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His domestic peace was now to be disturbed by a little matter, which to one so sensitive became a serious annoyance. A Doctor Bower had been attracting public attention, as a "distinguished convert from Rome," with stories about his treatment by the Inquisition, &c. He was a man of some learning, and much industry, and when he was selected for one of the booksellers' speculations then fashionable, a bulky History of the Popes," in quarto volumes, his subscription list showed how fashionable he had become. Among other houses, he was made welcome at that of one of his warmest patrons, Lord Lyttleton, Garrick's friend. But his account of his "conversion " was felt to be so curious and inconsistent, that suspicions were aroused: some of his supporters began to look coldly on him, and he found himself excluded from houses, where before he had been very welcome. One of these was Mr. Garrick's, where he had been received by Mrs. Garrick, "Catholic though she was," and where Garrick himself "was witness to the contradictions, prevarications, and falsehoods, which he endeavoured to impose upon her." Unfortunately, too, Doctor Douglas, later to be Bishop of Salisbury, had sent out a most damaging pamphlet, written in the good old "bludgeon" style of controversy, in which there was plenty of rough language, and pitiless conclusions drawn. The exposure was nearly fatal; and a story of a money transaction, into which he was said to have entered with "his old friends the Jesuits," injured him still more. Stung by these suspicions, he
in this only consults the gratification of his own amusement, which your acting is necessary to, modesty and generosity would seem to be misplaced in hinting anything in behalf of the other house."-Warburton to Garrick, Feb. 1761.
added to one of his bulky volumes, a defence of himself, as rough and violent as had been the attack, and in which he replied to an unfortunate expression of Douglas's, who had said that he dared not show his face at various houses, and "had not ventured of late to visit the lady and gentleman mentioned,"adding that "the lady's principles, and religion are well known." Bower did not let this pass. "Now that foreigners," he said, "may not think that I dare not show my face at the house of any real gentleman or real lady, I beg to inform them who this gentleman and lady are. The gentleman, then, is Mr. Garrick, an actor who now acts upon the stage. The lady is his wife, Mrs. Garrick, alias Violetti, who within these few years danced upon the stage. To do them justice, they are both eminent in their way. The lady (though no Roscius) is as "well-known and admired" for her dancing as the gentleman is for his acting, and they are, in that sense, par nobile. That I dare not show my face in that house is true; nor dare I show it in any other house, the mistress whereof is a Papist (whose religion and principles are well-known), and consequently bound, if in the least acquainted with me, to contribute her quota to the common stock of scandal, and not only to betray, but misrepresent, if required, private conversation."* This was certainly unchivalrous, and the sex, at least, of one of the parties might have shielded her from such treatment. It touched Garrick to the quick, always sensitive on the score of his social position; but proved to be a fatal, as well as an ungallant proceeding, for Doctor Bower.
Lyttleton had held by him firmly, and when some letters of his, opening negotiations with the Jesuits, were produced, joined with Walpole in pronouncing them forgeries. But on the publication of this attack, Lyttleton's first step was to send word to Garrick, repudiating all protection or encouragement, of its author. Garrick had felt the attack acutely, and wrote back gratefully. His Lordship's delicacy, he was sure, must have been shocked to have seen the illiberal way in which Mrs. Garrick was mentioned. She had very innocently told the conversation she had had with Bower, without the least intention of having it published, or of adding to his shame. "Nor would she, though a Papist (as he calls her) vary a tittle from that or any other truth, though commanded by the Pope and his whole conclave of cardinals. . . He calls out for Protestant testimony, and he shall have it; and I flatter myself that it will have its weight, though it comes from a player. The world must determine which is most to be credited: he who, though upon the stage, has retained a sense of honour, veracity, and religion; or he who, though bred to one Church and converted to another, seems to have lost them all in his passage between both." But Mr. Garrick's next idea was not so dignified. He proposed to revenge himself, by bringing his enemy upon the stage. He had always thought him even a richer character than Molière's Tartuffe. This would be the retort pleasant, he thought. Such a weakness may be justified by his indignation at the attack on his unoffending wife, for he himself was tolerably accustomed to such onslaughts. Still the retaliation he meditated was more in Foote's fashion, and it certainly would not
have served him with his friends, or with the public. Happily, Lyttleton took this view, and warmly dissuaded him from so unbecoming a step.*
Thus it would seem, that no one's life was so checquered, or to know such a wholesome discipline, in the way of correction. If he was exalted, there was not long afterwards an unpleasant chastisement. Yet under such alternations, he preserved a mind surprisingly "even;"-never lost his head a moment, from praise, flattery, or success; and never sank into depression. He was presently to be more sorely tried.
* Mr. Garrick showed Davies, Lyttleton's reply, "comprised in very polite and condescending terms." Davies at the same time insinuates as the motive for abandoning this step, "that it might be attended with some little uneasiness to himself."
"THE TWO Gentlemen of Verona" was the new revival for the new season; and, indeed, the theatre was already suffering from the superior attraction at the other house. English opera, and the charming voice of Miss Brent, had been thinning the boxes and benches of Drury Lane, and Young Meadows and Rosetta were more followed than Hamlet or Estifania. Then were heard, for the first time, the cheerful, pastoral, simple melodies, "We all love a pretty girl under the rose," "When I have my dog and my gun:" and English opera was a distinct school, not a mere "rechauffé" of Italian and French models. In vain Garrick made attempts in the same direction, engaging a "Master Norris," with other pupils of his friend Arne. The receipts began to fall off, and his own attraction to fail mysteriously. And from that time he began to think seriously of an important step, -either of complete retirement, while he could do so without loss, or, at least, of a temporary withdrawal from the vexations which were gathering thick about him. For this was the most fretted period of his life.
During the recess Garrick and his partner determined to carry out some new theatrical arrangements which they had long meditated. No one could