Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/23

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Garrick
Garrick
17

pearance as Aboan in 'Oroonoko.' Chamont in the 'Orphan,' Sir Harry Wildair in Farquhar's sequel to the 'Jubilee,' and Captain Brazen in the 'Recruiting Officer' followed. Emboldened by his success he made unavailing advances to the managers of Drury Lane and Covent Garden. On 19 Oct. 1741 at Goodman's Fields, between the two parts of a concert of vocal and instrumental music (to evade the privilege of the patent theatres), he made his famous appearance as Richard III, being announced as ' a gentleman who never appeared on any stage.' His success was im- mediate . Richard was played seven times consecutively. On 9 Nov. he performed his first original part, Jack Smatter in Dance's 'Pamela,' and later appeared in the 'Lying Valet,' adapted by him from Motteux's 'Novelty.' His 'Lethe' was also produced. Meantime his representations Had taken the town by storm. The patent houses were deserted, and a string of carriages thronged the route from Temple Bar to Goodman's Fields. Writing to Chute, Gray says: 'Did I tell you about Mr. Garrick, that the town are horn-mad after him? There are a dozen dukes of a night at Goodman's Fields sometimes' (Works, ii. 185). Oray adds: 'And yet I am stiff in the opposition.' Walpole admitted that he was a good mimic, but confessed to the 'heresy' that there was 'nothing wonderful' in his acting (Collected Letters, i. 189). Pope, who had lost interest in the stage, was taken more than once by Lord Orrery, and said: 'That young man never had his equal, and never will have a rival.' Gibber's easily explicable hostility was conquered, and he said to Mrs. Bracegirdle, 'I' faith, Bracey, the lad is clever.' Macklin had been Garrick's friend from the beginning, and Quin uttered the memorable and prophetic observation, 'We are all wrong if this is right.' Garrick had much difficulty to reconcile his family and his brother Peter to his new profession. A number of letters written to Peter were discovered by John Forster, and are now in his manuscript collection in the South Kensington Museum. Many of them are quoted by him in his 'Life of Oliver Goldsmith.' In them Garrick dwells upon his success, artistic and pecuniary, boasts of the intimacy of 'Leonidas' Glover, quotes 'Mr. Pit's' opinion, that 'I was ye best Actor ye English Stage had produc'd,' and expects the Prince of Wales to come to see him (Forster, Goldsmith, i. 237). He adds as a secret that he is getting ' six guineas a week,' and is to have a benefit, for which he has been offered 120l. Subsequently he offers, in case his brother should want money, to let him command 'his whole.' Five hundred guineas and a clear benefit, or part of the management, are offered him. Murray, Pope, Lords Halifax, Sandwich, and Chesterfield are soon to be among his acquaintances. The Ghost in 'Hamlet' followed, and after other parts he achieved, on 3 Feb. 1742, his great triumph as Bayes in the 'Rehearsal.' In this his imitations of other actors gave some offence. Master Johnny, a lad of fifteen, in Gibber's 'Schoolboy,' was another great success. On 11 March he played King Lear, and on the 15th Lord Foppington in the 'Careless Husband.' The season extended to 27 May 1742, when the house closed not to open again, through the jealousies of the patentees of Drury Lane and Covent Garden and the action of Sir John Bernard, the original mover of the Licensing Act. On 11 May 1742 Garrick, for the benefit of Harper's widow, played Chamont at Drury Lane. He also, by a special arrangement, appeared for three nights at Drury Lane, at the close of the season, on 26 May, as Bayes, on the 28th as King Lear, and on the 31st as Richard. He had played over one hundred and fifty nights, and acted a score of different characters. Some of his imitations of actors of the day are said, on no very trustworthy authority, to have led to a duel with his manager, Giffard, in which Garrick was slightly wounded. Garrick now engaged at Drury Lane for the forthcoming season. Meanwhile he accepted a preliminary engagement for Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, where he appeared 17 June 1742 as Richard. Other characters followed, his principal supporters being Mrs. Woffington, Mrs. Furnival, and Giffard. For his benefit he appeared as Hamlet to Mrs. Woffington's Ophelia, and on 19 Aug. 1742 he played as Captain Plume in the 'Recruiting Officer' to the Sylvia of the same actress. His success, according to Hitchcock (Correct View of the Irish Stage, i. 119), 'exceeded all imagination.' An epidemic which then raged in Dublin was called, in memory of his visit, 'the Garrick fever.' In company with his future associate, Mrs. Cibber, Garrick left Dublin 23 Aug. 1742. He appeared at Drury Lane on 5 Oct. During the season, in addition to most of the parts assumed at Goodman's Fields, he was seen in Captain Plume, Hamlet, Archer in the 'Stratagem,' Hastings in 'Jane Shore,' Sir Harry Wildair in the 'Constant Couple,' and Abel Drugger in the 'Alchemist,' and on 17 Feb. 1743 was the original Millamour in the 'Wedding Day' of Fielding. Sir Harry Wildair, in which the public were used to Mrs. Woffington, was to some extent a failure, and, like other characters in which he did not succeed, was gradually dropped. He rashly tried keeping house with his old

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