Macklin, Charles

, the oldest actor, and perhapsthe oldest man of his time, is entitled to some notice in this work, although his fame seems to have been derived principally from his longevity. He is said to have been born in the county of West Meath in Ireland, May I, 1690. His family name was Mac-Laughlin, which, on his coming to London, he changed to Macklin. He was employed in early life, as badgeman in Trinity college, Dublin, until his twenty-first year, when he came to England, and associated with some strolling comedians, after which he went back to his situation in Trinity college. In 1716 he again came to England, and appeared as an actor in the theatre, Lincoln’s-inn-fields, where, in Feb. 1741, he established his fame by his performance of Shylock in the “Merchant of Venice,” in which he followed nature, truth, and propriety, with such effect, as to distance all other performers through the whole course of his long life. It | was, however, the only character in which he was pre-eminent, and all his subsequent attempts in characters of importance, particularly in tragedy, were unsuccessful, or, at least, displayed no exclusive merit. The remainder of his life consists of a series of tragi-comic adventures, involving the history of the stage for a considerable period, of which it would be impossible to give a satisfactory abridgment. We therefore refer to our authorities, where his life is detailed with great minuteness, and in a manner highly interesting to those to whom the vicissitudes of the theatres, and the wit of the green-room, are matters of importance. He continued on the stage until 1789, when a decay of memory obliged him to take a last leave of it. In 1791, a sum of money was collected by public subscription for the purchase of an annuity, which rendered his circumstances easy. During the last years of his life, his understanding became more and more impaired, and in this state he died July 11, 1797, at the very great age of 107, if the date usually given of his birth be correct. As a dramatic writer, he appears to much advantage in his “Man of the World” and “Love Alamode,” which still retain their popularity. He was a man of good understanding, which he had improved by a course of reading, perhaps desultory, but sufficient to enable him to bear his part in conversation very satisfactorily. While his memory remained, his fund of anecdote was immense, and rendered his company highly agreeable. His age, however, had in his opinion, conferred a dictatorial ppwer, and it was not easy to argue with him, without exciting his irascible temper, which shewed itself in much coarseness of expression. He is said to have been in his better days, a tender husband, a good father, and a steady friend. By his firmness and resolution in supporting the rights of his theatrical brethren, they were long relieved from a species of oppression to which they had been ignominiouslv subjected for many years, whenever the caprice or malice of their enemies chose to exert itself. We allude, says one of his biographers, “to the prosecution which he commenced and carried on against a certain set of insignificant beings, who, calling themselves The Town, used frequently to disturb the entertainments of the theatre, to the terror of the actors, as well as to the annoyance and disgrace of the publick.” It is almost needless to add that this advantage has been again lost to his brethren, by the toleration recently granted to scenes of brntality in the | theatres both of London and Dublin, and which has placed them at the mercy of the lowest and most unprincipled of the populace. 1

1 Dramatka. Life, by Kirkmati<nd Cooke.