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Sir William D'Avenant, about sixteen months suburbs, but those exhibited by the said two after the death of Ben Jonson, obtained from companies. bis Majesty (Dec. 13, 1638), a grant of an Mr. THOMAS BETTERTON having been a annuity 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 his 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 bant 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. Betterton. He was the son of hold in the said house:” and I suppose he ap- Matibew Betterton (under-cook to King pointed ber son, Mr. William Beeston, bis Charles the First) and was baptized, as I learn deputy, for from Sir Henry Herbert's office from the register of St. Margaret'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 Io 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 tbe usurpation, began to revive, and a license in the year 1659, when Betterton was several plays were performed at the Red Bull lwenty-four years of age. He married Mrs. in St. John's-Street, in that and the following Mary Saunderson, an actress, who had been year, 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 formed ; 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 one at the Cockpit in Drury-Lane, under Mr. Sir Henry Herbert bas entitled a Breviat of Rhodes, who bad been wardrobe-keeper at the malters to be proved on the trial of an action theatre in Blackfriars before the breaking out brought by him against Mr. Belterton in 1662, of the Civil Wars. Sir Henry Herbert, who I find that he continued to act at the Cockpit still retained his office of Master of the Revels, till 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 long 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. Belterton, Mr. Mohun, and others, he Cockpit, and afterwards removed to a new was obliged to relinquish his claims, and his theatre in Portugal Row, near Lincoln's Inn ofice 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 his majesty's bedchamber, and Sir William to play till March or April, 1662. In October, D'Avenant, lo erectiwo new playhouses and (wo 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 as 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 tio, 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, In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo was represented produced ten new plays, and 100 revived plays; by Mr. Harris; Mercutio, by Mr. Bellerton ; but the latter number being the usual style of and Juliet by Mrs. Saunderson. Mr. Belterlon declarations at law, may bave been inserted in Twelfth Night performed Sir Toby Belch, 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 Ball, 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 lo 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 prompler 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 1689 wright, Falstaff. Such was the lamentable and 1695, when Mr. Congreve, Mr. Betterton, 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 Ing 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 TumMr. Belterton, 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, howwhich 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 Cæsar, continued to act in Portugal Row, they repre- and Hamlet, were without doubt sometimes sonted the following plays of Sbakspeare, and represented in the same period : and Tate and Dursey furnished the scene with miserable tions of his pieces were preferred to the origialterations of Coriolanus, King Richard II., nals. Dursey'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 for wards often represented. Even Ravenscroft's near 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 Cleopatra ; 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 Dec. 13, 1718; and in Dec. 1719, King this play, which was so popular in Shakspeare's Richard II, was revived at the saine 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. represenled 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 dormant 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 lime it has for the purpose of producing Mr. Quin in the been represented, I believe, more frequently character the Duke, which he frequently than any of our author's dramas, except performed with success in that and the followHamlet.
ing years. Much Ado about Nothing, which 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 Ion Fields, Feb. 9, 1721; but formed at St. James's, by the actors of both after two representations, on that and the houses, and afterwards publicly represented following evening, was laid aside. In Dec. af the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, May 18, 1723, King Henry V. was announced for rein tbe same year, by Mr. Betterton's company; presentation, “ on Shakspeare's foundation,” bat although the whole force of his company and performed at Drury Lane six times in was exerted in the representalion, the piece that month; after which we hear of it no more; had so 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 his our poet's second part of King Henry IV. edition of Shakspeare, the exhibition of his which had for fifty years been driven from the plays 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 Hamlet, 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 esbibited. Still, 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 Com saste rear appeared Durfey's alteration of Cymbe- vent Garden), was said not to have been acted for kase, under the title of The Injured Princess.
years.* As you like it was announced for re-producing All's well that ends rell, which, presentation at Drury Lane, December 20, they asserted, “had not been acted since Shak1740, as not having been acted for forty years, speare's time.” But the great theatrical event and represented twenty-six times in that season, of this year was the appearance of Mr. Garrick At Goodman's Fields, Jan. 15, 1741, The at the theatre in Goodman's Fields, Oct. 9, Winter's Tale was announced, as not having 1741; whose good laste led him to study the been acted for one hundred years; but was not plays of Shakspeare with more assiduity than equally successful, being only performed nine any of bis predecessors.
Since that time, in limes. At Drury Lane, Feb. 14, 1741, The consequence of Mr. Garrick's admirable perMerchant of Venice, which, I believe, had formance of many of his principal characters, not been acted for one hundred years, was the frequent representation of his plays in once more restored to the scene by Mr. Mack- nearly their original state, and above all, the lin, who on that night first represented Shylock, various researches which have been made for a part which for near fifty years he performed the purpose of explaining and illustrating his with unrivalled success. In the following works, our Poel's reputation has been yearly month the company at Goodman’s fields en increasing, and is now fixed upon a basis, deavoured to make a stand against bim by which neither the lapse of time nor the fluctua
tion of opinion will ever be able to shake. * King Henry VI. altered from Shakspeare by Here therefore I conclude this imperfect account Theophilus Cibber, was performed by a summer company at Drury Lane, July 5, 1723; but it met
of the origin and progress of the English with no success being represented only once Stage.
The ensuing enumeration of Shakspeare's dramas,
Malone. Chalmers. Drak. with the dates assigned by the most generally re
Love's Labour's Lost . 1594 . 1592 . 1591 ceived authorities, is given merely as a matter of
Two Gentlemen of Verona
1595 . 1595. 1595 curiosity; for the learned commentators are so much
Romeo and Juliet
1595 . 1592 . 1593 at variance in their chronology, that it deserves
1596 . 1597. 1597 little or no attention. Indeed, when we reflect that King John .
1596 . 1593. 1593 the first edition of our author did not appear till King Richard II.
1597 . 1595. 1595 several years after his death, and was then pub-King Richard III.
1597 . 1595 , 1595 lished by the players, who, it can scarcely be sup
First Part of King Henry IV. 1597 . 1596 .
1596 posed, would pay any regard to the order of time Second ditto
1599 . 1597.
1596 in their arrangement of the dramas, it must be ob- Merchant of Venice
1598, 1597 . 1597 vious, that with a very few exceptions, the dates All's well that Ends well 1598 . 1599. 1598 given to those compositions are purely conjectural. King Henry V.
1599 . 1597 . 1598 A cloud rests over Shakspeare's career as an author, Much Ado about Nothing
1600 . 1599. 1599 which is not now likely to be dispersed; those who As You Like It
1600, 1599, 1600 were most familiar with the operations of his ex
Merry Wives of Windsor.
1601 . 1596. 1601 traordinary genius, seem to have been hardly aware King Henry VIII.
1601 , 1613. 1602 " that he was not for a day, but for all time ;” they Troilus and Cressida
1602 . 1600. 1601 paid their shillings and applauded his productions Measure for Measure
1603 . 1604 . 1603 on the stage, perhaps, but they had little taste or
The Winter's Tale
1604 . 1601 , 1610 inclination to do them justice in the closet. Shak- King Lear.
1605 . 1605 , 1604 speare himself appears to have been remarkably Cymbeline.
1605 , 1606 , 1605 careless of his own fame: he produced his great Macbeth
1606. 1606 , 1606 works without effort, and bequeathed them to his Julius Cæsar
1607 . 1607 , 1607 country, unconscious of their merit, and reckless of Antony and Cleopatra . their fate
1608. 1608 , 1608 Timon of Athens
1609 . 1601 , 1602 Pericles
Coriolanus nol acknowiedged . 1590
1610. 1609 , 1609 First Part of King Henry VI. 1589 . 1599 . 1592 The Tempest
1611 . 1614. 1612 Second ditto
1612 . 1613. Third ditto 1591. 1595. 1592
1614 , 1608 , 1613 A Midsummer Night's Dream. 1592 . 1598 . 1593
Titus Andronicus, not acknowledged by these criComedy of Errors
1593. 1591 1591
ties, nor indeed by any author of credit, but Taming of the Shrew
1594 . 1598. 1594
originally published about 1589.
1590 . 1590 . 1592 Twelfth Night
It is quite obvious, that the terms clown and speare, wrote a most bitter attack on plays and fool were used, though improperly perhaps, players, whom he calls monsters ; " and whie as synonymous by our old dramatists. Their monsters ?” say be : “because under colour confused introduction might render this doublful of humanitie they present nothing but prodigious to one who had not well considered the matter. vanilie: these are wels without water, dead The fool of our early plays denoted a mere branches fit for fuell, cockle amongst corne, idiot or natural, or else a witty hireling retained unwholesome weedes amongst sweete bearbes, to make sport for his masters. The clonn was and, finallie, seends that are crept into the a character of more variety; sometimes he was wordle by stealth, and hold possession by subtill a mere rustic, and, often, no more than a invasion.” In another place, he says, some shrewd domestic. There are instances in which transformed themselves to rogues, olher to rufaby low character in a play served to amuse fians, some other to clownes, a fourth to fooles ; silh his coarse sallies, and thus became the the rogues were ready, the russians were rude, clurn of the piece. In fact, the fool of the their clownes cladde as well with country condrama was a kind of heterogeneous being, dition, as in ruffe russet; theyr fooles as fond copied in part from real life, but highly coloured as might be." in order to produce effect. This opinion de- To give a clear view of our subject, somerives force from what is put into the mouth of thing of the different sorts of fools may be thus Hamlet, when he admonishes those who per- classed : form the clowns, to speak no more than is set 1. The general domestic fool, termed often, down for them. Indeed, Shakspeare himself but improperly, a clown ; described by Puttencannot be absolved from the imputation of ham as “ a buffoune, or counterfet foole." making mere caricatures of his merry Andrews, Jl. The clown, who was a mere country unless we suppose, what is very probable, that booby, or a witty rustic. his compositions have been much interpolated NI. The female fool, who was generally with the estemporaneous jokes of the players. an idiot. To this folly, allusions are made in a clever IV. The city or corporation fool, an assistsatire entitled Pasquil's Mad-cappe, throwne ant in public entertainments. at the Corruptions of these Times, 1626, V. The tavern fool, retained to amuse the quarto.
customers. *Tell country players, that old paltry jests
VI. The fool of the ancient mysteries and Pronounced in a painted motley coate,
moralities, otherwise the vice. Filles all the world so full of cuckoes nests, That nightingales can scarcely sing a note.
VII. The fool in the old dumb shews, often Oh! bid them turn their minds to better meanings ;
alluded to by Shakspeare. Fields are ill sowne that give no better gleanings.”
VIII. The fool in the Whitsun ales and Sir Philip Sidney reprobates the custom of morris dance. introducing fools on the slage; and declares that IX. The mountebank's fool, or merry Anthe plays of his time were neither right tragedies drew. There may be others in our ancient nor right comedies, for the authors mingled dramas, of an irregular kind, not reducible to kings and clowns,“ Dot," says he, “because the any of these classes; but to exemplify them is matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the clowne not within the scope of this essay: what has by head and shoulders to play a part in majes- been slated may assist the readers of old plays lical matters, with neither decencie nor discre- to judge for themselves when they meet with llon : so as neither the admiration and com- such characters. misseration, nor the right sportfulnesse, is by The practice of retaining fools can be distheir mongrell tragedie-comedie obtained.” tinctly traced from the remotest times. They Rankin, a puritan, contemporary with Shak- were to be found alike in the palace and the