb. 1778, and was buried in the adjacent churchyard of St. Paul's. An epitaph by Garrick, more eulogistic of the private virtues of Havard than of his histrionic power, was placed over his grave. The last four lines are as follows:—

Howe'er defective in the mimic art,
In real life he justly played his part.
The noblest character he acted well,
And Heaven applauded—when the curtain fell.

In the ‘Covent Garden Journal,’ No. 28, Havard is declared the successor on the stage of the first Mills, and said to be, like his predecessor, a sober, worthy, honest man. He is also said to have excelled in characters such as Horatio, and the Friar in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ in which the amiable qualities of human nature are to be displayed, and to have had in tragedy no superior at Drury Lane except Garrick. Davies speaks of his King in the ‘First Part of Henry IV’ as decent but without spirit (Dram. Misc. i. 262), but credits him in Edgar with a very pleasing manner derived from the study of previous actors (ib. ii. 323). In the ‘Theatrical Review’ for 1787 his Edgar is highly praised, as is his Sir Charles Easy. Havard is said to have been too philosophic ever to make a great figure in his profession. He had a good appearance and presence, a clear voice, and a good delivery, but lacked passion, and was apt to be monotonous. Churchill, in the ‘Rosciad,’ asserts that he is always the same when he ‘loves, hates, and rages, triumphs, and complains.’

Havard wrote: 1. ‘Scanderbeg,’ a tragedy, 8vo, 1733, produced at Goodman's Fields on 15 March 1733 and acted twice. This is a poor piece, founded on the same story as the posthumous tragedy of Whincop of the same name, and the ‘Christian Hero’ of Lillo. Havard escaped with some difficulty from the charge of having stolen his plot from Whincop, whose play was in the hands of Giffard, the manager of Goodman's Fields. 2. ‘King Charles I,’ historical tragedy, 8vo, 1737, Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1 March 1737. This, Havard's masterpiece, is a touching and fairly capable work, the performance of which in York is said by its pathos to have brought about the death of a female spectator. Chesterfield is supposed to have referred to Havard's play when he said in the House of Lords ‘a most tragical story was brought upon the stage, a catastrophe too recent, too melancholy, and of too solemn a nature to be heard of anywhere but from the pulpit’ (The E—— of C—f—d's Speech in the House of Lords against the Bill for Licensing all Dramatic Performances, 1749, p. 6). In ‘King Charles I,’ which was extravagantly praised, Havard played Bishop Juxon. 3. ‘Regulus,’ 8vo, 1744, Drury Lane, 21 Feb. 1744. This is a stilted and declamatory tragedy, which the acting of Garrick as Regulus galvanised into life. It ran eleven nights. Havard was Decius. 4. ‘The Elopement,’ a farce never printed, but acted by Havard for his benefit, Drury Lane, on 6 April 1763.

[Books cited; Genest's Account of the Stage; Biographia Dramatica.]

J. K.