REASONS WHY DAVID GARRICK, Esq SHOULD Not appear on the Stage, &c.

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REASONS WHY DAVID GARRICK, Esq SHOULD Not appear on the Stage, IN A LETTER TO JOHN RICH, Esq

LONDON: Printed for J. COOKE, at Shakespear's Head, behind the Chapter-House, St. Pauls Church-Yard, MDCCLIX.

A LETTER, &c.

SIR,

THERE are many undeni­able and irrefragable argu­ments to support my nega­tive; but, as Vellum says, Out of se­veral, I shall only mention a few.

[Page 10] I need not, in this case, beg a question, which will readily be granted, and therefore I shall take it for granted, that all persons, who go to the thea­tre, go there for Entertainment, in order to hear and see every thing and every body. If I read Mr. Palmer's name in the bill of the way of the world for Mirabel, I go with a con­viction that I shall see and hear him with entire satisfaction, and so of Mr. King, in the part of Atall, in the Dou­ble Gallant; now in neither of these plays, nor in many others does Mr. Garrick intrude upon my entertain­ment, nor obstruct my satisfaction, because he does not play in them: But when I go to see the Suspicious Husband, there I see Mr. Garrick in the part of Ranger; and sure no man will deny, but that he plays that part, [Page 11] better than any other man in the world; But will any person be so hardy as to tell me, I shall part with my money, to see honest Ranger only; I want to see Frankly and Bellamy and ratling Jack Meggot; I would willingly see Mr. Strictland; the character, who gives title to the Comedy, yet am I herein debarred, by Mr. Garrick's instrusion, for when he appears on the stage, I am so blinded, either by prejudice or admiration, that I can see no body else; I can hear no body else; I can bear no body else; for instance, the other day, I wanted to hear Jacky Meggot invite Ranger and his friend in the Italian taste, to his house, but I never heard a syllable of it.

When Ranger is with his two friends, Bellamy and Frankly, I hear him indeed [Page 12] speak of them, and I am as much sur­pized to find him speaking to them, but I can never set my eyes on them, while he is by: Before he came in, I could see and hear them, as dis­tinctly, and as clearly, as visibly and audibly as ever I saw or heard any thing in all my life, but when he comes in, whether it is, that he clouds my eyes, or fills my sight, I cannot for my soul de­termine, but I see no more of Bellamy and Frankly. If they are there, I do not hear them, and though I use my glass I cannot see them, till he goes out again.

I hear him say (plain enough) Now it is, dear boy, and honest Ranger, and just now you would have cut my throat; but I never heard that they said any such words, but from his report, [Page 13] I suspected my own hearing, nor I would not believe my own eyes, till I asked a gentleman who sat by me, whether Frankly or Bellamy were on the Stage, and he said that he could not see any such persons.—Then, said I, who the devil is he speaking to?—By my soul, replied the gen­tleman, I can't tell, for I see neither of them, nor do I believe either of them to be on the stage: if they are, it is more than I can say, and I am as uneasy as you can be to see one man play the whole comedy by himself; it is really too hard upon him, and I can't find the reason why he keeps so many people in sallary to so little pur­pose, and almost for doing nothing.

[Page 14] I came here the other night, when Mr. Garrick did not play, and I saw every body, and heard every thing to my entire satisfaction; but when this confounded Garrick comes on the stage, he confounds my eyes and ears in such a manner, that I am de­prived of both organs, which are en­tirely engrossed by his appearance and voice.

When my side's-man had done speak­ing, I asked a lady, who sat by me, Who Mr. Garrick was speaking to? She said, She could not tell.—When he says, any letters, or message? does he speak to the scene? for by the lord, I see no servant! She said, She thought her eyes pretty good, and that she was as blind as myself in that respect—and indeed she had the highest pair of [Page 15] eyes that ever my eyes beheld; yet clear as her vision was, she could see no ser­vant, nor any thing else, but this in­dividual, Garrick—He is not of so gigantic a stature, nor do I think he ever will exceed six feet in height; he is not so fat as Sir John Falstaff, and how the devil, does this manager ma­nage to cover every body and every thing from our sight.—He must deal in magic, thus to interpose between the spectators and every body else, in such a black art manner, as render them invi­sible.

He is the reverse of a dark-lanthorn which hides the bearer, and throws light upon every body else; he is like the focus of a glass, which attracts all the rays of light; he is like a sun-dial, which interprets time by light and shade—him­self [Page 16] all light, every body else all shade.

Now a representation may be called a picture, but no good picture was ever all light, and all shade, but both should be happily compounded and mixed to make a picture agreeable and striking.

I, like a fool, the other night, went to see the Alchymist: I saw Burton and Palmer plain enough, till Abel Drugger came on, fiddling with his shop-keeper's apron. He no sooner came on than away went Subtle, and captain Face: says I, to one near me, is not this mon­strous, that Subtle and Face should go off the stage, at the time when Nab wants them He answered, that he thought it unaccountable, and that he was served so once before the last season; and that if he had recollected himself in that par­ticular, [Page 17] he would not have come to see Abel Drugger alone.

You know the plot, says he, is mixt, and has a variety of persons in the drama, but the devil a one person here, but Abel Drugger.—You shall see him fight a parcel of Shadows, and beat them off presently: He is excellent at Skiomachy. He did so, in a very short time, beating the air, with as much dexterity, as if there had been a dozen people on the stage: Well, said I, to the gentleman near me, I don't like this egotism, for as Young the satyrist expresses it,and I's the little hero of each tale.’

Another cogent reason, I shall offer to the public, and you, sir, why Mr. Gar­tick should not appear on the stage is [Page 18] that besides blind-folding people, by his fascination, he imposes upon our hearing, rendering us deaf to every other person, but himself.—This is an intolerable mono­pily, thus to seize upon, and captivate our two senses.

I have spoken to that of sight already, and now I shall enter upon that of hearing.

We have had occular proofs sufficient to convince all reasonable people, that is, all people that will believe their eyes, that Mr. Garrick should not appear upon the stage. Had he happened to be an actor in Paris, he would long since, have been put into the Bastile, but as he lives under so mild a government as that of Great-Britain; the best we can do, is to put him under the punishment of pro­scription, [Page 19] or in other words to banish him the stage, the scene of his delinquency, nor is it indeed reasonable in the nature of things to permit him to reign any longer in so unlimited a tyranny, a ty­ranny for which some men, would long since have been brought to the scaf­fold.

I most wonder, why his own com­pany have not entered into a formal pro­secution against him, and brought their habeas corpus, for rendering them invi­sible and inaudible: they permit their names to be printed, which is a kind of bond, or promissary note, payable to the public, that they will enact such, and such characters; now if Mr. Austin or Mr. Burton, or any of the players, engages thus in print to perform this or that part, and does not appear, when [Page 20] Garrick comes on, have not I my writ of insolvency against him; what can they plead why I should not oblige them to appear, when Mr. Garrick comes on.—Why do they go off that instant.—There's no body in the galleries, find any fault with them; they, and every other actor or actress in Drury-lane, have their peculiar merits in their own particu­lar cast. Each has his proper walk, and shines in his own department; and the next time I see them disappear on Gar­rick's entering, I shall say with the witches in Macbeth, appear, appear. So I give them this fair warning.

When Mr. Garrick says in HamletI am too much in the Sun; he speaks an evident truth, and if I may be allowed the Expression, a palpable one. It is downright demonstration.—He is [Page 21] too much in the sun; what he says needs no illustration, for he is so much in the sun, that he takes all the light to him­self, and like a ray of glory, or an infula of beams, eclipses all others.

The moon herself, and most of the stars, who borrow their light from the sun, have not so much reason to com­plain: If they have not light of their own, they shine in borrowed robes, but they would take it very ill of Dan Phoe­bus, that wandering knight so fair, if he should, like Garrick, get up of a frosty night, put on his damask night-gown, and then put them all out.—It would be as cruel in the sun to do so, as it is in Othello, when he puts out the light, and then puts out the light. And I think, with deference to the judgment of the public, that it is as insuffera­ble in Mr. Garrick to extinguish all [Page 22] other lights but his own: and I hope they will take proper cognizance, and jointly agree to put him out by the con­curring votes of ostracism.

I will only ask the company of Drury­lane-house, has the manager, (as Pytha­goras did of old to his disciples) enjoin them silence for any term of years. If he has done this in his wisdom, 'tis but reasonable, he should set them an exam­ple.—He should, like a good father, enforce by his precedent, what he preaches in doctrine, and not like an incendiary, set us all by the ears; and like the sentence of perjury, impose the pillory upon his audience. I must own, that I am so great a lover of music, that I could sit a whole hour to hear a good solo performed by a good hand, but by the blood of the Mirables, I do not see why Mr. Garrick should every night for [Page 23] these many seasons, play nothing but solos. This is rehearsal upon rehearsal, and repeti­tion upon the back of repetition. Are we never to have a concert, because truly Mr. Garrick loves nothing but solos. I think Mr. Holland and Mr. Howard, and Mr. Bransby, and indeed every Mr. and Mrs. in the house have a just title to per­form their particular parts in the theatri­cal concert.

They are paid for doing so; we the public pay them, and we insist on their playing for the future, or we will pay them, and repay them.—Had we found fault with their perform­ance at any one time, had we con­demned their theatrical merit, whether natural or acquired, if we had refused to give them, what is their undoubted right, our just applause, they might offer [Page 24] some plea, for not discharging their duty, but as matters stand, we think this time as seasonable as well as unseasonable; silence is insensible, and we hope to see a reformation in due time, which yet we think cannot well be made, except Mr. Garrick begins it by a solemn de­parture from the stage, since we may ap­ply Horace's saying to him,

Lusisti Satis—
Tempus abire tibi.

We shall now state some matters of fact, in order to support our argu­ments.

One matter of fact is, that when he played Hamlet, no body else appeared, when he was on. Our attention was so much engrossed by Hamlet, that [Page 25] we took no notice of any other per­son; I neither saw Bernardo nor Mar­cellus, nor heard one syllable of either Rosenerans or Guilderstern, while Ham­let was on.—When Hamlet says, ‘—The play's the thing.’ With which I'll catch the conscience of the thing we expected; there would have been a play, but if there was any such thing, I did not see it or hear it; it might have been play'd for any thing I know, but certain it is, it es­caped me. Possibly, I was gazing too attentively on Hamlet sitting at the feet of Ophelia, and looking at something through her fan.—I knew that the object of his intuition was to have been the King, but the devil a king was there, or if there was it, was a king of Ham­let's [Page 26] own making; like that, when he says, A King of shreds and patches.’As in like manner, in the Alchymist, is it fitting, that Abel Dugger, should play the whole play himself, and let no one else be seen or heard, while he's on? If monopoly in trade be an injury to the public, then it must be confessed, with respect to our entertainments, a theatrical monopoly, is an unfair mono­poly, an embargo on our taste, a kind of an inquisition, a very star-chamber on our understanding; and if trade in ge­neral suffers by such monopolies, so is taste in general utterly depraved by such unjust engrossment.

[Page 27] Why should not the witches be seen or heard, when Macbeth comes in, when he says,

Ye black confederate midnight hags,
What are ye doing?

Instead of answering him, a deed, &c. as they should do, they instantly disappear, they vanish, and are no more seen; he bewitches the very witches, rendering them, and all their diabolical proceed­ings invisible.—The cauldron is no more, he extinguishes their infernal flames, and plays hell with hell itself, sending the very devil, as the sentence does the condemned criminal, to the place from whence he came.—And is this sufferable? Will any man be so hardy as to say, this is to be borne,—it is not to be borne,— [Page 28] I think the witches have as great a right to answer, as Macbeth to ask a question; at least, I think it is so in your house, sir; and what is sauce for the goose, should be sause for the gander, as the saying is; now at your house, there are no such proceedings, no such indecorum. He does not swallow up the witches, and devour them at a mouthful. He does not like the famous fire-eater, feed upon brimstone and other combustibles, which reminds me of a story I have somewhere read, applicable to Mr. Gar­rick's thus eating up the devil without a grain of salt: I say, applicable to him for one very good reason, and that is, if I do not insert it here, I shall forget to insert it any where else.

[Page 29] A certain nobleman to divert himself, carried a young Blackamoor just imported to one of the Papish chapels in the city, and when the priest was eating the wafer, the blackamoor asked his master, What that man was eating? Who an­swered, that he was eating his God.—I wish we had him in our country, says the blackamoor, for he would eat the devil purely.

This story needs no comment, and therefore we shall make none; we hope therefore from what we have advanced that these irrefragable arguments will have some weight with Mr. Garrick, and you are at liberty to shew this let­ter to him: if he is able to answer all, or any one of them, to our satisfaction, we shall subscribe a submissive acknow­ledgment [Page 30] of our fault in the daily ad­vertiser, with the hopes of forgiveness and promise that we shall never be again guilty in this particular, if not, we shall say as the King in the Mourning bride expresses it, ‘Take away his face’For we must acknowledge that it daz­zles our sight, in such a manner, that we can see nothing else. Nor indeed is any thing herein written, sir, in the least to insinuate any thing to the prejudice of your house, which we honour and re­spect as we should do, and we should want taste did we say any other. Your performers have merit enough to extort praise from the best judges or the nicest criticks, and perhaps one of the best [Page 31] low comedians in the world is in Covent-Garden.

Neither is any thing herein written intended to depreciate or run down the Actors of Drury-lane, but the reverse is the intention of this letter; for if we were hardy enough to say, that all and every of them has not theatrical merit in an eminent degree, it were to give our own judgments the lie, and the false­hood, like dust thrown in the wind, would fly in our faces—it were a shal­low artifice, because we run down this most unreasonable man, thereby to traduce or lessen that good esteem, which they have learned by their good quallities, or because they are not seen, or heard when Mr. Garrick appears, that therefore they are not fit to be seen, or that they should not be.

[Page 32] The reverse of all this is meant and intended by the whole tenour, of which however tortured to confess, will never be made to confess what it never intended; I say, it is fitting they should be seen or heard, and that in order thereto, we have given this our safe advice to David Garrick Esq manager of Drury-Lane play-house, that he will appear no more on the stage, which advice we should not have given in so peremptory a manner if he did not eclipse those who play with him. Our advice is candid, free, and disinterested, since it will be allowed, that as there cannot be two suns, neither can there be two Garricks, since he like his own Richard, has no brother, is like no brother. [Page 33]He is himself alone.’

If then no similarity appears, no cor­responding features are seen, upon a comparison, that superiority of light which, we allow him, (and which if we did not allow him, the world would do it for us) has raised him to an emi­nence above all in the theatrical walk; and, as a witty orange-woman said to a gentleman, who asked, Where was his Fellow (meaning his servant) By G [...], sir, not in Christendom; so we may say of Garrick—not in the uni­verse; and for this one material, migh­ty, and substantial reason, we exclude him from the stage, that other people may have their turn to shine; for if we did with him, as Juliet says of Romeo, [Page 34] Take him, and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world would be in love with night, and pay no wor­ship to the garnish sun.

Mr. Garrick would possibly glitter every atom and particle of him; and like a looking - glass, broke into ten thousand shatters, each brittle shatter would glitter, and sparkle still.

So that if the other actors, eminent as they are, each in his own walk, will condescend to allow this superi­ority in Mr. Garrick, we think they will join with us in expelling him the house, as an unruly member, who takes up so much box, that he elbows off every body else; one whose voice is [Page 35] so loud, that like that of Sentor the herald, it draws ten thousand voices, whose tongues so voluble, that he will not even allow the very women to in­dulge their favourite faculty of talk­ing. And sure, when one man can im­pose silence upon so many women, a task above the power of all the husbands in England, or in the world, to perform, what must we think of such a sway? such a dispotic sovereign, arbitrary rule, should not be vested in any subject; and it is more than the Grand Mo­narque, Lewis himself would dare to do in France, where his motto is, Sic volo, sic Jubeo, nay, his favourites Pompadour would not obey so unrea­sonable a command; and if he had the confidence to proclaim silence in a printed edict, or declaration of his will, [Page 36] he would in all human, all moral pro­bability, raise an army of female insur­gents, to rebel against his throne, and like Sampson, pull an old house over his ears; we are delighted with the sweetness of the female voice, as they are the most harmonious; and shall Mrs. Cibber, Mrs. Pritchard, Mrs. Clive, Miss Macklin, and the other ac­tresses, give up a privilege they have a right to enjoy, a perogative they have maintained since the days of old mother Eve, who, no doubt, enjoyed it in its full extent; nor shall we join with Mr. Garrick, or any other man, or set of man in the kingdom, to impose this unreasonable injunction on women, who have given us such uncommon plea­sure, either in the tender or the ele­vated tones of their voices.

[Page 37] It would be an act more cruel than castration to men, by which the Ita­lians equip their children for the opera, and I will speak for any of the above actresses, and promise this in their name, that they would think such dilapidation for procuring men, a voice would be less cruel, than to take the voice of women by any means; nay, I will vouch for them all, that they would rather be martyrs, and suffer themselves to be stoned to death, as the Italians are stoned for life, than to suffer the for­feiture of so rich a treasure, or to cede, by what treaty soever, upon any terms or conditions, clause or clauses, that high and mighty female right, the use of their tongues; and therefore we still continue to affirm, as we have suffici­ently proved our assertion, by many so­lid [Page 38] reasons, that this unreasonable man, David Garrick, Esq should Not ap­pear on the stage; and we hope you will shew him this letter; nay, we re­quest it of you, and his abdicating the throne of his ancestors, and resign­ing his theatrical authority (we don't mean management) will for ever oblige,

SIR,
Your most obedient Humble servant, Y. Z.

POSTCRIPT.

SOMETHING I intended to say when I first sat down to write this epistle, but it slipt my memory, occa­sioned by the zeal I entertain for exter­pating Garrick, and has again this mo­ment occured to me.

In the name of common-sense are we to have nothing new at your house, is variety never to please our ima­gination, [Page 40] shall we neither have a new play, nor a new performer, but will you persist, and again lead us through that beaten path we have all these ten years walked in?

If we have not something new form you within this mouth, I shall be ne­cessitated to give my vote, for keep­ing Garrick at Drury-lane.

Now Sir after having requested of you something new, I would recom­mend to your memory some account of Mademoiselle de Clairon, a celebrated actress at Paris, of whom you doubtless have heard; I mean by giving you this account of her, that you may instruct the novices that may offer.

[Page 41] Her first appearance is excessively en­gaging; she never comes in staring round upon the company, as if she intended to count of benefits of the house, or at least to see, as well as be seen. Her eyes are always, at first, intently fixed upon the persons of the drama, and she lifts them by degrees, with enchant­ing diffidence, upon the spectators. Her first speech, or at least the first part of it, is delivered with scarce any motion of the arm; her hands and her tongue never set out together; but the one pre­pares us for the other. She some­times begins with a mute, eloquent attitude; but never goes forward all at once with hands, eyes, head, and voice. This observation, though it may appear [Page 42] of no importance should certainly be adverted to.

By this simple beginning she gives herself a power of rising in the scene. As she proceeds, every gesture, every look acquires new violence, till at last transported, she fills the whole vehe­mence of the part, and all the idea of the poet.

Her hands are not alternately stretched out, and then drawn in again, as with the singing women at Sadler's-wells; they are employed with graceful variety, and every moment please with new and un­expected eloquence.

FINIS.

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