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who are not often understood by those who profess to mimic them, and who are too apt to set them forth as objects for ridicule only, when oftentimes even their oddities, if candidly examined, would entitle them to our respect.
“I will here mention a very extraordinary honour, which the city of Dublin was pleased to confer upon my father in presenting him with his freedom in a gold bor; a form of such high respect as they had never before observed towards any person below the rank of their chief governor; I state this last-mentioned circumstance from authorities that ought not to be mistaken; if the fact is otherwise, I have been misinformed, and the honour conferred upon the bishop of Clonfert was not without a precedent. The motives assigned in the deed, which accompanied the box, are in general for the great respectability of his character, and in particular for his disinterested protection of the Irish clergy. Under this head it was supposed they alluded to the benefice, which he had bestowed upon a most deserving clergyman, his own particular friend and chaplain, the Reverend Dixie Blondel, who happened also to be at that tiine chaplain to the Lord Mayor of Dublin. I have the box at this time in my possession.”
Cumberland returns to England, and offers his
WEST INDIAN to Garrick. It is accepted and performed.—History of its success.-Criticisms upon it by Lord Lyttleton and Lord Clare.-Observations upon its fable, characters, and language.-Belcour.-Major O'Flaherty not skilfully drawn.--Inferior to the delineations of Irish character by Colman and Miss Edgeworth.Ungrammatical construction of the language.-Mrs. Inchbald's mode of criticism.
When Cumberland returned to England, his first step was to offer the West Indian to Garrick, with some confidence as to its fate, remembering the incident of the " immortal actor.” Immortal as he was in his talents, he was mortal in his passions : no man deserved praise more than he did; no man received it in larger portions : and no man sought it with more voracity. His vanity had a stomach that could swallow whatever was offered : with a mind formed to delight in the judicious commendation of the discerning few, it was no less capable of battening on the gross and undistinguishing panegyric of the multitude: nay, such was his eagerness to be applauded, that he did not always observe whether the applause was the genuine offspring of admiration, or the lure of self-interest
by which he was to be entrapped for some service: as in the well known instance of Mallet, who amused him with the phantom of a conspicuồus mention in the life of Marlborough, and thus opened an avenue for his Alfred to appear on
It may be supposed, therefore, that the dextrous eulogy bestowed upon him by Cumberland had some share in disposing his mind to a favourable reception of whatever he might afterwards tender.
But he did not confine himself merely to a favourable reception of the West Indian. He did more; ånd he did what shewed that he at least wished its success, while it proved, also, the docility with which the author adopted whatever was proposed to him as a means likely to ensure that success. Many alterations were suggested and improvements proposed in the course of frequent interviews between him and Cumberland; his hints were scru. pulously followed, and it may be inferred, therefore, that the West Indian owes some of that excellence which it now displays, to the friendship of Garrick.
In the interval between its acceptance and representation, Cumberland's opinion of its merits seems to have been so very slender, (for I presume he anticipated success as the necessary consequence of merit), that he offered to give its eventual produce to Garrick, for a picture in his possession, a copy from a Holy Family of Andreo del Sarto: and the bargain would have been concluded had not Garrick happened to set a particular value upon the picture as the gift of Lord Baltimore.
On the first night of its performance, the audience assembled with intentions hostile to its prosperity. It had been rumoured, from the title of the piece, that it contained some satirical strokes against the West Indians, and numbers of those who conceived that they were to be ridiculed under this appellation, repaired to the theatre with a resolution to rescue themselves from the anticipated indignity.
When the first lines of the prologue were spoken, the tumult began to shew itself. All was uproar and confusion; Garrick, who was sitting in his own box with the author, remarked, that he had never seen such decided indications of a turbulent disposition in an audience, and drew the most unfavourable conclusions as to the success of the play. Cumberland was not impressed with the same terrors; he trusted to the actual scope and intention of his drama, and believed that when they saw his views were honourable they would give him honourable reception. His conjecture was the right one.
Silence was enforced, and the actor ordered to re-commence the prologue; it was now suffered to proceed till it came to the line where they were told to expect from the chief character of the play,
“ Some emanations of a noble mind."
This, if it did not quiet their fears, gave them reasonable motives for awaiting the developement of the piece, and they remained without offering any further interruption ; ready for peace or war, according as they were soothed or provoked.
The success of this play I need not tell. Every murmur of disapprobation was silenced before the curtain dropped, and the author retired from the field flushed with the honours of victory. It encountered some opposition from the critics indeed, and Garrick stood forth in its defence: but their cavils had not power to turn aside the current of popularity; the public opinion was fixed, and the town crowded for eight and twenty successive nights, to behold its representation.
The rumours of fame, however, were not all that gladdened the imagination of Cumberland. Mr. Evans, the treasurer of the theatre, arrived at his house in a coach, with “ a huge bag of money,” and spread before his wondering eyes the shining heap, which, uniting its own substantial qualities to the airy and immaterial ones of renown, compounded together such a real and visible reward as every author desires, but does not always get.
In addition to this, he sold the copy-right for 1501. to Griffin in Catherine-street, who had no