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Original Actors in Shakspeare's Dramas.
THIS personage, who appeared at the head of the King's Servants, in the royal license of 1603, has escaped the notice of the historian of our stage; and, in truth, we know scarcely anything of him. Fletcher was, probably, of St. Saviour's, Southwark, where several families of that name resided, as may be learnt from the parish register. He was placed before Shakspeare and Richard Burbadge king James's license, as much, perhaps, by accident as design. Augustine Phillips, when he made his will, in May, 1605, bequeathed to his fellow, Laurence Fletcher, twenty shillings. And this fellow of Phillips and of Shakspeare was buried in St. Saviour's church, on the 12th of September, 1608. What plays of our author's he performed in is uncertain, nor does it appear whether he excelled in tragedy or comedy.
THE brother of the poet, was a performer at the Globe, lived in St. Saviour's, and was buried in the church of that parish. The entry in the register runs thus: "1607, December 31, [was buried] Edmond Shakspeare, a player, in the church." Nothing more is known of him; stimulated, most probably, by his brother's success, he came to the metropolis and attached himself to the theatre; but he died young, and seems to have made little progress in his pro
THE most celebrated tragedian of our author's time, was the son of James Burbadge, who was also an actor, and, perhaps, a countryman of Shakspeare's. He lived in Holywell-street, in the parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch; from which it may be supposed that he originally played at the Curtain Theatre, which was in that neighbourhood. It is singular that he should have resided, from the year 1600 to his death, in a place so distant from the Blackfriars playhouse, and still further from the Globe, in which theatres he acted during the whole of that time. By his wife, Winifred, he had four daughters, two of whom were baptized by the name of Juliet. His fondness for the name of Juliet, perhaps, arose from his having been the original Romeo in our author's play. Burbadge died about the 13th of March, 1619, and was buried in the church of St. Leonard, Shoreditch. His will is still extant in the Prerogative Oflice, but it contains nothing remarkable. Richard Burbadge is introduced in person in an old play called The Returne from Parnassus, and instructs a Cambridge scholar how to play the part of King Richard the Third, in which character Burbadge was greatly admired. That he represented this part is proved by bishop Corbet, who, in his Iter Boreale, speaking of his host at Leicester, tells us,
"When he would have said, king Richard died, And call'd a horse, a horse, he Burbage cry'd."
He, probably, also enacted the characters of King John, Richard II. Henry V. Timon, Brutus, CorioJanus, Macbeth, Lear, and Othello. He was one of the principal sharers or proprietors of the Globe and Blackfriars theatres; and was of such eminence, that in a letter, preserved in the British Museum, written in the year 1613, the actors at the Globe are called Burbadge's Company. Flecknoe writes thus of him in his Short Discourse of the English Stage, 1664: "He was a delightful Proteus, so wholly transforming himself into his parts, and putting off himself with his cloaths, as he never (not so much as in the tyring-house) assumed
himself again, until the play was done. He had all the parts of an excellent orator, animating his words with speaking, and speech with action; his auditors being never more delighted than when he spake, nor more sorry than when he held his peace; yet, even then, he was an excellent actor still; never failing in his part when he had done speaking, but with his looks and gesture maintaining it still to the height." The testimony of sir Richard Baker is to the same purpose; he pronounces him to have been "such an actor as no age must ever look to see the like." In Philpot's Additions to Camden's Remains we find an epitaph on this tragedian more concise than even that on Ben Jonson, being only "Exit Burbadge." The following also appears in a manuscript in the British Museum:
"Epitaph on Mr. Richard Burbage, the Player.
Is said by Roberts, the player, to have been a tragedian, and, in conjunction with Condell, to have followed the business of printing, but his authority is doubtful. As early as November, 1597, he appears to have been the manager of the Lord-chamberlain's Company. This station, for which his prudence qualified him, he held, probably, during forty years. There is reason to believe that he was originally a Warwickshire lud, a shire which_bas produced so many players and poets; the Burbadges, the Shakspeares, the Greens, and the Harts. Of Heminges' cast of characters little is known; there is only a tradition that he was the first representative of Falstaff. He was adopted by king James, on his accession, as one of his theatrical servants; and was ranked the fifth in the royal license of 1603. He had the honour to be remembered in Shakspeare's will, and was the first editor of Shakspeare's works. He died at the age of seventy-five, in the parish of St. Mary, Aldermanbury; and was buried, according to the register, on the 12th of October, 1630. His will, still preserved, devises considerable property, and provides various kind tokens of remembrance for his relations and fellows.
WAS placed next to Burbadge in the royal license of 1603. He was an author as well as an actor, and left behind him some ludicrous rhymes, which were entered in the Stationers' books in 1593, and were entitled The Jigg of the Slippers. He is supposed to have performed characters in low life. Whatever he might have been in the theatre, he was certainly a respectable man in the world. He amassed considerable property. He died at Mortlake, in Surrey, in May, 1605, and was buried, at his dying request, in the chancel of the church of that parish, leaving his wi Anne, executrix of his will; with this proviso, however, that if she married again, John Heminges, Richard Burbadge, William Sly, and Timothie Whithorne, should be his executors. His widow did marry again, and John Heminges immediately proved the will, on the 16th of May, 1607, and assumed the trust which Phillips had reposed in him.
Apology for Actors, "in his time gracious with the
is dedicated to that most comicall and conceited
Is said by Roberts, the player, to have been a comedian; but he does not mention any authority for this assertion but stage tradition. In Webster's Duchess of Malfy, he originally acted the part of the Cardinal; and, as when that play was printed in 1623, another performer had taken the character, it is probable that he had retired from the stage before that time. He still, however, continued to bave an interest in the theatre, being mentioned with the other players to whom a license was granted by Charles I. in 1625. He had, probably, a considerable portion of the shares or property in the Globe and Blackfriars theatres. This actor, as well as Heminges, lived in Aldermanbury. He is honourably noticed in Shakspeare's will, and was one of the editors of his dramas.
Nothing: he, probably, acted such parts as required
WAS joined with Shakspeare in the license granted in 1603. He is introduced personally in the Induction to Marston's Malecontent, 1604; and from his there using an affected phrase of Osrick's in Hamlet, we may collect that he performed that part. He died before the year 1612.
Is said to have been an actor of a low class, having taken the part of Verges, in Much Ado about
If the date on his picture in the Ashmolean MuWAS a principal performer in Shakspeare's plays. seum at Oxford, is accurate, he was born in 1576. Wright mentions in his Historia Histrionica, that "before the wars, he used to act the part of Falstaff with mighty applause;" but, without doubt, he means during the reign of king Charles I. from 1625 to 1641. When our poet's King Henry IV. years old; it is, therefore, probable that Heminges, was first exhibited, Lowin was but twenty-one or some other actor, originally represented the fat and that several years afterwards the part was given to Lowin. Roberts, the player, informs us, that he also performed King Henry VIII. and Hamlet; but with respect to the latter, his account is certainly erroneous, since it appears from more ancient writers, that Joseph Taylor was the first representative of that character. Lowin is introduced in the Induction to Marston's Malecontent, and he and Taylor are noticed in a copy of verses, written in the year 1632, soon after the appearance of Jonson's Magnetic Lady, as the two most esteemed actors of that time:
"Let Lowin cease, and Taylor scorn to touch The loathed stage, for thou hast made it such," Though Heminges and Condell had an interest in the theatre to the time of their death, yet they ceased to act about the year 1623; and, in the next year, Lowin and Taylor took the management. After the theatres were suppressed, Lowin became miserably poor; and, in his later years, he kept an inn, the Three Pigeons at Brentford. He died in London, aged eighty-three, and was buried in the ground belonging to the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, March 18, 1658.
THIS actor was, probably, dead before the year 1600; for Heywood, who had himself written for the stage before that time, says he had never seen him.
IT appears that this actor was the heroine of the stage, even before the year 1588. He acted as a it is thence reasonably supposed, that he reprewoman in Jonson's Sejanus, and in The Fox; and Alexander Cooke was recollected as a fellow by sented the lighter females of Shakspeare's dramas. Augustine Phillips, and distinguished as an intimate by a legacy.
SAMUEL GILBURNE, unknown.
PERFORMED in The Alchymist, in 1610, and was alive in 1611, some verses having been addressed to him in that year by John Davies of Hereford, from which he appears to have occasionally performed the part of the clown or fool:
"To honest, gamesome, Robert Armine, Who tickles the spleene like a harmless vermin." "Armine, what shall I say of thee, but this, Thou art a fool and knave; both ?---fie, I miss, And wrong thee much; sith thou indeed art neither, Although in shew thou playest both together." He was the author of a comedy called The Two Maids of More-clack, 1609; also of a book called A Nest of Ninnies, simply of themselves without Compound, 1608; and, at Stationers' Hall, was entered, in the same year, a book called Phantasm,
the Italian Taylor, and his Boy, made by Mr. Armin, servant to his majesty. He was certainly one of the Lord-chamberlain's Players at the accession of king James, and was received, with greater actors, into the royal company. As a fellow, Armin was kindly remembered by Phillips, who left him a legacy of twenty shillings.
HAD been one of the Children of the Chapel, having acted in Jonson's Poetaster, together with Field and Underwood, in 1601, and is said to have performed women's parts. In 1610, both he and Underwood acted as men in Jonson's Alchymist. In Davies's Scourge of Folly, there are some verses addressed to him with this title: "To the Roscius of these times, William Ostler." He acted Antonio, in Webster's Duchess of Malfy, in 1623; but the period of his death is uncertain.
WAS one of the unnamed associates of Shakspeare, Burbadge, and Heminges, at the Globe, and was one of the original actors in our bard's dramas. He, too, represented women, as early as 1569, and acted Rodope, in Tarleton's Platt of the Seven Deadlie Sinns. He performed in the Alchymist, in the year 1610. Tooley, from some expressions in his will, seems to have been the servant or apprentice of Burbadge, to whose last testament he was a witness. Tooley made his own will on the 3d of June, 1623; he died soon after, in the house of Cuthbert Burbadge, in Holywell-street; to whose wife, Elizabeth, the testator left a legacy of ten pounds, "as a remembrance of his love, in respect of her motherly care of him." Tooley was a most benevolent man, while he bustled in the world he did many kind acts; and when he could no longer perform, he gave considerable legacies to the poor of St. Leonard's Shoreditch, and St. Giles's Cripplegate, which administer to the comfort of the needy even to the present day.
ALL we know of this actor is from Ben Jonson's Alchymist, in which his name occurs, in the year 1610. It is highly probable, however, that he per1ormed in our author's plays.
ACCORDING to Downes, the prompter, he was instructed by Shakspeare to play Hamlet; and Wright, in his Historia Histrionica, says, "He performed that part incomparably well." From the remembrance of his performance of Hamlet, sir William Davenant is said to have conveyed his instructions to Mr. Betterton. He likewise played Iago, and is highly commended by various contemporary authors. In the year 1614, Taylor was at the head of a distinct company of players, called The Lady Elizabeth's Servants, but he soon returned to his old friends; and after the death of Burbadge, Heminges, and Condell, became manager of the King's Company, in conjunction with Lowin and Swanston. In September, 1639, he was appointed Yeoman of the Revels in Ordinary to his Majesty, in the room of Mr. William Hunt; there were
certain perquisites annexed to this office, and a salary of sixpence a day. When he was in attendance upon the king, he had a salary of £3: 6s: 8d. per month. Taylor died in the year 1653, and was buried at Richmond. He must have been nearly seventy years of age at his death. He is said by some to have painted the portrait of Shakspeare, now in the possession of the duke of Chandos; but, if genuine, it is much more likely that Barbadge was the artist, for there is a picture in Dulwich College, which he is known to have painted.
WAS but a second-rate actor. He acted the King, in the Deserving Favourite; Ladialaus, in The Picture; and Junius Rusticus, in The Roman Actor. He was living in 1617, being one of the players who signed the dedication to the folio edition of Fletcher's plays, published in that year.
THIS actor performed female characters: in the Seven Deadly Sins he played Aspatia; but in 1611 he had arrived to an age which entitled him to represent male parts; for in The Second Maiden's Tragedie, which was produced in that year, he performed the Tyrant.
ACTED in Jonson's Cataline in 1611; and from a passage in The Devil is an Ass, 1616, it appears that at that period he usually took female characters:
"........ We had
The merriest supper of it there, one night
The gentleman's fandlady invited him
To a gossip's feast: now he, sir, brought Dick Robinson Drest like a lawyer's wife."
In The Second Maiden's Tragedie he performed the Lady of Govianus. In The Deserving Favourite, 1629, he played Orsinio; and in The Wild Goose Chase, Le Castre. Hart, the celebrated actor, was originally his boy or apprentice. In the civil wars he served in the king's army, and was killed in an engagement by Harrison, who was afterwards banged at Charing-cross. Harrison refused him quarter after he had laid down his arms, and shot him in the head, saying at the same time," Carsed is he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently." JOHN SHANCKE
WAS but in a low class; having performed the Curate, in Fletcher's Scornful Lady; and Hillario, in The Wild Goose Chase. He was an author as well as an actor, having written a play called Shanke's Ordinary, which was acted at Blackfriars,
NOTHING is known of this player, except that he performed the Marquis of Pescara, an inconsiderable part in The Duchess of Malfy. He was, perhaps, the brother of Stephen Rice, clerk, who is mentioned in the will of John Heminges.
We have thus enumerated all those performers who appear, with any certainty, to have distinguished themselves in the original productions of Shakspeare's dramas. Of their real merits it is impossible to speak; yet some of them, doubtless, particularly Burbadge, Taylor, and Lowin, were very excellent actors; and though the mechanical part of stage representations was, in their time, extremely imperfect, we may be certain that they were able to furnish the public of that age with an entertainment highly acceptable. The drama, indeed, was much more a national pastime then than at present, for it furnished a source of delight to all ranks, and was highly patronised. In our own more enlightened age, dicing, boxing, and horseracing have superseded, among the higher classes, the antiquated attractions of that stage, which Shakspeare, Jonson, and Massinger, illustrated by their transcendent genius.
Eminent By-gone Performers of Shakspeare's Characters.
"BETTERTON (says Colley Cibber in his Apology) was an actor, as Shakspeare was an author, both without competitors; formed for the mutual assistance and illustration of each other's genius. How Shakspeare wrote, all men who have a taste for nature may read, and know; but with higher rapture would be still be read, could they conceive how Betterton played him. Then might they know the one was born alone to speak what the other only knew to write. Could how Betterton spoke, be as easily known as what he spoke, then might you see the muse of Shakspeare in her triumph, with all ber beanties in their best array, rising into real life and charming her bebolders. But, alas! since all this is so far out of the reach of description, bow shall I shew you Betterton? Should I, therefore, tell you, that all the Othellos, Hamlets, Hotspurs, Macbeths, and Brutus's, whom you may bare seen since his time, have fallen far short of him? this still should give you no idea of bis particular excellence. Let us see, then, what a particalar comparison may do; whether that may yet draw him nearer to you. You have seen a Hamlet. perhaps, who, on the first appearance of his father's spirit, has thrown himself into all the straining vociferations requisite to express rage and fary, and the house has thundered with applanse, though the misguided actor was all the while (as Shakspeare terms it) tearing a passion into rags. I am the more bold to offer you this particular instance, because the late Mr. Addison, while I sat by him, to see the scene acted, made the same observation; asking me, with some surprise, if I thought Hamlet should be in so violent a passion with the Ghost, which, though it might base astonished, it had not provoked him? for you my observe in this beautiful speech, the passion sever rises beyond an almost breathless astonishment, or an impatience, limited by filial reverence, to inquire into the suspected wrongs that may have raised him from the peaceful tomb, and a desire to know, what a spirit so seemingly distressed, might wish or enjoin a sorrowful son to execute towards bis future quiet in the grave. This was the light into which Betterton threw this scene, which he Bed with a pause of mute amazement; then nsing, slowly, to a solemn trembling voice, he Rade the ghost equally terrible to the spectator as to himself; and, in the descriptive part of the natural emotions which the ghastly vision gave him, the boldness of his expostulation was still governed by decency-manly, but not braving; his voice never rising into that seeming outrage, or wild defance of what he naturally revered. But, alas! to preserve this medium between mouthing and
aning too little, to keep the attention more pleasingly awake, by a tempered spirit, than by mere vehemence of voice, is, of all the masterstrokes of an actor, the most difficult to reach. In this none yet have equalled Betterton.
"A farther excellence in Betterton was, that he would vary his spirit to the different characters he acted. Those wild impatient starts, that fierce and flashing fire, which he threw into Hotspur, Beter came from the unruffled temper of his Bratas for I have more than once seen a Brutus as warm as a Hotspur). When the Betterton Brutus was provoked in his dispute with Cassius, his art Blew only to his eye, his steady look alone applied that terror, which he disdained an intemperance in his voice should raise to. Thus, with a led dignity of contempt, like an unheeding ***, he repelled upon himself the foam of Cassius. Not bat in some part of this scene, where he regeches Cassius, bis temper is not under this sup
pression, but opens into that warmth which be-
BOOTH, with a very classical and highly improved judgment, possessed all the natural powers of an actor in a very eminent degree. "He was (says Victor) of a middle stature, five feet eight; his form rather inclining to the athletic, though nothing clumsy or heavy; his air and deportment naturally graceful, with a marking eye, and a manly sweetness in his countenance. His voice was completely harmonious, from the softness of the flute, to the extent of the trumpet: his attitudes were all picturesque; he was noble in his designs, and happy in his execution." His principal parts in Shakspeare's plays were, Othello, Lear, Brutus, and the Ghost in Hamlet. Cibber, though sparing in his praise of Booth, highly commends his Othello :-"The master-piece of Booth (says he,) was his Othello; there he was most in character, and seemed not more to animate him self in it than his spectators."
Other contemporaries are more lavish in their praises of him in this part, and particularly in the following passage:
"This fellow's of exceeding honesty,
This he spoke with his eye fixed upon Iago's exit,
Then a pause, as if to ruminate.
"........ Haply, for I am black, And have not those soft parts of conversation That chamberers have."
Then a look of amazement at seeing Desdemona, the voice and countenance softened into love:
"If she be false, O, then heav'n mocks itself!
"In this, and all the distressful passages of heart-breaking anguish and jealousy, (says Victor) I have frequently seen all the men, susceptible of the tender passions, in tears."
Booth's excellence in Brutus, was the effect of a fine study of the part, which he acquired by his taste and intimate knowledge of the classics. In the tent scene, when Cassius reiterates,
"What, durst not tempt him?” and Brutus in reply says,
"For your life, you durst not ;"
Quin spoke the last line with a look of anger and a tone of voice approaching to rage; but Booth, on the contrary, looking stedfastly at Cassius, pronounced these words not much raised above a whisper, yet with such a firmness of tone, as always produced the most powerful effect. Again, when Brutus says,
"When I spoke this, I was ill-temper❜d too,"
he prepared the audience so for the cause of his ill temper, by shewing that he had some private griefs at heart, as to call up the utmost attention; but when he afterwards acquaints them with the
"No man bears sorrow better-Portia's dead,"
the expressive pause before he spoke the last words, and his heart-piercing manner in speaking them, forced every auditor to be a participator of
Booth, as King Lear, made a very powerful impression. In the scene where the old monarch is discovered asleep in Cordelia's lap, and where he breaks out,
"Old Lear shall be a king again,"
he was inimitably expressive, from the full tones of his voice, and the admirable manner of harmonizing
The Ghost in Hamlet was Booth's favourite
part. He acted it with the perfect approbation of Betterton, who was his Hamlet for many years; and this performance was highly praised by Macklin, who said he was never imitated with success. His tones and manner, throughout his conference with Hamlet, were grave and pathetic; his tread solemn and awful; and, in the recital of his murder by a brother's hand, and the conduct of his most seeming virtuous queen, the audience appeared to be under the impression of seeing and hearing a real ghost. He was, besides, always particularly well dressed for the character, even to the soles of his shoes, which, from being covered with felt, made no noise in walking on the stage, which he crossed as if he slid over it, and which strongly corresponded with the ideas we have of an incorporeal being.-Booth died in May, 1733.
ALL the authors of Garrick's day agree in praising his various and astonishing powers as an actor;
but they wrote to those who had seen his perform-
'The north--what do they in the north,
When they should serve their sovereign in the west ?"
an exact imitation of nature.
in this part he has confessedly remained without King Lear was Garrick's most perfect effort; equal or rival. He was transformed into a feeble old man, still, however, retaining an air of royalty. He had no sudden starts, no violent gesticulations; his movements were slow and languid; misery was depicted in every feature of his face; he moved his head in the most deliberate manner; he made a pause, and fixed his look on the person were fixed, or if they turned to any one near him, his eyes after much delay; his features at the same time expressing what he was going to say before he uttered a word. During the whole performance, he presented an aspect of extreme grief, and a total alienation of mind from every idea, but that of his unkind daughters. How awful was his preparation for the imprecation on Goneril! he stood for a moment like one struck dumb, at the sudden and unexpected feel of his child's ingratitude; then throwing away his crutch, kneeling on one knee, clasping his hands together, and lifting up his eyes towards heaven, rendered the whole of the curse so terribly affecting to the audience, that, during the utterance of it, they seemed to shrink as from a blast dependent of the language, was worthy the pencil of lightning. Indeed, the picture he presented, inception of this difficult part. He had an acquaintof Raphael in the divinest moments of his imaginHe used to tell how he gained a just conance in Leman-street, Goodman's-fields, who had an only daughter aboat two years old; as he stood dropped the infant into a paved area, and it was at his dining-room window, fondling the child, he killed on the spot. He remained at the window, screaming in agonies of grief; the neighbours took up the child, and delivered it dead to the unhappy father, who wept bitterly. From that moment he lost his reason, which he never recovered. rich, he continued in his house under the care of visited his distracted friend, who passed the whole of his time in-going to the window, and there playkeepers, appointed by Br. Monro. Garrick often ing in fancy with his child. After some dalliance He would then sit down in a pensive mood, he dropt it, and burst into a terrible agony of grief. eyes fixed on one object, at times looking slowly