Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

simplicity, as it is the native source of ele-cast; witty, humorous, and convivial; and though her remarks, occasionally, (considering her age and sex,) rather strayed “ beyond the limits of becoming mirth," she, on the whole, delighted every body, and was confessedly the heroine of that day's paty.

She was likewise in face and person the very model of her son Sammel-.-short, fat, and flabby,

with an eye that eternally gave the signal for mirth and good humour: in short, she resembled him so much in all her movements, and so strongly identi

fed his person and manners, that by changing habits, they might be thought to have interchanged sexes.'-.

gance and ease. The next object to be considered should be, the person, whose actions, habits, aud manners they are about to unfold to the eyes of severe judges; for the true friend of human kind will not let himself be dazzled by the celebrity of a name, but if his aim be, as it ought, the improvement of society, will rather dispel the gloom which hovered over the ashes of a virtuous, but till then unnoticed being, than display the dark deeds of a sublime genius, whose conduct has been a tissue of follies, errors, and vices. How well the author, whose work we are about to review, has followed the two principles we have laid, will be seen by the extracts we purpose making from his life of Samuel Foote. He begins by informing us of the qualifications he possesses to write the memoirs of this son of mirth, and from the close attention which he declares having paid to all his conversations, the care he took of noting down every anecdote which related to him, and the many opportunities he met with, during an acquaintance of nine years with him, of gathering the necessary information, there is no doubt that his account may be relied upon for truth, while the elegance of his style will always afford a wide share of satisfaction to his readers.

In order to enable the public to form a fair judgment of this production, we will select Some passages which, though not superior to others, in strength or colouring, will convey more interest along with them, as they present us with the principal features of Samuel Foote's character, and existence.

Samuel Toote was born at Truro, in Cornwall, about the year 1720 his father, John Foote, was a ery useful magistrate of that county, and enjoyed the posts of commissioner of the prize office and fine contract. His mother(descended i.• the female line from the old Earl of Rutland) was the daughter of Sir Edward Goodere, bart., who represented the county of Hereford in parliament for several years,

and brought Mr. Foote a large fortune.'-

The father died soon after the establishment of his children in the world, but the mother lived to the extreme age of eighty-four, through various fortunes. We had the pleasure of dining with her in company with a grand-daughter of her's, at a barrister's chambers in Gray's Inn, when she was at the advanced age of seventy-nine; and though she had full sixty steps to asceud before she reached the drawing-room, which looked into the gardens, she did it without the help of a cane, or any other support, and with all the activity of a woman of forty. • Her manners and conversation were of the same

Supplement-Vol. II.

Foote's first education was at one of the three principal grammar schools long since founded in the

city of Worcester, and which have always borne a considerable reputation for learning in all its branches, as well as a general attention to the morals of the pupils. The school to which he was sent was, at that time, under the care of Dr. Miles, a parti

cular friend of his father's, and a man of great eminence in the discharge of his duties.

His satirical powers soon shone conspicuous, and the encouragements he met with while exerting them, added to the pungency of his wit, which even in his youth knew how to wield with ease the powerful weapon of ridicule. The following extract will give a specimen of his talents in the art of mimicry, which he afterwards carried to such perfection.

Being at his father's house during the Christmas recess, a man in the parish had been charged with a bastard child; and this business being to be heard the next day before the bench of justices, the fa mily were conversing about it after dinner, and making various observations. Samuel, then a boy

between eleven and twelve years of age, was silent for some time; at last he drily observed, "Well, I foresee how this business will end, as well as what the justices will say upon it."..." Aye," said his father (1ather surprised at the boy's observation), "well, Sam, let us hear it." Upon this the young mimic, dressing up his face in a strong caricature likeness of justice D....., thus proceeded :

"Hem! hem! here's a fine job of work broke out indeed! a feller begetting bast rds under our very noses, (and let me tell you, good people, a common labouring rascal too,) when our taxes are so great, and our poor-rates so high; why 'uis an abomination; we shall not have an nonest servantwill swarm with bastards; therefore, I say, let him maid in the neighbourhood, and the whole parish be fined for his pranks very severely; and if the rascal has not money, (as indeed how should he have it?) or can't find security, (as indeed how should such a jeller tind security?) let him be clapp'd up in prison till he pays it'

"Justice A..... will be milder, and say, Well, well, brother, this is not a new case, bastards have been begotten before now, and bastards will be begotten to the end of the chapter; therefore, thongh the man has committed a crime--and indeed I must say a crime that holds out a very bad example to a neighbourhood like this--yet let us not rum the poor fellow for this one fault: he may do better another time, and mend his life; therefore, as the

с

man is poor, let him be obliged to provide for the child according to the best of his abilities, giving two honest neighbours as security for the pay.

tirely to acting, but by composing plays in
which he was calculated to shine, to endea
vour to redeem the wealth his imprudence
With this intention
had squandered away.
he opened the Haymarket with a piece enti-
tled, The Diversions of the Morning.

ment."

This consisted of the introduction of several

He mimicked these two justices with so much humour and discrimination of character, as " to set the table in a roar;" and, among the rest, his father, who demanded, why he was left out, as he also was one of the Quornm? Samuel for some time hesitated; but his father and the rest of the com-characters in real life, then well known, whose manner of conversation and expression he very lapany earnestly requesting it, he began : dicrously hit-off in the diction of his drama, and further represented by an imitation not only of their tones of voice, but even of their very persons.

"Why, upon my word, in respect to this here business, to be sure it is rather an awkward affair; and to be sure it ought not to be; that is to say, the justices of the peace should not suffer such things to be done with impunity :--however, on the whole I am rather of my brother A.....'s opinion; which is, that the man should pay according to his circumstances, and be admonished---I say admonished--not to commit so flagrant an offence for the

future."

'An entertainment of this sort met at first with every degree of success that his most sanguine wishes could expect. The audience saw a species of performance quite novel to the stage brought forward and supported by a young man, indepen. dent of any other auxiliary than the fertility of his own pen, and his own powers of performance; while the author, feeling himself bold in this support, beheld his future fortunes opening before him.

When at school, he was too desirous of surpassing others, to spend his time in idleness; but had not that mighty mover of the human mind, ambition, triumphed over his weaker passions, his inmate love of dissipation and pleasure would have led him away from the first thorny paths of learning. He was afterwards sent to finish his studies at Worcester college, and from thence repaired to the Temple, where instead of exploring the serious pages of the law, he plunged into the torrent of public amusements with which the metropolis overflows,

Ile soon found, however, that he reckoned without his host; for, whether from the alarm excited in the theatres royal, or the resentment of most of the performers who smarted under the lash of his mimicry, the civil magistrates of Westminster were called upon to interfere; and under the sanction of an act of parliament for limiting a number of play-houses, opposed to Bayes's new raised troops a posse of constables, who, entering the theatre in magisterial array, dismissed the audience, and left the laughing Aristophanes to consider of new ways and means for his support.'

Being disappointed in his hopes of raising himself once more to a state of independence, he felt the pangs of poverty with redoubled violence, when a relation of his mother left him a considerable fortune, which afforded him new means of resuming his post... the After barhelm of fashionable dissipation.

He continued in the Temple but a very few years; and yet even this period was sufficient to exhaust a fortune, which, by all account, was very considerable, and which, perhaps, with a genteel economy, might have given him the otium cum dignitate independent of any profession. But he was incapable of the ordinary restraints of life: he dashed into all the prevailing dissipations of theing dazzled the eyes of those who thought his time; and what the extravagance of dress, living, splendour had set for ever, he embarked for &c. had not done, the gaming table finally accomplished. He struggled with embarrassments for the continent, and paid a visit to the French some time but want, imperious want, is an austere nation. monitor, and must at last be attended to by the most thoughtless spendthrift. He accordingly soon found himself at a stand; his creditors grew obstinate and impatient; his friends, as is usual in such cases, deserted him; and he found that something must necessarily be done, to provide the means of subsistence.

It seems that he inherited his taste for expence from his mother, on whom he had settled a pension of one hundred pounds. At a time when his finances had sunk very low, she who was ignorant of his situation, and who had exceeded the sum allowed her, sent him the following laconic and expressive letter:

In this situation, it was very natural for him to think of the stage. Acting was a science which he already knew theoretically; and, conversing so much with players as he usually did, he was perhaps not a little incited by their disengaged, free manner of living, to become a candidate for the profession.'

His debut, which took place on the 6th of of February 1744, at the Haymarket, in the part of Othello, was not crowned with success, as the tragedy did not suit the faculties "SAM. FOOTE. with which nature had endowed him. He "P. S. I have sent my attorney to assist you; in therefore resolved not to confine himself en-the mean time let us hope for better days.”

"Dear Sam,

"I am in prison for debt; come and assist your loving mother, "E. FOOTE. To which he wrote this answer : "Dear Mother,

So am I; which prevents his duty being paid to his loving mother, by her affectionate søn,

His total inability to confine himself within the bounds of his income, soon led him into new difficulties, from which he was snatched by the success of his comedy entitled, The Mayor of Garratt.

The receipts produced by this comedy recruited pur hero's finances so powerfully, that as his purse was generally the barometer to his spirits, he dashed into all kinds of higher extravagance. He made alterations both in his town and country honse, enlarged his hospitalities, and laid out no less a sum than 12001. in a magnificent service of plate. When he was reminded by some friends of these extravagances, and particularly the last, he turned it off by saying," he acted from a principle of economy; for as he knew he could never keep his gold, he very prudently laid out his money in silver, which would not only last longer, but in the end sell for nearly as much as it originally cost."

This proved a fruitful source of wealth, which continually ebbed and flowed from the public into his pocket, and from his pocket into the hands of gamesters.

The receipts from The Devil on treo Sticks, ex ceeded his most sanguine expectations. There was little or no demand for any variation in the theatrical bill of fare during the whole season; so that it alone was said to have produced him between three and four thousand pounds. Twelve hundred pounds of this sum he lodged at his banker's, as a deposit for future contingencies; beside five hun dred in cash, which he intended to take over with him to Ireland, where he was engaged for the enBuing winter.

His usual damon of extravagance, however, still haunted him; for taking Bath in his way to Hollyhead, the September following, he fell in with a nest of gamblers (the usual attendants on this fashionable place of resort), who, finding him with full pockets and high spirits, availed themselves of their superior dexterity with considerable success.

Several of the frequenters of the rooms saw this, but it was too common a case for private interterence; besides, friendship is not the usual commerce of watering places. At last his friend Rigby, who happened just then to be at Bath, took an opportunity to tell him how grossly he was plundered; and further remarked, "that from his careless

manner of playing and betting, and his habit of telling stories when he should be minding his game, he must in the long run be ruined, let him play with whom he would."

The year 1760, proved fatal to the hero of these memoirs; he had been boasting of his skill in hunting at the house of Lord Mexborough, and in order to mortify his pride, this nobleman lent him a spirited and unruly horse which he was unable to manage. A fall was the consequence, and the amputation of his leg became necessary: the late Duke of York who was present, endeavoured by every means in his power to make him forget this unfortunate joke, and obtained for him a patent from the king to build a play-tempestuous as the whole course of his life house in the city of Westminster, with the had been; calumny darted its poisonous permission of exhibiting dramatic pieces there stings, and destroyed the peace he began to from the 14th of May, to the 14th of Sep-enjoy; the source of his troubles was this: tember annually. the Duchess of Kingston had been offended at the suspicion she fostered, of his having meant to represent her in the Trip to Calais, as Lady Kitty Crocodile, and insulted one of her confidants, Dr. Jackson, under the name of Dr. Viper.

Foote, who perhaps by this time had partly seen his error, but was too proud to take a lesson in the character of a dupe, very ridiculously and ungratefully resented this advice. He told his friend with an unbecoming sharpness, "that although he was no politician by profession, he could see as soon as another into any sinister designs laid against him: that he was too old to be schooled; and that as to any distinction of rank between them to warrant this liberty, he saw none; they were both the king's servants, with this difference in his favour, that he could always draw upon his talents for independence, when perhaps a courtier could not End the king's treasury always open to him for support."

⚫ On receiving this return, Rigby, as may be well imagined, made his bow, and walked off; while the dupe went on, and not only lost the five hundred pounds which he had about him, but the twelve hundred at his banker's; and thus, stripped of his last guinea, was obliged to borrow a hundred pounds to carry him to Ireland.'

In this country, success once more crowned his exertions; money and fame he plentifully gathered, and at his return to his native land, was able to indulge his taste for society, by receiving in his house at North End, the most brilliant and numerous company.

The evening of his days, however, was as

From the first report of Foote's Trip to Calais being in contemplation, obscure hints and inuen. does appeared occasionally in the newspapers, relative to his private character; which, from vari ous circumstances, as from their particularly appearing in the newspaper of which Jackson was editor, the public unanimously attributed to this man. On the representation of The Capuchin, this plan of calumny began to assume a more settled form; and a report was industriously circulated about the town, that a charge would soon be brought forward in a judicial form against the ma. nager of the Haymarket Theatre, for an attempt to commit a very odious assault.'

That charge was soon brought forward, and the trial took place in the Court of King's Bench: the decision of the jury was favourable to the accused, who was honourably acquitted; but as this part of the me moirs is particularly interesting, we will close

its original state.

"

Though he had many respectable persons much interested in his behalf, none seemed more anxious than his old friend and fellow labourer in the dra

our extracts from the first volume with it, into awaken them in his soul, Samuel Foote determined to spend some time in France, and bidding adieu to the amusements of London, which had ceased to appear tempting in his sight, he was on his way, when death stopped his career at Dover, the 21st of October 1777, in the fifty-seventh year of his

matic vineyard, the late Mr. Murphy; who, as soon as the trial was over, took a coach, and drove to Mr. Foote's house in Suffolk-street, Charing cross, to be the first messenger of the good tidings.

age. Foote had been looking out of the window, n anxious expectation of such a message. Murphy, as soon as he perceived him, waved his hat in token of victory; and jumping out of the coach, ran up stairs to pay his personal congratulations: but alas! instead of meeting his old friend in all the exulta tion of high spirits on this occasion, he saw him extended on the floor, in strong hysterics; in which

state he continued near an hour before he could be recovered to any kind of recollection of himself, or the object of his friend's visit.

After having followed our author through the whole of the interesting account he has laid before us, of this singular being, too volatile to excel in any pursuit, and too fond of pleasure to be happy, we shall throw a more rapid glance over the two last volumes of his work, which are mostly dedicated to remarks on his hero's character, his bon-mots as well as those of his friends, and a collection of amusing anecdotes. These, in our opinion, fall below the notice of the biographer, and would have formed a most excellent jest

On the return of his senses, finding himself honourably acquitted, he received the congratulations of his friends and numerous acquaintances, and seemed to be relieved from those pangs of uncertainty and suspence whtch must have weighed down the firmest spirits on so trying an occasion.book: the three dramatic pieces which they

But the stigma of the charge still lingered in his mind; and one or two illiberal allusions to it, which were made by some unfeeling people, preyed deeply on his heart. The man who for so many years had basked in the sunshine of public favour, who was to live in a round of wit and gaiety" or not to live at all," was ill calculated to be at the inercy of every coarse fool, or inhuman enemy.'

contain, are far from equalling those which Foote gave himself to the public; but apon the whole these memoirs are calculated to appease the thirst of the curious, and gratify the taste of those, who wish to find interest and amusement blended together.

In order to fly from every painful remembrance, or at least from those who delighted ¦{

E. R.

AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE BLACK EMPIRE OF HAYTI.

ARTICLE V.—An historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti; comprehending a View of the principal Transactions in the Revolution of St. Domingo, &c. &c. by Marcus Rainsford, Esq. late Captain Third West-India Regiment. 4to. with Fourteen Plates, 21. 2s. Boards. Cundee.

Ar a period when the weight of falling said, should we not confine our search for thrones has shaken the whole world, and re-information within the limits of Europe; does volutions have sported with the destinies of it not spread a wide field to our view, and natious; when surrounded with ruins, we shall we not be able to follow with less unsurvive the wreck of continental liberty, it is certainty, the progress of the revolutionary our interest, if not our duty, to inquire torrent through her desolated plains? Is it closely into the causes of such tremendous necessary that we should wander over the and astonishing events; to glance farther than waste of the sea, and descry, as though the volcano which burst suddenly open in a through a telescope, the distant rage of parneighbouring country, and watch in every ties in a small island? Why should we then quarter of the globe the rising spirit of the turn our eyes, even for a moment, from the oppressed, contemning the threats of power, scenes around us? they are calculated to proand hurling back on its tyrants the calamities duce the deepest impression upon our minds. their hand had inflicted. But why, it will be The actors in the bloody tragedies performed

on the continent, are civilized men; theydered us from being impartial, and therefore derived the same advantages from education fit judges of the events that took place. But as we do; they were even, a short time ago, the case is widely different when we look at pointed at as models of elegance and polite- the revolutions that tear the bosom of St. ness; the arts shed their blossoms on their Domingo; no motives but those of humanity native soil, and the luxuries of life were can influence our minds: we dread no such crowded in their opulent cities; in a word, horrors as those of which we read, we are they were what we now are, and therefore fit therefore possessed of that degree of coolness objects for comparison. And we may judge which is essentially necessary to enable us to from the line of conduct they have pursued, profit by what we learn, and we are more that were we to let ourselves be blinded by a likely to derive great advantages from such wild enthusiasm, we should probably commit a study, than from any other. To say that the same enormities. While the men whose the deeds of savages can afford no instruction actions you wish us to study, are mere sato civilized nations, must lead us to this revages, and therefore cannot be thought to act as polished nations would; and as our most admired, because it acts of its own accord sult, that nature ought not to be watched and important dealings concern such as answer without the impulse or the guidance of art. the last description alone, can it be expected And it is a melancholy truth, that the crimes that we should reap instruction from the dissensions of uncultivated barbarians, who are not even acquainted with the stratagems which policy employs, to further its ends and reach through safe and secret ways the wished-for goal?

16

of which men in the most uncultivated state, might have been guilty, have been perpetrated by those who possessed the greatest share of politeness, who seemed to enjoy all the comforts of society, and who therefore were

not feared as its enemies.

The author of the present work, which closes with the ascension of Dessalines to the imperial throne, seems to have formed the most sanguine expectations of seeing one day the black kingdom of St. Domingo respected by all the European powers, and flourishing beneath the sway of its brave, but cruel sovereign. The late changes that have hurled the usurper from his assumed dignity, contra

These objections may be easily answered, and nature supplies me with a simile which will assist me in overthrowing the first. Let us follow you traveller, and rest with him in the middle of his course; the Alps extend their deep roots at his feet, but their brows tower sublime above his head: on a sudden the howling blasts rush around loaded with storms: an awful silence follows, and brooding darkness slowly descends, while a zone ofdict his assertions, and prove that when all clouds clasps the mountain's side. Unable the springs of action have been too violently to descry the nearest objects, he hears the wound up, in a populous land, many years roaring thunder, the clashing hail, and now must elapse before the wonted tranquillity and then a flash of livid lightning bursts be- will return; and that however promising the fore his eyes, and vanishes among the rolling first symptoms of renascent order may aptempest But if his soul rise superior to the pear, they are delusive and ought not to be pangs of terror, if he dare to continue the trusted. He seems throughout the whole of painful ascent, safe on the summit of a lofty his production, to feel the most decided parrock, he will soon behold the congregated tiality for the blacks: all the enormities they vapours contending at his feet. He will trace committed upon their opponents, he reprethe lightning at its source, and what at first sents as, if not just, at least a necessary seemed involved in tenfold confusion, will consequence of those with which the French assume a grand, though wild appearance of stained their hands, as though retaliation order. If we consider our political situation, were to be acknowledged an act of moral

the truth of this simile will appear more evi-justice. Those very negroes who at first un

dent: have we not been, and are we not still surrounded with raging encinies, and may we not be truly said to have stood in the midst of the storin? Our proximity and the" emancipating themselves from the vilest dangers to which we have been exposed, bin-slavery, and at once filling the relations of

furled the standard of rebellion, and gave the sigual for murder and devastation, stand be fore us, in his writings, as a spirited bend,

« AnteriorContinuar »