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Mimes of the Roman stage. The Exodiari | and Emboliariæ of the Mimes are undoubtedly the remote progenitors of the Vice and Clown of our ancient dramas.

No writer that I have met with intimates that in the time of Shakspeare it was customary to exhibit more than a single dramatic piece on one day. Had any shorter pieces of the same kind with our modern farces (beside the jigs already mentioned) been presented after the principal performance, some of them probably would have been printed; but there are none of them extant of an earlier date than the time of the Restoration. The practice, therefore, of exhibiting two dramas successively in the same afternoon, we may be assured, was not established before that period. But though our ancient audiences were not gratified by the representation of more than one drama in the same day, the entertainment in the middle of the reign of Elizabeth was diversified, and the populace diverted, by vaulting, tumbling, slight of nand, and morrice-dancing; and in the time of Shakspeare, by the extemporaneous buffoonery of the Clown, whenever he chose to solicit the attention of the audience: by singing and dancing between the acts, and either a song or the metrical jig already described at the end of the piece: a mixture not more heterogeneous than that with which we are now daily presented, a tragedy and a farce. In the dances, I believe, not only men, but boys in women's dresses, were introduced: a practice which prevailed on the Grecian stage, and in France till late in the last century.

The amusements of our ancestors, before the commencement of the play, were of various kinds. While some part of the audience entertained themselves with reading, or playing at cards, others were employed in less refined occupations; in drinking ale, or smoking tobacco; with these and nuts and apples they were furnished by male attendants, of whose clamour a satirical writer of the time of James I. loudly complains. In 1633, when Prynne published his Histriomastix, women smoked tobacco in the playhouses as well as men.

It was a common practice to carry tablebooks to the theatre, and either from curiosity, or enmity to the author, or some other motive, to write down passages of the play that was represented; and there is reason to believe that the imperfect and mutilated copies of one or two of Shakspeare's dramas, which are yet extant, were taken down by the ear or in shorthand during the exhibition.

At the end of the piece, the actors, in noblemen's houses and in taverns, where plays were frequently performed, prayed for the health and prosperity of their patrons; and in the public theatres, for the king and queen. This prayer sometimes made part of the epilogue. Hence, probably, as Mr. Steevens has observed, the addition of Vivant rex et regina, to the moderu play-bills.

Plays in the time of our author began at one o'clock in the afternoon; and the exhibition was sometimes finished in two hours. Even in 1667, they commenced at three o'clock. About thirty years afterwards (in 1696) theatrical entertainments began an hour later.

We have seen that in the infancy of our stage, Mysteries were usually acted in churches; and the practice of exhibiting religious dramas in buildings appropriated to the service of religion on the Lord's day certainly continued after the Reformation.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth plays were exhibited in the public theatres on Sundays, as well as on other days of the week. The license granted by that queen to James Burbage in 1574, which has been already printed in a former page, shows that they were then represented on that day out of the hours of prayer.

We are told indeed by John Field, in his Declaration of God's Judgment at Paris Gar den, that in the year 1580 "the magistrates of the city of London obtained from Queen Elizabeth, that all heathenish playes and enterludes should be banished upon Sabbath dayes." This prohibition, however, probably lasted but a short time; for her majesty, when she visited Oxford in 1592, did not scruple to be present at a theatrical exhibition on Sunday night, the 24th of September in that year. During the reign of James the First, though dramatic entertainments were performed at court on Sundays, I believe, no plays were publicly represented on that day; and by the statute 3 Car. I. c. 1. their exhibition on the Sabbath day was ab'solutely prohibited: yet, notwithstanding this act of parliament, both plays and masques were performed at court on Sundays, during the first sixteen years of the reign of that king, and certainly in private houses, if not on the public stage. It has been a question, whether it was formerly a common practice to ride on horseback to the playhouse: a circumstance that would scarcely deserve consideration, if it were not in some sort connected with our author's history, a plausible story having been built on

this foundation, relative to his first introduction first day that a new play was represented; a to the stage.

The modes of conveyance to the theatre, anciently, as at present, seem to have been various; some going in coaches, others on horseback, and many by water. To the Globe playhouse the company probably were conveyed by water to that in Blackfriars, the gentry went either in coaches, or on horseback; and the common people on foot.

Plays in the time of King James the First and probably afterwards) appear to have been performed every day at each theatre during the winter season, except in the time of Lent, when they were not permitted on the sermon days, as they were called, that is, on Wednesday and Friday; nor on the other days of the week, except by special license; which however was btained by a fee paid to the Master of the Revels. In the summer season the stage exbibitions were continued, but during the long vacation they were less frequently repeated. However, it appears from Sir Henry Herbert's manuscript, that the king's company usually brought out two or three new plays at the Globe every summer.

Though, from the want of newspapers and other periodical publications, intelligence was But so speedily circulated in former times as at present, our ancient theatres do not appear to have laboured under any disadvantage in this respect; for the players printed and exposed accounts of the pieces that they intended to exhibit, which, however, did not contain a list of the characters, or the names of the actors by whom they were represented.

The long and whimsical titles which are prefixed to the quarto copies of our author's plays, were undoubtedly either written by booksellers, er transcribed from the play-bills of the time. They were equally calculated to attract the notice of the idle gazer in the walks at St. Paul's, or to draw a crowd about some vociferous Autolycus, who perhaps was hired by the players thus to raise the expectations of the multitude. It is indeed absurd to suppose, that the modest Shakspeare, who has more than once apologized for his untutored lines, should in his manuscripts have entitled any of his dramas most excellent and pleasant performances.

It is uncertain at what time the usage of giving authors a benefit on the third day of the exhibition of their piece commenced. Mr. Oldys, m one of his manuscripts, intimates that dramatic poets had anciently their benefit on the


regulation which would have been very favourable to some of the ephemeral productions of modern times. have found no authority which proves this to have been the case in the time of Shakspeare; but at the beginning of the present [last] century it appears to have been customary in Lent for the players of the theatre in DruryLane to divide the profits of the first representation of a new play among them.

From D'Avenant, indeed, we learn, that in the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the poet had his benefit on the second day. As it was a general practice, in the time of Shakspeare, to sell the copy of the play to the theatre, I imagine, in such cases, an author derived no other advantage from his piece, than what arose from the sale of it. Sometimes, however, he found it more beneficial to retain the copy-right in his own hands; and when he did so, I suppose he had a benefit. It is certain that the giving authors the profits of the third exhibition of their play, which seems to have been the usual mode during the great part of the last [seventeenth] century, was an established custom in the year 1612; for Decker, in the prologue to one of his comedies, printed in that year, speaks of the poet's third day.


The unfortunate Otway had no more than one benefit on the production of a new play; and this too, it seems, he was sometimes forced to mortgage, before the piece was acted. therne was the first dramatic writer who obtained the emoluments arising from two representations; and to Farquhar, in the year 1700, the benefit of a third was granted; but this appears to have been a particular favour to that gentleman; for for several years afterwards dramatic poets had only the benefit of the third and sixth performance.

The profit of three representations did not become the established right of authors till after the year 1720.

To the honour of Mr. Addison, it should be remembered, that he first discontinued the ancient, but humiliating, practice of distributing tickets, and soliciting company to attend at the theatre on the poet's nights.

When an author sold his piece to the sharers or proprietors of a theatre, it could not be performed by any other company, and remained for several years unpublished; but, when that was not the case, he printed it for sale, to which many seem to have been induced from an apprehension that an imperfect copy might be

issued from the press without their consent. | be performed at any of the royal palaces in the The customary price of the copy of a play, in the time of Shakspeare, appears to have been twenty nobles, or six pounds thirteen shillings and four-pence. The play when printed was sold for sixpence; and the usual present from a patron, in return for a dedication, was forty shillings.

On the first day of exhibiting a new play, the prices of admission appear to have been raised, sometimes to double, sometimes to treble, prices; and this seems to have been occasionally practised on the benefit nights of authors, and on the representation of expensive plays, to the year 1726.

Dramatic poets in ancient times, as at present, were admitted gratis into the theatre.

It appears from Sir Henry Herbert's Officebook that the king's company between the years 1622 and 1641 produced either at Blackfriars or the Globe at least four new plays every year. Every play, before it was represented on the stage, was licensed by the Master of the Revels, for which he received in the time of Queen Elizabeth but a noble, though at a subsequent period the stated fee on this occasion rose to two pounds.

Neither Queen Elizabeth nor King James the First, nor Charles the First, I believe, ever went to the public theatre; but they frequently ordered plays to be performed at court, which were represented in the royal theatre called the Cockpit, in Whitehall; and the actors of the king's company were sometimes commanded to attend his majesty in his summer's progress, to perform before him in the country. Queen Henrietta Maria, however, went sometimes to the public theatre at Blackfriars. I find from the Council-books, that in the time of Elizabeth ten pounds was the payment for a play performed before her; that is, twenty nobles, or six pounds thirteen shillings and four-pence, as the regular and stated fee; and three pounds six shillings and eight-pence, by way of bounty or reward. The same sum, as I learn from the manuscriptnotes of Lord Stanhope, Treasurer of the Chamber to king James the First, continued to be paid during his reign and this was the stated payment during the reign of his successor also. Plays at court were usually performed at night, by which means they did not interfere with the regular exhibition at the public theatres, which was early in the afternoon; and thus the royal bounty was for so much a clear profit to the company but when & play was commanded to

neighbourhood of London, by which the actors were prevented from deriving any profit from a public exhibition on the same day, the fee, as appears from a manuscript in the Lord Chamberlain's office, was in the year 1630, and probably in Shakspeare's time also, twenty pounds; and this circumstance I formerly stated, as strongly indicating that the sum last mentioned was a very considerable produce on any one representation at the Blackfriars or Globe playhouse. The office-book which I have so often quoted, has fully confirmed my conjecture.

The custom of passing a final censure on plays at their first exhibition is as ancient as the time of our author; for no less than three plays of his rival, Ben Jonson, appear to have been deservedly damned;* and Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess, and The Knight of the burning Pestle, written by him and Beaumont, underwent the same fate.

It is not easy to ascertain what were the emoluments of a successful actor in the time of Shakspeare. They had not then annual benefits, as at present. The clear emoluments of the theatre, after deducting the nightly expenses for lights, men occasionally hired for the evening, etc. which in Shakspeare's house was but forty-five shillings, were divided into shares, of which part belonged to the proprietors, who were called housekeepers, and the remainder was divided among the actors according to their rank and merit. I suspect that the whole clear receipt was divided into forty shares, of which perhaps the housekeepers or proprietors had fifteen, the actors twenty-two, and three were devoted to the purchase of new plays, dresses, etc. From Ben Jonson's Poetaster, it should seem that one of the performers had seven shares and a half; but of what integral sum is not mentioned. The person alluded to (if any person was alluded to, which is not certain). must, I think, have been a proprietor, as well as a principal actor. Our poet in his Hamlet speaks of a whole share, as no contemptible emolument; and from the same play we learn that some of the performers had only half a share. Others probably had still less.

It appears from a deed executed by Thomas Killigrew and others, that in the year 1666 the whole profit arising from acting plays, masques, &c. at the King's theatre, was divided into twelve shares and three quarters, of

This offensive term appears to have been as old at least as Sir W. D'Avenant's time. C.

which Mr. Killigrew, the manager, had two shares and three quarters; and if we may trust to the statement in another very curious paper which, however, was probably exaggerated) each share produced, at the lowest calculation, about 2501. per ann. net; and the total clear profits consequently were about 31877. 10s. Od. These shares were then distributed among the proprietors of the theatre, who at that time were not actors, the performers, and the dramatic poets, who were retained in the service of the theatre, and received a part of the annual produce as a compensation for the pieces which they produced.

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In a paper delivered by Sir Henry Herbert to Lord Clarendon and the Lord Chamberlain, July 11, 1662, he states the emolument which Mr. Thomas Killigrew then derived (from his two shares and three quarters) at 197. 6s. od. per week; according to which statement each share in the king's company produced but two hundred and ten pounds ten shillings a year. In Sir William D'Avenant's company, from the time their new theatre was opened in Portugal-Row, near Lincoln's Inn Fields April, 1662), the total receipt (after deducting the nightly charges of men hirelings and other customary expenses") was divided anto fifteen shares, of which it was agreed by articles previously entered into, that ten should belong to D'Avenant: viz. two "towards the bouse-rent, buildings, scaffolding, and making of frames for scenes; one for a provision of habits, properties, and scenes, for a supplement of the said theatre; and seven to maintain all the women that are to perform or represent women's parts, in tragedies, comedies, &c. and in consideration of erecting and establishing his actors to be a company, and his pains and expenses for that purpose for many years." The other five shares were divided in various proportions among the rest of the troop.

In the papers above referred to it is stated by Sir Henry Herbert, that D'Avenant "drew from these ten shares two hundred pounds a week;" and if that statement was correct, each share in his playhouse then produced annually s hundred pounds, supposing the acting season to have then lasted for thirty weeks.

Such were the emoluments of the theatre Soon after the Restoration; which I have stated here, from authentic documents, because they may assist us in our conjectures concerning the profits derived from stage-exhibitions at a Bete remote and darker period.

From the prices of admission into our ancient theatres in the time of Shakspeare, which have been already noticed, I formerly conjectured that about twenty pounds was a considerable receipt at the Blackfriars and Globe theatre, on any one day; and my conjecture is now confirmed by indisputable evidence. In Sir Henry Herbert's Office-book I find the following curious notices on this subject, under the year 1628:

"The kinges company with a generall consent and alacritye have given mee the benefitt of two dayes in the yeare, the one in summer, thother in winter, to bee taken out of the second daye of a revived playe, att my owne choyse. The housekeepers have likewyse given their shares, their dayly charge only deducted, which comes to some 21. 5s. this 25 May, 1628.

"The benefitt of the first day, being a very unseasonable one in respect of the weather, comes but unto 41. 15s. Od."

This agreement subsisted for five years and a half, during which time Sir Henry Herbert had ten benefits, the most profitable of which produced seventeen pounds, and ten shillings, net, on the 22d of Nov. 1628, when Fletcher's Custom of the Country was performed at Blackfriars; and the least emolument which he received was on the representation of a play which is not named, at the Globe, in the summer of the year 1632, which produced only the sum of one pound and five shillings, after deducting from the total receipt in each instance the nightly charge above mentioned. also appears that his clear profit at an average on each of his nights, was Sl. 19s. 4d. and the total nightly receipt was at an average-111. 4s. 4d.


On the 30th of October, 1633, the managers of the king's company agreed to pay him the fixed sum of ten pounds every Christmas, and the same sum at Midsummer, in lieu of his two benefits, which sums they regularly paid him from that time till the breaking out of the civil wars.

From the receipts on these benefits I am led to believe that the prices were lower at the Globe theatre, and that therefore, though it was much larger than the winter theatre at Blackfriars, it did not produce a greater sum of money on any representation. If we suppose twenty pounds, clear of the nightly charges already mentioned, to have been a very con siderable receipt at either of these houses, and that this sum was in our poet's time divided

into forty shares, of which fifteen were appropriated to the housekeepers or proprietors, three to the purchase of copies of new plays, stage-habits, etc. and twenty-two to the actors, then the performer, who had two shares on the representation of each play, received, when the theatre was thus successful, twenty shillings. But supposing the average nightly receipt (after deducting the nightly expenses) to be about nine pounds, which we have seen to be the case, then his nightly dividend would be but nine shillings, and his weekly profit, if they played five times a week, two pounds five shillings. The acting season, I believe, at that time lasted forty weeks. In each of the companies then subsisting there were about twenty persons, six of whom probably were principal, and the others subordinate; so that we may suppose two shares to have been the reward of a principal actor; six of the second class perhaps enjoyed a whole share each; and each of the remaining eight half a share. On all these data, I think it may be safely concluded, that the performers of the first class did not derive from their profession more than ninety pounds a year at the utmost. Shakspeare, Heminge, Condell, Burbadge, Lowin, and Taylor had without doubt other shares as proprietors or leaseholders; but what the different proportions were which each of them possessed in that right, it is now impossible to ascertain. According to the supposition already stated, that fifteen shares out of forty were appropriated to the proprietors, then was there on this account a sum of six hundred and seventy-five pounds annually to be divided among them. Our poet, as author, actor, and proprietor, probably received from the theatre about two hundred pounds a year. Having after a very long search lately discovered the will of Mr. Heminge, I hoped to have derived from it some information on this subject; but I was disappointed. He indeed more than once mentions his several parts or shares held by lease in the Globe and Blackfriars play- | houses, but uses no expression by which the value of each of those shares can be ascertained His books of account, which he appears to have regularly kept, and which, he says, will show that his shares yielded him "a good yearly profit," will probably, if they shall ever be found, throw much light on our early stage history.

Thus scanty and meagre were the apparatus and accommodations of our ancient theatres, on which those dramas were first exhibited, that have since engaged the attention of so

many learned men, and delighted so many thousand spectators. Yet even then, we are told by a writer of that age,* " dramatic poesy was so lively expressed and represented on the public stages and theatres of this city, as Rome in the auge of her pomp and glory never saw it better performed; in respect of the action and art, not of the cost and sumptuousness."

THE history of the stage as far as it relates to Shakspeare, naturally divides itself into three periods: the period which preceded his appearance as an actor or dramatic writer; that during which he flourished; and the time which has elapsed since his death. Having now gone through the two former of these periods, I shall take a transient view of the stage from the death of our great poet to the year 1741, still with a view to Shakspeare, and his works.

Soon after his death, four of the principal companies then subsisting made a union, and were afterwards called The United Companies, but I know not precisely in what this union consisted. I suspect it arose from a penury of actors, and that the managers contracted to permit the performers in each house occasionally to assist their brethren in the other theatres in the representation of plays.

After the death of Shakspeare, the plays of Fletcher appear for several years to have been more admired, or at least to have been more frequently acted, than those of our poet. During the latter part of the reign of James the First, Fletcher's pieces had the advantage of novelty to recommend them. I believe, between the time of Beaumont's death in 1615 and his own in 1625, this poet produced at least twenty-five plays. Sir Aston Cokain has informed us, in his poems, that of the thirty-five pieces improperly ascribed to Beaumont and Fletcher in the folio edition of 1647, much the greater part were written after Beaumont's death; and his account is partly confirmed by Sir Henry Herbert's Manuscript, from which it appears that Fletcher produced eleven new plays in the last four years of his life. If we were possessed of the Register kept by Sir George Buck we should there, I make no doubt, find near twenty dramas written by the same author in the in

terval between 1615 and 1622.

observed, wrote an express treatise concerning the * Sir George Buck. This writer, as I have already English stage, which was never printed, and, I fear, is now irrecoverably lost.

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