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town was as "horn mad," as it had been in the old delightful transport of Goodman's Fields. Tall, thin, as he was, he was quite of the Barry order; and his voice in tragedy, went to all hearts, and drew abundant tears. The pit stood up, and shouted, in spite of Foote, who sat in the boxes on the first night, and affected to jeer at the whole. Somehow, wherever there is an act of grace, such as would be the welcome of a young actor, or at the Shakespere jubilee later, those sneering features are sure to be seen in the crowd.*
Garrick's uneasiness is plain to us. Yet he behaved admirably, and with true magnanimity. In Garrick's letter of advice to Powell, so often quoted, and his anxiety about his "doing Alexander," and "playing himself to rags," is to be seen that very pardonable dread which a really magnanimous mind often experiences, of being thought meanly jealous of a rising competitor. He, indeed, wrote that he had no joy in thinking of the stage, and affected to consider that he was to be "baited" if he returned there. But his heart, it is quite plain, was fluttering at the wings of Drury Lane.
When Digges first appeared at the Haymarket, this ungracious man was again in the pit, and when the new actor came out as Cato, dressed in "gilt leather and black," Foote's voice was heard, "in a pretended undertone' "A Roman chimney-sweeper on May day!" The laughter produced by this "sally" had nearly shipwrecked the actor.
HE stayed at Venice until the middle of June. He filled in his time by ransacking the curiosity, and booksellers', shops. He was writing drawing-room verses for the Marquise Ligneville. He was still longing to be at home; and nervous as to what people were saying of him. Yet Mrs. Garrick's health was still bad, and the sciatica so violent, that he could not think of returning as yet. They had tried all the fashionable and even absurd nostrums, then in vogue. Baretti, whom he had met in Venice, asked him, "Have you forgotten the black hen?"-the same remedy that was prescribed for Sterne and Smollett at Montpelier. She had tried a Venetian plaster, but fruitlessly; and finally they both set off for the famous mud baths of Albano, near Padua, and which Baretti prophesied would certainly restore her.
The "mud baths" had the happiest effect, and she was soon able to throw away her stick. By the middle of August, they had got on to Munich, but there he was seized with a dreadful bilious attack, which kept him in bed for a month. Luckily he had an English doctor near him, who kindly broke off his own tour, to stay with him, and who gave him better remedies, than the "flayed cocks" and "black hens"
of the foreign faculty. It wasted him to the last degree, and we can see the famous Roscius, effective even in his emaciation, described comically by himself: -"I have lost legs, arms, belly, cheeks, &c., and have scarce anything left but bones, and a pair of dark lack-lustre eyes, that are retired an inch or two more in their sockets, and wonderfully set off the parchment that covers the cheek-bones." The wonderful eyes, under such conditions, must have been like fiery coals. Yet his strong constitution helped him over such an attack; perhaps, too, his native good humour, cheerfulness and buoyancy. He did not love to whine over his sufferings. "You desired me to write," he says, "and invalids will prate of their ailments." His spirits sank very low, and he had a narrow escape, indeed. In this state he wrote some lines genuine in character, but very desponding in tone, and which may be taken to be a faithful picture of his past life. He called it "His own Epitaph:"
‘Though I in frailty's mould was cast,
By passions hurried on,
Though all my days in folly passed,
No crime has blackened one.
Some sins I had-for who is free?
Of pride, few mortals less;
Not those, I fear, who have, like me,
One pride that with myself shall end,
That pride the world shall know,
But there was a more significant warning in his having an attack of the malady, which was later to carry him off: the malady which came of "full port" and rich living, and which carried off so many men of
* Hill MSS.
letters and delightful social gifts. He was ordered the Spa waters-to "The Spaw," as it was calledthen, as now, one of the most delightful nooks of Europe; but the season was too far advanced.
During his illness, two of his best friends dropped away, that Duke of Devonshire, to whom he was so sincerely attached, and Hogarth. "The best of women and wives," as he affectionately called Mrs. Garrick, strove hard to keep such distressing news from reaching his ears; but the news of the first had nearly "cracked" his nerves. He loved the painter "in the greatest confidence." Churchill, too, was dying at Boulogne. Voltaire, receiving all the travelling world at his little retreat at Ferney, had sent him, as we have seen, a complimentary message. Garrick, on his return, intended to turn aside, and pay his homage at the shrine, but the serious illness that seized him at Munich, had weakened him so much, that he dared not tarry on the road. From Nancy he wrote his excuses to the "Roi Voltaire" -in scarcely one of his happiest letters. A friend, who later, was honoured with a seat beside "the King" at dinner, said that it would be the best news in the world for Mr. Garrick, to know that M. de Voltaire was in good health, and that he hoped he might write so. "No, no, sir," replied the host, "do not write an untruth, but tell him, je suis plein d'estime pour lui."*
* Round the poet were a whole circle of chattering nieces and nephews. Clairon had just left, and the night before they had played one of the host's own dramas at the private theatre. Every one was vociferating her praises, absolutely dinning the ears of the Englishman. Voltaire sat in the centre, placidly nodding now and again, and signifying his approval. The whole is one of many characteristic pictures to be found in the bulky Garrick correspondence.
He reached Paris again, about October, 1764— in a very shattered condition. His pleasant French friends could hardly recognise him, until he spoke. But in the delightful Paris air, he began to mend at once, to fill in, and grow round, until, in about a fortnight, he could pass for a tolerable Frenchman. It was wonderful indeed, how he got through; for, as he said humorously, he had been under no less than eight physicians, two of whom had been English-one perhaps Dr. Gem, of Paris. Three German and three French doctors were indeed a variety of medical aid. The French prescribed l'exercise de cheval, beaucoup de dissipation, and the universal James's Powderwhich, curiously enough, was later to kill Sterne and Goldsmith. Not much had taken place in his absence. But there were letters waiting for him, with more news of Powell's success-scarcely a pleasant medicine.
Powell had gone from one triumph to another. Philaster was his great part, after which came Posthumus in "Cymbeline." He then applied himself to study hastily, and produce in succession, a whole round of characters of which he knew nothing. It made no difference -the crowds came-it was the fashion to go and hear Mr. Powell, and there were even plenty to say, that here was Mr. Garrick's successor, and that the loss of that great actor was more than repaired. There were plenty, too, to let him know of this good news. Now Lacy, with an almost spiteful congratulation, recorded as spitefully by Davies, bade him by no means abridge his tour, but enjoy himself as long as possible away, for the house was always crammed, and not even "Mr. Garrick's own most principal parts had brought more money."