« AnteriorContinuar »
and wrote back hastily, that, as to her merit, it had been more than overpaid by the public, "without even a paragraph to prejudice them." A foolish stroke at the supposed influence of the manager on the press. Such suspicions, they knew, always wounded him deeply. She was determined, she said, to shake off all affection, and, like the Swiss, perform only with those who pay best. It is not surprising that the answer she received was a cold one-a reminder that they had lost Mrs. Barry to keep her, and a refusal to engage her.
But some months after came repentance-at least the repentance that arose from want of an engagement elsewhere. She sent Raftor, Mrs. Clive's relation, to intercede; but Garrick was firm. She then got an offer from Ireland, which she shrank from, as it cut her off from all her friends. This was their first disagreement in fourteen years; and with humiliation she laid it to the account of the little vanity which is inseparable from the profession. She implored of him to forgive an error, not proceeding from a bad mind, but a foolish one. "As I know no excuse to palliate my wrong conduct, I must rely upon your generosity to forgive, and still to be my friend." It seemed hard to resist so piteous an appeal; but Garrick, with a sternness not common with him, was immoveable. The expressions, want of affection, turning Swiss, he said, were as harsh, as unexpected. Her letter had given him great pain. Still, after her final answer, he had given her two months, in the hope of her seeing her mistake, and returning to her business; "and let me add, in spite of your frequent incivility to me, to your best friend," for he had
always tried "to be not only just and friendly, but fatherly, to Miss Pope." Now it was too late. Her parts had been given away-new engagements had been made. It was, therefore, impossible to give her a situation "at the theatre that could possibly be agreeable to her." This might seem a little harsh on the manager's part; but he was tired out with these vagaries, and perhaps disgusted by ingratitude.
She went off to Dublin, miserable. But she left behind her a faithful friend and intercessor. When the manager was retiring, and shuffling off the galling load of cares, green-room intrigues, and players' airs and fancies, Kitty Clive, not now "fair and young," but old and raddled, pleaded hard for the exile, her poor unfortunate friend, Miss Pope. She remembered only that fine, just, upright heart, so little sensitive to the shadows of an old grudge or spite. "By this time, I hope you have forgot your resentment, and will look upon her behaviour, as having been taken with a dreadful fit of vanity, which, for that time, took her senses from her; and having been tutored by an affected beast, who turned her head: but pray recollect her in the other light, a faithful creature to you, on whom you could always depend; amiable in her character, both in her being a very modest woman, and very good to her family; and to my certain knowledge, has the greatest regard for you. Now, my dear Mr. Garrick," pleads hard the good-natured being, "I hope it is not yet too late to reinstate her, before you quit your affairs there I beg it, I entreat it: I shall look on it as the greatest favour you can confer on your obliged friend, C. CLIVE." This was not to be resisted. The poor actress wrote humbly from Dublin, that as "every
interested view" was at an end from his leaving the stage, "she could lament that without suspicion of flattery, and own that he had been the father of it. I am not sorry that this was my year of banishment, since it would have given me much greater pain to have been present." She did not know what was in train. A few weeks later, the glad news reached her. Garrick, whatever he did, always did it handsomely, and bade her name her own terms now. Her heart was too full, and words could only faintly express her joy. If she should have once more the pleasure of seeing him, he will receive her as his prodigal daughter. "Pardon my detaining you so long; but I am so happy, and in such good spirits, I had quite forgot myself."*
This little picture is creditable to all. Clive is the real figure of the situation-a woman of true stuff and true heart, and whom Garrick's fine temper could appreciate at her real worth, in spite of many outbursts of temper and serious insults; for such discrimination and allowance was one of his real virtues, and real charms. Yet there was something disheartening in this ceaseless struggle with women-this endless remonstrating against airs and humours, which began again in one so soon as they were baffled in another. At his time of life, such contests became inexpressibly wearying and dispiriting. And though three women did not drive him from the stage, they sickened and fatigued him.
Clive must have been most diverting in the greenroom her gifts, her temper, her humours, her airs, her noise. Every one was delighted to note how the
* I perhaps ought to make some such apology to the reader; but these little touches are of real interest, and are all the time working out the view of Garrick's character.
manager quietly slipped out of her way, when she was in one of her "fits;" and how she was seen rushing here and there, looking for him. For she thought he planned everything on purpose to annoy her as when he added a new character to his farce of "Lethe," and which he introduced to set off her benefit, his name only was given-"the new character of Lord Chalkstone by Mr. Garrick."* Her hostility was, indeed, often carried beyond decent lengths, as when he entered on the first night of "Barbarossa" in a "glittering silver-spangled tissue shape." I shall give the amusing Wilkinson : "when Mrs. Clive, instead of court adulation, cried out, O my God! room, room! make room for the royal lamplighter!' which rudeness disconcerted him much for the remaining part of the evening; and certainly it was too free, and not well timed, as he was tremblingly alive all over, on the first night of a new play." Yet Clive had the good old
*This was most pardonable in the case of an afterpiece. Yet in the bill, her name is set down! Wilkinson gives the scene in a few dramatic and spirited touches. "Madame Clive at noon came to the theatre and furiously rang the alarm bell; for her name being omitted was an offence so serious that nothing but Blood! was the word. Could she have got near him, and he had been severe in his replies, I dare say she would have deranged King David's wig and dress, as adorned for Lord Chalkstone. Mrs. Clive was a mixture of combustibles: she was passionate, cross, vulgar, yet sensible, a very generous woman, and, as a comic actress, of genuine worth —indeed, indeed, she was a diamond of the first water. When her scene of the Fine Lady came on, she was received with the usual expression of gladness on her approach, as so charming an actress truly deserved; and her song, from the Italian opera, where she was free with a good ridiculous take off of Signora Mingotti, was universally encored, and she came off the stage much sweetened in temper and manners from her first going on. Ay,' said she, in triumph, 'that artful devil could not hurt me with the town, though he had struck my name out of the bill.' She laughed and joked about her late ill-humour as if she could have kissed all around her, though that happiness was not granted but willingly excused; and what added to her applause was her inward joy, triumph, and satisfaction, in finding the little great man was afraid to meet her, which was of all consolations the greatest.' There is a singular charm of quaintness and simplicity in these pictures of Wilkinson's which will make the reader excuse me for quoting so much of them.
honest loyalty to her profession which Woffington had, and which, in Garrick's eyes, redeemed so much.* Her eagerness to be thrust into parts, where she would be thrown with the man she was always battling with, was most characteristic.
They were all, in truth, growing spoiled. The musicians even took their turn. Arne, the composer, was absurdly sensitive, and once ludicrously complained of Garrick's "irresistible apathy to him." †
Last comes the ill-fated Mossop,-as he may be called,-whose manner Wilkinson has so happily "taken off" for us, and who in Zanga and Coriolanus, was unrivalled. His "port was majestic and commanding, his voice strong and articulate, and audible even in a whisper, and a fine, speaking, dark, hazel eye." In the expression of anger and disdain lay his forte; in the former he was thought terrific. We can hear him "blowing" and muttering under these fierce emotions. Yet it may be doubted if he was of the true line. Unluckily for him, there was one day discovered one of his old " parts," carefully prepared with notes
How good-natured and amiable her advice to young Miss Pope, who had been well received on her first appearance. She called her aside in the greenroom. "My dear Pope,”—("a sweet appellative, indeed, from Clive," remarks Wilkinson)" you pleased particularly well on Saturday, as a young actress. . . . Now, take from me a piece of advice: to-night you must endeavour to act better, and expect to receive less applause; for if you let your young heart be too sanguine, and rest on the caprice of public condemnation or praise, and find yourself disappointed, you will foolishly let it damp your spirits, and you will sink beneath yourself." All the players of this era seem thus marked in character.
He once sent in an opera to Garrick, and at the same time sold him a horse. Garrick's intended answer was so good, we may regret he did not send it. "I have read your play and rode your horse, and do not approve of either. They both want the particular spirit which alone can be a pleasure to the reader, and the rider. When the one wants wit, and the other the spur, they jog on very heavily. I must keep the horse, but I have returned you the play. I pretend to some knowledge of the last; but as I am no jockey, they cannot say the knowing one has been taken in."