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wholly to it, and be expert in the performance. 4. The representation must be so frequent, as that the profits may defray the expence of the apparatus, and maintain those who follow this business. They must also be maintained in that measure of luxury, or elegance, if you please, which their way of life, and the thoughts to which they are accustomed, must make them desire and require. It is a thing impracticable to maintain a player at the same expence as you maintain a peasant.” A Serious Inquiry, p. 49.
The Second of these heads I conceive to be answered before, (p. 38, &c. of Discourse II. and Note V. to the end of the Notes on that Discourse, particularly the latter part of Note X. p. 186, 7.) and the Third and Fourth, will be considered in Note L. I will therefore enter here upon the consideration of the First.
It appears from the Theatrical Registers in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1807, and 1808, that
The Drury-Lane Company played 201 nights.
Drury-Lane Company played 57 different Plays, and 47 After-pieces, Covent Garden
At the Hay-market ..... 25
36 of these 15 were the same at
the other Theatres -20
Total different Plays at the three Theatres 120 ... 101 Afterpieces.
*** This account, if not correct in every tittle, is at least sufficiently so for the reasoning which I wish to found upon it; and I think it must exhibit a very fair average, at least, of the number of different pieces performed; and may, perhaps, be rather above the usual standard, as there does not appear to have been any particular rivalry between the theatres, as there sometimes is, in running the same play against each other. Now, I do not think that it would be very difficult to select from the great mass of our Plays, 120 or 150, and Afterpieces in proportion, which might be rendered harmless, if not instructive; and the number of new pieces brought out in the course of a year at all the theatres, are so very few, that the talents, and morality, and piety of the nation, are at a very low ebb, if the usual number could not be produced yearly, upon improved and unexceptionable prin-' ciples, speaking as men, and making allowance for the imperfection of every human performance; and, as far as I am a judge of the talents and principles of some of our present writers, they appear to
if they set about the work with an honest intention of doing what is right, to be fully equal to the undertaking, their pieces being subject to the revision aud suggestions of the Licencer. When new plays are wanted to answer particular purposes, or to shew off new performers, no difficulty is found in obtaining them. Let it not be said, that the demands of virtue are the only ones which our authors cannot answer. Were the example to begin in London, it would, of course, be followed throughout the kingdom; but, should the reformation not be attempted there, still it is in the power of CountryManagers to correct the pieces which they act; and, as such companies must have a smaller number of different pieces, they have of course a greater choice, and will lrave even less excuse, if they perform bad ones.
I. p. 87. MR. STYLES says, a man, under certain circumstances of reproach, “has only to turn Player, to complete the degradation of his character.” Preface, p. x. In another place, he says,
“ It is impossible to entertain respect for a player." p. 57. He talks too, of sí a profession, which has made him infamous.” p. 71.
Speaking of GABRICK, he says, " What advantages have society derived from the exercise of his talents What would the world have been injured if he had never lived, and what was the loss it sustained when he died?” p. 66. “ A moral lesson never fell from his lips.” p. 67. “ In closing the last volume of Garrick's Memoirs, we sigh and say, this man lived in vain!" p.
Who can say,
: My sentiments on the lawfulness of the profession of a Player, have been given, p. 17, and 86, and I shall, therefore, only say a. few words, in this place, respecting the character of Garrick, upon which I have touched before, Note B. p. 209. when I introduced Mr. Se's own concession, that Garrick " attempted to discipline the taste of an English audience;" and therefore, it cannot justly, I think, be said of him, that he " lived in vain;" especially as he really did much ; and though he might, I think, have done more, and is blameable for not having done it, yet the reproach of not having done all the good in his power cannot be said to be peculiar to him, or to his profession.
“ I have done all the good in my power, according to the opportunities which God hath put into my hands;" Let us be thankful for what he did : we may lament that he did not do more: let those who survive, endeavour to make his deficiencies.
Mrs. More, who was personally acquainted with Garrick, and the Stage during his time, and who will not be suspected of partiality to it, says, " Mr. Garrick did a great deal towards its purification.” Preface, p. 9. Mr. Cumberland says of Garrick, “ The obligations which the public are under to him, for the decency and propriety of our present dramatic performances, will ever entitle him to the grateful respect of the world, independent of his extraordinary merit, either as an actor, or as an author.” Rise and Progress, p. xlii. In the Review of The Family Shakspeare, in The Christian Observer, vol. vii. p. 331. the writer says, that “Garrick did not scruple to correct the dramas of Shakspeare, by the canons of his own taste. He went so far as to expunge whole scenes ; that, for example, of the grave-diggers in Hamlet."
That it is possible to entertain respect for a Player, when the Player does not disgrace the man, I will shew by a few passages from the “ last volume of Garrick's Memoirs,” by Davis, who informs us, that he was admitted to an equality of conversation and friendship with the Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of Chatham, and George Lord Lyttelton." p. 381. 4th Edition, Archbishops have frequently thought themselves happy in being entertained at the Adelphi, or Hampton, by Mr. and Mrs. Garrick.”
“ Mr. Garrick's manner of living with our nobility was with dignity and ease; unassuming in his manner, he was always courted to use that freedom and familiarity which his moderation and good sense declined.” p. 384. “What were the qualities of Garrick's
« Both our
mind, and what were his personal accomplishments, which attracted the love and respect of the greatest and worthiest part of mankind, it will be natural to inquire; a sound understanding; propriety of behaviour ; attention to please, without meanness or officiousness; a power to delight without transgressing the laws of decency; a constant uniform and regular conduct through life; a firmness of temper, not dazzled with the splendour of high rank, though ever attentive to what was due to superiority ; besides all these, a distinguishing credit, due to a man possessed of a large fortune, acquired by his .. ability and industry, and preserved by rational economy." p. 389. " From his many and great connexions with persons of quality and rank, no man, except a prime minister, had such ability to do essential services to a great number of people as himself, and I will with boldness aver, that no man exerted that influence to the well-being of others, more pertinaciously than Mr. Garrick. Towards the prosecuting of this benevolent business, the activity of his mind, and the generosity of his temper, equally contributed. Amidst the various toils of a painful occupation, he always found leisure to promote the happiness of others; in this he seemed to take uncommon delight; he was never weary of the divine office of doing good.” p. 394.
Bishop Horne, in his Lines on Garrick's Funeral Procession, though he gensures the "parade of woe," yet acknowledges that he
“ much to be admired by man."
In Sir W. Forbes's Life of Dr. Beattie, vol. ii. 8vo. Letter cxxvii. Dr. B. thus expresses his sentiments of Garrick's character : Super rior to envy, invulnerable by detraction; and yet nobody who knew him, will say, that his good fortune was greater than his merit.” Mrs. Montagu's opinion of him is expressed in the following Letter, and Sir William Forbes's in Note C. C. in the Appendix.
Mr. Styles himself acknowledges, “ that there have been a few exceptions" to the bad characters of players, " that Mrs. Siddons, and two or three others, have retained a virtuous character, notwithstanding all the temptations and blandishments of the profession." p. 70. Many other instances might be adduced, both in former and in the present times, wf performers of excellent character. Cicero tells us, that Roscius not only knew how tò disseminate virtue among his auditors better than any other man, but was more correct in his practice in private life. Oration for Roscius. Also Dibdin's Hist. vol. i. p. 6. I might mention Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College, and many others; but will merely refer to Davis's
Dramatic Miscellanies, vol. i. ch. 26. to the character of Wilks, in Dibdin's History, vol. iv. p. 239. Mrs. Bracegirdle, p. 243. and Estcourt, p. 423. and to that of Havard, in Davis's Life of Garrick, vol. ii. p. 220.
It is a fact, I think, in favour of the Stage, and therefore worthy of remark, that some of its most respectable members have been those who have been regularly brought up to it, having been born of parents, who were themselves players, or who have made it a profession from deliberate choice; and many females, who have lived with unblemished characters, while single, have forfeited it, afterwards, on account of the misconduct of their husbands, those who should have been their guardians and instructors.
There is this to be said, likewise, in behalf of players, that, being public characters, their lives are well known, and much talked of; and, though this circumstance may operate in many instances to their disadvantage, it is a pity that it does not incite them to be more cautious, that “ with well-doing they may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter ii. 15.) See Dibdin's History, vol. i. p. 7. The Author of Obserdations on the Effect, 8c. says,
“ Those performers, whose characters as well as talents give them a claim to the notice of the public, should be protected and liberally rewarded ; but let not theatrical abilities be admitted as an apology for vice. The Theatre at Bath, has, for many years past, afforded striking proofs of the good effects which may be expected from the marked distinction between good and bad characters; and to that theatre the London Stage owes many of its brighest ornaments, whose conduct in life is highly respectable." p. 30.
That the respectability of a Profession depends much upon the characters of the individuals, who form it, may be seen from thie estimation in which Physicians, and Lawyers are now held. Medicine was formerly the occupation of slaves ; and Lawyers have, formerly, been stigmatized almost as much as Players are at this time. Now Physicians and Lawyers stand high in the estimation of mankind; and I think it is the fault of its members, that the Stage is not considered in a rank nearly as reputable. Thus, likewise, the character of a Parmer is rising in the scale of society. As farming becomes a science, farmers will be considered among the intelligent and enlightened : “ The King himself is served by the field,”