Imágenes de páginas

protested on her way, that the king could do what he pleased with her property and her life, with everything excepting her honour. The town was delighted with the wit of the police officer, who was sitting opposite her. "Vous avez bien raison, mademoiselle; où il n'y a rien, le Roi perd ses droits." The men actors soon struck, except Le Kain and Molé. One of them had to make a humiliating apology to the audience; every night they were brought from prison to the theatre to play, and taken back again after the performance. But the indomitable Clairon held out, as indeed she well might, for her imprisonment was a triumph. Rooms were sumptuously furnished for her. The road to the prison was blocked with the lines of carriages, and she gave the most charming little suppers.

Garrick had left about the 20th of April, and was then almost at the "Table Royale" at Calais. We may be certain, had he stayed, his advice would have averted the storm. Molé, acknowledging his kindness, and the interest he had taken in the affair, wrote from his prison, to borrow two hundred louis-a rather serious loan-a request that Garrick did not notice for some weeks, when he would appear to have written, offering assistance of an amount something less. Le Kain wrote to him also; each boasted of his firmness, and talked loftily of sacrificing everything to honour. But they, too, soon made terms for themselves, and the brave and impetuous Clairon was the only one that held out, and did battle with Court and Ministers and the whole public. Soon, a prey to rage and fretting over her treatment, she fell sick, and had to be released. She demanded her congé, and said she would never act again. Ministers knew not how to


deal with her, and indeed this contest with a wilful woman made them supremely ridiculous. She went from one fainting fit to the other, and her enemies then maliciously sent round to her, that the great Garrick, now in London, had told "Miladi Holland " that he preferred the Dumesnil's acting. She did not believe the story; her bitter letter to him, telling her sufferings and her projects, is highly characteristic. She said she was determined to sacrifice "her vengeance" to that one motive, the enfranchising of her profession from being subject to this degrading restraint. Sooner than "give in, she was determined to die—to bear all persecutions." She inveighed against Molé and Le Kain, who had betrayed her, men for whom she had begun the battle, and who had left her to fight it out alone. Le Kain was under a load of obligation to her-a pension she had procured for him-an increase of salary for his wife, with many more benefits. "Good-bye, dear friend," she closed her letter with, "think of me sometimes; make your dear wife do the same; and come back to us as soon as you can. Garrick's reply was an offer of five hundred guineas! A princely generosity. Well might Voltaire turn to his satellites, and ask if there was a Marshal or Duke in all France, who would imitate such an act.

[ocr errors]

Ministers were obliged to yield in this unworthy struggle. She was allowed to retire to Geneva, where was Tronchin, the great doctor. There she dazzled and charmed Voltaire. But after this she never rallied in

Yet with characteristic generosity, she forgot this treatment of her by Molé, and later went about getting money for his benefit.

health or popularity. The public found that she was determined to try the device that her friend Garrick had tried with his public, and by absence and coquetting make them miss her; but she kept it up so long that they forgot her. Then came neglect and mortification. She offered to play before the king as a special favour, who sent her word that he was very well content with the present actresses. Yet it is impossible not to sympathise with her wayward but gallant spirit, and her last letter to her true English friend is almost pathetic, showing illness, and hopelessness, and a broken spirit."

It was such natures as this that Garrick drew to him, and such natures as this that could appreciate him. Thus had he established his name, fame, and credit in Paris. There he was long after thought of, regretted, and respected. Preville, the comedian, with whom he had played droll freaks, both astonishing the inhabitants of villages near Paris, with a surprising imitation of drunkenness, which brought out Garrick's criticism, that his friend was not "drunk enough in the legs," long after thought of him, and inquired about him, and gave imitations of him, and talked fondly over him at suppers, with Foote and others. Yet from Preville he later withdrew his friendship, on account of a disgraceful life the latter was leading, and we can

“Since April I have been daily between life and death; and the day that the Abbé Bontemps handed me the gauze which your sweet wife sent me, I was so bad I could not thank him. I can hardly see, hear, or move from one chair to another. Death would be a thousand times less pitiable than my condition. But my heart is still whole, and, filled with gratitude, loves you both for ever and ever, and longs but for one thing in this world-some way of proving it to you. M. Cailhava will tell you the rest. I can write no


Adieu !" + Angelo's Memoirs.

read the Frenchman's contrite letter announcing reform, and in warm terms imploring a renewal of the old intimacy and friendship. A nature with such influence must have been respected, as well as loved, and Garrick might well look back to his stay abroad, to the roll of friendships he had formed, to the brilliant impressions he had left of himself, as a delightful memory, honourable alike to his character and to the profession of which he was the ornament.

But if he had made many new friends, he was to return, and find many gaps in the old ranks. in the old ranks. Though he followed his friend Johnson's wise counsel of "keeping friendships in repair," it was hard to supply the place of a valiant henchman like Churchill, or of a true and early friend, like Hogarth. He took infinite pains

with an epitaph for Hogarth, and I find among his

papers many attempts-

"If neither charm thee, turn away,
"For Hogarth's honest dust is here."
"Hogarth, pride of both lies here."

Johnson was consulted.

But he seems to have

condemned all in a blunt, discouraging way, except one happy expression-" pictured morals." Garrick adopted all hints, cut away many stanzas, and as it now stands the epitaph is above the average :

"Farewell, great painter of mankind,

Who reached the noblest point of art.
Whose pictured morals charm the mind,
And through the eye correct the heart.

If genius fire thee, reader, stay

If nature touch thee, drop a tear

If neither moves thee, turn away,
For Hogarth's honoured dust lies here."








He was now in London once more, arriving, as the newspapers gave out, on the afternoon of Thursday, April 27, 1765. He was infinitely improved both in health, and spirits, and tone of mind, and from this time, if we can detect less interest in the theatre, and in plays, he seems to take a higher place in social life, and, with the aid of his continental training, to assume a leading part in all the coteries and clubs. From this date, we begin to hear more of Garrick's esprit and Garrick's wit; and, indeed, it would be impossible for one to have come fresh from D'Holbach, and Diderot, and Morellet, without catching some of their pleasant ways and manners. But he seemed fixed in his determination not to play again. Some friends congratulated him on this resolve, others tried to dissuade him.

He spent the summer among his friends; now with Mrs. Cibber, at Woodhay, who with her parrot and her dogs, was eager that he and "sweet Mrs. Garrick" should come to her. Her health was very bad, but she looked forward to joining him at Christnas, and "entering the favourite mare Belvidera,"

« AnteriorContinuar »