ON a fine spring morning of 1758 a portentous-looking party set out from London to spend the day with Mr Garrick at his Thames-side villa. There were seven of them, packed in a single landau, so their golf-clubs, which they had been told to bring, protruded very visibly. As they passed through Kensington, the Coldstream regiment were changing guard, and on perceiving the clubs, the troops gave the travellers three cheers, "in honour of a diversion peculiar to Scotland". The gentlemen, all of whom were Scottish, opened their purses and gave their countrymen "wherewithal to drink the Land o' Cakes". This diversion made them a little late, and they encountered Mr Garrick "by the way" looking out for them eagerly. They were at once ferried across the river to Molesey Hurst course, on the Surrey side, where they found the golfing ground surprisingly good. Only three of the party, which had now swelled to nine, could play golf. Mr John Home, who was in charge of this contingent from London, had interpreted rather liberally Mr Garrick's invitation to bring his friends to a dinner. Everyone had jumped at a chance of seeing the great actor in his country retreat to which, they were told, an invitation to dine was something which was issued but seldom. Mr Home, who was fifty-seven, was a famous playwright, but not thanks to Garrick. He had offered his Agis eleven years ago, and it had been summarily rejected. He had offered his Douglas three years ago, with the same result. But Douglas, after a good reception in Edinburgh, had been the success of the season at Covent Garden. Arthur Murphy said that Garrick had not seen a part for himself in the play. The hero did not sound much like him.
My name is Norval; on the Grampian hills
My father feeds his flocks; a frugal swain,
Whose constant cares were to increase his store.
Barry had been very touching as young Norval, and Mr Home had found himself appointed private secretary to Lord Bute, who had always been his patron, and tutor to the Prince of Wales. Garrick had then accepted Agis and produced it, with no expense spared, and the full strength of his company, in February of this year. He had