CHAPTER XII
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON JUBILEE 1769

1

IN the first week of May 1769 a deputation on behalf of the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the ancient borough of Stratford-upon- Avon waited upon Mr Garrick at 27, Southampton Street. He was formally presented with the Freedom of the borough, enclosed in what he described in his letter of thanks as "an elegant and inestimable box". The box had been made from a mulberry tree "undoubtedly planted by Shakespeare's own hand". He had been expecting this recognition of his art for six months, and had bought half a dozen pieces of the mulberry tree seven years before. It had flourished in the gardens of New Place, the handsome house bought by Shakespeare in the days of his prosperity, and in which he had died. It had, apparently, flourished exceedingly. In 1756, the then owner of New Place, deeming it shadowed his windows and gave his house the damps, had sacrilegiously cut it down. He had evidently anticipated local opposition, for the felling had been done by his gardener, under cover of darkness. The result had been painful for him. "Not the going out of the Vestal Fire at old Rome, or the stealing of the Palladium from old Troy, could have astonished Romans and Trojans more than this horrid Deed did the Men, Women and Children at old Stratford." An angry mob had gathered outside New Place. Much alarmed, the barbaric Priest (for he was in Holy Orders) had, after consultation with his friends, fled his house, and eventually, after "skulking from Place to Place", the town of Stratford. The inhabitants announced a decision never again to suffer any one of his name to dwell amongst them. His name was Gastrell, so the deprivation did not seem likely to affect a large clan, but, by a curious chance, it was familiar to Garrick. The relict of the Reverend Francis Gastrell had, after her husband's death, settled near Lichfield. She had been a Miss Aston, sister-in- law of Gilbert Walmesley. Johnson had taken Boswell to dine at Stowhill, and told him (unfortunately too late for Boswell to make inquiries on the spot) that he believed Gastrell had cut down the tree to vex his neighbours, and that Mrs Gastrell had participated in her husband's guilt. The Gastrells had not profited by their iconoclasm, but somebody else had, considerably. Thomas Sharp,

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David Garrick
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Garrick Pedigree vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Prologue xv
  • Chapter 1 - "First, the Infant" 1717-1737 1
  • Chapter II - Salad Days 1737-1742 19
  • Chapter III - Woffington 1742-1745 50
  • Chapter IV - 1745-1749 84
  • Chapter V - 27, Southampton Street 1749-1751 116
  • Chapter VI - Happy Days 1751-1755 142
  • Chapter VII - Danger 1755-1756 169
  • Chapter VIII - 1757-1760 184
  • Chapter IX - The New Reign 1760-1763 211
  • Chapter X - 1763-1765 227
  • Chapter XI - "Tied to the Stake" 1765-1769 258
  • Chapter XII - Stratford-Upon-Avon Jubilee 1769 285
  • Chapter XIII - Adelphi 1770-1776 307
  • Chapter XIV - "Farewell! Remember Me!" 1776-1779 335
  • Epilogue 374
  • Notes 384
  • Index 407
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