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brought into better temper, or he should have it in his power to provide for himself suitably to his rank in the theatre. He obtained a promise from Mr. Rich to give Mrs. Macklin a weekly salary of 31. These proposals were strenuously rejected by Macklin, who persisted in his claim of Mr. Garrick's absolutely fulfilling the tenor of their compact. Mr. Garrick, notwithstanding the perseverance of Macklin, accepted Fleetwood's proposals, and entered into covenant with him, for that season, at a very considerable income. His reception, however, in the part of Bayes (Rehearsal) was very disagreeable. When the curtain drew up, the playhouse showed more like a bear-garden than a theatre royal. The sea in a storm was not more terrible and boisterous than the noise which issued from the boxes, pit, and galleries. Garrick, as soon as he entered, bowed very low several times, and entreated to be heard. Peas were thrown upon the stage, and he was saluted with loud hisses, and continual cries of-Off! off!
This theatrical tempest lasted two nights. At last, the ardour of Macklin's party began to relax, and Garrick recovered the public favour. James Lacey, however, who succeeded Fleetwood in the management, brought about a revolution in the theatre, in 1747-8. He forgot all former disputes, and engaged Macklin and his wife at a very considerable salary.
At this time he produced his first play of Henry the Seventh; or, the Popish Impostor: afterwards, A Will or No Will; or, A New Case for the Lawyers, farce, 1746: The Suspicious Husband Criticised; or, The Plague of Envy, farce, 1747; and the Fortune Hunters; or, The Widow Bewitched, farce, 1748.
In the spring of 1748, Sheridan, the then manager of the Dublin theatre, offered him and his wife 8001. per year, for two years, which he accepted, and they soon after landed in Dublin to perform their engagements. But Macklin's disposition to jealousy and dissatisfaction still prevailed; for scarcely had he been a month in Dublin, wben he began to find out that the manager chose to perform tragedies as well as comedies at his theatre; that his name stood in larger characters in the playbills: and a variety of such like grievous matters; not considering that his and his wife's salary were fixed at all events for two years, and that
any reasonable arrangement which the manager might adopt for his own emolument, would the more enable him to perform the contract; but all prudential considerations were lost upon a man of Mack
lin's temper, he therefore gave a loose to his passions, which at last became so intolerable that, according to the language of Trinculo, “ Though Sheridan was king, Macklin would be viceroy over him;" which the former not agreeing to, determined to shut the doors of his theatre against both him and his wife. This, however, so far from bringing him to reason, provoked him the more. He several times presented himself at the stage door-ho admittance. He then sent the manager an attorney's letter-no answer. He then commenced a chancery suit; and, after waiting the whole winter unemployed, he returned to England several hundred pounds minus, and a snug law suit upon his shoulders into the bargain. On his arrival, he commenced manager at Chester for that season; and in the winter was engaged at Covent-garden theatre, where he performed Mercutio during the celebrated contest of Romeo and Juliet between the two houses.
How Macklin could have been endured in a character só totally unfitted to his powers of mind and body, is a question not easily resolved at this day, particularly as Woodward played this very character at the other house, and played it in a style of excellence never perhaps before or since equalled; yet what is still more strange, Macklin always spoke of Merculio as one of his favourite parts, and enlarged upon it in full confidence of his power. He produced at this theatre a dramatic satire, called Covent Garden Theatre; or, Pasquin turned Drawcansir, 1752; and towards the close of the year 1753, having obtained from Mr. Garrick the use of his theatre for that night, took a formal leave of the stage, in a prologue written on the occasion, in which he introduced his daughter as an actress, to the protection of the public,
What induced him to quit the stage in the full vigour of fame and constitution (as he was then, according to his own calculation, but fifty-four) was one of those schemes in which he long previously indulged himself, of suddenly making his fortune by the establishment of a tavern and a coffeehouse, in the Piazza, Coventgarden; to which he afterwards added a school of oratory, upon a plan hitherto unknown in England, founded upon the Greek, Roman, French, and Italian societies, under the title of the British Inquisition.
The first part of the plan was opened on the 11th of March, 1754, by a public ordinary, (which was to be continued every day at four o'clock, price three shillings) where every person was per
mitted to drink port or claret, or whatever liquor he should choose
-a bill of fare, we must confess very encouraging, even in those times, and which, from its cheapness and novelty, drew a considerable resort of company for some time. Dinner being announced by public advertisement to be ready at four o'clock, just as the clock had struck that hour, a large tavern bell which he had alfixed at the top of the house, gave notice of its approach. This bell continued ringing for about five minutes: the dinner was then ordered to be dished; and in ten minutes it was set upon the table: after which the outer room door was ordered to be shut, and no other guest admitted.
Macklin himself always brought in the first dish, dressed in a full suit of clothes, &c. with a napkin slung across his left arm. When he placed the dish on the table, he made a low bow, and retired a few paces back towards the sideboard, which was laid out in a very superb style, and with every possible convenience that could be thought of. Two of his principal waiters stood beside him; and one, two, or three more, as occasion required them. He had trained up all his servants several months before for this attendance; and one principal rule which he had laid down as a sine qua non was, that not one single word was to be spoken by them whilst in the room, except when asked a question by one of the guests. The ordinary therefore was carried on by signs, previously agreed upon; and Macklin, as principal waiter, had only to observe when any thing was wanted or called for, when he communicated a sign, which the waiters immediately understood, and complied with. Thus was dinner served up and attended to, on the side of the house, all in dumb show.
When the dinner was over, and the bottles and glasses all laid upon the table, Macklin, quitting his former situation, walked gravely up to the front of the table; and hoped “that all things were found agreeable;" after which he passed the bell-rope round the back of the chair of the person who happened to sit at the head of the table, and making a low bow at the door, retired.
Though all this had the show of a formality seemingly touching 100 much on the freedom of a social meeting, it appeared to have a general good effect: the company not only saw it as a thing to which they had not been accustomed, but it gave them by degrees, from the example of taciturnity, a certain mixture of temper and moderation in their discourse; and it was observed, that there were
fewer wrangles and disputes at this ordinary, during the time Macklin kept it, than could well be expected in places which admitted of so mixed an assembly of people. The company generally consisted of wits, authors, players, Templars, and lounging men of the town.
Of the other part of this plan, which he called “ The British Inquisition," it is impossible to think, without ascribing to the author a degree of vanity almost bordering on madness. By this plan, he not only incited a discussion on almost the whole circle of arts and sciences, which he was in a great measure to direct, but took upon himself solely to give lectures on the comedy of the ancients the use of their masks, flutes, mimes, pantomimes, &c. He next engaged to draw a comparison between the stages of Greece and Rome. To conclude with lectures upon each of Shakspeare's plays, commenting on the different stories from which his plots were taken, the uses which he made of them, with strictures on his fables, morals, passions, manners, &c.
In respect to his knowledge of ancient comedy, and his attempt to draw a comparison between the Greek and Roman stage, he must have obtained it, if he made any literary inquiry at all, from Dryden's Prefaces, and other detached English writers on the subject, as he was totally unacquainted with either the Greek or Latin languages, and did not understand French well enough to avail himself of their criticisms. As to the original of Shakspeare's stories, and the uses he made of them, he was in a still worse predicament, as this required a course of reading in the cotemporary writers of Shakspeare's age, too multifarious either for the grasp of his mind, or for the time which, from other avocations, he could bestow on it; so that to every body, but himself, Macklin stood in a very ridiculous point of view, under the responsibility of large promises, with very little capital to discharge them.
Of his illustration of Shakspeare's plays, we believe there are no records, as he was not quite fool enough to print them, nor has even ridicule consigned them to memory: but, as a proof of what he was capable of doing as a critic in this line, we subjoin the following proposal he made to Garrick, as a kind of grateful compensation to him, for giving him the use of his theatre for one night, and for writing a farewell epilogue for him on the same occasion.
In his conversation with the manager about the great run of
Romeo and Juliet, he told him, that as the town had not properly seltled which was the better Romeo, Barry or he, he meant ultimately to decide that question. Garrick, who was alive to fame, instantly cocked up his ear, and exclaimed, “ Ah! my dear Mac, how will you bring this about?” “ I will tell you, sir, I mean to show your different merits in the garden scene. Barry comes into it, sir, as great as a lord, swaggering about his love, and talking so loud, that by G-d, sir, if we don't suppose the servants of the Capulet family almost dead with sleep, they must have come out, and tossed the fellow in a blanket. Well, sir, after having fixed my auditor's attention to this part, then I shall ask, But does Garrick act thus? Why, sir, sensible that the family are at enmity with him and his house, he comes creeping in upon his toes, whispering his love, and looking about him just like a thief in the night.”
At this Garrick could hold out no longer-he thanked him for his good intentions, but begged he would drop his design, as, after all, he thought it a question better left to the opinion of an audience, than to the subject of a lecture. With these qualifications as a critic, much success could not be augured from the lectures. The event turned out so; as, in a little time, the few who resorted to his rooms gave up all ideas of improvement, and the whole assumed an air of burlesque, which was still heightened by the gravity of Macklin, who, trusting to the efficiency of his own powers, appeared every night full dressed; dictating to the town in all the airs of superior intelligence. Foote stood at the head of the wits and laughers on this occasion. To a man of his humour, Macklin was as the dace to the pike, a sure prey, He accordingly made him his daily food for laughter and ridicule, by constantly attending his lectures, and by his questions, remarks, and repartees, kept the audience in a continual roar. Macklm sometimes made battle-but it was Priam to Pyrrhus:-he now and then came out with a strong remark or bitter sarcasm; but in wit and humour Foote was greatly his superior. Foote likewise had the talent of keeping his temper, which added to his superiority. One night, as Macklin was preparing to begin his lecture, and hearing a buz in the room, he spied Foote in a corner, talking and laughing most immoderately. This he thought a safe time to rebuke him, as he bad not begun his lecture, and consequently could not be subject to any criticism: he therefore cried out with some authority,