The Man of the World
The Man of the World
During his extraordinarily long career as an actor, Charles Macklin wrote several plays. The earliest is King Henry VII; or, The Popish Imposter, a tragedy based on the Perkin Warbeck story, performed at Drury Lane 18 January 1745/6 and published the same year. As the Preface states, it "was design'd as a Kind of Mirror to the present Rebellion"; and it provided the author with a part in which he could express, through the character of Lord Huntley, his own aversion to foreign influences in the, land, to "French and Priest-rid Weakness" and "Romish Tyranny." This and his succeeding plays were obviously composed to provide parts for himself; so no others were published until he had retired. They were his stock in trade, since Macklin seldom maintained a stable connection with one of the theatres. Instead he appeared now here now there for brief engagements or on special occasions, rather than as a regular member of the company, often carrying his plays with him. Thus a number have survived only in manuscript. The Larpent Collection contains seven,- -the tragedy just mentioned, four farces, and two five-act comedies, one of these in three states. This is The Man of the World here reproduced for the first time in over a century and a half, despite the opinion expressed by Isaac Reed, in 1782, that "This play, . . . in respect to originality, force of mind, and well-adapted satire, may dispute the palm with any dramatic piece that has appeared within the compass of half a century . . ." Originally it had been performed in Dublin in 1764 under the title The True-born Scotchman, but in 1770 the Examiner of Plays in London refused to license it. It was re-submitted in 1779 and again forbidden, but was finally allowed and performed at Covent Garden on 10 May 1781, with the author in the part of Sir Pertinax Macsycophant.
Himself irascible and passionate, Macklin had been the most admired Shylock of his century. His specialty was the performance of character parts, often dialect roles, either . . .