Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/234

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Griffin
Griffin
226

26 Jan. 1720 Sir John Indolent in his own ‘Whig and Tory.’ He also played the Jew in Lord Lansdowne's ‘Jew of Venice,’ altered from Shakespeare, Gomez in the ‘Spanish Friar,’ Sir Hugh Evans, and Foresight in ‘Love for Love,’ and took probably some part in his own ‘Masquerade, or the Evening's Intrigue,’ produced for his benefit, with the ‘Jew of Venice,’ 16 May 1717. His success in characters of choleric and eccentric old men was such that Drury Lane, though possessing Norris and Johnson, both in his line, engaged him, for the sake of avoiding rivalry. His name was on the bills at Lincoln's Inn Fields in ‘Love's Last Shift,’ 27 Sept. 1721. Genest assumes that this was by mistake, since Griffin appeared at Drury Lane as Polonius on the 30th of the same month. Here he remained until his death in 1740. The only part of primary importance of which he was the original at Drury Lane was Lovegold in the ‘Miser’ by Fielding. He was also, at Richmond in 1715, Sapritius in ‘Injured Virtue,’ his own alteration of the ‘Virgin Martyr’ of Massinger. This piece was acted by the servants of the Dukes of Southampton and Cleveland. On 12 Feb. 1740 his name is for the last time, apparently, in the bills as Day in the ‘Committee.’ The ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ of March 1740 speaks of him as a worthy man and an excellent actor. He died on 18 Feb. 1740. Victor says he ‘was a comedian excellent in some characters,’ noticeably as Sir Hugh Evans and Sir Paul Pliant. The last he made a finished character. ‘His silly important look always excited laughter. … It was not in nature to resist bursting into laughter at the sight of him, his ridiculous distressful look, followed by a lamentable recital of his misfortunes.’ Victor adds: ‘He was a sensible, sober man, and well respected. When he died he left effects very acceptable to his sister and her children, and what is more uncommon, a good character’ (Hist. of the Theatres of London and Dublin, ii. 78-80). Davies contrasts his ‘affected softness’ with the ‘fanatical fury’ of Ben Johnson the actor, when they were playing Tribulation and Ananias in the ‘Alchemist’ (Dramatic Miscellanies, ii. 108). A portrait of the actors in these parts by Vanbleek or Van Bluck [q. v.] of Covent Garden, furnishing striking likenesses of both, was ‘taken off in mezzotinto, and is now published’ (General Advertiser, 5 April 1748). Griffin's dramas are ‘Injured Virtue,’ tragedy, 12mo, 1715; ‘Love in a Sack,’ farce, 12mo, 1715; ‘Humours of Purgatory,’ farce, 12mo, 1716; ‘Masquerade,’ farce, 12mo, 1717; and ‘Whig and Tory,’ comedy, 8vo, 1720. The last deals rather dexterously with a political subject. The others add little to Griffin's claims on attention. In conjunction with Theobald he also wrote ‘A Complete Key to the What-d'ye-call-it of Gay,’ 1715, 8vo.

[Works cited; Baker, Reed, and Jones's Biog. Dram.; Genest's Account of the English Stage.]

J. K.

GRIFFIN, GERALD (1803–1840), dramatist, novelist and poet, born 12 Dec. 1803, in Limerick, where his father was a brewer, belonged to an old family of the sept of Ui Griobhtha, a name subsequently changed to Griffin. He was educated at Limerick, wrote for local journals, and made various attempts in youth as a poet and critic. In 1820 his parents emigrated to Pennsylvania, and he went to Adare to reside with an elder brother, William Griffin, M.D. (1794-1848). Before he had attained his twentieth year he commenced four tragedies, among which was ‘Gisippus, or the Forgotten Friend,’ and wrote many spirited lyrics. In 1823 Griffin went to London in the hope of entering on a successful literary career. Through the intervention of John Banim [q. v.] he contributed to the ‘Literary Gazette’ and other periodicals. He conceived the idea of an English opera, entirely in recitative, and a work of this class—apparently entitled ‘The Noyades’—was produced by him in 1826 at the English opera-house, London. On the suggestion of Banim, Griffin essayed fiction, and wrote ‘Holland Tide,’ and three other tales, which were published together, and proved his first decided success. He also wrote two dramas for music, and commenced a comedy. Early in 1827 he returned to Ireland, and completed a first series of ‘Tales of the Munster Festivals.’ These were intended to illustrate traditional observances in the south of Ireland. Three volumes of the tales, completed in four months, were followed by a novel entitled ‘The Collegians,’ issued anonymously in 1829. This work, founded on occurrences in Munster, attained wide popularity. In 1830 Griffin contributed ‘Tales illustrative of the Five Senses’ to the ‘Christian Apologist’ (reissued as ‘The Offering of Friendship,’ 1854 and 1860), and published a volume entitled ‘The Rivals.’ Experience led Griffin to modify his expectations in relation to literary work, and, with a view to the legal profession, he entered as a law student in the university of London. A second series of Griffin's ‘Tales of the Munster Festivals’ was followed in 1832 by his historical novel entitled ‘The Invasion,’ by ‘Tales of my Neighbourhood,’ 1835, by the ‘Duke of Monmouth,’ 1836, and ‘Talis Qualis, or Tales of the Jury-room,’ issued in 1842. Griffin returned to Limerick in 1838, and contemplated entering on a life of reli-