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and added, "from his own invention, something of real importance to bring about a noble catastrophe, he would have shown his judgment." It is melancholy to read such criticism from an official critic; who may be fairly placed in the profane band, whose pleasure and occupation is knocking noses and fingers off old statues, like barbarian tourists. Mr. Malone's whitewashing the coloured bust at Stratford was only symbolical of the greater Goths, who treated Shakspeare's works in the same outrageous way. Some of Garrick's folly may therefore be fairly apportioned among the "judges" who encouraged him.
In December, 1772, this precious composition was brought out. A more extraordinary medley could not be conceived. The dreamy inaction of Hamlet was got rid of, by plenty of exclamations and "business." He was in perpetual motion. The King defended himself bravely, and what Garrick himself called the "rubbish of the fifth act," which included the gravediggers' scene, was all shovelled away, with the diggers' own mould. His friends were afraid of "the galleries,” who might have the bad taste to wonder what had become of their old and humorous friends. But it was pronounced contemptuously, that these groundlings would be too ignorant to remark the change. An acute Frenchman, De la Place, who knew the English mob, owned that he trembled for their temerity in depriving the stage of the "Fossoyeurs qui de tout ont fait ses delices." What a happy compliment to the despised groundlings! But the whole was received with indifference and languor in the performance. It was a pity indeed that one of Garrick's last acts should have been, at the lowest, a blunder. It caused
much amusement in the town, where it was considered to approach a burlesque.
Murphy, his friend, had prepared a ponderous satire of great length, in ridicule of these alterations, which he was wise enough not to publish a series of scenes between Garrick, George Garrick, Hopkins the stage manager, Johnson the property-man, and Becket the bookseller. It is a poor and laborious piece. The
* A very happy dialogue appeared in the papers between Garrick, as Hamlet, and the Gravediggers, part of which was to this effect :
“1st Gravedigger. Since you have thrust us out of your play, sir, be so good as to say where you would have us dispose of our tools, and what we should put our hands to next.
"2nd Gravedigger. Aye, and what we should do with the ready-made grave. There it is. I know you don't like to have property lie dead, and I am afraid no man living will take it off your hands.
"Gar. Truly, gentlemen, that is a consideration; 'tis a pity men's labour should be lost. Suppose you step into it yourselves.
"2nd Gravedigger. Twenty-and-five years have I knocked Yorick's scull about this floor, and never thought any other scull would take up the quarrel. Under favour, why did you leave us out of your play?
“Gar. Because the age does not like to be reminded of mortality; 'tis an unseemly sight, and very disgustful to a well-bred company.
"1st Gravedigger. It won't be amiss, however, to keep the grave open; 'twill stand in place of a theatrical fund, and be a lasting provision for actors retiring from the stage.
"2nd Gravedigger. Or for a poet retiring from damnation: 'twill take him and his works
"Gar. Yes, but these curs, the critics, will be scraping 'em up again. "2nd Gravedigger. Somebody else will draw them off-yourself as another; a living author is their game."
Then the spirit of Shakspeare rises, and the piece grows serious. He ap proves of all that has been done.
New Foundling Hospital for Wit, vol. ii. p. 189.
This would seem to allude to a dreamy project of Garrick's, which he had often spoken of to French friends-an edition of Shakspeare. For this end he had made that wonderful collection of "old plays," which are now in the Museum, and which Elia pored over with delight, and the gems of which he picked out, and set so daintily, like a Cellini of poetry.
usual defence for attacks of this sort, directed by "friends," against Garrick, was that they were all mere "squibs," and full of good-natured "fun," and that they could do no harm. This was Foote's excuse. But in all these attacks is to be found a malicious sting, which cannot be so defended.* In Murphy this medi
* When the prompter asks, "Are all the places let?" he is answered— ""Tis the manager
Settles that matter: 'tis he that lets
The boxes for those nights. It makes our king
Murphy then takes care to ventilate his own wrongs :—
"Why such constant vent of brazen lies
And epigrams as implements of scandal?
Why such impress of scribblers, whose sore task
The explanation is an unworthy insinuation :—
Was, as you know, by the author of 'Alzama'
They then see the ghost of Shakspeare, and tell Garrick.
"Gar. A branch of mulberry bore he in his hand ?
Becket. He did.
Gar. I would I had been there.
His collar-say, was it unbuttoned?
George. It was, as I have seen it in the abbey,
When the ghost takes leave of Garrick, he is made to say—
"Fare thee well at once:
Yon window shows the morning to be near;
And thy once glowworm eyes, with age grown dim,
Gar. Hold, hold, my heart,
And you, my sinews, though you are grown old,
Yet bear me stiffly up."
Yet at the very time he was penning down this collection or unkind insinuations, he himself was on the most familiar terms with the manager.
tated attack was treacherous, for as we have seen, he approved of what had been done.
This wonderful composition held its ground for almost eight years; was acted even after Garrick's retirement, then gave place to the purer Shakspeare in 1780, and will never be heard of again. But Garrick's Romeo, Cibber's Richard, and Tate's Lear, are not to be so easily got rid of. As it was at this point that the slow decay of the stage seemed to set in, we may now take a glance at its fine company-the grand, strong, cohort which Garrick trained and directed the noble procession which was fast beginning to grow thin, and fade out in the distance. No such procession ever came again.*
* Dr. Doran has collected all that is important as to the lives of the English players, in his "History of the English Stage." What follows in the next chapter is another view, and will, I think, be found interesting, viz., a series of little sketches from recollections and eye-witnesses, and which will give us a good idea of what their characteristics were.
THE GREAT ACTORS.
ZOFFANY, the theatrical artist, has painted a very characteristic scene of Drury Lane green-room, in which are grouped all the leading performers.* The manager himself sits to the left, in an easy attitude, his legs over the arm of a chair, declaiming some part for their instruction. Hogarth is in the middle, pointing to the instructor; while Mrs. Garrick sits with the rest, demurely listening-as though she belonged actually to the company. Even their little dog is there, and George Garrick, the faithful henchman, stands obsequiously, with his hand on his brother's chair, and, characteristically enough, is the only one of the company who is not seated. The whole has an almost domestic air the manager's wife always came down to rehearsals-brought her work-listened—and was deferentially asked her opinion by her husband; and though this devotion was often smiled at, and his favourite excuses to a claimant, "Well, well, I'll speak to Mrs. Garrick," often mimicked, there can be no doubt but that her presence and interest in the
*There are present Beard, Baddeley, Woodward, Aicken, Smith, Macklin, Mrs. Yates, Mrs. Abington, and O'Brien.