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G. G., An Elegy on the Death of Mr. Robert Wilks, etc.

Published in the year of the death of the famous actor and theatre manager Robert Wilks (1665-1732), this elegy repeats the praise frequently bestowed on Wilks by his contemporaries, who commented on the ‘ease’ and ‘naturalness’ of his acting style. As G. G. puts it, ‘Easy his Gesture was, and free the Air, / For Nature’s-Laws he made his daily Care.’ e identity of ‘G. G.’ is unknown. We can speculate that it was the Irish actor omas George Gri th (1680-1744), who was a friend of Robert Wilks when Wilks acted at the Smock Alley eatre in Dublin in 1698-9. According to High ll, Burnim and Langhans, ‘it was very likely Wilks who was responsible for Gri th coming to London’ in 1699 and arranging ‘for Gri th to be taken on at Drury Lane for a small salary.’ In 1703, Gri th moved back to Dublin, but in the autumn of 1714 he returned to London and was hired by Wilks at Drury Lane ‘without consulting his co-managers, [Colley] Cibber and omas Doggett’.1 G. G. alludes to Wilks as a friend twice in the poem: the rst time when he talks about Wilks as epitomizing ‘Friendship sincere’ and the second time in the conclusion of the poem when he says that his ‘dear Friend’ is ‘now at Rest with Heaven’s Great King.’