Charles Macklin: An Actor's Life

By William W. Appleton | Go to book overview

IV
THE QUARREL WITH GARRICK

The playbill was modest enough. On October 19, 1741, "a young gentleman" would attempt the role of Richard III at Mr. Giffard's theatre in Goodman's Fields. The announcement caused hardly a ripple of interest. Theatregoers had already tasted the quality of too many well-meaning amateurs with more enthusiasm than talent. When the curtain rose the house was only half filled and the spectators listless, but from the moment the young gentleman stepped on the stage a transformation took place. The astonished audience saw before them the incarnation of Shakespeare's villainous hunchback. The anonymous young performer amazed them not only by the tumultuous excitement of his performance but also by his easy and natural delivery, and when the curtain fell he had already been recognized as a supremely gifted actor. From then on, night after night, carriages choked the streets leading to the little theatre, and by the end of the year David Garrick had become "the new religion."

Macklin at first rejoiced in his success. They had been friends since "a few years before" 1741,1 and Garrick's Richard III, like Macklin's Shylock, marked the triumph of the more natural style of acting over the more artificial style of Quin. Already discomfited by Macklin's success, Quin was

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Charles Macklin: An Actor's Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I- Early Years 1
  • II- Dissension at Drury Lane 20
  • IV- The Quarrel with Garrick 56
  • V- Actor-Playwright 66
  • VI- Macklin, Orator 98
  • VII- On Stage Again 109
  • VIII- The Wars of the Theatres 127
  • IX- The Science of Acting 151
  • X- Riot and Conspiracy 168
  • XI- The Man of the World 195
  • XII- Last Years 217
  • Appendix 235
  • Notes 245
  • Index 271
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