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• About the close of this season (1748) our author had a very considerable fortune left him by a relation of his mother, which enabled him once more to move in all that splendour of dissipation which was so congenial to his temper. He remained in London for some time, in order to identify this great change of fortune to his friends ; and then moved off to the Continent, to add one more English dupe to the intrigues and fripperies of the French nationt.'
We again find him figuring in a similar style of action, on the success of his celebrated comedy the Mayor of Garratt.
• The receipts produced by this comedy recruited our 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 house, enlarged his hospitalities, and laid out no less a sum than 1200l. in a maguificent service of plate. When he was reminded by some friends of these extravagancies, and particularly the last, he turned it off by saying, " he acted from a principle of economy; for as he knew he could never ketp 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.”
In the year 1760, while on a visit at the house of Lord Mexborough, Foote had the misfortune to lose his leg, in consequence of a fall from an unruly horse, on which he was mounted, as is here said, by way of check to his vanity in
former a pension of one hundred pounds till her death, which happened some years before that of her son
Under one of her temporary embarrassments, she wrote the fol. lowing laconic epistle to our hero ; which, with his answer, exhibit no bad specimen of the thoughtless dispositions of the two characters :
DEAR SAM, "I AM in prison for debt : come and assist your loving mother,
“ E. FOUTE." " DEAR MOTHER, “ SO am I ; which prevents his duty being paid to his loving mother by her affectionate son,
“ Sam Foote." « PS.
I have sent my attorney to assist you ; in the mean time let us hope for better days."
• + This being the third fortune left him, he set up a dashing care riage, &c.; and, as emblematical of the event, chose the following
Iterum, iterum, ilerumquei' Rev. FEB, 1867.
asserting his skill in hunting. The joke went too far in its consequence: but the late Duke of York, who was one of the party, took care to alleviate this accident by every instance of kindness in his power; and among other good offices, he ob. tained for him, in the July following, a royal patent to erect ? theatre in the city and liberties of Westminster, with a privilege of exhibiting dramatic pieces there, from the 14th of May to the 14th day of September, during his natural life.'
Here, again, money flowed plentifully into his pocket, and was as usual speedily lavished away:
• The receipts froin “ The Devil on two Sticks" exceeded 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 hundred in cash, which he intended to take over with him to Ireland, where he was engaged for the ensuing winter.
• His usual demon 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 visual attendants on this fashion. able 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 interference ; besides, friendship is not the usual commerce of watering placcs. 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 ran be ruined, let him play with whom he would.”
• 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 ridi. culously and ungratefully resented this advice. He told his friend with an unbecoming sharpness, " that although he was no politican 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 loth the king's servants, with this difference in his favour, that he could always draw upon his talents for indepen, dence, when perhaps a courtier could not find the king's treasury al. ways 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.'
Fortune, however, was not yet tired of bestowing favors on this her spoiled child; and he returned from Ireland recruited
in his finances, and farther established in his reputation ; 'enjoying the otium cam dignitate at North End upon an enlarged scale; holding out the strongest excitements to good society, entertainment for both mind and body.'
It is with sorrow that we see the latter part of the life of this British Aristophanes clouded with cares. Indeed, he may be said to have fallen a victim to the most infamous calumny. He had been involved in a dispute with the celebrated Duchess of Kingston, in consequence of being suspected of intending to represent her on the stage as Lady Kitty Crocodile, in the Trip to Calais ; into which play he had also introduced a character, supposed to represent a person who was in her confidence, under the title of Dr. Viper*:
• From the first report of Foote's Trip to Calais being in contemplation, obscure hints and inuendoes appeared occasionally in the newspapers, relative to his private character ; which, from various circumstauces, 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 calum. ny began to assume a more settled form ; and a report was indus. triously circulated about the town, that a charge would soon be brought forward in a judicial form against the manager of the Haymarket Theatre for an attempt to commit a very odious assault.'
A bill of indictment was afterward preferred, in consequence of which a trial commenced in the court of King's Bench; and the result was that the Jury, without leaving the box, returned their verdict of not guilty :--but it was beyond the power of any verdict to remedy the ill effects of the prosecution on Foote's health :
• Though he had many respectable persons much interested in his behalf, none seemed more anxious than his old friend, and fellow la. bourer in the dramatic vineyard, the late Mr. Murphy ; who, as soon as the trial was over, took a coach, and drove to Foote's house in Suffolk-street, Charing.cross, to be the first mes
of the good tidings.
* Of this person the following account is here given :
• He was a clergyman of the name of Jackson, better known by the assumed title of Dr. Jackson, who had for many years supported him.' self partly as an editor of a newspaper in London, and always by a life of shift and expediency. He at this time mostly resided at Kingston-house, and was supposed to be of her Grace's cabinet council
. This man, after going through a variety of adventures incident to such characters, at last settled in Ireland : where his restless and intriguing spirit led him to join the rebellion in that kingdom in the year 1797, for which he was tried and found guilty ; but saved himself the disgrace of a public execution, by taking poison the night before his receiving sentence of death.' Ka
• Foote had been looking out of the window, in anxious expecta tion of such a message. Murphy, as soon as he perceived him, waved his hat in token of victory; and jumping oui of the coach, ran up stairs to pay his personal congratulations : bat alas ! instead of meeting his old friend in all the exultation of high spirits on this occasion, he saw hini extended on the flour, in strong hysterics; in which state he con. tinned near an hour before he could be recovered to any kind of re. collection of himself, or the object of his friend's visit.
• On the return et his senses, buding himself honourably acquitted, be received the congratulations of his friends and numerous acquaintances, and seemed to be relieved from those pangs of uncertainty and suspence which inust have weighed down the firmest spirits on so trying an oceasion. 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 gaieiy “or not to live at all," was ill calculated to be at the mercy of every coarse fool, or inhuman enemy.'
Foote did not long survive this shock, but died at Dover in his way to France, on the 21st of October, 1777, in the fiftyseventh year of his age.
Vols. II. aad III. of this work are occupied by remarks on Foote's character, public and private, and by a collection of the bon-mots, characters, opinions, &c. of Foole and his cotempo. raries. Drs. Monsey, Johnson, Swift, and Franklin, Garrick, Burke, the Delavals, Kich, Hiffernan, Murphy, &c. &c. occasionally figure in this assemblage ; and many amusing anec. doto's are introduced that are new to us, as well as many more that we have before heard. In his preface, Mr. Cooke thus speaks of this part of his publication :
• Of the characters, aneedotes, opinions, &c., most were related hy Foote himself, and many by the literary society in which he lived. Some, being either referred to in the range of conversation, or growing out of a corresponding subject, the Editor thought it to subjoin, from a wish to give to the original matter a richness of appropriate colouring and diversiheation.
..In short, this part may be considered not only as the school of Fovle, but of his time : where the hero is discovered among his friends and cotemporaries in his night-gown and slippers ;" where the wit, the whim, the humour, the faste, and general character, of the man will be best seen ; and where perhaps will he found the best apology for many parts of his life ; as he who had such jocular propensities, with such inexhaustible sources for pleasing mankind, could have no serious views of ever becoming their enemy."
The subsequent anecdote of Gurrick is related as original; and we certainly do not receliece to have before met with it:
• When Garrick first undertook to play Buyes, in The Rehearsal, he had some doubts of the propriety of taking off his brother performers; and therefore made a proposal to G hard, the manager of the theatre in Goodman's fields, to permit hiin to begin with him as a kind of an apology for the rest. Giffard, supposing that Garrick would only just glance at him to countenance the mimicry of the others, consented: but Garrick hit him off so truly, and made him so completely ridiculous, at rehearsal, ihat Giffard, in a rage, sent himn a challenge ; which Garrick accepting, they met the next morning, when the latter was wounded in the sword arm.
• The comedy of The t'ehearsal had been during this time advertised for the Saturday night ensuing; but the ducl intervening (which none but the parties and their seconds knew cf at that time, and very few ever since), the play was put off for a fortriight longer, on account of the sudden indisposition of a principal performer. At the end of that time it came out with imitations of most of the principal actors ; but Giffard was totally omitted.'
A criticism by the late Lord Orford, on the dramas of Beau. mont and Fletcher, is also worth quotation :
• The following letter, not published in any of his works, was written by the late Lord Orford in answer to a letter of lady C--, requesting his opinion of The Scornful Lady by Beaumont and Fletcher, since altered to the comedy of The Capricious Lady.
“ I return your Ladyship the Play, and will tell you the truth. At first I proposed just to amend the mere faults of language, and the incorrectness : but the farther I proceeded, the less I found it worth correcting ; and indeed I believe nothing but Mrs. Abington's acting can make any thing of it. It is like all the rest of the pieces of Beaumont and Fletcher : they had good ideas, but never made the most of them; and seem to me to have finished their plays when they were drunk, so very improbable are the means by which ihey produce their denouement.
“ To produce a good play from one of theirs, I believe the only way would be, to take their plan, dra:v the characters fro:n nature, omit all that is improbable, and entirely re-write the dialogue; for their language is at once hard and pert, vulgar and incorrect, and has neither the pathos of the preceding age nor the elegance of this. They are grossly indelicate, and yet have no simplicity. There is a a wide dizerence between unrefined and vicious indecency : the first would not invent fig leaves; the latter tears boles in them after they are invented.”
The supplementary dramatic pieces are not of much importance. They are followed by Foote's Defence of his Minor, in answer to some remarks on it, which was printed in a pam. plilet in the year 1760, and noticed in our 230 Vol. p. 328.