Obrázky stránek

J. That he loved money nobody will dispute;-who does not? But if you mean by loving money, that he was parsimonious to a fault, Sir, you have been misinformed. To Foote, and such scoundrels, who circulated those reports to such profligate spendthrifts, prudence is meanness, and economy is avarice. That Garrick in early youth was brought up in strict habits of economy, I believe; and that they were necessary, I have heard from himself. In regard to his generosity, which you seem to question, I shall only say, there is no man to whom I would apply, with more confidence of success, for a loan of two hundred pounds to assist a common friend, than to David; and this too with very little, if any, probability of its being repaid.

G. You were going to say something of him as a writer. You don't rate him very high as a poet.

J. Sir, a man may be a respectable poet, without being a Homer; as a man may be a good player without being a Garrick. In the lighter kinds of poetry, in the appendages of the drama, he was, if not the first, in the very first class. He had a readiness and facility, a dexterity of mind, that appeared extraordinary even to men of experience, and who are not apt to wonder from ignorance.

G. Garrick had some flippancy of parts, to be sure, and was brisk and lively in company; and by help of mimickry and story-telling, made himself a pleasant companion: but here the whole world gave the superiority to Foote, and Garrick himself appears to have felt as if his genius was rebuked by the superior powers of Foote. It has often been observed, that Garrick never dared to enter into competition with him, but was content to act an underpart to bring Foote out.

J. That this conduct of Garrick might be interpreted by the gross minds of Foote, and his friends, as if he was afraid to encounter him, I cannot easily imagine. Of the natural superiority of Garrick over Foote, this conduct is an instance: he disdained entering into competition with such a fellow, and made him the buffoon of the company; or, as you say, brought him out. No man, however high in rank, or literature, but was proud to know Garrick, and was glad to have him at his table; no man ever considered or treated Garrick as a player; he may be said to have stepped out of his own rank into an higher, and by raising himself, he raised the rank of his profession. At a convivial table his exhilarating powers were unrivalled. He was


lively, entertaining, quick in discerning the ridicule of life, and as ready in representing it; and on graver subjects there were few topicks in which he could not bear his part. It is injurious to the character of Garrick to be named in the same breath with Foote. That Foote was admitted sometimes into good company, (to do the man what credit I can) I will allow; but then it was merely to play tricks. His merriment was that of a buffoon, and Garrick's that of a gentleman.

G. I have been told, on the contrary, that Garrick in company had not the easy manners of a gentleman.

J. Sir, I don't know what you may have been told, or what your ideas may be of the manners of gentlemen. Garrick had no vulgarity in his manners. It is true, Garrick had not the airiness of a fop; nor did he assume an affected indifference to what was passing. He did not lounge from the table to the window, and from thence to the fire; or whilst you were addressing your discourse to him, turn from you and talk to his next neighbour; or give any indication that he was tired of his company. If such manners form your ideas of a fine gentleman, Garrick had them not.

G. I mean that Garrick was more overawed by the presence of the great, and more obsequious to rank, than Foote, who considered himself as their equal, and treated them with the same familiarity as they treated each other.

J. He did so, and what did the fellow get by it? The grossness of his mind prevented him from seeing that this familiarity was merely suffered, as they would play with a dog. Garrick, by paying due respect to rank, respected himself. What he gave was returned; and what was returned was kept for ever. His advancement was on firm ground-he was recognized in public, as well as respected in private; and as no man was ever more courted, and better received by the public, so no man was ever less spoiled by its flattery.

G. But you must allow, Dr. Johnson, that Garrick was too much a slave to fame, or rather to the mean ambition of living with the great-terribly afraid of making himself cheap even with them; by which he debarred himself of much pleasant society. Employing so much attention, and so much management upon little things, implies, I think, a little mind. It was observed by his friend Colman, that he never went into company but with a plot how to get out of

it. He was every minute called out, and went off or returned, as there was or was not a probability of his shining.

J. In regard to his mean ambition, as you call it, of living with the great, what was the boast of Pope, and is every man's wish, can be no reproach to Garrick. He who says he despises it, knows he lies. That Garrick husbanded his fame, the fame which he had justly acquired both at the theatre and at the table, is not denied; but where is the blame either in the one case or the other, of leaving as little as he could to chance? Besides, sir, consider what you have said. You first deny Garrick's pretensions to fame, and then accuse him of too great an attention to preserve what he never possessed.

G. I don't understand

J. I can't help that.

G. Well, but Dr. Johnson, you will not vindicate him in his over and above attention to his fame; his ordinate desire to exhibit himself to new men; like a coquette ever seeking after conquests, to the total neglect of old friends and admirers.

"He threw off his friends like a huntsman his pack,"always looking out for new game.

J. When you quoted the line from Goldsmith, you ought in fairness to have given what followed. "He knew when he pleas'd he could whistle them back." Which implies at least that he possessed a power over other men's minds approaching to fascination."

G. But Garrick was not only excluded by this means from real friendship, but accused of treating those whom he called his friends with insincerity and double dealing. J. Sir, it is not true. His character in that respect is misunderstood. Garrick was, to be sure, very ready in promising; but he intended at that time to fulfil his promise. He intended no deceit. His politeness, or his good nature, call it which you will, made him unwilling to deny. He wanted the courage to say no, even to unreasonable demands. This was the great error of his life. His friends became his enemies; and those having been fostered in his bosom, well knew his sensibility to reproach, and they took care that he should be amply supplied with such bitter portions as they were capable of administering. Their impotent efforts he ought to have despised; but he felt them: nor did he affect insensibility.

G. And that sensibility probably shortened his life.

J. No, sir; he died of a disorder of which you or any other man may die, without being killed by too much sensibility.

G. But you will allow, however, that this sensibilitythose fine feelings, made him the great actor he was.

J. This is all cant; fit only for kitchen wenches and chamber maids. Garrick's trade was to represent passion; not to feel it. Ask Reynolds whether he felt the distress of Count Hugolino when he drew it.

G. But surely he feels the passion at the moment he is representing it.

J. About as much as Punch feels. That Garrick himself gave into this foppery of feelings, I can easily believe; but he knew at the same time that he lied. He might think it right, as far as I know, to have what fools imagined he ought to have; but it is amazing that any should be so ignorant as to think that an actor will risk his reputation by depending on the feelings that shall be excited in the presence of two hundred people, on the repetition of words that he has repeated two hundred times before, in what actors call their study. No, sir; Garrick left nothing to chance. Every gesture, every expression of countenance, and variety of voice, was settled in his closet before he set his foot upon the stage.




How embarrassing is it to select; impossible is it to touch, however lightly, on all that interests and affects the descendants of the Pilgrims. Let us first render our homage to these illustrious men in the days of their adventure and peril. Availing ourselves of a fiction, often less reverentially and piously resorted to, let us be the spectators of the scene in which they were engaged; let us stand upon the shore which our Fathers were approaching.

Here begins that vast wilderness which no civilized man has beheld. Whither does it extend, and what is contained within its unmeasured limits? Through what thousands of years has it undergone no change, but in the silent movements of renovation and decay. To how many vernal sea

sons has it unfolded its leaves;-to how many autumnal frosts has it yielded its verdure. This unvaried solitude! What has disturbed its tranquillity, through uncounted ages, but the rising of the winds, or the rending of the storms! What sounds have echoed through its deep recesses, but those of craving and of rage from the beasts which it shelters; or the war-song and the war-whoop of its sullen, smileless masters! Man-social, inventive, improving man -his footstep, his handywork, are nowhere discerned. The beings who wear his form have added nothing to knowledge, through all their generations. Like the game which they pursue, they are the same now, which their progenitors were, when their race began. These distant and widely separated columns of smoke, that throw their graceful columns towards the sky, indicate no social, no domestic abodes. The snows have descended to cover the fallen foliage of the departed year; the winds pass, with a mournful sound, through the leafless branches; the Indian has retired to his dark dwelling; and the tenants of the forest have hidden themselves in the earth, to escape the search of winter.

This ocean that spreads out before us! how many of its mountain waves rise up between us and the abodes of civilized men. Its surges break and echo on this lonely shore, as they did when the storms first waked them from their sleep, without having brought, or carried, any work of human hands, unless it be the frail canoe, urged on by hunger or revenge. How appalling is this solitude of the wilderness! How cheerless this wide waste of waters, on which nothing moves!

A new object rises to our view! It is that proud result of human genius, which finds its way where it leaves no trace of itself, yet connects the severed continents of the globe. It is full of human beings, of a complexion unknown in this far distant clime. They come from a world skilled in the social arts. Are they adventurers, thirsting for gain, or seeking, in these unexplored regions, new gifts for the treasury of science? Their boats are filled; they touch the land. They are followed by tender females, and more tender offspring; such beings as a wild desert never before received. They commence the making of habitations. They disembark their goods. Have they abandoned their returning ship? Are they to encounter, in their frail tenements, the winter's tempest and the accumulating snows?

« PředchozíPokračovat »