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sure which he has afforded us, and for having made a valuable addition to the store of our domestic history, by introducing the English reader to an acquaiutance with the private life of his Saxon ancestors.
Art. II. Memoirs of Samuel Foote, Esquire, with a Collection of
his genuine Bon-mots, Anecdotes, Opinions, &c. mostly original; and three of his dramatic Pieces, not published in his Works. By William Cooke, Esq. 3 Vols. Crown 8vo. 13$.
6d. Boards. R. Phillips. 11 I will readily be allowed that the subject of the present me
moirs was a character much more likely to exciie our interest, than many of his dramatic brethren whose histories have been pompously recorded. We agree, therefore, with Mr. Cooke in regretting that no adequate biography of him has yet appeared, and we shall briefly notice a few of the pare ticulars which are here related.
Respecting the qualifications of Mr. Cooke for the task which he has imposed on himself, we are told that
• Very carly in life he had the pleasure of being introduced to this genuine son of comic humour ; and finding in him all the charms of conversation which could attach a young man with a literary and lively turn of mind, he was careful in recollecting and noting dowo as Imany of his anecdotes, conversa ions, bon-mots, &c., as convenience would permit: nil with any intent, at that time, to publish them ; but as the records of a man who drew on him the gaze of the fashionable and literary world, -as the reminiscences of hours which afforded such exquisite delight.
• On the death of Foote, which happened about nine years after their first acquaintance, the Editor had the pleasure of continuing in acquaintance with many respectable persons who were the intimates of his late friend's carlier days, and who had seen him in all the situarions of his varied life. I'rom these he was curious to glean as much of his manners, habits, and cunversation, as lie could; and from their readiness to oblige, as well as fiom the researches of an old and valuable friend (whose name, which he is not permitted to mention here, would be a passport for every thing curious or authentic in literary or dramatic history), he las collected such materials as embolden him to publish these volumes. He is at the same tine ready to allow that the work might have been more enlarged, had it been begun im. mediately after the death of Foote, by some of those cotemporaries here alluded to ; when the ardour of congenial talents, and the raciness of events, would have made greater and more forcible impressions : but under the actual circuinstances, he not only presumes that his performance will be found the best that has yet appeared, but is zulher sanguine in thinking it the best that can now be effected.*
After some prefatory remarks, Mr. Cooke proceeds to state that
• Samuel Foote was borne at Truro, in Cornwall, about the year 1720: his father, John Foote, was a very useful magistrate of that county, and enjoyed the posts of commissioner of the prize office and fine contract. His mother (descended in 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 ascend 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 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 party.
• She was likewise in face and person the very model of her son Samuel-short, fat, arid Aabby, with an eye tbat eternally gave the signal for mirth and good humour : in short, she resembled him so much in all her movements, and so strongly identified his person and manners, that by changing habits, they might be thought to have interchanged sexes'
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 particular friend of his father's, and a man of great emia nence in the discharge of his duties.'
The following circumstance is said to have first unfolded his peculiar talent of mimicry:
Being at his father's house during the Christmass recess, a man in the parish had been charged with a bastard child; and this busidess being to be heard the next day before the bench of justices, the family 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 foresce how. this business will end, as well as what the justices will say upon it.”_" Aye,” said his father (rather surprised at the boy's observation), " well, Sam, let us hear it" Upon this the young mimic, dressing up luis face in a strong caricature likeness of justice D, thus proceeded:
$ • Hem!
Hem! hem ! here's a fine ijob of work broke out indeed! a feller begetting bastards 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 'tis an abomination ; we shall not have an honest servant maid in the neighbourhood, and the whole parish will swarm with bastards; therefore, I say, let him 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 feller find 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, though 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 ruin the poor fellow for this one fault: he may do better another time, and mend his life ; therefore, as the 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 page ment."
• 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 Quorum ? Samuel for some time hesitated ; but his father and the rest of the company earnestly requesting it, he began :
“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 ac, cording to his circumstances, and be admonished - I say admonished * not to commit so flagrant an offence for the future."
After having passed through his school education with the character of an arch, clever lad, Foote was removed by election to Worcester College, of which Dr. Gower was then provost. There, we are told, he was not altogether idle in respect to study, for he had an ambition that counteracted his love of pleasure, and frequently induced him to turn his attention to lis books; and thus besides rendering himself a very competent Greek and Latin scholar, he pursued a course of belles Lettres reading, very rare in young men of his description.'
• * A favourite word of his father's on the bench; which, with his plain matter of fact manner of pronouncing it, and twirling his Thumbs at the same time, drew so correct a picture of the justice, as met the warmest approbation of the whole company, and even of his father, who, so far from being offended, rewarded him for his good humour and pleasantry.'
From College, he entered himself in the Temple: but the study of the law was little suited to the excentricities of such a character:
• During his continuance in the Temple, he was seen there pro forma, situated in handsome chambers, surrounded by a well furnishcd library, and eating his way (via commons) to the profession of the law. He is remembered by a few now living, in that situation ; and they report him to have been one of the greatest beaux (even in those days of general dress), as well as one of the most distinguished wits who frequented the Grecian and the Bedford.'
• Here Foote appeared ; in the flush of youth, wit, and fortune, Dr. Barrosby, no mean judge in every thing which respected elegant knowledge, was present at his first exhibition at the Bedford, and he always spoke of him as a young man of most extraordinary talents,
-" He came into the room,” said he, “ dressed out in a frock suit of green and silver lace, bag wig, sword, bouquet, and point ruffles, and immediately joined the critical circle of the upper end of the room. No body knew him. He, however, soon boldly entered into conversation ; and by the brilliancy of his wit, the justness of hiş remarks, and the unembarrassed freedom of his manners, attracted the general notice. The buz of the room went round, "Who is he? whence comes he ? &c. ; which nobody could answer ; until a handsome carriage stopping at the door to take him to the assembly of a lady of fastıion, they learned from the servants that his name was Foate, that he was a young gentleman of family and fortune, and a student of the Inner Temple.”
• 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 gentcel economy, might have given him the otium cum dignitate independent of any pro. fession. But he was incapable of the ordinary restraints of life: he dashed into all the prevailing dissipations of the time ; and what the extravagance of dress, living, &c. had not done, the gaming table finally accomplished. He struggled with embarrassments for some time : but want, imperious want, is an austere monitor, and must as ļast be attended to by the most thoughtless spendtbrist.
He accordingly soon foued himself at a stand ; his creditors grew obstinace 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.
• In this situation, it was very natural for him to think of the stage. Aeting 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.
Foote's first entrée was at the Haymarket Theatre on the 6th of February, 1744, in the character of Othello : on which performance it was remarked by Mackin, that it was little beiter than a total failure.' Ile seems, how:vef, to have been
soon led to a better estimate of his powers, by assuming the double character of author and performer; and he opened the Haymarket Theatre with a piece of his own writing, called The Diversions of the Morning.
This consisted of the introduction of several characters in real life, then well known, whose manner of conversation and expression he very ludicrously 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. Among these characters there were a certain physician, who was much better known from the oddity and singu. larity of his appearance and conversation, than from any eminence in the practice of his profession ; a celebrated oculist at that time in the height of vogue and popularity, &c. ; and in the latter part of the piece, under the character of a theatrical director he mimicked with great humour the several styles of most of the principal perforn.ers on the English stage.
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 for. ward and supported by a young man, independent 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.
• He 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 Westminister 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 langhing Aristophanes to consider of new ways and means for his support.'.
Foote, however, remarks his biographer, had found out his forte;' and accordingly, from this time to the end of his life, he continued to amuse the public as a writer and actor, with various though generally with splendid success.
Of his inattention to pecuniary concerns, numerous prooss are given; and indeed in this particular he seems to have been incorrigible
• While we are speaking of Fuote's prodigality, it would be unpardonable not to record at the same time soine instances of his generosity. We are told that.“ his mother, who brought a large fortune to her husband as heiress to the Goodere estates, was latterly, by a carelessness and dissipation so peculiar to this family, in a great measure a dependent on her son's bounty; as was also his brother, who was brought up to the church. .To the latter he allowed sixty pounds a year, besides the freedom of his table and theatre ; to the