Charles Macklin: An Actor's Life

By William W. Appleton | Go to book overview

VI
MACKLIN, ORATOR

On hearing of Macklin's decision to quit the stage and turn tavern-keeper, Foote blithely predicted, "First he will break in business, then he will break his word."1 Macklin, for his part, was equally sure of success. He prided himself on his business sense and knowledge of law, oratories were in vogue, and most eighteenth-century men, like himself, preferred the bustle of the tavern to the quiet of the hearth. He was not the first actor to entertain such an idea. Richard Estcourt, earlier in the century, had conceived a similar notion and founded in Covent Garden the first Beefsteak Club, later triumphantly resurrected in John Rich's Sublime Society of Beefsteaks.

Brimming with confidence, in September 1753 Macklin leased from the Duke of Bedford, for twenty-one years, at forty-five pounds per year, the chambers under the North Piazza formerly occupied by Lord Mornington.2 There in the rooms where the London demimonde had gamed till dawn he proposed to fit up "a Magnificent Coffee-Room & a School of Oratory . . . the great desideratum of our Country."3 He contracted with John Tinkler, the builder, for lavish improvements, and with Thomas Cook and Benjamin Phillips as cosigners, was granted a recognizance as tavernkeeper.4 Hoping to draw away a large part of the clientele

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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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