Abbildungen der Seite

sir, are evidently the product of a man of fashion." Were our friend Beauclerk' engaged to furnish a poetick trifle, he would write just such verses as these."

That no pamphlet, however, with the title already mentioned by Mr. Malone, has ever appeared, is too much to be granted without some degree of hesitation. Must no ancient satirical and poetical pieces be allowed to exist, except such as he and I have unkennelled by industry or advertisement? Till the earliest Taming of a Shrew was met with, Mr. Pope's quotations from it were suspected; for some of the lines, as printed by him, displayed more than a single deviation from the established phraseology of their age; and yet, on the whole, we are bound to acknowledge the genuineness of his extracts from the rude original of Shakspeare's comedy.

The rarity of particular books as well as pamphlets, has been occasioned by obvious circumstances. Sometimes a fire has almost destroyed an unpublished work. At other times, a threat has suppressed an invective, or a bribe has stifled an accusation. It were no task of difficulty to enumerate tracts, of each of which but a single copy has been discovered.

I readily allow, and in their utmost extent, such departures from the acknowledged truth of dramatick history, as are pointed out by Mr. Malone with his accustomed accuracy and precision. But

Such undoubtedly was the character of Endymion Porter, who was a Gentleman of his Majesty's Bedchamber.

7 The late Honourable Topham Beauclerk.

he has not proved that those very defects might not have originated from the pamphlet supposed to have furnished Mr. Macklin with materials for his letter. Does it follow that the pamphleteer himself must have been qualified for his task? Might he not rather have been some inaccurate hireling, who tacked together, for purposes now unknown, the disjointed and fallacious scraps of literary intelligence which every theatre usually supplies?

. Let us likewise inquire, whether such extracts from an antiquated pamphlet as are hastily made by a person unskilled in argument and composition, may not exhibit blunders and contradictions which had no place in the work from whence his notitia were derived. By injudicious retrenchments, there

• I know not from what cause it has arisen, but I think I have observed a more than common degree of inaccuracy in facts and dates relative to the stage, as often as they become objects for the memory to exercise itself upon. No conclusive arguments, I am sure, can be drawn from the falsehoods or mistakes in the piece under consideration, to prove the non-existence of it. Immediately on the death of Mr. Quin in 1766, a pamphlet was published professing to be an account of his Life, in which the fact of his having killed a brother actor was related; but so related, that no one circumstance belonging to it could be depended on, except that a man was killed. Neither the time when the accident happened, the place where, the cause of the quarrel, the progress of it, or even the name or identity of the person, were stated agreeable to truth; and all these fables were imposed on the publick at a time when many people were living, who could have contradicted them from their own personal knowledge. To apply this to the present case: suppose at the distance of more than a century, one single copy only of this Life (no improbable supposition) should remain, and after being quoted should be lost; the facts which it contains might be demonstrated to be untrue, but the non-existence of the work referred to, surely would not thereby be established.


fore, of the intelligence Mr. Macklin adopted, and a heterogeneous mixture of his own conceptions, he may have perplexed his narrative so effectually, that, without reference to his original document, the truths in question must escape the reach of human inquiry:

[blocks in formation]

"Doth all the noble substance often dout."

In justice to Mr. Macklin and myself, I must add, that in 1777, when he first related the history of his lost pamphlet, he subjoined the following remarkable circumstance, which could not well have been invented on a sudden for the purposes of deceit." The want of this publication (says he) I do not so much lament, as the loss of a speech on the Habeas Corpus by Sir J. Elliot, which, (with several other tracts printed about the same time,) was in the same quarto volume."-Every collector of fugitive publications must know how usual it is for coeval articles, however miscellaneous, to be bound together. This circumstance, in my judgment, adds no small probability to the narrative in which Mr. Macklin still persists; for the speech to which he alluded must have been published in or about the very year that produced

Old Ben's Light Heart" &c. provided a pamphlet bearing that title was ever issued from the press.

It has been by no means my desire to controvert the sentiments of Mr. Malone, any further than was needful toward my own apology as the first republisher of Mr. Macklin's production. Mr. Malone's ingenuity in support of his position,

demands an acknowledgement which is cheerfully bestowed; and yet, considering the labour he has expended on so slight a subject, I cannot help comparing him to one who brings a sledge hammer for the demolition of a house of cards.



T. DAVISON, Lombard street,

Whitefriars, London.

« ZurückWeiter »