This playful portrait shows the couple with Garrick poised to write. Hogarth kept the original painting, and his widow gave it to Eva Maria when she herself was widowed. The Garricks had no children, so it went to auction when Eva Maria died at age 98 and is now in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle. The chair that Garrick is depicted sitting in is itself in the Folger collection.
Garrick had a number of literary and theatrical friendships with women of social and cultural distinction. The hand-colored engraving depicting Peg Woffington is tipped in to Arthur Murphy’s biography of Garrick opposite words, “Previous to this match [with Eva Maria], it is certain that Garrick was on the point of marrying Mrs. Woffington.” The truth is a bit more complex than this perhaps fairly typical “talk of the town.” In fact the affair had cooled in 1745, before Mlle Eva Maria Veigel’s arrival in England. Mrs. Woffington continued to act under Garrick’s management at Drury Lane in later years.
The inscription on the Folger’s copy of An Ode to Garrick, Upon the Talk of the Town, says “Written, I believe, by Mr. Garrick himself” and is signed J.P.K. [i.e. by the actor John Philip Kemble (1757–1823)]. Garrick often published anonymous criticism of his own performances and management in order to take some of the wind out of the sails of his critics. But this title is in fact by Edward Moore (1712–1757), a writer whose first play, The Foundling, was “met with universal applause” according to the prompter at Drury Lane. It played there for thirteen nights in February 1748, with David Garrick acting in the role of Young Belmont and Mrs. Woffington achieving great success acting the part of Rosetta. Stanza XV of Moore’s Ode notes the public’s admiration for Garrick’s fiancee Eva Maria, but also their love for gossip about Garrick:
A Pox upon the tattling Town!—
The Fops that join to cry you down
Would give their Ears to get her.
The marriage certificate seen here documents the second ceremony, a Catholic service held at the chapel of the Portuguese Embassy at No. 74, South Audley Street. Presiding over the service was the English Carmelite and reviser of the Douay Bible, Chaplain-Major Francis Blyth (1705?–1772). David and Eva Maria were first married at 8:00 a.m. that morning by David Garrick’s friend the Reverend Thomas Francklin (1721–1784) in the chapel in Russell Street, Bloomsbury.
On July 18, 1749, Garrick wrote this letter to Dorothy Boyle, Countess of Burlington. The Countess, Eva Maria's patron, was not initially inclined to see her protégée marry an actor. Yet this letter, written just weeks after the wedding, reveals some of the thaw that must have taken place: "she has more than once confess’d to Me, that tho She lik’d me very well, & was determin'd not to marry any body else, yet she was as determin'd not to Marry Me, if Your Ladyship had put a Negative upon Me."