图书图片
PDF
ePub

himself as Romeo; talks to her; drinks as he talks; and by his incoherent ravings as Richard, awakens her from her delusion. In the German play it is a baronet, in the English a city merchant. But the point of the story is nearly the same in all. But Lee Lewes, the comedian, gives a minute account of the courtship of the Violetta by Garrick, some incidents of which are like what has been just given. He says he heard it through an aged domestic of the Burlington family. The dancer had seen Garrick in one of his characters; had fallen desperately in love with him; had become sick, like the lady in the anecdote, and no one could divine the cause. Lady Burlington had designed her for a rich and important alliance, and would never consent to an alliance with a player. But a clever doctor found the secret out, represented that it was a matter of death, and obtained the lady's reluctant consent. This is obviously the basis of the dramatic story; but the question is how far Lee Lewes and the old domestic can be depended on, especially as the details and private conversations are given with a fatal minuteness and fulness. Yet we might be almost inclined to accept this story as true in the main. The Violetta was a foreigner, and had all the impulsiveness of a foreigner. Her passionate intercession at the Tower for young Wilding; her tears, and casting herself at the feet of Lord Burlington, show that this was the cast of her character.

Her attachment to Garrick after marriage was something extraordinary, and was subject of remark. Again, it was matter of notoriety that Lady Burlington opposed Garrick's advances. The Violetta used to tell afterwards how he had once disguised himself in woman's clothes to have the opportunity of conveying a letter into her chair. It added, no doubt, to the romantic character of the attachment, that the opposition amounted to positive hostility, and forbidding of his approach. This is noticed as matter of gossip both by Walpole and Chesterfield.

But we have, besides, the testimony of an old gentleman of eighty, alive, not very long ago, who was told by Mrs. Garrick herself that the German story was, in the main, true, and that it was Garrick's noble self-denial in the business (which, let it be marked, is quite in keeping with his character) that induced Lady Burlington to give her consent. This does not quite agree with the "old domestic's" account, and perhaps proves a little too much. But still we may accept the main outlines; the falling in love; the illness; the rewarding of Garrick's generous self-restraint, and the happy accommodation. Travelling so far as Germany, it may have acquired many of the theatrical tones and details upon the road. This German narrative brings in also the name of a barrister friend of the actor's, a Mr. Bingham, of Lincoln's Inn, with whom he had once studied law; and such a name is to be found among the barristers of that date. This gives a circumstantial air.

Lady Burlington looked after her protegée with extraordinary care and jealousy. When her benefits came on Kent was employed to design the tickets. Everything, in short, was done to show her to advantage.

In March, 1748, the strange Duchess of Queensbury gave a masquerade at Richmond, to which she hoped to attract the King; but he did not go. She behaved with extravagance, exhibited her husband in a Scotch dress, then specially obnoxious, turned out half the company at midnight, arbitrarily kept the other half to supper. Lady Burlington was walking about with her charge on her arm; and Lord Coventry, father of the famous countess, was following them about with extraordinary persistence. But the countess presently was seen to draw off her glove and significantly move her ring up and down her finger. A hint that was intelligible.

So late as May, even when the countess took her to a splendid masquerade on the river, where was the king, and dukes, and princes, and God save the King" was sung by

66

Yet this is a common shape of theatrical memoir writing, varnishing over, and expanding in a dramatic shape some little fact that is really authentic. Of this Reynolds' memoirs is a good instance.

↑ Household Words, 1857.

the royal family themselves to the mob over the rails, the Richmonds had brought down Garrick. Lady Burlington watched her charge jealously, while Garrick, "ogling and sighing" from a distance, caused some amusement to those behind the scenes. A diplomatist, who belonged to the Duke of Modena's court, asked Walpole questions about this lady and that. That was Lady Hartington. "And the next one!" "It was a distressing question,' he says. But after a little hesitation, he replied: "Mais c'est Mademoiselle Violetta." The diplomatist looked puzzled, and searched his memory. "Et comment Mademoiselle Violetta; j'ai comru une Mademoiselle Violetta par example." He was thinking of the ballet, but Walpole turned off his attention to a Miss Bishop.

It was not so easy to turn off the eyes of the public now busy watching the affair. At last, according to Lee Lewes, he wrote a formal proposal to Lady Burlington her opposition was overdrawn, or perhaps she saw that it was useless. She gave her consent. But already the lover, who all through his life had a great uneasiness as to what the public or private were saying and thinking of his affairs, had begun to grow sensitive about the attention that was being directed to his designs. He shrank from the discussion, and perhaps ridicule, that was likely to follow when his proposed marriage would become known. Nor was this unnatural; for already had appeared in the paper notice of his marriage, announcing it as having taken place on the 25th of May. Mr. Garrick, the comedian, to Mademoiselle Violetta, the famous dancer." The blunt description could not have been very welcome to him. But more unpleasant must have been the complimentary verses; for verses attended everything with which the curious public amused itself. Fortune is made to ask why slander is always "sneering at me and poor Davy?" The fact was, slander believed that

"The creature loved pelf, And cared not a fig for a soul but himself."

Fortune, then determined to find him a wife, "rested her wheel within Burlington Gate." Lady Burlington is then made to say-

"I'll show you a girl. Here, Martin, go

tell

But she's gone to undress, by-and-by is as well.

I'll show you a sight that you'll fancy uncommon,

Wit, beauty, and goodness, all met in a

woman.

A heart to no folly or mischief inclined, A body all grace, and all sweetness in mind."

It is asked then where such a charmer is to be found. "Who, indeed,” says my Lady, "if not Violetta?" And presently

"The words were scarce spoke when she entered the room.

A blush at the stranger still heightened her bloom;

So humble her looks, so mild was her air," &c.

With more in the same vein.

and he took an odd way, but yet an This looked dangerous for the actor, effectual way, to deprecate the ridicule he feared. On the eve of mar

riage some fresh verses, which are found among his friend Edward

Moore's poems, but which were said to be written by himself, or at least were his inspiration, were to be read They were headed, everywhere. "Stanzas to Mr. G-k on the Talk of the Town," and had the following "Much A-do about Nomotto from thing :"

"When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married.'-MUCH A-DO.

"No, no; the left-hand box, in blue; There, don't you see her?' 'See her? Who?'

'Nay, hang me if I tell;

There's Garrick in the music box. Watch but his eyes. See them, O pox! Your servant, Ma'moiselle.'"

"But tell me, David, is it true?

Lord keep us!-what will some folks do?
How will they curse the stranger!
What, fairly taken in for life,
A sober, serious, wedded wife!
O fie upon you, Ranger."

Then the "ladies" are described as, talking it over, "pale, wild as the witches in 'Macbeth.'

"Married! but don't you think, my dear, He's growing out of fashion?

People may fancy what they will,
But Quin's the only actor still

To treat the tender passion."

"Nay, madam; did you mind last night
His Archer: not a line on't right?

thought I heard some hisses.
Two parts, they readily allow,
Are yours, but not one more, I vow.
And thus they close their spite.
You will be Sir John Brute all day,
Davy's Sir John Brute they say,
And Fribble all the night."

It winds up with a soothing compliment, bidding him not mind their speeches:

"Take, you can't do better,

A pox upon the tattling town; The fops that join to cry her down Would give their ears to get her." Which was, indeed, the truth; for her sturdy rejection of the advances of the "fine gentlemen," as unusual as it was admirable, had made her hosts of detractors. It thus concludes

"And if her heart be good and kind, And sure that face bespeaks a mind As soft as woman's can be," &c.

At last, on the 22nd of June, they were married, first by Dr. Franklyn, at the church in Russell-street, Bloomsbury, and afterwards at the chapel of the Portuguese Embassy in Audley-street, by the Rev. Mr. Blyth.* newspapers in this instance reported it with infinitely more respect.

The

It was now "David Garrick, esq., to Mademoiselle Eva Maria Violetta." Neither "comedian" nor 66 famous dancer." And after the announcement, the figures "£10,000," which was quite accurate; for this was said to be the amazing fortune she brought him. In effect, she had £10,000 settled on her, of which the Burlingtons found six, and Garrick the rest. Lady Burlington herself signed the settlements.t Walpole wrote out the news to Florence at once, but could not understand the business. "The chapter of this history is a little obscure," especially as to the consent of the countess and the fortune. It was indeed a surprising chapter and a more surprising history that the marriage of a comedian, whom parliament but a few years before would have described and dealt with a common rogue and a vagabond," and a "famous dancer," whom it could have sent to the House of Correction, should have again such prestige and attract such attention, and be celebrated under the patronage and friendship of dukes and lords, was certainly fair evidence of the weight of Garrick's private character, and of the respectability and position to which he had raised his theatre.

[ocr errors]

The two biographers, Murphy and Davies, both place this ceremony in July. Mr. Carr, who was Garrick's solicitor, and lived in Hampton Villa, afterwards was asked on this point by "Rainy-day Smith," seemed to convey that Mrs. Garrick denied ever receiving money from the Burlingtons, adding that she had only the interest of £6,000, which was paid to her by the Duke of Devonshire. But this only confirms the story. The Duke, whose son had married Lady Burlington's daughter, would naturally have been chosen as a trustee for the settlement.

A GIRL'S RESOLVE.

I LONG for Love-a jewel yet unworn;

I'm offered golden friendship, laughter, mirth,
Such gems alone I can but treat with scorn-
'Tis like renouncing Paradise for earth.
Knowledge alone can keep my soul in place,
And this I'll seek in every book or stone;
I'll search for it in every common face,
And study books in solitudes alone.
Nature shall show me every hidden thought,

The skies, the streams, the air shall train my mind,
I'll search for secrets that are yet unsought,
And what I search for I will surely find.

Then if Love comes he will find Wisdom here,
And joy shall reign unsullied by a tear.

VOL. LXVII.-NO. CCCXCVII.

MINNA MABEL COLLINS.

7

CARICATURE IN ANCIENT ART.

THE ordinary images or occurrences which cause laughter, though apparently large in number, and varying much in character, may probably be reduced to a few classes. We laugh when we see a philosopher interrupt his discourse on temperance by an eager attack on the turtle just placed before him; we laugh at the contortions of the features of a winking and grimacing clown, also when his hand, instead of the expected sausage, grasps the apparently hot poker. We are inclined to laugh at an anxious person giving himself a world of trouble about some most frivolous matter. Three French porters carrying in a bandbox in O'Keeffe's play are sure to be greeted by a laugh. When the young lady in the "Highland Reel" flings off her disguise, and on her knees anxiously implores pardon of her father, shouts of laughter attend the pathetic action, for she has omitted to throw away the large three-cocked hat with the rest of her borrowed gear. A tired and faint butcher, in the front seat of the pit relieved himself by placing his hat on the head of his dog who sitting beside him was gazing intently on the prison scene in Lear; and all play-goers know how the dead Cordelia, her dying father, and the heartwrung Edgar, were obliged to run off the stage by an uncontrollable fit of laughter at sight of the behatted animal gravely inspecting their proceedings.

How little did the spectators in one instance, or the players in the other, reflect on the recondite causes of their unreflecting merriment; perhaps they were even incapable of comprehend ing them as expounded by masters of the "Great German People," or their French and English scholars. They took no account except of the ludicrous effects, their German guides and philosophers were interested merely by the causes, or as M. Champfleury puts it :-*

"A person stopping before a buffoon of the streets or a caricature, laughs without troubling himself for the reason why. Up comes the philosopher and asks him, Why

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"This resembles the Council of Trent

debating on a laugh.

"It is a reality without ideas or the contrary to an idea,' says Carrière.

"Schelling, Schlegel, Ast, Hegel, agree on making the Comic 'the Negation of unbounded life, the subjectivity which is set in contradiction with itself and the obhighest degree its infinite faculties of deterject, and which thus manifests in the mination and free will.""

Other Germans are more concise, but not less mystical; for instance, Kant, who defines the sentiment of the Ludicrous-an expectation suddenly ending in nothing :

"Oh!' as M. Jourdain says, 'this Comic does not agree with me at all; let us have something nicer.

"I fancy to myself a curious caricaturist, one of those who wish to be instructed in

the details of his art, meeting with the following passage of Zeising:-The Comic is a Nothing under the form of an object intention of perfection abiding in us; in other terms, with the idea or the unlimited spirit.'

set in contradiction with itself, and with the

"Ah, why did I not begin earlier to learn in order to know all this?—Moliere.

"Terrible Germans with their definitions! Let us see the part which the Pantheist, Stephen Schütze, makes Nature play in

the matter of the Comic:

"The Comic is a perception or a representation which excites in us a vague feeling that nature plays with man, while he thinks he is acting in perfect liberty. This restricted independence is then turned into

* Histoire de la Caricature Antique, par Champfleury. Paris: E. Dentu.

derision with relation to superior liberty. Laughter expresses the joy caused by this discovery.""

VULGAR CAUSES OF LAUGHTER,

Aristotle is somewhat more intelligible. According to him the causes of laughter are properly and naturally these trifling imperfections in character and manners which do not excite moral indignation, nor cast the soul into the melancholy caused by the sight of depravity.

In most instances surprise and incongruity enter into laughter-exciting causes. A burst of fury at some trifling loss or inconvenience, causes merriment, so does an accident attended with annoyance rather than injury. These mishaps which excite laughter in us when they befall persons for whom we feel indifference or dislike, are rather unwelcome when they occur to ourselves or those dear to us. So it is to be feared that a feeling of dislike or contempt, however slight, combines with the exciting causes mentioned. Laughter arising from the disappointment of a vicious stage personage is of the true healthy genial character. A dissolute husband at the moment when a new conquest unmasks, and reveals the familiar features of his neglected wife, becomes the legitimate object of loud and homeric laughter.

The connexion of the visible and audible circumstances of laughter with the misty and undefined shadows abovementioned (images would be too tangible an expression) is a great triumph to the Kanto-Hegelian philosophers. Still it is to be feared that the relation between the risible ideas, or circumstances, or their German abstractions, and the resulting explosions of sound from the lungs, must ever continue a mystery to human intelligence. Classing it with the mysterious influence of the nerves on the muscles, we proceed to examine with Mr. Champfleury the relies of that art which had for its aim to excite smiles or laughter among the lettered Pagans of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

HIGH-ART CRITICS IGNORE ANCIENT CARICATURE.

Since the earliest attempts at representing objects in form and colour on flat surfaces or in rounded forms, artists have been endeavouring to present the laughable as well as their skill and their materials would allow. To collect instances of these efforts at the risible among the artistic relics of the old Pagan times, and to descant on their designs and merits, is the object of the work of Champfleury quoted above. The harvest is not very abundant, but the collector has made a skilful arrangement of his gleanings, and told his readers all that will probably be ever known concerning them.

The great art-critic, Winckelman, never dreamed, while expatiating on the beau-ideal aimed at in ancient art, that such a profanation of genius (ipso judice) as caricature was connected with it. Wieland, however, about a century since, discovered on consulting Pliny, that antiquity had its painters of social scenes, of landscape, of still life, and of grotesque subjects. In Greece the broadest farce existed beside the sublime in tragedy. Why should there not be found in the same city with the Minerva and Jupiter of Phidias, caricatures in clay or marble?

Athenæus gives a description of a carnival scene which no artist gifted with a perception of the comic could refrain from endeavouring to imitate.

"In the middle of the pleasant mas

querade, I beheld a tame bear carried in an easy seat and attired as a lady of quality. A monkey decked with an embroidered cap, and covered with a saffron-coloured Phrygian robe represented young Ganymede, and bore a cup of gold. Lastly came an ass, on whose back they had fastened some feathers, and which was followed by a worn-out old man. These were Pegasus and Bellerophon, and a most ludicrous group they made."

CARICATURE IN EGYPT.

Before noticing caricature among the Greeks let us see what the Egyptians have left in that department. Wilkinson, a most trustworthy

•Of the works of this learned grammarian, born at Neucrata in Egypt in the second century, we have only about twelve books of the "Deipnosophists," or "Dinner Philosophers," the original consisting of fifteen. These are replete with the polite literature of the time. The first edition was issued by Aldus at Venice in 1514 in a beautiful folio.

« 上一页继续 »