CHAPTER VII
DANGER 1755-1756

1

AT a difficult moment in the winter of 1754, when a theatrical manager must be at his busiest, Mr John Cleland, novelist, asked Mr Garrick to be kind to a young French visitor to London, author of a comedy, an Anglo-maniac, and an adorer of Shakespeare. M. Claude Pierre Patu, a little French banker with a weak chest, had most unwisely chosen November for his first trip to a country he so much admired. His admiration extended to having learned enough English to write a letter in that tongue, though when he discovered that Mr Garrick understood him in French he gladly relapsed; for his letters were very long. Cleland, who had social sense, enclosed to Garrick an English letter from M. Patu which showed he was appreciative.

I long to wait on Mr. Garrick, and return him viva voce my sincere thanks for his truly French politeness. My being civil or uncivil towards him is entirely in your power, since you may, at your pleasure hasten or delay the time of your leading me to his house. If you get any occasion of seeing him before, I shall be obliged to you to assure him that I am not a stranger to his talents. . . .

Cleland had not exaggerated. Patu was a charming character. It was only a little disappointing that he proved not to know M. Jean-Georges Noverre. Garrick had been in correspondence with that person since September and wanted an independent opinion upon him. He was Jean Monnet maître de ballet at the Opéra Comique, and Garrick was thinking of inviting him to London. Monnet, to be sure, Garrick knew well, but Monnet could hardly be asked to recommend for London employment a member of his company who had just scored a resounding success. If he came to business, Garrick meant to employ as intermediary his own Paris banker, Charles Selwyn. Monnet had a flair for discovering talent, and Noverre's ballet Les Fêtes Chinoises produced in Paris on July 1, 1754, had received wonderful notices in the press of that capital. Drowsing in the country peace of Hampton, while the Thames flowed peacefully by, in the dead season, Garrick considered something which might make Covent Garden green with envy. LeNouveau Calendrier des spectacles de Paris, 1755

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