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ANNALS OF THE STAGE,
FROM THE YEAR 1635 TO THE CLOSING OF THE THEATRES.
On the roth Jan. 1634-5, a Privy Seal was issued to Edmund Taverner, Esq., to enable him to receive a larger sum than we have yet seen paid at once on account of any
1635. Mask at Court: it was for 1400l.' towards the charge of a mask, to be presented before his Majesty at Whitehall at Shrovetide next.” Sir H. Herbert says nothing of this performance; his MS. (as far as Malone has quoted it)2 for the year beginning Jan. Ist, 1634-5, being occupied chiefly with an account of the establishment of a company of French players in London.
The unsuccessful 'attempt' of the French actors and ac
| Chalmers obtained his knowledge of this fact from the MS. in the Lord Chamberlain's office, and not from the original Privy Seal, which we found among records in the Chapter-house (see Apology, p. 508): he states that this was the Mask of which Sir H. Herbert records the acting as the noblest of his time-the best poetry, best scenes, and the best habits. This is a mistake—Sir H. Herbert is speaking of the Mask of Shrovetide 1633-4, and not of Shrovetide 1634-5.
2 Shakespeare by Boswell, iii, 120.
• Under the date of 16th Feb. 1634-5, he notices, that he had committed a man of the name of Cromes, a broker in Long Lane, for lending to the players of Salisbury Court theatre an old church robe with Jesus upon it. He was released on the next day. Malone's Shakespeare by Boswell, iii, 237. VOL. II.
tresses, in 1629, seems for some years to liave deterred others from the trial of a similar experiment; but early in the spring of 1635, a company of performers came over from France under the especial patronage of the Queen: they played before her in private on the 15th Feb.; and being
commended by her Majesty to the King', they performed in the Cockpit at Whitehall on the 17th Feb., a French comedy, to which Sir H. Herbert gives the name of Melise, 'with good approbation'. After mentioning these facts, he proceeds as follows:
'This day being Friday, and the 20th of the same month (February), the King told me his pleasure, and commanded me to give order, that this French company should play the two sermon days in the week, during their time of playing in Lent, and in the House of Drury Lane, where the Queen's players usually play. The King's pleasure I signified to Mr. Beeston the same day, who obeyed readily.'
It is here to be remarked, that this order produced no immediate injury to the Queen's English players, of whom Beeston was the leader, because no English company was allowed to play upon the sermon-days in Lent. Sir H. Herbert adds, what shews that the hostility to French performers in 1629 was not revived in 1635, possibly, because there were no actresses among them— they had (he says the benefit of playing on the sermon-days, and got two hundred pounds at least, besides many rich clothes that were given them.' Although he is not distinct upon the point; he is probably speaking of the profits of the French company during the whole period of Lent, including Passion-week, which he says 'they had freely to themselves', and which extraordinary advantage he obtained from the King for them. He farther registers that he did 'the French' all these courtesies gratis,
although offered 10l., because he wished to render the Queen, his mistress, an acceptable service'.
On the arrival of Easter, the French company was under the necessity of relinquishing the Cockpit theatre to · A. D. Beeston, and the rest of the Queen's English players, 1635. but they performed at Court on Easter Monday, 4th April, when they presented the Troinpeur Puni (as Sir H. Herbert expresses it), ‘with better approbation than the other,' meaning, most likely, the comedy of Melise, which they had acted on the 17th February preceding. On Wednesday night, the 16th April, 'the French played Alcimedor with good approbation'.1
With so much spirit was this undertaking conducted, that in considerably less than a month after this date, a new theatre had been prepared expressly for the French performers: it was in Drury-lane, and on the 5th of May 1635, a warrant was granted to Josias D'Aunay, and Hurfriis de Lau (so Sir H. Herbert spells their names) and others, empowering them to act there during pleasure. By a subsequent item, it seems that the King had also consented to relinquish in their favour what was called “the manage-house', a part of the riding-school, in order that it might be converted into a playhouse for the French company. When they began, and
l'On the roth May 1635, a warrant was issued for 301. unto Mons. Josias Floridor, for himself and the rest of the French players, for three plays acted by them at the Cockpit.'-Chalmers's Apol., p. 508. This does not refer, probably, to the Cockpit in Drury Lane, where the French players had acted during Lent, but to the Cockpit at Whitehall, in which dramatic performances sometimes took place.
: It has no date, and is in these terms:-*The King was pleased to command my lord chamberlain to direct his warrant to 'Monsieur Le Fevure, to give him a power to contract with the Frenchmen for to build a playhouse in the Manage-house, wch was done accordingly by my advice and allowance.'