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The dawn of a new reign brought with it uncommon changes in the scenick world. The contemporaries of Shakspeare, who, at that epoch, were placed under a better regimen, almost all disappeared, with the effluxion of time, before the demise of James, in 1625. It is a curious fact, that at this epoch, the established Companies of London strolled often into the country; owing, no doubt, to the multiplicity of associated players, and the paucity of attractive plays. A still more remarkable fortune attended the Playhouses than the actors. In 1589, there existed in, and about, London, only two; The Theatre and the Curtain :3 Before the year 1629, there were erected, notwithstanding every opposition, fifteen additional Stages, or Common Playhouses, though these did not alí exist, during the same period. In 1613, the Globe Theatre was burnt, by the negligent discharging of a peal of ordnance, during the acting of Henry VIII.
. It appears from Sir Henry Herbert's Official Register, that on the 1st of July, 1625, he granted a Confirmation of the King's Company's Patent to travel, for a year. [Rym. Fæd. 18 T. p. 120.)
3 In Martin's Month's Minde, a scarce pamphlet, which was printed in 1589, without the name of the publisher, it was said, scoffingly : “ And the other now wearie of our State mirth, that for a pennie may have far better by odds, at the Theater, and Curten, and any blind playing house, every day.”—This whimsical writer is supposed to have been Thom. Nash :-" And this has made the young youths his (Martins) sons to chafe above measure especially with the players, whom saving their liveries (for indeed they are her Majesties men, and these not so much as her good subjects) they call rogues, for playing their enterludes; and asses, for travelling all day for a pennie." These extracts show better, than has yet been done, the number of the playhouses, and the price of admission to them, about the year 1589, being the æra, probably, of Shakspeare's acquaintance with the stage.
but it was rebuilt, in the subsequent year, in a more commodious form, and with more splendid decorations. In 1617, the Fortune theatre, in Golden Lane, was also burnt, by negligence; but, was soon rebuilt, in a handsomer style. Five Inns, or Common Ostleries, were converted into playhouses ; also a Cockpit, and St. Paul's singing School ; a theatre was erected in the Blackfriars: and during the year 1629, another was established in the Whitefriars. While playhouses were thus destroyed and built; while the managers of publick amusements did not yield prompt obedience to publick authority ; Sir William Davenant was powered on the 26th of March, 1639, to erect a new Theatre, near The Three Kings' Ordinary, in Fleet Street : But, on some disagreement with the Earl of Arundel, the Landlord, D'Avenant was obliged to relinquish a project, which he was ere long enabled to prosecute, in a different place, and form.
• Howe's Chronicle, 103-4.
• The admirers of the stage, and the lovers of truth, may be glad to peruse the document by which D'Avenant obliged himself to relinquish his purpose of building a playhouse in Fleet Street, which was copied from the original ; and which was obligingly communicated by Mr. Craven Ord:
“ This Indenture made the second day of October in the fifteenth yeare of the Raigne of our Soveraigne Lord Charles by the grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland King Defender of the faith &c Annoq Dm 1639. Between the said King's most Excellent May of the first part and William D’Avenant of London Gent. of the other part. Whereas the said King's most excellent Ma'y by his highnes Letters patents under the great Seal of England bearing date the six and twentieth day of March last past before the date of theis presents Did give and
The internal economy of the Stage, which our theatrical historians have laboured to display,
graunt unto the said William D'Avenant his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assignes 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 sett up upon a parcell of ground lying neere unto or behinde the three Kings ordinary in Fleet Streete in the pish of St. Dunstans in the West London, or in St. Brides London, or in either of them, or in any other ground in or about that place, or in the whole Streete 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 D'Avenant by the Right Honorble Thomas Earle of Arundle, and Surry Earle Marshallof England or any other HisMaks Commission's for building for the time being in that behalfe a Theater or Playhouse wth necessary tyring and retyring roomes and other places convenient conteyning in the whole forty yards square at the most wherein plays musicall enterteynm" scenes or other the like presentments may be p'sented by and under certaine provisors or condicons in the same conteyned as in and by the said Lres patents whereunto relacon being had more fully and at large it doth and may appeare: Now this Indenture witnesseth and the said William D'Avenant doth by theis presents declare *his Ma“ intent meaning at and upon the graunting of the said License was and is he the said William D'Avenant his heires Executors Administrators nor Assignes should not frame build or sett up the said Theater or Playhouse in anie place inconvenient and that the said parcell of ground lying neere unto or behinde the Three Kings Ordinary in Fleet Streete in the said parish of St. Dunstans in the West London, or in St. Brides London, or in either of them or in any other ground in or about that place or in the whole Streete aforesaid, And is sithence found inconve. nient and unfitt for that purpose, therefore the said William
though not in absolute clearness, may receive some illustration from the sarcasm of a satirist, during King James's reign, who has been little noticed, by our scenick writers. In Follies Anatomy, by Henry Hutton, it was said, sarcastically :6
“ Blackfriers, or the Paris-garden bears,
D'Avenant doth for himselfe his Heires Executors Administrators and Assignes and every of them covenante promise and agree to and who' said Soveraigne Lord the King his Heires and Successers That he the said William Davenant his Heires Executors Administrators nor Assignes shall not nor will not by vertue of the said License and Authority to him granted as aforesaid frame erect new build or sett up upon the said parcell of ground in Fleet Streete aforesaid, or in any other part of Fleet Streete a Thea. ter or Playhouse, nor will not frame, erect, new build or sett up upon any other parcell of ground lying in or neere the Citties or Suburbs of the Citties of London or Westm' any Theater or Playhouse unles the said place shall be first approved and allowed by warrant under His Ma's signe manuell or by writing under the hand and seale of the said Right Honble Thomas Earle of Arundell and Surrey. In Witness whereof to the one p'of this Indenture the said William D'Avenant.hath sett his Hand and Seal the Day and Yeare first above written.
William D'Avenant. L. S. Signed Sealed and Delived in the presence of
Michael Baker. • Printed for Walbank, 1619, in 12mo.
“ Swear for a place with each controlling fool,
Whether Henry Hutton lived to write more of Follies Anatomy, at a later period, I am unable to tell : Another wit of an higher vein of humour found abundant materials, for his satyrick muse,during subsequent scenes of religious, and political, Contention, “ when civil dudgeon first ran high. The remnant of the commons in England, in setting forth, parliamentarily, their own merits, to the general assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, boasted, that they had suppressed all Stage Plays, and interludes, the nurseries of vice and profane
7 In a letter from the House of Commons in England to the General Assembly of Scotland: Printed by Husband, in 1648.
END OF VOL. III.