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them; for Garrick's most rational eulogists admit that he could not picture the dignified prince, the fine gentleman, or the hero. Still he was indubitably the greatest general actor of his age. That he had recourse to every expedient of art which could render his acting attractive, is not to be doubted: his giant panegyrist Churchill enumerates it amongst his perfections.
“ If manly sense,-if nature link'd with art,
“ If thorough knowledge of the human heart;" &c. &c. But then it was art so exquisitely managed as to lose the appearance of art. In another man those expedients would have been called stage trick;—but Garrick shaded down their lineaments so gracefully into those of nature, that the distinctive lines became imperceptible. Sometimes he went lengths that outraged sense; but then he bore along with him such a blaze of beauty, that the general eye was too much dazzled to perceive the defect. Such was his using a sledge instead of a crow in the church-yard scene in Romeo and Juliet, in order to set off his person in high attitude, and show the appearance of Herculean strength. In a literary war waged against him by Theophilus Cibber, he was charged with this childish folly, and the charge was never controverted. The sledge, it seems, was composed, not of iron, but of very light wood, and was as large in bulk as an ordinary anvil, almost as his own body; and with this armed, the little giant stood in the act of beating down the gates of Capulet's monument—so exquisitely happy and picturesque, however, was he in attitude, that the absurdity was overlooked, till his d-d good friend The: Cibber opened the eyes of the public, and indeed of Garrick himself to it.
Mr. Garrick's attention to his pecuniary concerns no doubt furnished the wits with a subject for raillery, and malicious calumniators with topics for libel and detraction. But the wit and the libels are buried in the monument of the Capulets, while the beneficence of their object remains recorded, and will be a monument to his honour much superior to his histrionic fame. That he was frugal, and perhaps in the eyes of prodigals and vitious spendthrifts, penurious, is undeniable: but let it be remembered that it was that very frugality which enabled him to do acts of generosity and charity that would confer credit on the munificence of a prince. Doctor Johnson has left us his testimony upon that subject, which of itself would put the matter beyond controversy; but there are many other
proofs extant. And all the sneers of Foote and Macklin, and all the witty bonmots of Peg Woffington, and vulgar raillery of Mrs. Clive, are of little little did I say?--no weight at all against the recorded benefactions of Mr. Garrick to the fund for the support of decayed actors. This is a praise beyond all the fugitive applause he ever received in thirty years from idolizing multitudes. The latter are to him as if they had never been,-left behind him,—while the latter accompany him into a world of immortality. We will not swell this article with a minute recapitulation of facts which are well known, and in which all his foibles are lost, as the sparks of a flint-stone in the noonday blaze of the sun. If he was irritable he was also forgiving, and liberally helped Smollet who shamefully abused him, and relieved the wants of Paul Hiffernan the poet, who deserved very different treatment at his hands.
But of all the accounts we have received of the charitable disposition of Mr. Garrick, that which comes home most to the heart, is one communicated to thc Monthly Mirror of Lordon, by Mr. Smith, late of Drury-lane theatre, who justly enjoys as large a share of the respect and attachment of the first people in that kingdom, as any man in any situation of life whatever. Wishing to leave our readers with that impression of Mr. arrick which his virtues warrant, we will conclude this article with the words of Mr. Smith.
“ There has long existed a mistaken prejudice with respect to “ the character of that great and good man, Mr. Garrick, whom I “ respected, honoured, and loved, almost to idolatry, which I should “ be happy to remove. He has been often charged with want of « generosity and benevolence: but I believe the direct contrary to “ be the fact. I had very frequent opportunities, from the intimacy " and friendship with which he honoured me, of applying to him “ in behalf of objects in distress. I found his hand and heart ever
open on these occasions, and have received very considerable " sums from him to dispose of as I thought fit. I could produce o several instances of his liberality, but, as the parties are not pub“ licly known, I shall, at present, mention only two.
“ The celebrated poet, commonly called Kit Smart, formerly “ fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, was frequently in embar6 rassed circumstances, and sometimes in confinement: Garrick so often sent me to him, in these cases, with an unlimited power to si make him as comfortable as his station would allow; and consi. Vol. IV.
“ derable sums have I paid for, and given to Mr. Smart, on his ac« count, under a strict charge of secrecy; but as both parties are e now no more, there can be no occasion to conceal a transaction a which reflects so much honour on Mr. Garrick's private cha66 racter.
66 The second is the case of a Mr. Hinds, whom I saw in a a wretched strolling company, near my residence in Suffolk. He 6 came to me to solicit my influence to fill a house, of which the
company was in great want. His appearance interested me in his “ favour: I perceived the latent gentleman, and, in conversation, 66 found him a man of education. I hinted, as far as propriety would « justify, a wish to know more of him; he told me that he was “ of a good family in Ireland: that he had spent, and lost at play, “ near thirty thousand pounds: had recourse to the stage as his “ dernier resort: failed in the attempt: was totally discarded by his
family, and reduced to his present state:-adding, that if he could “ raise about thirty or forty pounds, he could purchase a situation « in the country, and become master of an itinerant company of “ players, that would probably make him easy for life. On my re“ turn to the stage, in the winter, I learned from old Mr. Sparks, « and Mr. Dyer, who had known Hinds in Ireland, that his tale was “ truth. We accordingly made a collection for him in the green
room, and on my application to Mr. Garrick, he bade me make
up for him the deficiency of the sum wanted. I said, smilingly, " A few guineas over would not be amiss:” “ Give him then the u whole for me,” replied the generous man, “and let your collec6 tion be the overplus.”
“ This, sir, is a long story, but I hope it will convince those who « read it, of what I wish was perfectly understood, THE BENEVO
LENCE OF GARRICK."
SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF Mrs. SIDDONS.
In our last number we gave a portrait of that celebrated actress, Mrs. SIDDONS, done from a picture painted some twenty years ago. In this number we give our subscribers a companion to it. Both are as great likenesses of those two respectable personages as any extant. The biography, which might naturally have been expected to accompany the former portrait is now given accompanied by the latter; it appearing to us desirable that of the biographies of two great persons so closely allied by blood, so united by affection, and so relative to each other in professional history, should go into the world together. The first we offer is a sketch of the life of Mrs. Siddons.
This accomplished woman, and theatrical phenomenon, is the eldest daughter of the late Roger Kemble, who, at her birth, was manager of an itinerant company of players. Very early in life she trod her father's stage as a singer, but soon quitted that line for tragedy. In the bloom of youth she conceived and indulged a passion for Mr. Siddons, which not being countenanced by her parents, she quitted the stage, and engaged herself as lady's maid in the family of Mrs. Greathead, of Guy's-cliff, near Warwick, where she remained about a year; and then resolving to unite her self to the man of her affections, she was married to Mr. Siddons, and soon after joined a strolling company of no great reputation.
In the course of a short time, she and her husband had the good fortune to be engaged by Mr. Younger to perform at Liverpool, Birmingham, &c. with whom she continued a few years, and acquired both profit and reputation; and, in consequence of her increasing celebrity, she was engaged at Drury-lane, where she performed such characters as Mrs. Strickland, Mrs. Epicene, and the Queen in Richard the Third. Mrs. Siddons was at this time only considered as a second-rate actress; and being unfortunately as. signed a part in an after-piece, written by the editor of a newspaper, which was damned the first night, the ungenerous author left no opportunity of injuring her reputation, and she quitted the London boards for a time, to return to them afierwards with increased lustre.
Our heroine immediately repaired to Bath, where she was observed to improve rapidly, and is said to have been usefully assisted by the lessons of Mr. Pratt, then a bookseller in that city.
There she attracted the notice of the audience, and had the good fortune to be patronized by the dutchess of Devonshire, who procured her another engagement at Drury-lane. Before she left Bath she wrote and spoke a farewel address, which she delivered with her usual excellence. She made her second appearance at Drury-lane on the 10th of October, 1782, in the character of Isabella, and astonished the house with such a display of powers as they had seldom witnessed. Her fame was soon spread abroad, and the theatre overflowed every night; the taste for tragedy returned; and the manager, whose Critic seems to have been exe pressly written to drive Melpomene from the stage, received “ golden favours” from her votaries. Far from proving ungrateful, he generously gave Mrs. Siddons an extra benefit, and increased her salary. Her success was the means of introducing her sister, Miss F. Kemble, on the same stage; and she performed Jane Shore, while her near relative played Alicia, on her first appearance. The latter, however, not altogether fulfilling the expectations of the public, honourably withdrew, in consequence of a marriage with Mr. Twiss, a literary gentleman, and a well known traveller.
Mrs. Siddons's extra benefit was given her before christmas; she then appeared in Belvidera, and gained fresh laurels, and an enormous receipt. The two counsellors, Pigot and Fielding, were so highly delighted, that they collected a subscription among the gentlemen of the bar, of one hundred guineas, and presented them to her, accompanied with a polite letter, as a token of their esteem. This was an honour which we believe has not been conferred on any actor or actress since the time when Booth gave such general satisfaction in the character of Cato.
In the summer, this great and amiable actress went to Dublin, the inhabitants of which were equally astonished at her powers. On her return for the winter (1783-4), she performed, for the first time, “ by command of their majesties." During the succeeding summer, she took a second trip to Ireland, and also visited Edinburgh; in both of which places she not only received great salaries, but very considerable presents from unknown hands, particularly a silver urn, which was sent after her to London, on which was engraved these words“ A reward to Merit."
Envy and malice, as usual, pursued merit; and to these alone we can attribute the attack made on her in a newspaper, respecting her treatment of an unhappy sister, &c. These reports had, how