Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

August 1639, he had been succeeded by William Beeston (perhaps his brother), who was then extremely anxious to secure to himself, and to the juvenile players under him, the sole right of performing a certain number of plays, most of which had belonged to the Queen's players while they continued at the Cockpit. William Beeston, on succeeding to the theatre, succeeded to the plays also ; but he seems to have feared, that, as the Queen's players no longer acted at the Cockpit, his claim might be disputed. He therefore appears to have had sufficient interest with the Lord Chamberlain to induce him to put forth an order, commanding “all governors and masters of play-houses' to refrain from acting all and any of the plays he enumerated."

* The list is valuable, and the document itself, if only on account of its novelty, is worth subjoining. It is from the original MS. in the Lord Chamberlain's office : — f

‘Whereas William Bieston, Gent. Governor, etc. of the King's and Queen's young Company of Players at the Cockpit in Drury Lane, hath represented unto his Majesty, that the several plays hereafter mentioned (viz.) Witt without Money; The Wight Walkers; The Knight of the burning Pesti/7, Father's owne Somme; Cupid’s Revenge; The Aondman, The Renegado, A Wew way to pay Zebts, The Great Duke of Florence; the Maid of Honor; The Traytor; The Example; The Young Admiral/; The Offortunity, A Witty sayre one; Love's Cruelty; The Wedding; The Maid's Revenge; The Lady of Pleasure, The Schoole of Complement; The Grateful Servant; The Coronation, Hide Parke, Philip Chabot Admiral of France, A Mad Couple well mett, All’s loss by Lust, The Changeling; A fayre Quarrell; The Spanish Gypsie; The World; The Summe’s Darling, Love's Sacrifice; 'Tis Pitty

shee's a Whore, George a greene; Love's Mistress; The Cumming Lovers;

The Rape of Lucrese; A Trick to cheat the Devill; A Foole and her

Maydenhead soon £arted; King john and Matilda; A Citty AVåght Cap,

The Bloody Banquett; Cupid's Vagaries; The Conceited Duke; and Appius and Virginia, do all and every of them properly and of right belong to the said house, and consequently that they are all in his propriety. And to the end that any other company of actors, in or about About the year 1635, the Prince's players, who had been stationed at the Salisbury Court theatre soon after 1629, were performing at the Fortune in Golding Lane; but, prior to September 1639, they were playing at the Red Bull in St. John Street, Smithfield: the cause of these changes is unknown." On the 29th of the month above-mentioned, representations were made against them to the Privy Council, in

London, shall not presume to act any of them to the prejudice of him the said William Bieston and his company—his Majesty hath signified his royal pleasure unto me, thereby requiring me to declare so much to all other companies of actors hereby concernable, that they are not any ways to intermeddle with, or act any of the above-mentioned plays. Whereof I require all masters and governors of playhouses, and all others whom it may concern to take notice, and to forbear to impeach the said William Bieston in the premises, as they tender his Majesty's displeasure and will answer the contempt.

* Dated Ioth August, 1639.'

1 They were not of long continuance, for Sir H. Herbert tells us, that at Easter 1640, the Prince's company returned to the Fortune, and ‘the Fortune company’ went to the Red Bull. He does not state of what players the Fortune company at that time consisted, but they were probably the Queen's servants, who had been under Christopher Beeston, until he became Governor of the King's and Queen's young company. See Malone's Shakespeare by Boswell, iii, 241. On p. 79 of the same volume, Malone has quoted, for a different purpose, the following prologue by J. Tatham, “upon the removing of the late Fortune players to the Bull’, from his volume called Fancies Theatre, 1640:—

[blocks in formation]

consequence of their having brought out a piece called The Whore AVew Vamped, in which personal allusion was made to an alderman of London, who had been a blacksmith in Holborn, and some general abuse thrown upon proctors. The State Paper Office contains a singular document upon this subject, in which the objectionable parts of the play are pointed out; but, from the statement there made, it seems very doubtful whether the author (whoever he might be) or the Master of the Revels, were at all to blame: the expressions against which complaint was made appear rather to have been foisted in by Andrew Cane, the actor, whose name has been before met with in connection with the company called the Prince's players. The commencement of the document in the State Paper Office is considerably damaged, and some words are obliterated ; but, as a copy of this portion of it is found in the Registers of the Privy Council, the deficiencies are accurately supplied in the transcript contained in the note below: The play which thus attracted the attention of the King and of the Privy Council, has not survived. In the Autumn of 1639, Davenant was obliged to relin

Pure Naples silk, not worsted. We have ne'er
An actor here has mouth enough to tear
Language by the ears. This forlorn hope shall be
By us refin’d from such gross injury;
And then let your judicious loves advance
US to our merits, them to their ignorance.’

Hence we see, that at the Red Bull they had, at this date, silk curtains, and probably the house was them better furnished, and more ornamented in other respects than the Fortune.

* “Order touching the Players at the Red Bull. At the Court at Whitehall, 29th September 1639, present the King's most excellent Majesty. Whereas complaint was this day made to his Majesty, sitting in Council, that the stage players of the Red Bull have lately, for many days together, acted a scandalous and libellous play, wherein they have quish the patent granted him in the spring of the same year, for building a theatre behind the Three Kings ordinary in Fleet street, or in that immediate neighbourhood: the original letters-patent are recited in an indenture by which Davenant consented not to erect any such building. Why the royal permission thus given was withdrawn remains unexplained."

audaciously reproached, and in a libellous manner traduced and personated, not only some of the Aldermen of the City of London, and other persons of quality, but also scandalized and defamed the whole profession of Proctors belonging to the Court of Civil Law, and reflected upon the present Government: it was ordered, that Mr. Attorney-General should be hereby prayed, and requested forthwith, to call before him, not only the poet that made the said play, and the actors that played the same, but also the person who licensed it, and having diligently examined the truth of the same complaint, to proceed roundly against such of them as he shall find to have been faulty; and to use such effectual expedition to bring them to sentence, as that their exemplary punishment may prevent such insolencies betimes.’ The ground of offence is stated to be the following:—In the play called The Whore Mew Vamped, where there was mention of the new duty upon wines: one that personates a justice of the peace says to Cane, ‘Sirrah, I’ll have you before the Alderman': whereto Cane replied in these words—viz., “The Alderman the Alderman is a base, drunken, sottish knave, I care not for the Alderman; I say the Alderman is a base, drunken, sottish knave': another said, “How now, Sirrah; what Alderman do you speak of P’ then Cane said, ‘I mean Alderman, the blacksmith in Holborn’: said the other, “Was he not a vintner?” Cane answered, ‘I know no other'. In another part of the same play, Cane, speaking of projects and patents that he had gotten, among the rest said that he had a patent for twelve-pence a-piece upon every proctor and proctor's man that was not a knave;—said another, “Was there ever known any proctor, but he was an errant knave P’ * Chalmers (Suppl. Apol, p. 187) says, that the project was defeated ‘ on some disagreement with the Earl of Arundel, the landlord’, but this fact nowhere appears, and it seems much more probable, that the growth of puritanical notions regarding the stage, and perhaps the interference Between the 10th of November 1640, and the 22nd of February 1640-1, plays for the representation of which 16ol. were paid to Lowen, Taylor and Swanston, were performed

of the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, induced the King to withdraw his letters-patent. The following is the indenture by which Davenant yielded his right into the hands of the Crown:— ‘This Indenture made the second day of October, in the fifteenth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord Charles, by the grace of God of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Annoq. Dm. 1639. Between the said King's most Exéellent Maty of the first part, and William Davenant, of London, Gent., of the other part. Whereas the said King's most excellent Maty, by his Highness Letters patents under the great Seal of England, bearing date the six and twentieth day of March last past before the date of these presents, did give and grant unto the said William Davenant, his Heirs, Executors, Administrators, and Assigns, full power, license, and authority that he they and every of them, by him and themselves, and by all and every such person or persons as he or they shall depute or appoint, and his and their labourers, servants, and workmen, shall and may lawfully, quietly, and peaceably frame, erect, new build, and set up upon a parcel of ground lying near unto or behind the three Kings Ordinary in Fleet Street, in the parish of St. Dunstan's in the West, London, or in St. Bride's, London, or in either of them, or in any other ground in or about that place, or in the whole street aforesaid, already allotted to him for that use, or in any other place that is or hereafter shall be assigned and allotted out to the said William Davenant by the Right Honorable Thomas Earl of Arundel and Surrey, Earl Marshal of England, or any other his Mats. Commissioners for building for the time being in that behalf, a Theatre or Playhouse with necessary tiring and retiring rooms, and other places convenient, containing in the whole forty yards square at the most, wherein plays, musical entertainments, scenes, or other the like presentments, may be presented by and under certain provisoes or conditions in the same contained, as in and by the said letters patents, whereunto relation being had more fully and at large, it doth and may appear: Now this Indenture witnesseth, and the said William Davenant doth by these presents declare his Majesty's intent meaning, at and upon the granting of the said License, was and is, that he the said William Davenant, his Heirs, Executors, Administrators, nor Assigns, should not frame, build, or set

« ZurückWeiter »