Moody, John (DNB00)

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MOODY, JOHN (1727?–1812), actor, son of a hairdresser named Cochran, was born in Cork, and followed his father's occupation. He himself stated that he was born in Stanhope Street, Clare Market, London. After incurring, as is said, some danger of being forced into the rising of 1745, he went to Jamaica, and acted with some reputation in Kingston as Lear, Hamlet, Romeo, &c. Returning to England with a property of consequence, which he subsequently augmented, he went on the Norwich circuit, where he took the lead in tragedy and comedy, and was Claudio in 'Measure for Measure' on the occasion when Petersen, an actor in the company, playing the king, expired while uttering the speech, 'Reason thus with life.' Tate Wilkinson claims to have been, 20 June 1759, at Portsmouth, Lord Townly in the 'Provoked Husband' to Moody's Manly, and speaks of Moody as having just arrived from Jamaica. He adds that Garrick saw Moody as Locket in the 'Beggar's Opera,' and engaged him for London at thirty shillings a week, Moody stipulating that he should first appear as King Henry VIII (Memoirs, ii. 95 et seq.) This date is not reconcilable with the statements in the lives of Moody in the 'Dramatic Mirror' and elsewhere, according to which Moody played at Drury Lane Thyreus in Capell's alteration of 'Antony and Cleopatra,' vacated through illness by Holland, 12 Jan. 1759, receiving for his performance five guineas from Garrick, and on 22 May appeared as King Henry VIII. Genest first mentions Moody's Henry VIII 22 Oct. 1759, and says that he acted previously Mopsus in 'Damon and Phillida,' presumably on 12 Oct. On 31 Oct. he was the original Kingston in 'High Life below Stairs,' and on 12 Feb. 1760 created his great character of Sir Callaghan O'Brallaghan in Macklin's 'Love a la Mode.' During this season he was the first clown in Garrick's pantomime, 'Harlequin's Invasion,' played an original part in 'Every Woman in her Humour,' assigned to Mrs. Clive, and was Sable in the 'Funeral.'

Moody soon made himself useful to Garrick, and, with one season at the Haymarket and occasional visits to the country, remained at Drury Lane until the end of his theatrical career. In the disgraceful riot against Garrick, led by an Irishman named Fitzpatrick in 1763, Moody had thrust upon him an undesirable publicity. He seized and extinguished, on 25 Jan., a torch with which a maniac in the audience was seeking to set fire to the house. An apology for this was demanded on the following night. Thinking to appease the mob, Moody said, in Irish tones such as he was accustomed to employ, that 'he was very sorry he had displeased them by saving their lives in putting out the fire.' This was held an aggravation of his offence, and the audience insisted that he should go on his knees. He exclaimed, 'I will not, by heaven,' and left the stage, to be embraced by Garrick, who declared that while he had a guinea he would pay Moody his salary. Garrick was compelled to promise that Moody should not appear again on the stage while under the displeasure of the audience. Moody, however, bearded Fitzpatrick, who found himself compelled to withdraw the prohibition, and to promise on behalf of himself and his friends support to the actor on his reappearance.

In the season of 1760-1, among other parts, he essayed Teague in the 'Committee,' one of his great parts, Foigard in the 'Stratagem,' Obediah Prim in 'A Bold Stroke for a Wife,' Robin in 'Contrivances,' Vulture in 'Woman's a Riddle,' and was the original Captain O'Cutter in Colman's 'Jealous Wife,' and Irishman in Reed's 'Register Office,' Among characters assigned him in years immediately following were Henry VI, Richard III, the Miller of Mansfield, Peachum in the 'Beggar's Opera,' Bullock in the 'Recruiting Officer,' Stephano in the 'Tempest,' John Moody in the 'Provoked Husband,' Adam in 'As you like it,' Ben in 'Love for Love,' Teague in the 'Twin Rivals,' Simon Burly in the 'Anatomist,' Vamp in the 'Author,' and innumerable others. He was the original Cratander in Delap's rendering of 'Hecuba,' the Irishman in the 'Jubilee,' and on 19 Jan. 1771 Major O'Flaherty in Cumberland's 'West Indian,' In the last two parts he strengthened his reputation as a comic Irishman, a part which was now ordinarily written for him or assigned to him. He played a Scottish servant, Colin MacLeod, in Cumberland's 'Fashionable Lover,' 20 Jan. 1772, but he resumed his Irish 'creation' as Sir Patrick O'Neale in the 'Irish Widow,' 23 Oct. 1772, an adaptation by Garrick from Molière, and O'Flam in Foote's 'Bankrupt,' in which, 21 July 1773, he appeared at the Haymarket. Back at Drury Lane he was, 9 Nov. 1773, the original Commodore Flip in the 'Fair Quaker,' an alteration, attributed to Captain Thompson, of the 'Fair Quaker of Deal;' Conolly, an Irish clerk, in Kelly's 'School for Wives,' 11 Dec. 1773; and McCormick, 9 Feb. 1774, in 'Note of Hand, or a Trip to Newmarket,' written expressly for him by Cumberland. At Drury Lane he played in following years Cacafogo in 'Rule a Wife and have a Wife,' Second Witch in ' Macbeth,' Major Oldfox in the 'Plain Dealer,' Captain Bluff, Sir Sampson Legend, Sir Lucius O'Trigger, Sir Toby Belch, Roger in 'Æsop' Gripe in the 'Confederacy,' Sir Wilful Witwou'd, Dr. Cantwell, Dogberry, &c. On 21 Sept. 1776 he was the original Phelim in Colman's 'New Brooms;' 24 Feb. 1777 the original Sir Tunbelly Clumsey in the 'Trip to Scarborough,' altered from Vanbrugh by Sheridan; 15 Oct. 1778 the original O'Daub in the 'Camp,' erroneously assigned to Sheridan; and, 29 Oct. 1779, Lord Burleigh in the 'Critic.' His other original parts of any importance were Dennis Dogherty in Jackman's 'Divorce,' 10 Nov. 1781; Major O'Flaherty in Cumberland's 'Natural Son,' 22 Dec. 1784; and Hugo in Cobb's 'Haunted Tower,' 24 Nov. 1789. In Liverpool, where he acted during the summer, and in other country towns, he tried more ambitious parts, as King in 'First Part of King Henry IV,' Iago, and Shylock. After the season of 1795-6 the management, in answer to constant complaints of his heaviness, did not engage him, and he went into compulsory retirement, from which he emerged to play at Covent Garden, for the benefit of the Bayswater Hospital, 26 June 1804, Jobson in the 'Devil to Pay.' This was announced as 'his first appearance these ten years, and positively his last on any stage.' He retired to Barnes Common, where he lived in comfort, adding to his income by growing vegetables for the London market, sometimes himself driving his produce into town. Here at Shepherd's Bush according to the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' or in Leicester Square according to the 'European Magazine,' he died 26 Dec. 1812. He requested that he might be buried in St. Clement's burial-ground, Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and that the headstone should bear the words, 'A native of this parish, and an old member of Drury Lane Theatre.' The cemetery was full, however, and his remains were interred in the churchyard at Barnes, near those of his first wife, who died 12 May 1805, aged 88. His widow, Kitty Ann Moody, died 29 Oct. 1846, aged 83 (see Notes and Queries, 8th ser. ii. 292).

In his early career Moody was much praised, being declared the best Teague that the stage had produced. His Captain O'Cutter was highly popular, and secured him the praise of Churchill, who devotes ten lines to him in the 'Rosciad.' He was held a principal support of the 'Jubilee,' and played in the 'West Indian' with such judgement and masterly execution as to divide applause with the author. Tate Wilkinson praises highly his comic characters and his wisdom and sagacity, professing a great friednship for him. In his later days he incurred much condemnation, going through his parts in a state of 'torpor, bordering upon sleep.' Mrs. Mathews says that Moody, 'afraid of o'erstepping Nature, occasionally came short of her.' Thomas Dibdin relates a racy interview which he had with 'the venerable Hibernian' when he was over eighty, but still full of 'excellent humour' (Reminiscences, i. 258).

Portraits of Moody as Teague in the 'Committee,' with Parsons as Obadiah, by Vandergutch; by Drummond, R.A., as Jobson in the 'Devil to Pay;' and as one of a club of twelve persons called the 'School of Garrick,' are in the Garrick Club, and two engravings, one by J. Marchi from a painting by Zoffany, and the other by T. Hardy from one of his own paintings, are in the National Portrait Gallery, Dublin. Prints of Garrick as Foigard and as the Irishman in the 'Register Office' are in existence.

[Some confusion as to Moody's early life is due to the fact that he wished to be accepted as an Englishman, and to hide his humble origin. Lives of him are given in Theatrical Biography, 1772, the Georgian Era, the Thespian Dictionary, the Dramatic Mirror, the Secret History of the Green Room, the Monthly Mirror, vol. iii., and the European Magazine, vol. xviii. See also Genest's Account of the English Stage, Tate Wilkinson's Memoirs, the Garrick Correspondence, the Dramatic Censor, Cumberland's Memoirs, O'Keeffe's Recollections, Boaden's Life of John Philip Kemble, Clark Russell's Representative Actors, Dibdin's History of the Stage.]

J. K.