Quin, James

, a celebrated actor, was born in Kingstreet, Covent-garden, the 24th Feb. 1693. His ancestors were of an ancient family in the kingdom of Ireland. His father, James Quin, was bred at Trinity-college, Dublin, whence he came to England, entered himself of Lincoln’s-inn, and was called to the bar; but his father, Mark Quin, who had been lord-mayor of Dublin in 1676, dying about that period, and leaving him a plentiful estate, he quitted England in 1700, for his native country; taking with him his son, the object of the present article.

The marriage of Mr. Quin’s father, was attended with circumstances which so materially affected the subsequent interest of his son, as probably very much to influence his destination in life. His mother was a reputed widow, who had been married to a person in the mercantile way, and who left her, to pursue some traffic or particular business in the West-Indies. He had been absent from her near seven years, without her having received any letter from, or the least information about him. He was even given out to be dead, which report was universally credited; she went into mourning for him; and some time after Mr. Quin’s father, who is said to have then possessed an estate of 1000l. a-year, paid his addresses to her and married her. The offspring of this marriage was Mr. Quin. His parents continued for some time in an undisturbed state of happiness, when the first husband returned, claimed his wife, and had her. Mr. Quin the elder retired with his son, to whom he is said to have left his property. Another, and more probable account is, that the estate was suffered to descend to the heir at law, and the illegitimacy of Mr. Quin being proved, he was dispossessed of it, and left to provide for himself.

Quin received his education at Dublin, under the care of Dr. Jones, until the death of his father in 1710, when the progress of it was interrupted, we may presume, by the litigations which arose about his estate. It is generally admitted, that he was deficient in literature and it has been said, that he laughed at those who read books by way of inquiry after knowledge, saying, he read men that | the world was the best book. This account is believed to be founded in truth, and will prove the great strength of his natural understanding, which enabled him to establish so considerable a reputation as a man of sense and genius.

Deprived thus of the property he expected, and with no profession to support him, though he is said to have been intended for the law, Mr. Quin appears to have arrived at the age of twenty-one years. He had, therefore, nothing to rely upon but the exercise of his talents, and with these he soon supplied the deficiencies of fortune. The theatre at Dublin was then struggling for an establishment, and there he made his first essay. The part he performed was Abel in “The Committee,” in 1714; and he represented a few other characters, as Cleon in “Timon of Athens,” Prince of Tanais in “Tamerlane,” and others, but all of equal insignificance. After performing one season in Dublin, he was advised by Chetwood not to smother his rising genius in a kingdom where there was no great encouragement for merit. This advice he adopted, and came to London, where he was immediately received into the company at Drury-lane. It may be proper here to mention, that he repaid the friendship of Chetwood, by a recommendation which enabled that gentleman to follow him to the metropolis.

At that period it was usual for young actors to perform inferior characters, and to rise in the theatre as they displayed skill and improvement. In conformity to this practice, the parts which Quin had allotted to him were not calculated to procure much celebrity for him. He performed the Lieutenant of the Tower in Howe’s “Jane Grey,” the Steward in Gay’s “What d‘ ye call it,” and Vulture in “The Country Lasses;” all acted in 1715. In December 1716, he performed a part of more consequence, that of Antenor in Mrs. Centlivre’s “Cruel Gift;” but in the beginning of the next year we find him degraded to speak about a dozen lines in the character of the Second Player in “Three Hours after Marriage.

Accident, however, had just before procured him an opportunity of displaying his talents, which he did not neglect. An order had been sent from the lord-chamberlain to revive the play of “Tamerlane” for the 4th of Nov. 1716—7 It had accordingly been got up with great magnificence. On the third night, Mr. Mills, who performed Bajazet, was suddenly taken ill, and applicatioa | was made to Quin to read the part a task which he executed so much to the satisfaction of the audience, that he received a considerable share of applause. The next night he made himself perfect, and performed it with redoubled proofs of approbation. On this occasion he was complimented by several persons of distinction and dramatic taste, upon his early and rising genius. It does not appear that he derived any other advantage at that time from his success. Impatient, therefore, of his situation, and dissatisfied with his employers, he determined upon trying his fortune at Mr. Rich’s theatre, at Lincoln’s-Inn-fields, then under the management of Messrs. Keene and Christopher Bullock; and accordingly in 1717 quitted Drury-lane, after remaining there two seasons. Chetwood insinuates, that envy influenced some of the managers of Drury-lane to depress so rising an actor. Be that as it may, he continued at the theatre he had chosen seventeen years, and during that period supported, without discredit, the same characters which were then admirably performed at the rival theatre.

Soon after he quitted Drury-lane, an unfortunate transaction took place, which threatened to interrupt, if not entirely to stop his theatrical pursuits. This was an unlucky rencounter between him and Mr. Bowen, which ended fatally to the latter. From the evidence given at the trial it appeared, that on the 17th of April, 1718, about four or five o’clock in the afternoon, Mr. Bowen and Mr. Quin met aecidentlly at the Fleece-tavern in Cornhill. They drank together in a friendly manner, and jested with each other for some time, until at length the conversation turned upon their performances on the stage. Bowen said, that Quin had acted Tamerlane in a loose sort of a manner; and Quin, in reply, observed, that his opponent had no occasion to value himself on his performance, since Mr. Johnson, who had but seldom acted it, represented Jacomo, in “The Libertine,” as well as he who had acted it often. These observations, probably, irritated them both, and the conversation changed, but to another subject not better calculated to produce good humour the honesty of each party. In the course of the altercation, Bowen asserted, that he was as honest a man as any in the world, which occasioned a story about his political tenets to be introduced by Quin and both parties being warm, a wager was laid on the subject, which was determined in | favour of Quin, on his relating that Bowen sometimes drank the health of the duke of Ormond, and sometimes refused it at the same time asking the referee how he could be as honest a man as any in the world, who acted upon two different principles. The gentleman who acted as umpire then told Mr. Bowen, that if he insisted upon his claim to be as honest a man as any in the world, he must give it against him. Here the dispute seemed to have ended, nothing in the rest of the conversation indicating any remains of resentment in either party. Soon afterwards, however, Mr. Bowen arose, threw down some money for his reckoning, and left the company. In about a quarter of an hour Mr. Quin was called out by a porter sent by Bowen, and both Quin and Bowen went together, first to the Swan tavern, and then to the Pope’s-head tavern, where a rencounter took place, and Bowen received a wound, of which he died on the 20th of April following. In the course of the evidence it was sworn, that Bowen, after he had received the wound, declared that he had had justice done him, that there had been nothing but fair play, and that if he died, he freely forgave his antagonist. On this evidence Quin was, on the 10th of July, found guilty of manslaughter only, and soon after returned to his employment on the stage*.

This unhappy incident was not calculated to impress a favourable opinion of Quin on the public mind: he lived to erase the impression it had made by many acts of benevolence, and kindness to those with whom he was connected. The theatre in which Quin was established, had not the patronage of the public in any degree equal to its rival at Drury-lane, nor had it the good fortune to acquire those advantages which fashion liberally confers on its favourites, until several years after. The performances, however, though not equal to those at Drury-lane, were

* The friendship between Mr. Quin into the room in a fit of drnnkenness,

and Mr. Ryan is well known, and it is abused Mr. Ryan, drew his sword on

something remaikahle, that they were him, with which he made three’passes

each at the same time embarrassed by before Ryan could get his own sword,

a similar accident. We have already which lay in the window. With this he

mentioned that Bowen received the defended himself, and wounded Mr.

wound which occasioned his death on Kelly in the left side, who fell down,

the I7tii of April. On the 20th of June, and immediately expired. It does not

Mr. Ryan was at the Sun Eating-house, appear that Mr. Ryan was obliged to

Long-acre, at supper, when a Mr. take his trial for this homicide, the

Kelly who had before terrified several jury having probably brought in their

companies by drawing his sword on verdict, self-defence, persons whom, he did not know, came | far from deserving censure. In the season of 1718-19, Mr. Quin performed in Buckingham’s “Scipio Africanus,” and in 1719-2O, “Sir Walter Raleigh,” in Dr. Sewell’s play of that name and in the year had, as it appears, two benefits, “The Provok’d Wife,” 31st of January, before any other performer, and again, “The Squire of Alsatia,” on the 17th of April. The succeeding season he performed in Buckingham’s “Henry the Fourth of France,” in “Richard II.” as altered by Theobald, and in “The Imperial Captives,” of Mottley. The season of 1720-21 was very favourable to his reputation as an actor. On the 22d of October, “The Merry Wives of Windsor” was revived, in which he first played Falstaff, with great increase of fame. This play, which was well supported by Ryan, in Ford; Spiller, in Dr. Cains; Boheme, in Justice Shallow; and Griffin, in Sir Hugh Evans; was acted nineteen times during the season, a proof that it had made a very favourable impression on the public. In the season of 1721-22, he performed in Mitchell’s* or rather Hill’s “Fatal Extravagance,” Sturmy’s “Love and Duty,” Philips’s “Hibernia freed.” The season of 1722-3 produced Fenton’s “Mariamne,” the most successful play that theatre had known, in which Mr. Quin performed Sohemus. In the next year, 1723-24, he acted in Jefferys’ “Edwin,” and in Philips’s “Belisarius.” The season of 1725 produced no new play in which Mr. Quin had any part but on the revival of “Every Man in his Humour,” he represented Old Knowell and it is not unworthy of observation, that Kitely, afterwards so admirably performed by Mr. Garrick, was assigned to Mr. Hippesley, the Shuter or Edwin of his day. In 1726, he performed in Southern’s “Money’s the Mistress” and, in 1727, in Welsted’s “Dissembled Wanton,” and Frowde’s “Fall of Saguntum.

For a year or more before this period, Lincoln’s Innfields theatre had, by the assistance of some pantomimes, as the “Necromancer,” “Harlequin Sorcerer,” “Apollo and Daphne,” &c. been more frequented than at any time since it was opened. In the year 1728, was offered to the public a piece which was so eminently successful, as since to have introduced a new species of drama, the comic opera, and therefore deserves particular notice. This was “The Beggar’s Opera,” first acted on the 29th of January, 1728. Quin, whose knowledge of the public taste cannot be questioned, was so doubtful of its success before it was acted, that he refused the part of Macheath, which was therefore | given to Walker. Two years afterwards, 19th of March, 1730, Mr. Quin had the “Beggar’s Opera” for his benefit, and performed the part of Macheath himself, and received the sum of 2061. 9s. 6d. which was several pounds more than any one night at the common prices had produced at that theatre. His benefit the preceding year brought him only 102l. 185. Od. and the succeeding only 129l. 35. Od. The season of 1728 had been so occupied by “The Beggar’s Opera,” that no new piece was exhibited in which Quin performed. In that of 1728-29 he performed in Barford’s “Virgin Queen,” in Madden’s Themistocles,“and in Mrs. Heywood’s” Frederic duke of Brunswick.“In 1729-30 there was no new play in which he performed. In 1730-31 he assisted in Tracey’sPeriander,“in Frowde’s” Philotas,“in Jeffreys’” Merope,“and in Theobald’sOrestes;“and in the next season, 1731-2, in Kelly’s” Married Philosopher."

On the 7th of December, 1732, Covent-garden theatre was opened, and the company belonging to Lincoln’s-inn fields removed thither. In the course of this season, Mr. Quin was called upon to exercise his talents in singing, and accordingly performed Lycomedes, in Gay’s posthumous opera of “Achilles,” eighteen nights. The next season concluded his service at Covent-garden. At this juncture the deaths of Wilks, Booth, and Oldfield, and the succession of Gibber, had thrown the management of Drury-lane theatre into raw and unexperienced hands. Mr. Highmore, a gentleman of fortune, who had been tempted to intermeddle in it, had sustained so great a loss, as to oblige him jto sell his interest to the best bidder. By this event the Drury-lane theatre came into the possession of Charles Fleetwood, esq. who, it is said, purchased it in concert with, and at the recommendation of Mr. Rich. But a difference arising between these gentlemen, the former determined to seduce from his antagonist his best performer, and the principal support of his theatre. Availing himself of this quarrel, Mr. Quin left Covent-garden, and in the beginning of the season 1734-5 removed to the rival theatre, “on such terms,” says Gibber, “as no hired actor had before received.

During Quin’s connection with Mr. Rich, he was employed, or at least consulted, in the conduct of the theatre by his principal, as a kind of deputy-manager. While he was in this situation, a circumstance took place which has | been frequently and variously noticed, and which it may not be improper to relate in the words of the writer last quoted. “When Mr. James Quin was a managing-actor under Mr. Rich, at LincolnVInn-fields, he had a whole heap of plays brought him, which he put in a drawer in his bureau. An author had given him a play behind the scenes, which I suppose he might lose or mislay, not troubling his head about it. Two or three days after, Mr. Bayes waited on him, to know how he liked his play Quin told him some excuse for its not being received, and the author desired to have it returned. ‘ There,’ says Quin, `there it lies on the table.‘ The author took up a play that was lying on the table, but on opening, found it was a comedy, and his was a tragedy, and told Quin of his mistake. ’ Faith, then, sir,‘ said he, ’ I have lost your play.‘ ` Lost my play’ cries the bard. `Yes, I have,‘ answered the tragedian but here is a drawer full of both comedies and tragedies: take any two you will in the room of it.’ The poet left him in high dudgeon, and the hero stalked across the room to his Spa water and Rhenish, with a negligent felicity.

From the time of Quin’s establishment at Drury-lane until the appearance of Garrick in 1741, he was generally allowed the foremost rank in his profession. The elder Mills, who succeeded to Booth, was declining; and Milward, an actor of some merit, had not risen to the height of his excellence, which, however, was not at the best very great and Boheme was dead. His only competitor seems to have been Delane, whose merits -were soon lost in indolent indulgence. In the Life of Theophilus Gibber, just quoted, the character of this actor, compared with that of Quin, is drawn in a very impartial manner.

In the year 1735, Aaron Hill, in a periodical paper, called “The Prompter,” attacked some of the principal actors of the stage, and particularly Colley Gibber and Mr. Quin. “Gibber,” says Mr. Davies, “laughed, but Quin was angry and meeting Mr. Hill in the Court of Requests, a scuffle ensued between them, which ended in the exchange of a few blows.*


The following seems to be the paragraph which gave offence to the actor: " And as to you, Mr. All-weight, you lose the advantages of your deliberate articulation, distinct use of paus­ ing, solemn significance, and that composed air and gravity of your motion; for though there arises from all these good qualities an esteem that will continue and increase the number of your


friends, yet those among them who wish best to your interest, will be always uneasy at observing perfection so nearly within your reach, and your spirits not disposed to stretch out and take possession. To be always deliberate and solemn is an error, as certainly, though not as unpardonably, as never to be so. To pause where no pauses are necessary, is the way to destroy their effect where the sense stands in need of their assistance. And, though dignity is finely maintained by the weight of majestic composure, yet are there scenes in your parts where the voice should be sharp and impatient, the look disordered and agonised, the action precipitate and turbulent;—for the sake of such difference as we see in some smooth canal, where the stream is scarce visible, compared with the other end of the same canal, rushing rapidly down a cascade, and breaking beauties which owe their attraction to their violence."

| Quin was hardly settled at Drury-lane before he became embroiled in a dispute relative to Mods. Poitier and Mad. Roland, then two celebrated dancers, for whose neglect of duty it had fallen to his lot to apologize. On the 12th of December, the following advertisement appeared in the newspapers " Whereas on Saturday last, the audience of the theatre-royal in Drury-lane was greatly incensed at their disappointment in M. Poitier and Mad. Roland’s not dancing, as their names were in the bills for the day and Mr. Quin, seeing no way to appease the resentment then shewn, but by relating the real messages sent from the theatre to know the reasons why they did not come to perform, and the answers returned: and whereas there were two advertisements in the Daily Post of Tuesday last, insinuating that Mr. Quin had with malice accused the said Poitier and Mad. Roland I therefore think it (injustice to Mr. Quin) incumbent on me to assure the public, that Mr. Quin has conducted himself in this point towards the abovementioned with the strictest regard to truth and justice; and as Mr. Quin has acted in this affair in my behalf, I think myself obliged to return him thanks for so doing.

Charles Fleetwood.

After this declaration no further notice seems to have been taken of the fracas. A short time afterwards, the delinquent dancers made their apology to the public, and were received into favour.

In the season of 1735, Quin performed in Lillo’s “Christian Hero,” and Fielding’s “Universal Gallant;” and in the succeeding one he first performed Falstaff in the “Second Part of Henry IV.” for his own benefit. In 1737 he performed in Miller’s “Universal Passion,” and in 1737-8 in the same author’s “Art and Nature.” It was in this season also that he performed Comus, and had the first opportunity of promoting the interest of his friend | Thomson, in the tragedy of “Agamemnon.” The author of “The Actor,” (Dr. Hill) I 755, p. 235, says of him in the part of ComusIn this Mr. Quin, by the force of dignity alone, hid all his natural defects, and supported the part at such a height, that none have been received in it since.” He then proceeds to particular criticisms, which are rather bombastical, and adds “There was in all this very little of gesture the look, the elevated posture, and the brow of majesty, did all. This was most just; for as the hero of tragedy exceeds the gentleman of comedy, and therefore in his general deportment is to use fewer gestures the deity of the masque exceeds the hero in dignity, and therefore is to be yet more sparing.

He says afterwards, at p. 189, “The language of Milton, the most sublime of any in oar tongue, seemed formed for the mouth of this player, and he did justice to the sentiments, which in that author are always equal to the language., If he was a hero in Pyrrhus, he was, as it became him, in Comus, a demi-god. Mr. Quin was old when he performed this part, and his natural manner grave he was therefore unfit in common things for a youthful god of revels yet did he command our attention and applause in the part, in spite of these and all his other disadvantages. In the place of youth he had dignity, and for vivacity he gave us grandeur. The author had connected them in the character; and whatever young and spirited player shall attempt it after him, we shall remember his manner, faulty as it was, in what he could not help in what nature, not want of judgment, misrepresented it so as to set the other if) contempt.

Quin had the honour to enjoy the intimacy and esteem of Pope and other emiment men of his time. The friendship between Thomson and him is yet within the recollection of many persons living. “The commencement of it,” says Dr. Johnson, “is very honourable to Quin, who is reported to have delivered Thomson (then known to him only for his genius) from an arrest, by a very considerable present; and its continuance is honourable to both, for friendship is not always the sequel of obligation.

The season of 1738-9 produced only one new play in

which Quin performed, and that was “Mustapha,” by Mr.

Mallet which, according to Mr. Davies, was said to glance

both at the king and sir Robert Walpole, in the characters

of Solyman the magnificent, and Rustan his vizier. On | the night of its exhibition were assembled all the chiefs in opposition to the court and many speeches were applied by the audience to the supposed grievances of the times, and to persons and characters. The play was in general well acted particularly the parts of Solyman and Mustapha by Quin and Milward. Mr. Pope was present in the boxes, and at the end of the play went behind the scenes, a place which he had not visited for some years. He expressed himself well pleased with his entertainment; and particularly addressed himself to Quih, who was greatly flattered with the distinction paid him by so great a man and when Pope’s servant brought his master’s scarlet cloke, Quin insisted upon the honour of putting it on.

It was in the year 1739, on the 9th of March, that Mr. Quin was engaged in another dispute with one of his brethren; which by one who had already been convicted of manslaughter (however contemptible the person who was the party in the difference might be) could not be viewed with indifference. This person was no other than the celebrated Mr. Theophilus Gibber, who at that period, owing to seme disgraceful circumstances relative to his conduct to his wife, was not held in the most respectable light. Quin’s sarcasm on him was too gross to be here inserted. It may, however, be read in the “Apology for Mr. Gibber’s Life,” ascribed to Fielding. The circumstances of the duel we shall relate in the words of one of the periodical writers of the times. “About seven o‘clock a duel was fought in the Piazza, Covent Garden, between Mr. Quin and Mr. Gibber; the former pulling the latter out of the Bedford coffee-house, to answer for some words he had used in a letter to Mr. Fleetwood, relating to his refusing to act a part in King Lear for Mr. Quin’s benefit on Thursday se’nnight. Mr. Gibber was slightly wounded in the arm, and Mr. Quin wounded in his fingers after each had their wounds dressed, they came into the Bedford coffee-house and abused one another; but the company prevented further mischief.

In the season of 1739-40 there was acted at Drury-lane theatre, on the 12th of November, a tragedy, entitled “The Fatal Retirement,” by a Mr. Anthony Brown, which received its condemnation on the first night. In this play Quin had been solicited to perform, which he refused and the ill-success which attended the piece irritated the author and his friends so much, that they ascribed its failure to the | absence of Quin, and, in consequence of it, repeatedly insulted him for several nights afterwards when he appeared on the stage. This illiberal treatment he at length resented, and determined to repel. Coming forward, therefore, he addressed the audience, and informed them, “that at the request of the author he had read his piece before it was acted, and given him his sincere opinion of it; that it was the very worst play he had ever read in his life, and for that reason had refused to act in it.” This spirited explanation was received with great applause, and for the future entirely silenced the opposition to him. In this season he performed in Lillo’s “Elmerick.

The next season, that of 1740-41, concluded Quin’s engagement at Drury-lane. In that period no new play was produced but on the revival of “As you like it,” and “The Merchant of Venice,” he performed, for the first time, the parts of Jaques and Antonio, having declined the part of the Jew, which was offered to him, and accepted by Mr. Macklin. The irregular conduct of the manager, Mr. Fleetwood, was at this time such, that it can excite but little surprise that a man like Quin should find his situation so uneasy as to be induced to relinquish it. In the summer of 1741, Mr. Quin, Mrs. Clive, Mr. Ryan, and Mademoiselle Chateauneuf, then esteemed the best female dancer in Europe, made an excursion to Dublin. Quin had been there before, in the month of June, 1739, accompanied by Mr. Giffard, and received at his benefit 126l. at that time esteemed a great sum.

On his second visit Quin opened with his favourite part of Cato, to as crowded an audience as the theatre could contain. Mrs. Clive next appeared in Lappet in “The Miser.” She certainly was one of the best that ever played it. And Mr. Ryan came forward in lago to Quin’s Othello. With such excellent performers, we may naturally suppose the plays were admirably sustained. Perhaps it will scarcely be credited, that so finished a comic actress as Mrs. Clive could so far mistake her abilities, as to play Lady Townly to Quin’s Lord Townly and Mr. Ryan’s Manly Cordelia to Quin’s Lear and Ryan’s Edgar, &c. However she made ample amends by her performance of Nell, the Virgin Unmasqued, the Country Wife, and Euphrosyne in “Comus,” which was got up on purpose, and acted for the first time in Ireland, Quin seems to have attended the Dublin company to Cork and Limerick and | the next season 1741-42, we find him performing in Dublin, where he acted the part of Justice Balance in “The Recruiting Officer,” at the opening of the theatre in October, on a government night. He afterwards performed Jaques, Apemantus, Richard, Cato, Sir John Brute, and Falstaff, unsupported by any performer of eminence. In December, however, Mrs. Gibber arrived, and performed Indiana to his young Bevil and afterwards they were frequently in the same play, as in Chamont and Monimia, in the “OrphanComus and the Lady, Duke and Isabella, in “Measure for Measure” Fryar and Queen, in 1 “The Spanish Friar;” Horatio and Calista, in the “Fair Penitent,” &c. &c. with uncommon applause, and generally to crowded houses. The state of the Irish stage was then so low, that it was often found that the whole receipt of the house was not more than sufficient to discharge Quiri’s engagement and so attentive was he to his own interest, and so rigid in demanding its execution, that we are told by good authority he refused to let the curtain be drawn up till the money was regularly brought to him.

He left Dublin in Feb. 1741-2, and on the 25th of March assisted the widow and four children of Milward the actor (who died the 6th of February preceding), and performed Cato for their benefit. On his arrival in London he found the attention of the theatrical public entirely occupied by the merits of Mr. Garrick, who in October preceding had begun his theatrical career, and was then performing with prodigious success at Goodman’s-fields. The fame of the new performer afforded no pleasure to Quin, who sarcastically observed that “Garrick was a new religion, and that Whitefield was followed for a time; but ‘they would all come to church again.” This observation produced a well-known epigram by Mr. Garrick. In the season of 1742-3, Quin returned to his former master, Rich, at Covent-garden theatre, where he opposed Garrick at Drurylane it must be added, with very little success. But though the applause the latter obtained from the public was not agreeable to Quin, yet we find that a scheme was proposed and agreed to, though not carried into execution, in the summer of 1743, for them to perform together for their mutual benefit a few nights at Lincoln’s-inn-fields theatre. On the failure of this plan, Quin went to Dublin, where he had the mortification to find the fame of Mr. Sheridan, | then new to the stage, more adverse to him than even Garrick’s had been ’in London. Instead of making a profitable bargain in Dublin, as he hoped, he found the managers of the theatres there entirely indisposed to admit him. After staying there a short time, he returned to Londorj, without effecting the purpose of his journey, and in no good humour with the new performers.

In the season of 1743-4, Quin, we believe, passed without engagement; but in that of 1744-5 he was at Coventgarclen again, and performed King John, in Gibber’s “Papal Tyranny.” The next year seems to have been devoted to repose whether from indolence, or inability to obtain the terms he required from the managers, is not very apparent. Both may have united. It was some of these periods of relaxation that gave occasion to his friend Thomson, who had been gradually writing the “Castle of Indolence” for fourteen or fifteen years, to introduce him in a stanza in the Mansion of Idleness.

He had the next seasoil, 1746-7, occasion to exert himself, being engaged at Covent-garden with Garrick. -.“It is not, perhaps,” says Mr. Davies, “more difficult to settle the covenants of a league between mighty monarchs, than to adjust the preliminaries of a treaty in which the high and potent princes of a theatre are the parties. Mr. Garrick and Mr. Quin had too much sense and temper to squabble about trifles. After one or two previous and friendly meetings, they selected such characters as they intended to act, without being obliged to join in the same play. Some parts were to be acted alternately, particularly Richard III. and Othello.” The same writer adds “Mr. Quin soon found that his competition with Mr. Garrick, whose reputation was hourly increasing, whilst his own was on the decline, would soon become ineffectual. His Richard the Third could scarce draw together a decent appearance of company in the boxes, and he was with some difficulty tolerated in the part, when Garrick acted the same character to crowded houses, and with very great applause.

The town often wished to see these great actors fairly matched in two characters of almost equal importance. The Fair Penitent presented an opportunity to display their several merits, though it must be owned that the balance was as much in favour of Quin, as the advocate of virtue is superior in argument to the defender of profligacy. The shouts | of applause when Horatio and Lothario met on the stage together (14th Nov. 1746), in the second act, were so loud, and so often repeated, before the audience permitted them to speak, that the combatants seemed to be disconcerted. It was observed, that Quin changed colour, and Garrick seemed to be embarrassed and it must be owned, that these actors were never less masters of themselves than on the first night of the contest for pre-eminence. Quin was too proud to own his feelings on the occasion; but Mr. Garrick was heard to say,I believe Quin was as much frightened as myself.“The play was repeatedly acted, and with constant applause, to very brilliant audiences; nor is it to be wondered at; for, besides the novelty of seeing the two rival actors in the same tragedy, the Fair Penitent was admirably played by Mrs. Gibber.

It was in this season that Mr. Garrick produced “Miss in her Teens,” the success of which is said by Mr. Davies to have occasioned no small mortification to Mr. Quin. He, however, did not think it prudent to refuse Mr. Garrick’s offer of performing it at his benefit and accordingly the following letter was prefixed to all Quin’s advertisements: "Sir,

I am sorry that my present bad state of health makes me incapable of performing so long and so laborious a character as Jaffier this season. If you think my playing in the farce will be of the least service to you, or any entertainment to the audience, you may command March 25.” Your humble servant, D. Garrick."

It was this season also in which “The Suspicious Husband” appeared. The part of Mr. Strickland was offered to Mr. Quin, but be refused it and in consequence it fell to the lot of Mr. Bridgewater, who obtained great reputation by his performance of it.

At the end of the season Quin retired to Bath, which he had probably chosen already for his final retreat being, as he said, “a good convenient home to lounge away the dregs of life in,” The manager and he were not on good terms, and each seems to have determined to remain in sullen silence till the other should make a proposal. In November, however, Quin thought proper to make a slight advance which Rich repelled, and Quin remained therefore during the winter unemployed, and it has been asserted that Garrick was instrumental in preventing his engagement, The fire in Cornhill, March 1748, gave | him, however, an opportunity at once of shewing himself, and his readiness to succour distress. He acted Othello at Covent-garden, for the benefit of the sufferers, having quitted Bath on purpose, and produced a large receipt. Soon after, he had a benefit for himself.

For the season of 1748-9 he was engaged again, and on the 13th of January 1749 the tragedy of Coriolanus, by Thomson, who died in the preceding August, was brought out at Covent-garden. Quin, whose intimacy with him. has been already mentioned, acted the principal part, and spoke the celebrated prologue, written by lord Lyttelton. When he pronounced the following lines, which are in themselves pathetic, all the endearments of a long friendship rose at once to his imagination, and he justified them by his real tears.

He lov’d his friends (forgive this gushing tear, Alas, I feel I am no actor here)

He lov’d his friends, with such a warmth of heart,

So clear of interest, so devoid of art,

Such generous freedom, such unshaken zeal,

No words can speak it but our tears may tell.

A deep sigh filled up the judicious break in the last line, and the audience felt the complete effect of the strongest sympathy. About the same time Cato was performed at Leicester-house by the family of Frederick prince of Wales, and Quin, whom the prince strongly patronized, was employed to instruct the young performers. From his judgment in the English language, he was also engaged to teach his present majesty, and the other royal children, a correct mode of pronunciation, and delivery on which account, when the theatrical veteran was afterwards informed of the graceful manner in which the king pronounced his first speech in parliament, he is said to have exclaimed with eagerness, “I taught the boy

The next season opened with a very powerful company at Covent-garden, and it is said that Garrick endeavoured, but in vain, to detach Quin from that house. His benefit was Othello, in which, for that night, he acted lago, wTiile Barry took the part of Othello. This was on the 18th of March 1751, only three days before the death of his patron the prince of Wales and the house, notwithstanding the novelty arising from the change of parts, was thin. On the 10th of May he performed Horatio in the Fail- Penitent, and with that character concluded his performances | as a hired acton He now carried into execution his plan of retiring to Bath, but visited London in the two succeeding seasons, to perform Falstaff for the benefit of his old friend Ryan. The last time of his appearance on the stage was the 19th of March 1753, on which night the stage, pit, and boxes, were all at the advanced price of 5s. The next year, finding himself disabled by the loss of his teeth, he declined giving his former assistance, saying, in his characteristic manner, lt I will not whistle Falstaff for any body but I hope the town will be kind to my friend Ryan they cannot serve an honester man." He exerted himself, however, to dispose of tickets for him, and continued his attention to the end of Ryan’s life. Mr. Davies says, in hi* Life of Garrick, that to make up the loss of his own annual performance, he presented his friend with no less a sum than 500l.

Quin had always observed a prudent ceconomy, which enabled him, while on the stage, to assert a character of independence, and, when he quitted it, secured to him a competent provision. There is no reason to suppose that he repented withdrawing from the public eye, though in 1760 Nash was persuaded, probably by some wags, to fancy that Quin intended to supplant him in his office of master of the ceremonies. Towards the latter end of his life, when all competition for fame had ceased, he began to be on terms of friendly intercourse with Garrick; after which he made occasional visits to Hampton. It was on a visit there that an eruption first appeared in his hand, which the physicians feared would turn to a mortification. This was prevented by large quantities of bark; but his spirits were greatly affected by the apprehension, and when the first danger was surmounted a fever came on, of which he died, at his house at Bath, in his 73d year, Jan. 21, 1766. When he found his last hour approaching, he said, “I could wish this last tragic scene was over, but I hope to go through it with becoming dignity.

It remains to say a few words on the character of Quin. He has been represented by some persons as stern, haughty, luxurious, and avaricious. Dr. Smollet, who probably knew him well, says of him, in his Humphrey Clinker, “How far he may relax in his hour of jollity I cannot pretend to* say; but his general conversation is conducted by the nicest rules of propriety, and Mr. James Quin is certainly one-of the best-bred men in the kingdom. He is not only a | most agreeable companion, but fas I am credibly informed) a very honest man highly susceptible of friendship warm, steady, and even generous in his attachments disdaining flattery, and incapable of meanness and dissimulation. Were I to judge, however, from Quin’s eye alone, I should take him to be proud, insolent, and cruel. There is something remarkably severe and forbidding in. his aspect, and I have been told he was ever disposed to insult his inferiors and dependents. Perhaps that report tias influenced my opinion of his looks. You know we are the fools of prejudice.” It appears that the unfavourable parts of his character have been generally exaggerated, and that he had many excellent qualities. His wit was strong, but frequently coarse, though it is probable that many of the gross things which have been repeated as his, have been invented to suit his supposed manner. Perhaps the following character, which is said to have been written, by one of the last of his friends, approaches more nearly to truth than any other. \- "’

"Mr. Quin was a man of strong, pointed sense, with strong passions and a bad temper yet in good-humour he was an excellent companion, and better bred than many who valued themselves upon good-manners. It is true, when he drank freely, which was often the case, he forgot himself, and there was a sediment of brutality in him when you shook the bottle; but he made you ample amends by his pleasantry and good sense when he was sober. He told a story admirably and concisely, and his expressions were strongly marked; however, he often had an assumed character, and spoke in blank verse, which procured him respect from some, but exposed him to ridicule from others, who had discernment to see through his pomp and affectation. He was sensual, and loved good eating, but not so much as was generally reported with some exaggeration; and he was luxurious in his descriptions of those turtle and venison feasts to which he was invited. He was in his dealing a very honest fair man, yet he understood his interest, knew how to deal with the managers, and nevef made a bad bargain with them in truth, it was not an easy matter to over-reach a man of his capacity and penetration, united with a knowledge of mankind. He was not so much an ill-natured as an ill-humoured man, and he was capable of friendship. His airs of importance and his gait was absurd so that he might be said to walk in | blank verse as well as talk but his good sense corrected him, and he did not continue long in the fits. I have heard him represented as a cringing fawning fellow to lords and great men, bat I could never discover that mean disposition in him. I observed he was decent and respectful in high company, and had a very proper behaviour, without arrogance or diffidence, which made him more circumspect, and consequently less entertaining. He was not a deep scholar, but he seemed well acquainted with the works of Dryden, Milton, and Pope and he made a better figure in company, with his stock of reading, than any of the literary persons I have seen him with.

It has been the fashion of late to run down his theatrical character but he stands unrivalled in his comic parts of Falstaff, the Spanish Fryar, Volpone, Sir John Brute, &c. and surely he had merit in Cato, Pierre, Zanga, Corioianus, and those stern manly characters which are now lost to our stage. He excelled where grief was too big for utterance, and he had strong feelings, though Churchill has pronounced that he had none. He had defects, and some bad habits, which he contracted early, and which were incurable in him as an actor.1


Life of Quin, 1765, 8vo Davies’ Life of Garrick, &c.