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Sir William D'Avenant, about sixteen months after the death of Ben Jonson, obtained from bis Majesty (Dec. 13, 1638), a grant of an annuity of one hundred pounds per ann. which be enjoyed as poet laureat till his death. In the following year (March 26, 1639), a patent passed the great seal authorizing him to erect a playhouse, which was then intended to have been built behind The Three Kings Ordinary in Fleet-Street: but this scheme was not carried into execution. I find from a Manuscript in the Lord Chamberlain's Office, that after the death of Christopher Beeston, Sir W. D'AveBant was appointed by the Lord Chamberlain, (June 27, 1639), "Governor of the King and Queen's company acting at the Cockpit in Drury-Lane, during the lease which Mrs. Elizabeth Beeston, alias Hutcheson, hath or doth hold in the said house:" and I suppose he appointed her son, Mr. William Beeston, his deputy, for from Sir Henry Herbert's officebook, he appears for a short time to have had the management of that theatre.
In the latter end of the year 1659, some months before the Restoration of K. Charles II., the theatres, which had been suppressed during the usurpation, began to revive, and several plays were performed at the Red Bull in St. John's-Street, in that and the following year, before the return of the king. In June, 1660, three companies seem to have been formed; that already mentioned, one under Mr. William Beeston in Salisbury-Court, and one at the Cockpit in Drury-Lane, under Mr. Rhodes, who had been wardrobe-keeper at the theatre in Blackfriars before the breaking out of the Civil Wars. Sir Henry Herbert, who stil retained his office of Master of the Revels, endeavoured to obtain from these companies the same emoluments which he had formerly derived from the exhibition of plays; but after along struggle, and after having brought several actions at law against Sir William D'Avenant, Mr. Betterton, Mr. Mohun, and others, he was obliged to relinquish his claims, and his office ceased to be attended with either authorily or profit. It received its death wound from a grant from King Charles II. under the privy signet, August 21, 1660, authorizing Mr. Thomas Killigrew, one of the grooms of his majesty's bedchamber, and Sir William D'Avenant, to erect two new playhouses and two new companies, of which they were to have the regulation; and prohibiting any other theatrical representation in London, Westminster, or the
suburbs, but those exhibited by the said two companies.
Mr. THOMAS BETTERTON having been a great admirer of Shakspeare, and having taken the trouble in the beginning of this [last] century, when he was above seventy years of age, of travelling to Stratford-upon-Avon to collect materials for Mr. Rowe's life of our author, is entitled to particular notice from an editor of his works. Very inaccurate accounts of this actor have been given in the Biographia Britannica and several other books. It is observable, that biographical writers often give the world long dissertations concerning facts and dates, when the fact contested might at once be ascertained by visiting a neighbouring parish church and this has been particularly the case of Mr. Betterton. He was the son of Matthew Betterton (under-cook to King Charles the First) and was baptized, as I learn from the register of St. Margaret's parish, August 11, 1635. He could not have appeared on the stage in 1656, as has been asserted, no theatre being then allowed. His first appearance was at the Cockpit, in Drury Lane, in Mr. Rhodes's company, who played there by a license in the year 1659, when Betterton was twenty-four years of age. He married Mrs. Mary Saunderson, an actress, who had been bred by Sir William D'Avenant, some time in the year 1663, as appears by the Dramatis Persona of The Slighted Maid, printed in that year. From a paper now before me, which Sir Henry Herbert has entitled a Breviat of matters to be proved on the trial of an action brought by him against Mr. Betterton in 1662, I find that he continued to act at the Cockpit till November, 1660, when he and several other performers entered into articles with Sir William D'Avenant; in consequence of which they began in that month to play at the theatre in Salisbury Court, from whence after some time, I believe, they returned to the Cockpit, and afterwards removed to a new theatre in Portugal Row, near Lincoln's Inn Fields.
On the 15th of Nov. 1660, Sir William D'Avenant's company began to act under these articles at the theatre in Salisbury Court, at which house, or at the Cockpit, they continued to play till March or April, 1662. In October, 1660, Sir Henry Herbert had brought an action on the case against Mr. Mohun and several others of Killigrew's company, which was tried 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 in that suit, soon after D'Avenant's company opened their new theatre in Portugal Row, he brought a similar action (May 6, 1662) against Mr. Betterton, of which I know not the event. In the declaration now before me, it is stated that D'Avenant's company, between the 15th of November, 1660, and the 6th of May, 1662, produced ten new plays, and 100 revived plays; but the latter number being the usual style of declarations at law, may have been inserted without a strict regard to the fact.
Sir Henry Herbert likewise brought two actions on the same ground against Sir William D'Avenant, in one of which he failed, and in the other was successful. To put an end to the contest, Sir William in June, 1662, besought the king to interfere.
The actors who had performed at the Red Bull, acted under the direction of Mr. Killigrew during the years 1660, 1661, 1662, and part of the year 1663, in Gibbon's tennis-court in Vere-Street, near Clare-market; during which time a new theatre was built for them in Drury Lane, to which they removed in April, 1663. In the list of their stock-plays, there are but three of Shakspeare.
Downes the prompter has given a list of what he calls the principal old stock-plays acted by the king's servants (which title the performers under Mr. Killigrew acquired), between the time of the Restoration and the junction of the two companies in 1682; from which it appears that the only plays of Shakspeare performed by them in that period, were King Henry IV. P. I. The Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, and Julius Cæsar. Mr. Hart represented Othello, Brutus, and Hotspur; Major Mohun, lago and Cassius; and Mr. Cartwright, Falstaff. Such was the lamentable taste of those times, that the plays of Fletcher, Jonson, and Shirley were much oftener exhibited than those of our author.
Tempest, altered by D'Avenant; King Lear, Hamlet, King Henry the Eighth, Romeo and Juliet, and Twelfth-night. In Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark was represented by Mr. Betterton; the Ghost, by Mr. Richards; Horatio, by Mr. Harris: the Queen, by Mrs. Davenport; and Ophelia, by Mrs. Saunderson. In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo was represented by Mr. Harris; Mercutio, by Mr. Betterton; and Juliet by Mrs. Saunderson. Mr. Betterton in Twelfth Night performed Sir Toby Belch, and in Henry the Eighth, the King. He was without doubt also the performer of King Lear. Mrs. Saunderson represented Catherine in King Henry the Eighth, and it may be presumed, Cordelia and Miranda. She also performed Lady Macbeth, and Mr. Betterton, Macbeth. The theatre which had been erected in Portugal Row, being found too small, Sir William D'Avenant laid the foundation of a new playhouse in Dorset Garden, near Dorset Stairs, which, however, he did not live to see completed; for he died in May, 1668, and it was not opened till 1671.
On the 9th of November, 1671, D'Avenant's company removed to their new theatre in Dorset Gardens, which was opened not with one of Shakspeare's plays, but with Dryden's comedy called Sir Martin Marall.
Between the years 1671 and 1682, when the King's and the Duke of York's servants united (about which time Charles Hart, the principal support of the former company died), King Lear, Timon of Athens, Macbeth, and The Tempest, were the only plays of our author that were exhibited at the theatre in Dorset Gardens; and the three latter were not represented in their original state, but as altered by D'Avenant and Shadwell. Between 1682 and 1695, when Mr. Congreve, Mr. Betterton, Mrs. Barry, and Mrs. Bracegirdle, obtained a license to open a new theatre in Lincoln's Ina Fields, Othello, A Midsummer-Night's Dream, and The Taming of the Shrew are the only plays of Shakspeare which Downes the prompter mentions, as having been performed by the united companies: A Midsummer-Night's Dream was transformed into an opera, and The Tam
Sir William D'Avenant's Company, after having played for some time at the Cockpit in Drury-Lane, and in Salisbury Court, removed in March or April, 1662, to a new theatre in Portugal Row, near Lincoln's Inn Fields. Mr. Betterton, his principal actor, we are tolding of the Shrew was exhibited as altered by by Downes, was admired in the part of Pericles, which he frequently performed before the opening of the new theatre; and while this company continued to act in Portugal Row, they represented the following plays of Shakspeare, and
Lacy. Dryden's Troilus and Cressida, however, the two parts of King IV., Twelfth Night, Macbeth, King Henry VIII., Julius Cæsar, and Hamlet, were without doubt sometimes represented in the same period: and Tate and
Darley furnished the scene with miserable tions of his pieces were preferred to the origialterations of Coriolanus, King Richard II., King Lear, and Cymbeline.* Otway's Caius Marius, which was produced in 1680, usurped the place of our poet's Romeo and Juliet for near seventy years, and Lord Lansdown's Jew of Venice kept possession of the stage from the time of its first exhibition in 1701, to the year 1741. Dryden's All for Love, from 1678 to 1759, was performed instead of our author's Antony and Cleopatra; and D'Avenant's alteration of Macbeth in like manner was preferred to our author's tragedy, from its first exhibition in 1663, for near eighty years.
In the year 1700 Cibber produced his alteration of King Richard III. I do not find that this play, which was so popular in Shakspeare's time, was performed from the time of the Restoration to the end of the seventeenth century. The play with Cibber's alterations was once performed at Drury Lane in 1703, and lay dormant from that time to the 28th of Jan. 1710, when it was revived at the Opera House in the Haymarket; since which time it has been represented, I believe, more frequently than any of our author's dramas, except Hamlet.
On April 23, 1704, The Merry Wives of Windsor, by command of the Queen, was performed at St. James's, by the actors of both bouses, and afterwards publicly represented at the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, May 18, in the same year, by Mr. Betterton's company; but although the whole force of his company was exerted in the representation, the piece bad so little success that it was not repeated till Nov. 3, 1720, when it was again revived at the same theatre, and afterwards frequently performed.
From 1709, when Mr. Rowe published his edition of Shakspeare, the exhibition of his plays became much more frequent than before. Between that time and 1740, our poet's Hamlet, Julius Cæsar, King Henry VIII., Othello, King Richard III., Lear, and the two parts of King Henry IV., were very frequently exhibited. Still, however, such was the wretched taste of the audiences of those days, that in many instances the contemptible altera
nals. Durfey's Injured Princess, which had not been acted from 1697, was again revived at Drury Lane, October 5, 1717, and afterwards often represented. Even Ravenscroft's Titus Andronicus, in which all the faults of the original are greatly aggravated, took its turn on the scene, and after an intermission of fifteen years was revived at Drury Lane in August, 1717, and afterwards frequently performed both at that theatre and the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where it was exhibited for the first time, Dec. 21, 1720. Coriolanus, which had not been acted for twenty years, was revived at the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, Dec. 13, 1718; and in Dec. 1719, King Richard II. was revived at the same theatre; but probably neither of these plays was then represented as originally written by Shakspeare.* Measure for Measure, which had not been acted, I imagine, from the time of the suppression of the theatres in 1642, was revived at the same theatre, Dec. 8, 1720, for the purpose of producing Mr. Quin in the character of the Duke, which he frequently performed with success in that and the following years. Much Ado about Nothing, which had not been acted for thirty years, was revived at Lincoln's Inn Fields, Feb. 9, 1721; but after two representations, on that and the following evening, was laid aside. In Dec. 1723, King Henry V. was announced for representation, on Shakspeare's foundation," and performed at Drury Lane six times in that month; after which we hear of it no more; and on Feb. 26, 1737, King John was revived at Covent Garden. Neither of these plays, I believe, had been exhibited from the time of the downfall of the stage. At the same theatre our poet's second part of King Henry IV. which had for fifty years been driven from the scene by the play which Mr. Betterton substituted in its place, resumed its station, being produced at Covent Garden, Feb. 16, 1738; and on the 23d of the same month Shakspeare's King Henry V. was performed there as originally written, after an interval, if the theatrical advertisement be correct, of forty years. In the following March the same company once exhibited The First Part of King Henry VI. for the first time, as they asserted, for fifty
*King Richard II. and King Lear were produced 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, Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, in 1682. In the King Richard II. (which was then produced at Cosame year appeared Durfey's alteration of Cymbe-vent Garden), was said not to have been acted for ne, under the title of The Injured Princess.
years. As you like it was announced for re-producing All's well that ends well, which, presentation at Drury Lane, December 20, 1740, as not having been acted for forty years, and represented twenty-six times in that season, At Goodman's Fields, Jan. 15, 1741, The Winter's Tale was announced, as not having been acted for one hundred years; but was not equally successful, being only performed nine times. At Drury Lane, Feb. 14, 1741, The Merchant of Venice, which, I believe, had not been acted for one hundred years, was once more restored to the scene by Mr. Macklin, who on that night first represented Shylock, a part which for near fifty years he performed with unrivalled success. In the following month the company at Goodman's fields endeavoured to make a stand against him by
* King Henry VI. altered from Shakspeare by Theophilus Cibber, was performed by a summer company at Drury Lane, July 5, 1723; but it met with no success being represented only once
they asserted, “had not been acted since Shakspeare's time." But the great theatrical event of this year was the appearance of Mr. Garrick at the theatre in Goodman's Fields, Oct. 9, 1741; whose good taste led him to study the plays of Shakspeare with more assiduity than any of his predecessors. Since that time, in consequence of Mr. Garrick's admirable performance of many of his principal characters, the frequent representation of his plays in nearly their original state, and above all, the various researches which have been made for the purpose of explaining and illustrating his works, our Poet's reputation has been yearly increasing, and is now fixed upon a basis, which neither the lapse of time nor the fluctuation of opinion will ever be able to shake. Here therefore I conclude this imperfect account of the origin and progress of the English Stage.
Chronological Order of Shakspeare's Dramas,
ON THE AUTHORITY OF MALONE, CHALMERS AND DRAKE.
Love's Labour's Lost.
Romeo and Juliet
1597. 1595. 1595
All's well that Ends well
THE ensuing enumeration of Shakspeare's dramas, with the dates assigned by the most generally received authorities, is given merely as a matter of curiosity; for the learned commentators are so much at variance in their chronology, that it deserves little or no attention. Indeed, when we reflect that the first edition of our author did not appear till several years after his death, and was then published by the players, who, it can scarcely be supposed, would pay any regard to the order of time in their arrangement of the dramas, it must be obvious, that with a very few exceptions, the dates given to those compositions are purely conjectural. A cloud rests over Shakspeare's career as an author, which is not now likely to be dispersed; those who were most familiar with the operations of his extraordinary genius, seem to have been hardly aware "that he was not for a day, but for all time;" they paid their shillings and applauded his productions on the stage, perhaps, but they had little taste or inclination to do them justice in the closet. Shak-King Lear. speare himself appears to have been remarkably careless of his own fame: he produced his great works without effort, and bequeathed them to his country, unconscious of their merit, and reckless of their fate
As You Like It.
Antony and Cleopatra
1598. 1597. 1597
1598. 1599. 1698
1599. 1597 . 1598
1600. 1599 . 1599
Titus Andronicus, not acknowledged by these critics, nor indeed by any author of credit, but originally published about 1589,
Shakspeare's Clowns & Fools.
Ir is quite obvious, that the terms clown and
"Tell country players, that old paltry jests
Oh bid them turn their minds to better meanings;
Sir Philip Sidney reprobates the custom of introducing fools on the stage; and declares that the plays of his time were neither right tragedies nor right comedies, for the authors mingled kings and clowns, "not," says he, "because the matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the clowne by head and shoulders to play a part in majestical matters, with neither decencie nor discretion: so as neither the admiration and commisseration, nor the right sportfulnesse, is by their mongrell tragedie-comedie obtained." Rankin, a puritan, contemporary with Shak
speare, wrote a most bitter attack on plays and players, whom he calls monsters; "and whie monsters ?" say he: "because under colour of humanitie they present nothing but prodigious vanitie: these are wels without water, dead branches fit for fuell, cockle amongst corne, unwholesome weedes amongst sweete hearbes, and, finallie, feends that are crept into the wordle by stealth, and hold possession by subtill invasion." In another place, he says, "" some transformed themselves to rogues, other to ruffians, some other to clownes, a fourth to fooles; the rogues were ready, the ruffians were rude, their clownes cladde as well with country condition, as in ruffe russet; theyr fooles as fond as might be."
To give a clear view of our subject, something of the different sorts of fools may be thus classed:
1. The general domestic fool, termed often, but improperly, a clown; described by Puttenham as "a buffoune, or counterfet foole."
II. The clown, who was a mere country booby, or a witty rustic.
III. The female fool, who was generally an idiot.
IV. The city or corporation fool, an assistant in public entertainments.
V. The tavern fool, retained to amuse the
VI. The fool of the ancient mysteries and moralities, otherwise the vice.
VII. The fool in the old dumb shews, often alluded to by Shakspeare.
VIII. The fool in the Whitsun ales and morris dance.
IX. The mountebank's fool, or merry Andrew. There may be others in our ancient dramas, of an irregular kind, not reducible to any of these classes; but to exemplify them is not within the scope of this essay what has been stated may assist the readers of old plays to judge for themselves when they meet with such characters.
The practice of retaining fools can be distinctly traced from the remotest times. They were to be found alike in the palace and the