Samuel Foote

Life
1720-1777; actor-dramatist; his piece ridiculing the Methodists, The Minor, a failure when first given in Dublin (1760), but successful when given in London in an enlarged from; acted in co-lessee Murphy’s plays at Drury lane, and played Peter Paragraph in his own Orators (1762); by repute, a practical joke at a party cost him his leg; he received a patent for a theatre in Westminster though the Duke of York in return; built the new Haymarket, 1767, and held it till 1777; William Jackson was the Dr Viper of The Capuchin (1776) - an adaptation of A Trip to Calais - in which the Duchess of Kingston is also satirised. ODNB

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Works
George Taylor, ed., Plays by Samuel Foote and Arthur Murphy (Cambridge UP 1984).

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Criticism
Percy H. Fitzgerald, Samuel Foote: A Biography (London: Chatto & Windus 1910), vii, 382pp.

See also Arnott (Theatrical Literature), citing Lowe: ‘The Minor was first produced in Dublin without success in Jan. 1760. Foote extended it, and on its production in the Haymarket in the summer ... it was very successful. It is a bitter attack on the Methodists.’..

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Commentary
J. F. Molloy, Romance of Irish Stage (1897), Foote’s play The Author contains a character, Peter Paragraph, modelled on George Faulkner who at first ignored it, but later sued when he found his own mechanics attending with hilarity.

G. C. Duggan, The Stage Irishman (1937), Samuel Foote’s The Orators (1772) is along the same lines, and contains skits on two plays, Cock-Lane Ghost, and The Robin-Hood. In the later scenes, he introduces a number of Irishmen, the first being a witness, Peter Paragraph, journalist, “a native of Ireland, and born and bred in the city of Dublin”, arrived with the confessed purpose of marrying a London bookseller’s daughter, who falls out with his prospective father in law over their rival exploitation of the news value of Fanny the Phantom, the central figure in the Cock-Lane Ghost, which is skitted in the first part of the play. [And note that Peter Paragraph is a caricature of George Faulkner]. Stage-Irishmen in the upper boxes of the play-within-the-play interrupt to rail against “that hopping fellow there, that Dublin journal man, Pra-paragraf by my shoul, that is none of his name.” Sending his men to shout it down in the theatre, Faulkner was humiliated since they were struck silent by Foote’s character which they mistook for their master. ALSO, Samuel Foot’s The Bankrupt (1776) also contains an Irish journalist, Phelim O’Flam, who collects obituary details of the latest social casualties. In Dr Last in his Chariot, produced in collaboration with Bickerstaff[e], there is a Dr. Bulgruddery, while in The Devil Upon Two Sticks, there are Doctors Sligo and Osasafras. of these, the one says to the other, ‘Osasafras - that’s a name of no note; he is not a Milesian, I am sure. The family, I suppose, came over the other day with Strongbow, not above 700 or 800 years ago, or perhaps a descendent from one of Oliver’s drummers.’

Christopher J. Wheatley, ‘“Our own good, plain, old Irish English”: Charles Macklin Cathal McLaughlin) and Protestant Convert Accommodations’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 4, 1 (Autumn 1998), pp.81-102, narrating that Macklin gave a lecture on Irish duelling which was interrupted by Samuel Foote who remarked (in William Cooke’s words): ‘“about this time of night, every gentleman in Ireland, that can afford it, is in his third bottle of claret, consequently is in a fair way of betting drunk: from drunkenness proceeds quarreling, and from quarreling, dueling, and so there’s an end of the chapter.” The company seemed fully satisfied with this abridgement, and Macklin shut up his lecture for the evening in great dudgeon.’ (cooke, Memoirs of Charles Macklin, Comedian, 1804, pp.208-09; Wheatley, p.85.)

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References
Eric Stevens Books (1992) lists The Dramatic Works of Samuel Foote, Esq., P. Valliant et al, [eds.] ca. 1786, 4 vols. bound in 2, prints 19 plays, variously dated.

Dr. Johnson on Foote’s broken leg is quoted in W. Clark Russell, Representative Actors ( London: Frederick Warne and Co, 1888).

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