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INFLUENCE OF MY FATHER.
To the same merits, which influenced the city to bestow this distinguished honor on my father, I must ascribe that which I received from the University of Dublin, by the honorary grant of the degree of Doctor of Laws. Upon this I have only to observe that to be within the sphere of my father's good name, was to me at once a security against danger and a recommendation to favor and reward.
The West Indian-Garrick–Vindication of Dr. Bentley-Pride-Duke of Alva
The Rev. Mr. Reynolds-Neis Nill Society-Garrick-Reynolds-Johnson Jenyns-Anecdote of Garrick-Foote-Anecdote of Thomas Mills—The Fashionable Lover-Anonymous defamation-Oliver Goldsmith-Dr. JohnsonGoldsmith's comedies-Retaliation, Goldsmith's poems—Bishop Cumberland, transferred to Kilmore-Death of—The choleric man-Mrs. Abington-Henderson-Death of the Earl of Halifax-Lord George Germain-Cumberland's promotion.
WHEN I returned to England I entered into an engagement with Mr. Garrick to bring out 'The West Indian' at his theatre. I had received fair and honorable treatment from Mr. Ilarris, and had not the slightest cause of complaint against him, his brother patentees or his actors. I had, however, no engagement with him, nor had he signified to me his wish or expectation of any such in future. If, notwithstanding, the obligation was honorably such, as I was not free to depart from, in which light I am pretty sure he regarded it, my conduct was no otherwise defensible than as it was not intentionally unfair. My acquaintance with Mr. Garrick had become intimacy between the acting of the 'Brothers' and the acceptance of the West Indian.' I resorted to him again and again with the manuscript of my comedy; I availed myself of his advice, of his remarks, and I was neither conscious of doing what was wrong in me to do, nor did any remonstrance ever reach me to apprise me of my
I was not indeed quite a novice to the theatre, but I was clearly innocent of knowing or believing inyself bound by any rules or usage, that prevented me from offering my production to the one or the other at my own free option. I went to Mr. Garrick; I found in him what my inexperience stood in need of, an admirable judge of stage effect; at his suggestion I added the preparatory scene in the house of Stockwell, before the arrival of Belcour, where his baggage is brought in, and the domestics of the merchant are setting things in readiness for his coming. This insertion I made by his advice, and I punctually remember the very instant when he said to me in his chariot on our way to Hampton—'I want something more to be announced
of your West Indian before you bring him on the stage to give eclat to his entrance, and rouse the curiosity of the audience; that they may say-Ay, here he comes, with all his colors fly. ing. When I asked how this was to be done, and who was to do it, he considered awhile and then replied—Why, that is your look out, my friend, not mine; but if neither your merchant nor his clerk can do it, why, why send in the servants, and let them talk about him. Never let me see a hero step upon the stage without his trumpeters of some sort or other.' Upon this conversation it was that I engrafted the scene above mentioned, and this was in truth the only alteration of any con. sequence that the manuscript underwent in its passage to the stage.
After we came to Hampton, where that inimitable man was to be seen in his highest state of animation, we began to debate upon the cast of the play. Barry was extremely desirous to play the part of the Irish Major, and Garrick was very doubtful how to decide, for Moody was then an actor little known and at a low salary. I took no part in the question, for I was entitled to no opinion, but I remember Garrick, after long deliberation, gave his decree for Moody with considerable repugnance, qualifying his preference of the latter with reasons that in no respect reflected on the merits of Mr. Barry-but he did not quite see him in the whole part of O'Flaherty; there were certain points of humor, where he thought it likely he might fail, and in that case his failure, like his name, would be more conspicuous than Moody's. In short, Moody would take pains; it might make him, it might mar the other; so Moody had it, and succeeded to our utmost wishes. Mr. King, ever justly a favorite of the public, took the part of Belcour, and Mrs. Abington, with some few salvos on the score of condescension, played Charlotte Rusport, and though she would not allow it to be anything but a sketch, yet she made a character of it by her inimitable acting.
The production of a new play was in those days an event of much greater attraction than from its frequency it is now become, so that the house was taken to the back rows of the front boxes for several nights in succession before that of its representation; yet in this interval I offered to give its produce to Garrick for a picture that hung over his chimney piece in Southampton Street, and was only a copy from a Holy Family of Andrea del Sarto; he would have closed with me upon the bargain, but that the picture had been a present to him from Lord Baltimore. My expectations did not run very high when I made this offer,
A rumor had gone about that the character which gave its
title to the comedy, was satirical; of course the gentlemen who came under that description, went down to the theatre in great strength, very naturally disposed to chastise the author for his malignity, and their phalanx was not a little formidable. Mrs. Cumberland and I sat with Mr. and Mrs. Garrick in their private box. When the prologue-speaker had gone the length of the first four lines, the tumult was excessive, and the interruption held so long, that it seemed doubtful if the prologue would be suffered to proceed. Garrick was much agitated; he observed to me that the appearance of the house, particularly in , the pit, was more hostile than he had ever seen it. It so happened that I did not at that moment feel the danger, which he seemned to apprehend, and remarked to him that the very first word, which discovered Belcour's character to be friendly, would turn the clamor for us, and so far I regarded the impetuosity of the audience as a symptom in our favor. Whilst this was passing between us, order was loudly issued for the prologue to begin again, and in the delivery of a few lines more than they had already heard they seemed reconciled to wait the development of a character from which they were told to expect
"Some emanations of a noble mind.' Their acquiescence, however, was not set off with much applause; it was a suspicious truce, a sullen kind of civility, that did not promise more favor than we could earn ; but when the prologue came to touch upon the Major, and told his country. men in the galleries, that
• His heart can never trip,' they, honest souls, who had hitherto been treated with little else but stage kicks and cuffs for their entertainment, sent up such a hearty crack, as plainly told us we had not indeed little cherubs, but lusty champions, who sat up aloft.
Of the subsequent success of this lucky comedy there is no occasion for me to speak; eight and twenty successive nights it went without the buttress of an afterpiece, which was not then the practice of attaching to a new play. Such was the good fortune of an author, who happened to strike upon a popular and taking plan, for certainly the moral of the West Indian is not quite unexceptionable, neither is the dialogue above the level of others of the same author, which have been much less favored. The snarlers snapped at it, but they never
| This is a mistake, which Cumberland has corrected in the supplement. (Vide post.)
PROFITS OF MY WORKS.
set their teeth into the right place; I don't think I am very vain when I say that I could have taught them better. Garrick was extremely kind, and threw his shield before me more than once, as the St. James's evening paper could have witnessed. My property in the piece was reserved for me with the greatest exactness; the charge of the house upon the author's nights was then only sixty pounds, and when Mr. Evans the Treasurer came to my house in Queen Ann Street in a hackney coach with a huge bag of money, he spread it all in gold upon my table, and seemed to contemplate it with a kind of ecstasy, that was extremely droll; and when I tendered him his customary fee, he peremptorily refused it, saying he had never paid an author so much before, I had fairly earned it, and he would not lessen it a single shilling, not even his coach-hire, and in that humor he departed. He had no sooner left the room than one entered it, who was not quite so scrupulous, but quite as welcome; my beloved wife took twenty guineas from the heap, and instantly bestowed them on the faithful servant who had attended on our children; a tribute justly due her unwearied diligence and exemplary conduct.
I sold the copyright to Griffin in Catharine Street for 1501., and if he told the truth when he boasted of having vended 12,000 copies, he did not make a bad bargain; and if he made a good one, which it is pretty clear he did, it is not quite so clear that he deserved it: he was a sorry fellow.
I paid respectful attention to all the floating criticisms that came within my reach, but I found no opportunities of profiting by their remarks, and very little cause to complain of their personalities; in short, I had more praise than I merited, and less cavilling than I expected. One morning when I called upon Mr. Garrick, I found him with the St. James's evening paper in his hand, which he began to read with a voice and action of surprise, most admirably counterfeited, as if he had discovered a mine under my feet, and a train to blow me up to destruction. 'Here, here,' he cried, 'if your skin is less thick than a rhinoceros's hide, egad, here is that will cut you to the bone. This is a terrible fellow; I wonder who it can be. He began to sing out his libel in a high declamatory tone, with a most comic countenance, and pausing at the end of the first sentence, which seemed to favor his contrivance for a little ingenious tormenting, when he found he had hooked me, he laid down the paper, and began to comment upon the cruelty of newspapers,
No man was more sensitive to criticism than Cumberland. Garrick once described him as . The man without a skin.'