Notes and Queries, Number 229, March 18, 1854 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc

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Excerpt GOSSIPING HISTORY. "This is the Jew That Shakspeare drew." I do not know by whom or when the above couplet was first imputed to Pope. The following extracts will show how a story grows, and the parasites which, under unwholesome cultivation, adhere to it. The restoration of Shakspeare's text, and the performance of Shylock as a serious part, are told as usual. "In the dumb action of the trial scene he was amazingly descriptive, and through the whole displayed such unequalled merit, as justly entitled him to that very comprehensive, though concise, compliment paid to him by Mr. Pope, who sat in the stage-box on the third night of the reproduction, and who emphatically exclaimed,— 'This is the Jew That Shakspeare drew.'" Life of Macklin, by J. T. Kirkman, vol. i. p. 264.: London, 1799, 2 vols. 8vo. The book is ill-written, and no authorities are cited. "A few days after, Macklin received an invitation to dine with Lord Bolingbroke at Battersea. He attended the rendezvous, and there found Pope and a select party, who complimented him very much on the part of Shylock, and questioned him about many little particulars, relative to his getting up the play, &c. Pope particularly asked him why he wore a red hat, and he answered, because he had read that Jews in Italy, particularly in Venice, wore hats of that colour. 'And pray, Mr. Macklin,' said Pope, 'do players in general take such pains?' 'I do not know, sir, that they do; but as I had staked my reputation on the character, I was determined to spare no trouble in getting at the best information.' Pope nodded, and said, 'It was very laudable.'"—Memoirs of Macklin, p. 94., Lond. 1804. The above work has not the author's name, and is as defective in references as Mr. Kirkman's. It is, however, not quite so trashy. Being published five years later, the author must have seen the preceding Life, and his not repeating the story about the couplet is strong presumption that it was not then believed. It appears again in the Biographia Dramatica, vol. i. p. 469., London, 1812: "Macklin's performance of this character (Shylock) so forcibly struck a gentleman in the pit, that he as it were involuntarily exclaimed, 'This is,' &c. It has been said that this gentleman was Mr. Pope." I am not aware of its alteration during the next forty years, but this was the state of the anecdote in 1853: "Macklin was a tragedian, and the personal friend of Alexander Pope. He had a daughter, a beautiful and accomplished girl, who was likewise on the stage. On one occasion Macklin's daughter was about to take a benefit at Drury Lane Theatre, and on the morning of that evening, whilst the father and daughter were at breakfast, a young nobleman entered the apartment, and, with the most undisguised ruffianism, made overtures of a dishonourable character to Macklin for his daughter. The exasperated father, seizing a knife from the table, rushed at the fellow, who on the instant fled, on which Macklin pursued him along the street with the knife in his hand....
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