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answer the purpose of the Theatre. In the first place, he cannot make a moon. I would not give threepence for a dozen such moons, as he shewed me to day; and his suns aré, if possible, worse : besides, I gave him directions about the clouds, and he made such as were never seen since the Flood. Desire the carpenter to knock the rainbow to pieces, 'tis execrable ; his stars were the only things tolerable. I make no doubt of his honesty, but until he can make a good sun, moon, and rainbow, I must dispense with his services,
“ D. GARRICK." BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. The date of their first play is 1607, when Beaumont was in his twenty-first year; and it was probably acted some time before. He brought, however, into the firm, a genius uncommonly fertile and commanding. In all the editions of their plays, and in every notice of their joint productions, notwithstanding Fletcher's sincerity, the name of Beaumont always stands first. Their connection, from similarity of taste and studies, was very intimate, and, it would appear, at one time, very economical. Aubrey informs us, that “there was a wonderful consi
milarity of fancy between Francis Beaumont, and Mr. John Fletcher, which caused that dearness of friendship between them. I have heard Dr. John Earl, since Bishop of Sarum, say, who knew them, that his (Beaumont's) main business was to correct the overflowings of Mr. John Fletcher's wit. They lived together on the Bankside, not far from the play house, both bachelors ; had one bench in the house between them, which they did so admire; the same clothes, cloak, &c., between them.
It is related of this extraordinary genius, that his father being one day very angry with him, he reprimanded him in the bitterest terms; to which Ludovico not only listened with patience, but with the most respectful attention, not offering a single word in his vindication; but, on the contrary, seeming to wish that the admonitory lecture had continued longer.
A friend of his, who was present at this most interesting scene, asked him, after his father was gone, what could be the meaning of his singular behaviour ? To which, Ariosto returned for answer, “ That he had been, for some days, at
work on a comedy, and, on that very morning, had been much perplexed how to write a scene of an angry father reprimanding his son; that, from the moment his father opened his mouth, it struck him that that was an admirable opportunity to examine his deportment with attention, that so he might paint the picture as closely as possible after nature; and that being thus absorbed in thought, he had only noticed the voice, the face, and the action, of his father, without paying the least attention to the truth or the falsity of the charge."
GEORGE STEEVENS, MRS. SIDDONS, AND MISS
With his critical acumen, and inexhaustible stores of knowledge relating to bards of the olden time, George Steevens united at times a malice still more rare than his talents or learning. Woe to those who chanced to become the objects of his dislike! Mrs. Siddons, it would seem, was in this last predicament, though, at one time, he pretended to idolize her. The following curious letter, extracted from the recently-published
* Afterwards, Mrs. Twiss.
“ Memoirs of Hayley,"to whom it was addressed, affords a proof. Its object, as it would seem, was to endeavour to mortify Mrs. Siddons, by magnifying the theatrical talents of her sister :
Hampstead Heath, July 27, 1784. “ MY DEAR SIR,—You have it in your power at once to confer a great favour on me, and do eminent service to a good and lovely girl. Your “ Lord Russell," appears in the course of next week, at the Haymarket. Miss Kemble, who acted the very delicate part of Harriet, in “ The Guardian," is to personate your “ Lady Margaret;" and I will venture to promise she shall execute all you could desire within the compass of so small a character. If her natural timidity could once be overcome she would make a distinguished figure in her profession, as her mind is every way stronger and more cultivated than that of her sister. Her diffidence in herself is her chief enemy; and I know not how it can be dislodged, but by praise, when she has deserved it. If therefore
you, whose approbation is faine, would bestow a dozen lines on her performance of Margaret, you will be guilty only of an honest stratagem to procure her that confidence in her own abilities, which I am certain will operate to her future advantage. You know what you should hope to find in the representative of old Bedford's daughter, and no one can describe it half so well. If you will oblige me with a few verses, which I may send to her in your name and in your hand writing, the day after she has trod in your buskins, you will, as I observed before, prove the best friend she ever met with. You are one of the few people whom one can
venture to solicit in the cause of an honest woman. Yon have my assurance, that your lines shall not be printed without your immediate permission. I sball persuade her you came up incog. to see your own play, returned into the country next morning, and, not knowing her address, intrusted me with the delivery of your compliment. I shall attend every representation of your play, and will transmit you a faithful account of its success, which I do not doubt of. Your “ Lady Russell," though patronised by a number of clamorous friends, will prove only a piece of beautiful imbecility. I saw her in Sigismunda twice : her voice is hardly audible; and her face, though handsome, exbibits no variety of expression. If I can prevail on you to oblige me, let me beg you will write the lines on a separate sheet of paper, and inclose them in your letter. I shall pay with cheerfulness for a packet of a pound weight on such an occasion. With my best compliments to the fair Eliza, whom I entreat to back my petition, " I remain your ever faithful and affectionate
“ GEORGE STEEVENS. “ P.S. On second thoughts, if you will allow the verses to go into The St. James's Chronicle, after they have been presented to the lady, you will do her cause more extensive service: but, without your leave, they shall be circulated only among her friends, in manuscript. I am sure she will be more flattered by your notice than by any present which could be made her.
“I hear you have re-purchased all your works from Dodsley ; a circumstance I much rejoice in. Is it true? If it is, we may expect, I hope, a handsome edition. Pray