« AnteriorContinuar »
which Mr. Killigrew, the manager, had two From the prices of admission into our ancient sbares and three quarters; and if we may trust theatres in the time of Shakspeare, which bave to the statement in another very curious paper been already noticed, I formerly conjectured abich, however, was probably exaggerated) that about twenty pounds was a considerable each share produced, at the lowest calculation, receipt at the Blackfriars and Globe theatre, about 2501. per ann, net; and the total clear on any one day; and my conjecture is now profis consequently were about 31871. 10s. Od. confirmed by indisputable evidence. In Sir
These sbares were then distributed among Henry Herbert's Office-book I find the followthe proprietors of the theatre, who at that time ing curious nolices on this subject, under the were not actors, the performers, and the dra- year 1628 :matic poets, who were retained in the service “ The kinges company with a generall conel tbe theatre, and received a part of the annual sent and alacritye have given mee the benefilt of produce as a compensation for the pieces which two dayes in the yeare, the one in summer, they produced.
thother in winter, to bee taken out of the lo a paper delivered by Sir Henry Herbert second daye of a revived playe, att my owne w Lord Clarendon and the Lord Chamberlain, choyse. The housekeepers have likewyse given July 11, 1662, he states the emolument which their shares, their dayly charge only deducted, Vr. Thomas Killigrew then derived (from which comes to some 21. 55. this 25 May, 1628. bis two shares and three quarters) at 191. 68. · The benefilt of the first day, being a very Ud. per week; according to which statement unseasonable one in respect of the weather, each share in the king's company produced but comes but unto 41. 15s. 0d.” two hundred and ten pounds ten shillings a This agreement subsisted for five years and rear. lo Sir William D'Avenant's company, a ball, during which time Sir Henry Herbert from the time their new theatre was opened had ten benefits, the most profitable of which in Portugal-Row, near Lincoln's Ion Fields produced sevenleen pounds, and ten shillings,
April, 1662), the lotal receipt (after de- nel, on the 22d of Nov. 1628, when Fletcher's ductioz the nightly charges of " men birelings Custom of the Country was performed at god other customary expenses”) was divided Blackfriars; and the least emolument which he [:lo difteen shares, of which it was agreed by received was on the representation of a play articles previously entered into, that ten should which is not named, at the Globe, in the sumbelong to D'Avenant : viz. two “towards the mer of lbe year 1632, which produced only the bruse-rent, buildings, scaffolding, and making sum of one pound and five shillings, after of frames for scenes; one for a provision of deducling from the total receipt in each inhabits, properties, and scenes, for a supplement stance the nightly charge above mentioned. It of the said theatre; and seven to maintain all | also appears that his clear profit at an average the women that are to perform or represent on each of his nights, was 81. 195. 4d. and the Fomen's parts, in tragedies, comedies, &c. total nightly receipt was at an average--111. and in consideration of erecting and establish- 4s. 40. ing his actors to be a company, and his pains
On the 30th of October, 1633, the manaand expenses for that purpose for many years." gers of the king's company agreed to pay him The other five shares were divided in various the fixed sum of ten pounds every Christmas, proportions among the rest of the Iroop. and the same sum at Midsummer, in lieu of his
lo the papers above referred to it is stated by two benefits, which sumns they regularly paid Sir Bedry Herbert, that D'Avenant “drew him from that time till the breaking out of the from these ten shares two hundred pounds a
civil wars. week;" and if that slalement was correct, each From the receipts on these benefits I am led share in his playhouse then produced annually to believe that the prices were lower at the 181 bundred pounds, supposing the acting season Globe theatre, and that therefore, though it lwy bave then lasted for thirty weeks.
was much larger than the winter theatre at Sucb were the emoluments of the theatre | Blackfriars, it did not produce a greater sum of soon after the Restoration; which I have stated money on any representation. If we suppose tere, from authentic documents, because they wenty pounds, clear of the nightly charges may assist us in our conjectures concerning already mentioned, to have been a very con: the profils derived from slage-exhibitions at a siderable receipt at either of these houses, Bete remote and darker period.
and that this sum was in our poet's time divided into forty shares, of which fifteen were appro- | many learned men, and delighted so macy priated to the housekeepers or proprietors, thousand spectators. Yet even then, we are Three to the parchase of copies of new plays, told by a writer of that age," " dramatic poesy stage-habits, etc. and twenty-two to the actors, / was so lively expressed and represented on the then the performer, who had two shares on the public stages and theatres of this city, as Rome representation of each play, received, when the in the auge of her pomp and glory never saw Theatre was thus successful, twenty shillings. it better performed; in respect of the action But supposing the average nightly receipt (after and art, not of the cost and sumptuousness.” deducting the nightly expenses ) to be about pipe pounds, which we have seen to be the case, then his nightly dividend would be but pine The history of the stage as far as it relates to shillings, and his weekly profit, if they played Shakspeare, naturally divides itself into three five times a week, two pounds five shillings. periods : the period wbich preceded his appearThe acting season, I believe, at that time lasted ance as an actor or dramatic writer; that during forty weeks. In each of the companies then which he flourished; and the time which has subsisting there were about twenty persons, six elapsed since his death. Having now gone of whom probably were principal, and the through the two former of these periods, I shall others subordinale; so that we may suppose take a transient view of the stage from the tro shares lo bave been the reward of a principal death of our great poet to the year 1741, still actor; six of the second class perhaps enjoyed a with a view to Shakspeare, and his works. whole share each ; and each of the remaining Soon after his dealb, four of the principal eight half a share. On all these data, I think companies then subsisting made a union, and it may be safely concluded, that the performers were afterwards called The United Companies , of the first class did not derive from their pro- but I know not precisely in what this union session more than ninety pounds a year at the consisted. I suspect it arose from a penury of utmost. Shakspeare, Heminge, Condell, Bur-actors, and that the managers contracted to badge, Lowin, and Taylor bad without doubt permit the performers in each house occasionother shares as proprietors or leaseholders ; but ally to assist their brethren in the other tbealres what the different proporlions were which each in the representation of plays. of them possessed in that right, it is now impos- After the death of Shakspeare, the plays of sible to ascertain. According to the supposition Fletcher appear for several years to have been already slated, that fifteen shares out of forty more admired, or at least to have been more were appropriated to the proprietors, then was frequently acted, than those of our poet. During there on this account a sum of six hundred and the latter part of the reign of James the First, seventy-five pounds annually to be divided Fletcher's pieces had the advantage of novelty among them. Our poet, as author, actor, and to recommend them. I believe, between the proprietor, probably received from the theatre time of Beaumont's death in 1615 and bis own about two hundred pounds a year. Having in 1625, this poet produced at least twenty-five after a very long search lately discovered the plays. Sir Aston Cokain bas informed us, in his will of Mr. Heminge, I hoped to have derived poems, that of the thirty-five pieces improperly from it some information on this subject; but ascribed to Beaumont and Fletcher in the folio I was disappointed. He indeed more than edition of 1647, much the greater part were once mentions bis several parts or shares held written after Beaumont's death; and his acby lease in the Globe and Blackfriars play- count is partly confirmed by Sir Henry Herhouses, but uses no expression by which the bert's Manuscript, from which it appears that value of each of those shares can be ascertained Fletcher produced eleven new plays in the last His books of account, which he appears lo have four years of his life. If we were possessed of regularly kept, and which, he says, will show the Register kept by Sir George Buck we should that his sbares yielded him “a good yearly there, I make no doubt, find near twenty profit,” will probably, if they shall ever be found, dramas written by the same author in the inthrow much light on our early stage history. lerval between 1615 and 1622.
Thus scanty and meagre were the apparatus and accommodations of our ancient theatres, observed, wrote an express treatise concerning the
* Sir George Buck. This writer, as I have already on which those dramas were first exhibited, English stage, which was never printed, aed, I that have since engaged the attention of so fear, is now irrecoverably lost.
Sir William D'Avenant, about sixteen months suburbs, but those exhibited by the said lwo after the death of Ben Jonson, obtained from companies. bis Majesty (Dec. 13, 1638), a grant of an Mr. THOMAS BETTERTON having been a acowity of one hundred pounds per ann. which great admirer of Shakspeare, and having taken be enjoyed as poet laureat till his death. In the trouble in the beginning of this [last] the following year (March 26, 1639), a patent century, when he was above seventy years of passed the great seal authorizing him to erect age, of travelling to Stratford-upon-Avon to a playhouse, which was then intended to have collect materials for Mr. Rowe's life of our been built bebind The Three Kings Ordinary author, is entitled to particular notice from an in Fleet-Street : but this scheme was not carried editor of bis works. Very inaccurate accounts into execution. I find from a Manuscript in of this actor have been given in the Biographia the Lord Chamberlain's Office, that after the Britannica and several other books. It is death of Christopher Beeston, Sir W. D'Ave- observable, that biographical writers often give tant was appointed by the Lord Chamberlain, the world long dissertations concerning facts (June 27, 1639), “Governor of the King and dates, when the fact contested might at and Queen's company acting at the Cockpit in once be ascertained by visiting a neighbouring Drury-Lane, during the lease which Mrs. Eli- parish church : and this has been particularly zabeth Beeston, alias Hutcheson, bath or doth the case of Mr. Belterton. He was the son of bold in the said house:” and I suppose he ap- Matthew Betterton (under-cook 10 King pointed ber son, Mr. William Beeston, bis Charles the First) and was baptized, as I learn deputs, for from Sir Henry Herbert's office from the register of St. Margarel's parish, book, he appears for a short time to have bad August 11, 1635. He could not have appeared the management of that theatre.
on the stage in 1656, as has been asserted, no In the latter end of the year 1659, some theatre being then allowed.
His first appearmonths before the Restoration of K. Charles ance was at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane, in II., the theatres, which had been suppressed Mr. Rhodes's company, who played there by during the usurpation, began to revive, and a license in the year 1659, when Bellerton was several plays were performed at the Red Bull (wenty-four years of age. He married Mrs. in St. John's-Street, in that and the following Mary Saunderson, an actress, wbo had been pear, before the return of the king. In June, bred by Sir William D'Avenant, some time in 1660, three companies seem to have been the year 1663, as appears by the Dramatis fermed ; that already mentioned, one under Personæ of The Slighted Maid, printed in that Mr. William Beeston in Salisbury-Court, and year. From a paper now before me, which 00e at the Cockpit in Drury-Lane, under Mr. Sir Henry Herbert bas entitled a Breviat of Rhodes, who bad been wardrobe-keeper at the matters to be proved on the trial of an action theatre in Blackfriars before the breaking out brought by him against Mr. Betterlon in 1662, of the Civil Wars. Sir Henry Herbert, who I find that he continued to act at the Cockpit stil retained his office of Master of the Revels, lill November, 1660, when he and several endeavoured to obtain from these companies other performers entered into articles with the same emoluments which he had formerly Sir William D'Avenant; in consequence of derived from the exbibition of plays ; but after which they began in that month to play at the a bog struggle, and after having brought several theatre in Salisbury Court, from whence after actions at law against Sir William D'Avenant, some time, I believe, they returned to the Mr. Betterton, Mr. Mohun, and others, he Cockpit, and afterwards removed to a new Fås obliged to relinquish his claims, and his theatre in Portugal Row, near Lincoln's Inn efice ceased to be attended with either autho- Fields. rily or profit. It received its death wound On the 15th of Nov. 1660, Sir William from a grant from King Charles II. under the D'Avenant's company began to act under these privy signet, August 21, 1660, authorizing articles at the theatre in Salisbury Court, at Mr. Thomas Killigrew, one of the grooms of which house, or at the Cockpit, they continued bis majesty's bedchamber, and Sir William to play till March or April, 1662. In October, D'Avenant, lo erectiwo new playhouses and two 1660, Sir Henry Herbert had brought an acdew companies, of which they were to have the lion on the case against Mr. Mohun and several regulation ; and probibiting any other theatrical others of Killigrew's company, which was tried representation in London, Westminster, or the in December, 1661, for representing plays
without being licensed by him, and obtained a it should seem those only : Macbeth and The verdict against them. Encouraged by his success Tempest, altered by D'Avenant ; King Lear, in that suit, soon after D'Avenant's company Hamlet, King Henry the Eighth, Romeo and opened their new theatre in Portugal Row, he Juliet, and Twelfth-night. In Hamlet, the brought a similar action (May 6, 1662) against Prince of Denmark was represented by Mr. Mr. Betterton, of which I know not the event. Belterton; the Ghost, by Mr. Richards; HoraIn the declaration now before me, it is stated lio, by Mr. Harris : the Queen, by Mrs. Dathat D'Avenant's company, between the 15th venport ; and Opbelia, by Mrs. Saunderson. of November, 1660, and the 6th of May, 1662, Io Romeo and Juliet, Romeo was represented produced ten new plays, and 100 revived plays; by Mr. Harris; Merculio, by Mr. Bellerton; but the latter number being the usual style of and Juliet by Mrs. Saunderson. Mr. Belterlon declarations at law, may have been inserted in Twelfth Night performed Sir Toby Beleb, without a strict regard to the fact.
and in Henry the Eighth, the King. He was Sir Henry Herbert likewise brought two without doubt also the performer of King Lear. actions on the same ground against Sir William Mrs. Saunderson represented Catherine in King D'Avenant, in one of which he failed, and in Henry the Eighth, and it may be presumed, the other was successful. To put an end to Cordelia and Miranda. She also performed the contest, Sir William in June, 1662, be- Lady Macbeth, and Mr. Bellerton, Macbeth. sought the king to interfere.
The theatre which had been erected in The actors who had performed at the Red Portugal Row, being found too small, Sir Bull, acted under the direction of Mr. Killigrew William D'Avenant laid the foundation of a during the years 1660, 1661, 1662, and part new playbouse in Dorset Garden, near Dorset of the year 1663, in Gibbon's tennis-court Stairs, which, however, he did not live to see in Vere-Street, near Clare-market; during completed; for be died in May, 1668, and it which time a new theatre was built for them in was not opened till 1671. Drury Lane, to which they removed in April, On the 9th of November, 1671, D'Ave1663. In the list of their stock-plays, there are nant's company removed to their new theatre in but three of Shakspeare.
Dorset Gardens, which was opened not with Downes the prompter bas given a list of one of Shakspeare's plays, but with Dryden's what he calls the principal old stock-plays acted comedy called Sir Martin Marall. by the king's servants (which title the perfor- Between the years 1671 and 1682, when mers under Mr. Killigrew acquired), between the King's and the Duke of York's servants the lime of the Restoration and the junction united about which time Charles Hart, the of the two companies in 1682; from which it principal support of the former company died), appears that the only plays of Shakspeare per- King Lear, Timon of Athens, Macbeth, and formed by them in that period, were King The Tempest, were the only plays of our author Henry IV. P. I.' The Merry Wives of Windsor, that were exhibited at the theatre in Dorset Othello, and Julius Cæsar. Mr. Hart repre-Gardens; and the three latter were not represented Othello, Brutus, and Hotspur; Major sented in their original state, but as altered by Mohun, lago and Cassius; and Mr. Cart- D'Avenant and Shadwell. Between 1682 wright, Falstaff. Such was the lamentable and 1695, when Mr. Congreve, Mr. Bellerton, taste of those times, that the plays of Fletcher, Mrs. Barry, and Mrs. Bracegirdle, obtained a Jonson, and Shirley were much oftener er- license to open a new theatre in Lincoln's Ina hibited than those of our author.
Fields, Othello, A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Sir William D'Avenant's Company, after and The Taming of the Shrew are the only having played for some time at the Cockpit in plays of Shakspeare which Downes the prompDrury-Lane, and in Salisbury Court, removed ter mentions, as having been performed by the in March or April, 1662, to a new theatre in united companies : A Midsummer-Night's Dream Portugal Row, near Lincoln's Inn Fields. was transformed into an opera, and The TomMr. Betterton, bis principal actor, we are told ing of the Shrew was exhibited as altered by by Downes, was admired in the part of Pericles, Lacy. Dryden's Troilus and Cressida, hovwhich he frequently performed before the open- ever, the two parts of King IV., Twelfth Night, ing of the new theatre; and while this company Macbeth, King Henry VIII., Julius Cesar, continued to act in Portugal Row, they repre- and Hamlet, were without doubt sometimes sented the following plays of Sbakspeare, and represented in the same period : and Tate and Durley furnished the scene with miserable lions of his pieces were preferred to the origialterations of Coriolanus, King Richard II., nals. Durfey's Injured Princess, which had King Lear, and Cymbeline.* Otway's Caius not been acted from 1697, was again revived Marius, which was produced in 1680, usurped at Drury Lane, October 5, 1717, and afterthe place of our poet's Romeo and Juliet forwards often represented. Even Ravenscroll's Dear seventy years, and Lord Lansdown's Jew Titus Andronicus, in which all the faults of the of Venice kept possession of the stage from the original are greatly aggravated, took its turn on time of its first exhibition in 1701, to the year the scene, and after an intermission of fifteen 1741. Dryden's All for Love, from 1678 lo years was revived at Drury Lane in August, 1759, was performed instead of our author's 1717, and afterwards frequently performed Antony and Cleopalra ; and D'Avenant's altera- both at that theatre and the theatre in Lintion of Macbeth in like manner was preferred to coln's Inn Fields, where it was exhibited for oor author's tragedy, from its first exhibition in the first time, Dec. 21, 1720. Coriolanus, 1663, for near eighty years.
which had not been acted for twenty years, was In the year 1700 Cibber produced his alte- revived at the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, ration of King Richard III. I do not find that Dee. 13, 1718; and in Dec. 1719, King this play, wbich was so popular in Shakspeare's Richard II. was revived at the same theatre; time, was performed from the time of the Res- but probably neither of these plays was then foration to the end of the seventeenth century. represented as originally written by ShakThe play with Cibber's alterations was once speare. Measure for Measure, which had performed at Drury Lane in 1703, and lay not been acted, I imagine, from the time of drmant from that time to the 28th of Jan. the suppression of the theatres in 1642, was 1710, when it was revived at the Opera House revived at the same theatre, Dec. 8, 1720, in tbe Haymarket; since which time it has for the purpose of producing Mr. Quin in the been represented, I believe, more frequently character of the Duke, which he frequently than any of our author's dramas, except performed with success in that and the followHamlet.
Much Ado about Nothing, wbi On April 23, 1704, The Merry Wives of had not been acted for thirty years, was revived Windsor, by command of the Queen, was per- at Lincoln's Inn Fields, Feb. 9, 1721; but formed at St. James's, by the actors of both after two representations, on that and the bouses, and afterwards publicly represented following evening, was laid aside. In Dec. at ibe theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, May 18, 1723, King Henry V. was announced for rein the same year, by Mr. Betterton's company; presentation, on Shakspeare's foundation,” but although the whole force of his company and performed at Drury Lane sis times in was exerted in the representation, the piece that month; after which we hear of it no more; balso little success that it was not repeated till and on Feb. 26, 1737, King John was revived Nov. 3, 1720, when it was again revived at at Covent Garden. Neither of these plays, I the same theatre, and afterwards frequently believe, had been exhibited from the time of performed.
The downfall of the stage. At the same theatre From 1709, when Mr. Rowe published bis our poet's second part of King Henry IV. edition of Shakspeare, the exhibition of his wbich had for fifty years been driven from the piays became much more frequent than before. scene by the play which Mr. Betterton subBetween that time and 1740, our poet's stituted in ils place, resumed its station, being fiamlet, Julius Cæsar, King Henry VIII., produced at Covent Garden, Feb. 16, 1738; Othello, King Richard III., Lear, and the two and on the 23d of the same month Shakspeare's parts of King Henry IV., were very frequently King Henry V. was performed there as originally fibibited. Sull, however, such was the written, after an interval, if the theatrical wretched taste of the audiences of those days, advertisement be correct, of forty years. In that in many instances the contemptible altera- the following March the same company once
exhibited The First Part of King Henry VI. * King Richard II. and King Lear were pro- for the first time, as they asserted, for fifty duced by Tate in 1681, before the union of the two companies; and Coriolanus , under the title of The * In the theatrical advertisement, Feb. 6, 1738, legralitude of a Commonwealih, in 1682. In the King Richard II. (which was then produced at Cowwwse year appeared Durfey's alteration of Cymbe-vent Garden), was said not to have been acted for ase, under the title of The Injured Princess. forly years.