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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 10 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 censures 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: “ Superior 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 bimself 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 biandishments of the profession."
Many other instances might be adduced, both in former and in the present times, of performers of excellent character. Cicero tells us, that Roscius not only knew how to 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, after, wards, 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 Observations on the Effect, &c. 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 the 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 man. kind; 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 Farmer is rising in the scale of society. As farming becomes a science, farmers will be considered amon the intelligent and enlightened : “ The King himself is served by the field,"
(Eccles. v. 9.) and our King and nobles do not disdain to be Farmers.
When Corneille brought out his Play of Polyeucte, Mr. Dibdin (in his History, vol. i. p. 284) informs us, that, “ in the fourth act, there is a scene, where Severus, struck with the unity of God, discovers to Fabian his doubts concerning the Pagan religion, which admits of many deities at once. Bellerose, who performed Severus, in conveying these sentiments, adopted a tone of such moderation and good sense, that the public, who had before seen nothing but extravagance and bombast, were greatly struck with this new manner, so much more like nature; and, as the subject was very awful on which Bellerose exerted himself, it was not only prodigiously admired, but begat a respect and consideration for actors, which had not been before attached to their characters.".
“Polycucte began to open the eyes of the public, to the respec tability of dramatic entertainments considered in a moral light. This circumstance, joined to another altogether as extraordinary, no less than that the actors, from the moment they were considered as more respectable, actually became so, procured on the sixteenth of April, 1641, the following favourable Arret ;
“ In case the said Comedians regulate the action of their performances so as to be entirely exempt from impurity, we will that their exhibitions-as by this means they will innocently amuse the public-be considered as void of blame and reproach, and also that their occupation shall not be pleaded as an impediment to the exercise of
any business or connection in public commerce." This was no more than had been done before in Rome, for the Actors in the Fabulæ Attellanæ, (as we are informed by Valerius Maximus aud Lity,) who were not expelled their tribe, nor refused to serve in the field, “ because this diversion was clean and inoffensive, and made agreeable to the sobriety of the Roman discipline." See Collier's Answer to the Ancient and Modern Stages Surveyed,
What the author of Zeal without Innovation has said respecting another set of men, may, with equal propriety, be said of those in question : “ These virtues are not brought up at the close of their faults, for the purpose of extenuating those faults. The latter were detailed, that a deep impression of their evil nature and injurious tendency might be made. The purpose intended to be answered by producing the virtues, was merely to put the reader in possession of the whole cause, leaving it with him to consider, whether even the enumerated faults found among men, in whom these virtues were exhibited, be of such a nature as to exclude all hope of amelioration in such persons, were pains to be taken with them for that purpose.”
“ This, indeed, would be a perfectly new experiment. From their first appearance to the present day, they have been abandoned, as a set of men so incorrigibly bad, as not to be worth the pains of any attempt to render them of service to their country. It is to their being thus left to themselves, probably, that much of what is faulty among them must be ascribed. If they can learn to amend one another, they may.
From other quarters, though vexatious proceeding against them be foreborne, comes no fatherly counsel, no friendly expostulations, nor any thing else, that indicates an earnest intention to cherish what is right in them, and to correct what is wrong.” p. 164,
I. i. p. 91. line 2. In A World without Souls, Chap. xii. there is a passage respecting theatres, and the characters exhibited there, which is much in point. The Theatre is represented as an Hospital (entitled sometimes The School of Virtue) which is employed to ward off the infection of the madness of O. or religion : "I ought to tell you," said M. “ that, relying on that influence of names which I have mentioned, they (the Governors) call their different movements and operations in the eyes of the patients, holding the mirror up to nature.' And, indeed, this is in some degree true. But then they take care to select some of nature's worst specimens for this exhibition. They rake society to the very dregs, to produce objects for the entertainment of eyes perhaps hitherto unsullied by scenes of vulgarity and vice ;--they shew nature naked, in short, to many who would otherwise have seen her only clad in the decent dresses of civilized life. I need not tell you, that a familiarity with vicious scenes and characters is seldom profitable, Man does not want to be taught how bad he may bę. He who generally finds himself above par, will think himself privileged to grow worse ;--and he who continually looks into the mirror reflecting nothing but bad faces, will think himself handsome while he has a single feature better than the rest."
As instances of bad characters and vices, &c. introduced with their antidotes, I will mention Macbeth and his Lady. The “ compunctious visitings" of Macbeth, during the time he is meditating the murder, his reflections afterwards, and the remorse of his guilty conscience, are fine and instructive. So are the following reflections of Lady Macbeth, even at the first entrance upon their wickedlyacquired state:
Nought's had, all's spent,
Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy. A. III. S. 2. And the scene where she is represented walking in her sleep, and disclosing the secrets of her guilty soul, is another valuable lesson. So likewise are the reflections of Macbeth, A. V. S. 3.
I have liv'd long enough: my way of life
The disgracing of Sir John Falstaff, at the end of the second Part of Henry the Fourth, is good. It is only to be wished that less of his profligacy had been expressed, and exhibited, in the course of the two plays. When Falstaf presents himself to his old companion, the Prince, then just crowned Henry the Fifth, the King says to him,
I know thee not, old man: Fall to thy prayers ;
For thee thrice wider than for other men :-&c. A. V. S. 5. * The moral to be drawn from this representation (says Johnson) is, that no man is more dangerous than he that, with a will to corrupt, hath the power to please; and that neither wit nor honesty ought to.