thought of being known for an author even by his own
acquaintance! In the stage-box was Lady Bute,
Lord Halifax, and Lord Melcombe. I must say,
the two last entertained the house as much as the
play; your King was prompter, and called out to the
actor every minute to speak louder. The other
went backwards, behind the scenes, fetched the actors
into the box, and was busier than Harlequin.
The curious prologue was not spoken, the whole very
ill acted. It turned out just what I remembered
it; the good extremely good, the rest very flat and
vulgar; the genteel dialogue, I believe, might be
written by Mrs. Hannah. The audience were extremely
fair: the first act they bore with patience,
though it promised very ill; the second is admirable,
and was much applauded; so was the third; the fourth-woful;
the beginning of the fifth it seemed expiring, but
was revived by a delightful burlesque of the ancient
chorus, which was followed by two dismal scenes, at
which people yawned, but were awakened on a sudden
by Harlequin’s being drawn up to a gibbet, nobody
knew why or wherefore — this raised a prodigious
and continued hiss, Harlequin all the while suspended
in the air,—at last they were suffered
to finish the play, but nobody attended to the conclusion.(179)
Modesty and his lady all the while sat with the utmost
indifference; I suppose Lord Melcombe had fallen asleep
before he came to this scene, and had never read it.
The epilogue was the King and new queen, and ended
with a personal satire on Garrick: not very kind
on his own stage To add to the judgment of his conduct,
Cumberland two days ago published a pamphlet to abuse
him. It was given out for to-night with rather
more claps than hisses, but I think will not do unless
they reduce it to three acts.
I am sorry you will not come to the coronation.
The place I offered I am not sure I can get for any
body else; I cannot explain it to you, because I am
engaged to secrecy: if I can get it for your
brother John I will, but don’t tell him of it,
because it is not sure. Adieu!
(179) The piece was coldly received by the town.
Cumberland says that, “when the last of the
three Wishes produced the ridiculous catastrophe of
the hanging of Harlequin in full view of the audience,
my uncle, the author, then sitting by me, whispered
in my ear, ’If they don’t damn this they
deserve to be damned themselves;’ and whilst
he was yet speaking the roar began, and The Wishes
were irrevocably damned."-E.
This is the 5th of August, and I just receive your
letter of the 17th of last month by Fitzroy.(180)
I heard he had lost his pocket-book with all his
despatches, but had found it again. He was a
long time finding the letter for me.