Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne, taken from original sources, Volume II
CHAPTER XXV: The Drama
CHAPTER XXV: The Drama
THE drama was fairly supported in Queen Anne's time, although there were never more than three theatres open at once, and generally only two. It was not an age for either -striking actors or immortal plays; but, as to the former, they were hard-working, and some of them have left a name behind them renowned in the history of the stage; and, for the latter, they were, although somewhat coarse in humour, not so licentious as the plays of the three preceding reigns. It is impossible, within the limits of this book, to do more than generalise on the drama of that day-its history has materials in it for a book to itself.
There were four theatres: Dorset Gardens, Lincoln's
|Inn Fields, Drury Lane, and the Queen's Theatre, Haymarket.|
was in , in , , and was built, it is said, from designs by , and to have been decorated by Grinling Gibbons. It fronted the river one way, was consequently easy of access by 'the silent highway,' and its facade was very pretty, although not elaborately ornamented. It was opened on , by the Duke of York's Company, when they left the playhouse in Little Lincoln's Inn Fields. It gradually got disreputable, and in was used for the drawing of a penny lottery. Ward thus describes its condition in his time. 'By this time we were come to our propos'd landing Place, when a Stately Edifice (the Front supported by Lofty Columns) presented to our View. I enquired of my Friend what Magnanimous Don Cressus Resided in this Noble and Delightful Mansion ? Who told me, No Body as he knew on, except Rats and Mice; and perhaps an old superannuated Jack Pudding, to look after it, and to take Care that no Decay'd Lover of the Drama should get in and steal away the Poet's Pictures, and sell 'em to some Upholsterers for Roman Emperours; I suppose there being little else to lose, except Scenes, Machines, or some such Jim Cracks. For this, says he, is one of the Theatres, but now wholly abandon'd by the Players; and 'tis thought, will in a little time be pull'd down.' The neighbourhood around about he describes as something awful in its character, and he was not particular to a shade.
The following advertisement will show the style of amusement it afforded its patrons:-
'Being the last time of Acting till after May Fair. At the Theatre in Dorset Gardens, this day being Friday the 30th of April will be presented A Farce call'd, The Cheats of Scapin. And a Comedy of two Acts only, call'd, The Comical Rivals, or the School Boy. With several Italian Sonatas by Signior Gasperini and others. And the Devonshire Girl, being now upon her Return to the City of Exeter, will perform three several Dances, particularly her last new Entry in
|imitation of Mademoiselle Subligni, and the Whip of Dunboyne by Mr. Claxton her Master, being the last time of their Performance till Winter. And at the desire of several Persons of Quality (hearing that Mr. Pinkeman hath hired the two famous French Girls lately arriv'd from the Emperor's Court) They will perform several Dances on the Rope upon the Stage, being improv'd to that Degree, far exceeding all others in that Art. And their Father presents you with the Newest Humours of Harlequin as perform'd by him before the Grand Signior at Constantinople. Also the Famous Mr. Evans lately arriv'd from Vienna, will shew you Wonders of another kind, Vaulting on the Manag'd Horse, being the greatest Master of that Kind in the World. To begin at Five so that all may be done by Nine a Clock.'|
In the Daily Courant May 13, , there was an attempt to revive it, but it was unsuccessful. 'The Queen's Theatre in Dorset Garden is now fitting up for a new Opera; and the great Preparations that are made to forward it and bring it upon the Stage by the beginning of June, adds to every body's Expectation, who promise themselves mighty Satisfaction from so well order'd and regular an Undertaking as this is said to be, both in the Beauties of the Scenes, and Varieties of Entertainments in the Musick and Dances.'
It opened spasmodically, now and then: on July 9, , with an opera called 'Arsinoe, Queen of Cyprus.' Mrs. Tofts as Arsinoe; a prologue spoken by Cibber, and an epilogue by Estcourt; and on Aug. I there was an opera called Camilla' played. And we hear the last of it in the autumn of this year.  'By the deserted Company of Comedians of the Theatre Royal. At the Queen's Theatre in Dorset Gardens, on Thursday next being the 24th of October, will be Acted a Comedy, call'd The RECRUITING OFFICER. In which they Pray there may be Singing by Mrs. Tofts in English and Italian. And some dancing.' On the 30th they played ' Master Fido, or the Faithful Shepherd,' 'acted all by women' -a not absolute novelty, but which showed how hard up they were for something new to draw. And there were five more performances that year.
But all attempts to galvanise it into life failed, and in the Daily Courant of June 1, , we read, 'The Play House at Dorset Stairs is now pulling down, where there is to be sold old Timber fit for Building or Repairs, Old Boards, Bricks, Glass'd Pantiles and Plain Tiles, also Fire Wood, at very reasonable rates.'
Lincoln's Inn Fields was another theatre which had very varying fortunes during this reign. In , when the company left for their new home in the Haymarket, it was to let. Betterton took it for a night for his benefit on March 3 of that year, and Cave Underhill for his on March 31. It was not re-opened till Sept. 12, , and was played in only six nights that year. It was rebuilt by Rich, but was not again acted in during Queen Anne's reign.
One advertisement of its performances may be given as exemplifying their variety. 'At the Desire of several Persons of Quality. For the Benefit of Mrs. Prince. At the Theatre in Little Lincoln's Inn Fields, the present Tuesday being the 8th of June, will be presented the last New Tragedy call'd, The Fair Penitent. With four Entertainments of Singing (entirely New) by the Famous Signiora Francisca Margarita de l'Epine; to which will be added the Nightingale Song  ; it being the last time of her Singing whilst she stays in England. The Instrumental Musick composed by Signior Jacomo Greber. With a Country Wedding Dance by Monsieur Labbe, Mrs. Elford, and others. Also a new Entertainment of Dancing between Mazetin a Clown, and two Chairmen. With the Dance of Blouzabella by Mr. Prince, and Mrs. Elford. By reason of the Entertainments the Play will be shortened. Boxes 6s. Pit 4s. Gallery 2s. 6d' These seem to have been the benefit prices at this theatre, the normal ones being 5s., 3s., and 2s.
Dorset Gardens and Lincoln's Inn Fields theatres were the dramatic failures; the 'Theatre Royal in Drury Lane,' as it was called, was an exception, and stood its ground fairly during the Queen's reign. It was built by Killigrew, at a cost of £ 1,500, on the site of a plot of ground called the
|' Riding Yard,' which was obtained on lease from the Duke of Bedford, and opened in . The actors there were called Her Majesty's servants, and had the right to dress in scarlet, the royal livery.|
In the summer time, when the quality was dispersed at the various Spas, the dramatic company followed them to their fashionable resorts, as also did Powell and Clinch. This, at all events, was the case in the early days of Anne's rule. ' Her Majesty's Servants of the Theatre Royal being return'd from the Bath, do intend, to morrow being Wednesday the Sixth of this instant October to act a Comedy call'd Love makes a Man, or, the Fop's Fortune. With Singing and Dancing. And whereas the Audiences have been incommoded by the Plays usually beginning too late, the Company of the said Theatre do therefore give Notice that they will constantly begin at Five a Clock without fail, and continue the same Hour all the Winter.' 
Later in this reign they stopped in London, but did not play every day. 'Not Acted these 15 years. By Her Majesty's Company of Comedians. At the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, on Tuesday next, being the 1st of July, will be Reviv'd the 2nd Part of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Titus Vespasian. The Parts of Titus by Mr. Booth, Phraartes Mr. Mills, Tiberius Mr. Keen. John, Mr. Powell. Berenice Mrs. Rogers, Clarona Mrs. Bradshaw. N.B. The Company will continue to Act on every Tuesday and Friday during the Summer Season. By Her Majesty's Command no Persons are to be admitted behind the Scenes.'  At one time, as Cibber narrates, it was even closed altogether.
The theatre was used occasionally for other than dramatic performances. Here is one: 'At the Theatre Royal in , this present Tuesday being the 14th of December will be perform'd, The Subscription Musick. Wherein Mrs. Tofts Sings several Songs in Italian and English. With a new piece of Vocal and Instrumental Musick never perform'd before, composed by Mr. Leveridge. And several new Entries and Entertainments of Dancing by Monsieur l'Abbe, Monsieur
|Du Ruell, Monsieur Charrier, Mrs. Campion, Mrs. Elford, the Devonshire Girl, and others. No Person to be admitted into the Pit or Boxes but by the Subscribers Tickets, which are deliver'd at Mr. White's Chocolate house. The Boxes on the Stage and the Galleries are for the Benefit of the Actors. The Stage Boxes 7s. 6d. the first Gallery 2s. 6d. the Upper Gallery 1s. 6d. To begin about Five a Clock. No Person to stand on the Stage.' |
That the ordinary prices, which they never advertised, were much lower than these, is shown by an advertisement in the following year. 'And by reason of the extraordinary Charge in the Decoration of it, the Prices will be rais'd. Boxes 5s. Pit 3s. First Gallery 2s. Upper Gallery 1s.'
Before quitting this short notice of Theatre reference must be made to an incident in which Mrs. Tofts the singer was interested. 'ANN Barwick having occasion'd a Disturbance at the Theatre Royal in on Saturday Night last the 5th of February, and being thereupon taken into Custody, Mrs. Tofts, in Vindication of her own Innocency, sent a Letter to Mr. Rich, Master of the said Theatre, which is as followeth.
SIR, I was very much surpriz'd when I was inform'd, that Ann Barwick, who was lately my Servant, had committed a Rudeness last night at the Play-house, by throwing of Oranges, and hissing when Mrs. l'Epine the Italian Gentlewoman Sung. I hope no one can think that it was in the least with my Privity, as I assure you it was not. I abhor such Practises, and I hope that you will cause her to be prosecuted, that she may be punish'd as she deserves.
I am, Sir, Your humble Servant, KATHARINE TOFTS.
To Christopher Rich Esq.; at the Theatre Royal. Feb. 6. 703.' 
Misson gives a description of its interior, which, from his invariable truthfulness, can be relied on. 'The Pit is an
|Amphitheater, fill'd with Benches without Back boards, and adorn'd and cover'd with green Cloth. Men of Quality, particularly the younger Sort, some Ladies of Reputation and Vertue, and abundance of Damsels that hunt for Prey, Sit all together in this place, Higgledy piggledy, chatter, toy, play, hear, hear not. Farther up, against the Wall, under the first Gallery, and just opposite to the Stage, rises another Amphitheater, which is taken up by Persons of the best Quality, among whom are generally very few Men. The Galleries, whereof there are only two rows, are filled with none but ordinary People, particularly the Upper One.'|
Italian opera was coming mightily into vogue, but a new theatre was needed for its performance, so a company was formed, capital 3,000£. in 100£. shares, which covered a subscription for life; and Sir John Vanbrugh was entrusted with its building. The members of the Kitcat Club were large subscribers; and Cibber says, 'Of this Theatre I saw the first Stone laid, on which was inscrib'd The little Whig, in Honour to a Lady of extraordinary Beauty, then the celebrated Toast and Pride of that Party.' But this seems an inaccuracy, for in a newspaper-cutting of March 19, ,it says,' Removing that portion of the walls of the Italian Opera House, immediately adjoining the cellar of Mr. Wright, on Saturday last, the workmen discovered the first stone of the old building, laid in . The stone was in a perfect state, and in the cavity formed for the purpose of receiving them were found several coins of the reign of Queen Anne; a brass plate which covered the cavity bore the following inscription: " April 18, . In the third year of the happy reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Anne, this corner stone of the Queen's Theatre was laid, by his Grace Charles Duke of Somerset, Master of the Horse to her most sacred Majesty."'
The outside was imposing: an arcade, as now, ran along the front of the building, the length of which was relieved by a dome in the centre, and on the balustraded parapet were eight statues on pedestals. But, if Cibber is to be trusted, the inside was so badly constructed acoustically that 'scarce
|one Word in ten could be distinctly heard in it,' and the consequence was that the roof had to be remodelled and made flat.|
Vanbrugh and Congreve opened this theatre on Easter Monday, April 9, , and Mrs. Bracegirdle spoke a prologue, written by Dr. Garth, in which are the lines, alluding to the Haymarket:-
The play on this occasion was, according to Cibber, 'a translated Opera, to Italian Musick, called the Triumph of Love.' This, he says, only ran three days, and then Sir John Vanbrugh produced his comedy called 'The Confederacy.' Downes' says, 'It (i.e. the Italian Opera) lasted but 5 Days, and they being lik'd but indifferently by the Gentry; they in a little time marcht back to their own Country. The first play Acted there was The Gamester.'
It is singular that neither of these authorities are correct, and luckily we have the advertisements left to guide us. It is, however, somewhat strange that there should have been no public announcement in the newspapers of its opening; but the first advertisement published is in the Daily Courant, April 14, : 'At the Queens Theatre in the Haymarket, this present Saturday being the 14th of April, will be reviv'd, The Indian Emperor, or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. The Part of Cortez to be perform'd by Mr. Powel; with Entertainments of Dancing, as also Singing by the new Italian Boy. By Her Majesty's Sworn Servants.'
The next play was ' The Merry Wives of Windsor,' on April 23 ; on the 27th ' The Gamester'; and Downes says 'The Confederacy' was played long after.
This theatre was, undoubtedly, the most fashionable; and its prices, at times, were far above its rivals. Take, for example  : 'At the Desire of several Persons of Quality. At the Queen's Theatre in the Hay Market, on Saturday next, being the 7th of February, will be presented an Opera call'd
|Camilla. The Part of Metius (to which are added several new Select Songs) to be perform'd by the famous Signior Gioseppe Cassani, lately arrived from Italy. With several new Entertainments of Dancing by Monsieur Cherrier, Monsieur Debargues, Mrs. Santlow, Mrs. Evans, and others. The Boxes to be open'd to the Pit, and no Person to be admitted but by Tickets, which will be deliver'd out on Friday and Saturday Morning at White's Chocolate House, at a Guinea each Ticket. The Number of Tickets not to exceed 450.' On the 6th same month the performance was lowered to half a guinea. Stage boxes, half a guinea; first gallery, 5s.; upper gallery, 2s.; and on Feb. 10 admission was still further lowered.|
Congreve soon gave up his share, and Sir John Vanbrugh was also glad to get rid of this 'bad egg'; so after Jan. 10, , it was transferred to Owen Mac Swiney for operatic performances, one of which we have just mentioned.
Pinkethman, the indefatigable, had a theatre at Greenwich, which he worked during the summer months, though the exact time is unknown. In an advertisement of his moving picture (Daily Courant, May 9, ) he says it may be seen 'next Door to his New Play House, where variety of Plays are Acted every Day as in London.' He could not long have started, as in the Tatler (No. 4, April 18, ) it says, 'We hear Mr. Penkethman has removed his ingenious Company of Strollers to Greenwich. But other letters from Deptford say, the company is only making thither, and not yet settled; but that several Heathen Gods and Goddesses, which are to descend in machines, landed at the King's Head Stairs last Saturday. Venus and Cupid went on foot from thence to Greenwich; Mars got drunk in the town, and broke his Landlord's head, for which he sat in the Stocks the whole Evening; but Mr. Penkethman giving Security that he should do nothing this ensuing Summer, he was set at liberty. The most melancholy part of all was, that Diana was taken, and committed by Justice Wrathful; which has, it seems, put a stop to the Diversions of the Theatre at Blackheath. But there goes down another Diana and a Patient Grissel next tide from Billingsgate.'
Queen Anne was not a patron of the drama. She never went to the theatre, and, as far as I can learn, seldom had dramatic performances at court. 'On Sunday, being the Queen's Birth Day, her Majesty receiv'd the usual Compliments on that occasion, and yesterday there was an extraordinary appearance of the Nobility and Gentry of both Sexes at St. James's upon the same account. The Play call'd, All for Love, was Acted in the presence of the Court.'  And this was such an extraordinary event that even another newspaper informed its readers of the astounding fact. Downes remarks on this: 'Note From Candlemas to the 22d of April . There were 4 Plays commanded to be Acted at Court at St. James', by the Actors of both Houses viz. First All for Love. The Second was Sir Solomon or the Cautious Coxcomb. The next was The Merry Wives of Windsor, Acted the 23rd of April, the Queen's Coronation Day. The last was The Anatomist or Sham Doctor ; it was perform'd on Shrove Tuesday, the Queen's Birthday.'
But though she would not go to the theatres, she heartily took their reformation in hand, as the following proclamation shows :
'WHEREAS. We have already given Orders to the Master of Our Revels, and also to Both the Companies of Comedians, Acting in , and Lincolns Inn Fields, to take Special Care, that Nothing be Acted in either of the Theatres contrary to Religion or Good Manners, upon Pain of our High Displeasure, and of being Silenc'd from further Acting; And being further desirous to Reform all other Indecencies, and Abuses of the Stage, which have Occasion'd great Disorders, and Justly give Offence; Our Will and Pleasure therefore is, and We do hereby strictly Command, That no Person of what Quality soever, Presume to go Behind the Scenes, or come upon the Stage, either before, or during the Acting of any Play. That no Woman be Allow'd
|or Presume to wear a Vizard Mask in either of the Theatres. And that no Person come into either House without Paying the Prices Establish'd for their Respective Places.|
' All which Orders We strictly Command all Managers, Sharers, and Actors of the said Companies, to see exactly Observ'd, and Obey'd. And We Require and Command all Our Constables, and others appointed to Attend the Theatres, to be Aiding and Assisting to them therein. And if any Persons whatsoever shall disobey this Our Known Pleasure and Command, We shall Proceed against them as Contemners of Our Royal Authority, and Disturbers of the Publick Peace.
'Given at our Court at St. James's the 17th Day of January.
'In the Second Year of our Reign.'
Luttrell, writing on January 20, , says: 'This day, the lords ordered thanks to the Queen for restraining the play houses from immorality.'
This proclamation, however, did not have the desired effect, for another appeared in March the same year: 'WHEREAS great Complaints have been made to Her Majesty, of many indecent, prophane and immoral Expressions that are usually spoken by Players and Mountebanks contrary to Religion and Good Manners. And thereupon Her Majesty has lately given Order to Charles Killigrew, Esqre.; Her Majesty's Master of the Revels, to take especial care to correct all such Abuses. The said Master of the Revels does therefore hereby require all Stage Players, Mountebanks, and all other Persons, mounting Stages, or otherwise, to bring their Several Plays, Drolls, Farces, Interludes, Dialogues, Prologues, and other Entertainments, fairly written, to him at his Office in Somerset House, to be by him perused, corrected and allow'd under his hand, pursuant to Her Majesty's Commands, upon pain of being proceeded against for contempt of Her Majesty's said Order,' 1  etc. Another proclamation appeared in the Gazette,
|Nov. 13/15, , forbidding anybody to stand upon the stage or go behind the scenes.|
That these proclamations were not strictly attended to is evidenced by the notices scattered over the newspaper advertisements, till , that no persons were allowed on the stage, or behind the scenes, by her Majesty's command; but, after this last proclamation, the practice seems to have been stopped.
Anne was determined that her orders should be carried out, and looked after the small fry as well as the big fish. ' Whereas the Master of the Revels has received Information, That several Companies of Strolling Actors pretend to have Licenses from Noblemen, and presume under that pretence to avoid the Master of the Revels, his Correcting their Plays, Drolls, Farces, and Interludes; which being against Her Majesty's Intentions and Directions to the said Master: These are to signifie. That such Licenses are not of any Force or authority. There are likewise several Mountebanks Acting upon Stages, and Mountebanks on Horseback, Persons that keep Poppets, and others that make Shew of Monsters, and strange Sights of living Creatures, who presume to Travel without the said Master of the Revels' Licence, etc., and goes on to say that their exhibitions must be licensed by him, under penalty.
These strolling actors seem to have been poor enough, and might fairly come under the category of 'vagabonds by Act of Parliament' if the account Steele  gives of them be in any way correct: 'We have now at this Place a Company of Strolers, who are very far from offending in the impertinent Splendour of the Drama. They are so far from falling into these false Gallantries, that the Stage is here in its Original Situation of a Cart. Alexander the Great was acted by a Fellow in a Paper Cravat; The next Day the Earl of Essex seemed to have no Distress but his Poverty: and my Lord Foppington the same Morning wanted any better means to shew himself a Fop Man by wearing Stockings of different Colours. In a Word tho' they have had a full Barn for many Days together, our Itinerants are still so wretchedly
|poor, that without you can prevail to send us the Furniture you forbid at the Play House, the Heroes appear only like sturdy Beggars, and the Heroines Gipsies.|
'No person to be admitted to keep Places in the Pit' seems a singular order, were it not explicable by the fact that people used to send their footmen to keep places for them until their arrival, and that the manners of these gentry gave great offence to the habitues of the pit. The proper place for the footmen was the upper gallery, which was allowed to them free, supposing they were in attendance on their masters. We have seen Pinkethman's power over them, but their behaviour generally was rough and noisy. In the Female Tatler, Dec. 9, , is this notice: 'Dropt near the Play house, in the Haymarket, a bundle of Horsewhips, designed to belabour the Footmen in the Upper Gallery, who almost every Night this Winter, have made such an intolerable Disturbance, that the Players could not be heard, and their Masters were obliged to hiss them into silence. Whoever has taken up the said Whips, is desired to leave 'em with my Lord Rake's Porter, several Noblemen resolving to exercise 'em on their Backs, the next Frosty Morning.'
The bad behaviour was not wholly confined to the lackeys, for Addison . alludes to that of some ladies whilst at the Theatre: 'A little before the rising of the Curtain, she broke out into a loud Soliloquy, When will the Dear Witches enter? and immediately upon their first Appearance, asked a Lady that sat three Boxes from her, on her Right Hand, if those Witches were not charming Creatures. A little after, as Betterton was in one of the finest Speeches of the Play, she shook her Fan at another Lady, who sat as far on the Left Hand, and told her with a Whisper that might be heard all over the Pit, We must not expect to see Ballon to-night. Not long after, calling out to a young Baronet by his Name, who sat three seats before me, she asked him whether Macbeth's wife was still alive; and before he could give an Answer, fell a talking of the Ghost of Banquo.'
Steele, too, tells of the bad conduct of a beau, which curiously illustrates the necessity of Anne's proclamations:
|'This was a very lusty Fellow, but withal a sort of Beau, who getting into one of the Side boxes on the Stage before the Curtain drew, was disposed to shew the whole Audience his Activity by leaping over the Spikes; he pass'd from thence to one of the Entering Doors, where he took Snuff with a tolerable good Grace, display'd his fine Cloaths, made two or three feint Passes at the Curtain with his Cane, then faced about and appear'd at t'other Door: Here he affected to survey the whole House, bow'd and smil'd at random, and then shew'd his Teeth, which were some of them indeed very white: After this he retired behind the Curtain, and obliged us with several Views of his Person from every Opening.'|
And, again, take this short sketch: 'And our rakely young Fellows live as much by their Wits as ever; and to avoid the clinking Dun of a Boxkeeper, at the End of one Act, they sneak to the opposite Side 'till the End of another; then call the Boxkeeper saucy Rascal, ridicule the Poet, laugh at the Actors, march to the Opera, and spunge away the rest of the Evening. The Women of the Town take their Places in the Pit with their wonted Assurance. The middle Gallery is fill'd with the middle Part of the City: and your high exalted Galleries are grac'd with handsome Footmen, that wear their Master's Linen.'
Such then was the appearance in front of the stage; and, to thoroughly realise the scene, we must remember, en passant, that necessary individual the 'Candle Snuffer,' and those bold young women, whose class Nell Gwynne made famous, the ' Orange Wenches.'
Four or five hours in such theatres were almost insupportable without some slight refreshment, and this was supplied by these girls, who continually circulated throughout the audience. Their class is sufficiently alluded to in a passage in the Spectator, No. 141 : 'A Poet sacrifices the best Part of his Audience to the Worst ; and as one would think neglects the Boxes, to write to the Orange Wenches.' They seem to have fulfilled other duties besides supplying refreshment:-
Bad weather occasionally militated against the poor players. 'Her Majesty's Servants at the Theatre Royal (the weather being chang'd) intend to act on Wednesdays and Fridays till Bartholomew Fair.' This and bad trade made them look out for novelties, such as acting a play the characters in which were sustained entirely by women, or having amateurs on the stage. 'At the Theatre Royal in , to morrow being Friday the 7th of July, will be reviv'd a Play call'd, The Orphan, or, the Unhappy Marriage. All the Men's parts to be perform'd by young Gentlemen for their Diversion.' Or they would try the effect of 'a New Prologue by a Child of 4 years of Age,' or'a New Epilogue by Mrs. Pack in a Riding Habit, upon a Pad-Nagg representing a Town Miss Travelling to Tunbridge.'
The properties of a theatre have always been a fair whetstone for men to sharpen their humour on, and the writers of the time of Queen Anne were not behindhand in this respect. When was closed by order, in , the Tatler (No. 42) made very merry over the miscellaneous effects:-
'Three Bottles and a half of lightning.
'One Shower of Snow in the whitest French Paper.
'Two Showers of a browner sort.
'A Sea, consisting of a dozen large waves; the tenth bigger than ordinary, and a little damaged.
' A dozen and a half of Clouds, trimmed with black, and well conditioned.
'A Mustard bowl to make Thunder with.
'The Complexion of a Murderer in a Bandbox; consisting
|of a large piece of burnt Cork, and a Coal black Peruke,' etc.|
At the death of Peer, the property man at this theatre, the Guardian extracted much fun from a catalogue of articles under his care.
Rowe goes into poetry on the same subject-thus:-
The actors of this reign, with a few exceptions, were not people of much genius. After these few, some were respectable, the rest bad; but, although the play was the proper place of amusement to go to, and there were seldom more than two theatres open at once, yet we find it comparatively languishing, the companies frequently playing only twice a week, or the theatre closed altogether. Doubtless the tragedy was stilted, and the comedy was akin to buffoonery. As witness to the latter let Addison  testify: 'It would be an Endless Task to consider Comedy in the same Light, and to mention the innumerable Shifts that small Wits put in practice to raise a Laugh. Bullock in a short Coat, and Norris in a long one, seldom fail of this Effect. In ordinary Comedies, a broad and a narrow Brim'd Hat are different
|characters. Sometimes the Wit of the Scene lies in a Shoulder belt, and sometimes in a Pair of whiskers.'|
The 'Phoenix of the Stage,' as Anthony, or Tony, Aston calls Betterton, stands pre-eminent among the actors. Born in , he was an old man when Queen Anne came to the throne; and he died on April 28, I710, from the effects of gout, which he aggravated by acting when the fit was on. His last performance was on April 13, 171O, and it is thus described in the Daily Courant of that date: 'At the Desire of several Persons of Quality. For the Benefit of Mr. Betterton. At the Queen's Theatre in the Hay market this present Thursday being the 13th April will be Reviv'd, The Maid's Tragedy.  The part of Melantius by Mr. Betterton, Amintor by Mr. Wilks, Calianax by Mr. Pinkethman, Evadne by Mrs. Barry, and all the other parts to the best Advantage. To which will be added Three Designs, Representing the Three Principal Actions of the Play, in Imitation of so many great Pieces of History Painting, where all the real Persons concern'd in those Actions will be Plac'd at proper distances, in different Postures peculiar to the Passion of each Character.'
Totally unfit, from illness, to act, he had resort to violent remedies to enable him to go through his part, which he did, with his gouty foot in a slipper, but the exertion killed him. A great favourite of Charles II., that king not only sent him to Paris, to see and report on the French theatres, but appointed him to teach the nobility for court theatricals, whilst his wife tutored the future queens Mary and Annein fact, the latter settled a pension of 100 £. per annum upon her, after her husband's death. Pepys describes him as 'the best actor in the world,' and so he undoubtedly was-in his age. Aston  describes him thus: ' He had little Eyes, and a broad Face, a little Pock fretten, a Corpulent Body, and thick Legs, with large Feet .... His Voice was low and grumbling; yet he could Tune it by an artful Climax, which enforc'd universal Attention, even from the Fops and Orange Girls. He was incapable of dancing even in a Country Dance.'
Room must be found for one little anecdote which Aston tells of him. ' Mr. Betterton had a small Farm near Reading, in the County of Berks; and a Countryman came, in the Time of Bartholomew Fair, to pay his Rent. Mr. Betterton took him to the Fair, and going to one Crawley's Puppet Shew, offer'd Two Shillings for himself and Roger, his Tenant.-No, no, Sir, said Crawley; we never take Money of one Another. This affronted Mr. Betterton, who threw down the Money, and they entered.'
Among the actors of the time he was looked up to as a king. Downes says: 'I must not Omit Praises due to Mr. Betterton. The first and now only remains of the old Stock, of the Company of Sir William Davenant in Lincolns Inn Fields; he like an old Stately Spreading Oak now stands Fixt, Environ'd round with brave Young Growing Flourishing Plants .... Mr. Dryden a little before his Death in a Prologue, rendring him this Praise:-
He was buried in on , and Steele  wrote a long panegyric upon him, saying he 'ought to be recorded with the same respect as Roscius among the Romans.'
He died, not in want, but in comparatively poor circumstances, and he must have been a man of some culture, as the following advertisement, soon after his death, shows : ' This Day will be Continued the Sale by Auction of the Prints, and Books of Prints and Drawings, of Mr. Tho Betterton deceased, &c.'
Verbruggen, although he died in , played in Queen Anne's reign. But little is known of him, except that he was a tragedian, and was the original Oronooko. A contemporary character of him is 'A fellow with a crackt voice, he clangs his words, as if he spoke out of a broken drum.' Downes says, 'his Person being tall, well built and clean, only he was a little In Kneed, which gave him a shambling Gate;'
|and he adds,' Verbruggen was Nature without Extravagance -Freedom without Licentiousness-and vociferous without bellowing.'|
Cave Underhill was another veteran, of whom Steele writes when making an appeal to the public to support him: 'he has been a comic for three generations; my father admired him extremely when he was a boy.' He took a benefit at on June 3, , when 'Hamlet' was played, and he took his favourite part of the gravedigger.
Leigh was another old actor who died in this reign.
Estcourt deserves notice. He was born in , and, at the age of 15, ran away from his father's house, and joined a company of strollers at Worcester. He was recovered, and apprenticed to an apothecary in London; again ran away, and led a wandering life for some years, till we find him engaged at . Downes describes him as 'Histrio Natus; he has the Honour (Nature enduing him with an easy, free, unaffected Mode of Elocution) in Comedy always to Lcetificate his Audience, especially Quality.' He was a pet of the Duke of Marlborough, and was Providore of the famous Beefsteak Club, where he wore a small gold gridiron suspended from his neck by a green ribbon. He retired from the stage some time before his death, and took the 'Bumper' in St. James Street, where he Lcetificated his customers in another manner. Steele puffed him in the Spectator, and wept over his decease in the same periodical.
The name of Dogget is, perhaps, as well known to us as any actor of the time. An Irishman by birth, he came to England and joined a travelling troupe; afterwards being good enough to play at both , and Lincoln's Inn Fields. In fact, he was joint manager of the former with Wilks and Cibber, but gave it up in , because Booth was forced on him as a co-partner; and he never returned to the theatre, either as a regular actor or as manager. It must have been a blow to him, for he was fond of money, and was then reputed to have been worth £ 1,000 per annum. He was not particular: he put his pride in his pocket, and had a booth at Bartholomew Fair, the same as Pinkethman or Mills. He
|died at Eltham, in Kent, Sept. 22, , and left in his will the memorable Coat and Badge to be raced for, annually, on the anniversary of the accession of George the First, to show his attachment to the Whig party and the House of Brunswick. Downes says of him, 'On the Stage, he's very Aspectabund, wearing Farce in his Face; his Thoughts deliberately framing his Utterance Congruous to his Looks; He is the only Comick Original now extant.' Tony Aston says 'he was a little, lively spract Man . . . a Man of very good Sense, but illiterate; for he wrote me Word thus-Sir, I will give you a hole, instead of (whole) Share. He dress'd neat, and something fine, in a plain Cloth Coat, and a Brocaded Waistcoat.'|
Colley Cibber was born in London Nov. 6, , and is known as much, or more, as a playwright, or poet, as an actor. In his boyhood he tried for a scholarship at Winchester, but failed; afterwards he meditated going to the University, but the Revolution of broke out, and he was for a short time in the army as his father's substitute. He saw no service, and soon became an actor, i.e. in , and did not quit the stage till , in which year he was made Poet Laureate to George II. He died Dec. 12, . Downes tells us he was 'A Gentleman of his time who has Arriv'd to an exceeding Perfection, in hitting justly the Humour of a starcht Beau or Fop; as the Lord Fopington; Sir Fopling and Sir Courtly, equalling in the last the late Eminent Mr. Mountfort, not much Inferior in Tragedy, had Nature given him Lungs Strenuous to his finisht Judgment.' Gildon, however, falls foul of him; but then, the only good words he had were for Betterton and Barry.
Wilks, the best tragedian of the age, came of a good Worcestershire family, and, from his association with actors, drifted into the profession. He was remarkable for the carefulness of his acting, and for the ease and good breeding he displayed
|upon the stage. He died in at the age of 76. What do his contemporaries say of him ? Downes says, 'Proper and Comely in Person, of Graceful Port, Mein and Air; void of Affectation; his Elevations and Cadences just, Congruent to Elocution.' The author of 'The Comparison between the two Stages' can say nothing ill-natured of him, and Steele speaks highly of him.|
communityis a fair criticism on that actor, who, had he been but as steady or painstaking, might have rivalled Wilks; but he was a drunken, dissipated dog, a careless study, with a bad memory; pursued by bailiffs, he sometimes walked with his sword drawn-once making an unfortunate 'officer' retreat to the other side of the road, where he called out, ' We don't want you now, Mr. Powel.' Died Dec. 14, .
Booth was the Aristo of the profession. He was not only nearly related to the Earl of Warrington, but in he married a daughter of Sir William Barkham, Bart., of Norfolk. A scholar of the great and terrible Dr. Busby, he shone in acting in the Latin plays at Westminster. He was intended for the Church, but he caught stage fever, ran away from school at the age of 17, and joined the theatre at Dublin. When he came to London he became a pupil of Betterton's, and profited by his master's instructions. He was joint patentee in , but he left the stage at the early age of 46. Died .
Of the minor actors Pinkethman stands first. He was low comedy, and his great ambition was to please the gods. We have heard a good deal about him in this book in his various characters as caterer for the amusement of the public. Gildon, of course, can say nothing good of him.
over does everything, and spoils many a part with his own stuff. Be this as it may, he is very honourably mentioned throughout the Spectator, although Steele gives him a good-humoured
|rap over the knuckles. 'Mr. William Bullock and Mr. William Penkethman are of the same Age, Profession, and Sex. They both distinguish themselves in a very particular Manner under the discipline of the Crab-tree, with this only difference, that Mr. Bullock has the more agreeable Squall, and Mr. Penkethman the more graceful Shrug. Penkethman devours a cold Chick with great Applause; Bullock's talent lies chiefly in Asparagus. Penkethman is very dexterous at conveying himself under a Table; Bullock is no less active in jumping over a Stick. Penkethman has a great deal of money; but Mr. Bullock is the taller man.'|
The mention of Crab-tree seems to suggest that Pinkethman had been thrashed at some period of his career, as does a passage in another Tatler (No. 42), describing the theatrical properties at : 'Three oak Cudgels, with one of Crab-tree; all bought for the Use of Mr. Pinkethman.'
That he must have been a fair actor is testified by the fact that he played in two out of the four performances at St. James's.
As far as I can find out, he seems first to have acted at the Theatre Royal in , in the play of'Volunteers, or the Stock Jobbers,' when he played the part of Taylor (six lines only). He rose gradually, and was a painstaking actor, ever on the alert to court popular favour. He became rich. Downes says of him, 'He's the darling of Fortunatus, he has gain'd more in Theatres and Fairs in Twelve Years than those that have Tugg'd at the Oar of Acting these 50.' To realise this fortune he probably was saving in his habits, and not so lavish as some of his compeers-a fact which is exaggerated into a charge of meanness: see an Elegy on his Merry Andrew, John Edwards.
He seems to have retired from the stage after his benefit on May 23, , and he died in .
The other actors, Bullock, Mills, Norris, alias Jubilee Dickey, Pack Johnson, etc., are unworthy any notice except to chronicle their names as actors of the time.
It is singular that the ladies of the stage of this period stand out so prominently for their talents. It must have been by natural genius, for they could have had little enough tradition to guide them, it being only forty or fifty years since the first woman ever trod the boards. Who she was seems to be somewhat obscure, but it probably was Mrs. Coleman, who played Ianthe in the first part of the 'Siege of Rhodes' in , but she did not speak. We know Kynaston, who kept Charles II. waiting whilst he was being shaved to play his part; he of whom Pepys writes  thus: ' Kynaston, the boy, had the good turn to appear in three shapes; first as a poor woman in ordinary clothes to please Morose; then in fine clothes, as a gallant; and in them was the prettiest woman in the whole house; and lastly, as a man; and then likewise did appear the handsomest man in the house.' Of him Betterton writes, 'that it has been disputed among the Judicious, whether any Woman could have more sensibly touched the Passions.' He seems to have been the last of the male actors who took female parts, although in a woman actor was still a novelty. 'There saw the " Scornfull Lady," now done by a woman, which makes the play much better than ever it did to me.' A Mrs. Sanderson is traditionally said to have been the first woman actress, and she played
|Desdemona at the theatre in Clare Market on Dec. 8, . Betterton says the mother of Norris, or Jubilee Dickey, 'was the first Woman who ever appeared on the Stage as an Actress.'|
Anyhow, never was there a period that could show four such actresses as Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Bracegirdle, Mrs. Oldfield, and Mrs. Verbruggen.
Elizabeth Barry, the daughter of a barrister of good birth, was born ; so that she was not in her first youth at the accession of Anne. Her father so encumbered his estate that it became necessary for his children to seek their fortunes as best they might. She chose the stage, and Sir Wm. Davenant took her in hand, but gave her up as hopeless. The Earl of Rochester, however, having wagered that by proper instruction she should be the finest actress on the stage in less than six months, she took such pains that when, in , she played the Hungarian Queen in the tragedy of 'Mustapha,'  before Charles the Second and the Duke and Duchess of York, she created an absolute furore: so much so that the Duchess took lessons from her, and not only gave her her wedding suit, but her coronation robes when she became queen. She died on November 7, , and was buried at Acton, where her daughter, by the Earl of Rochester, was already interred. Aston, speaking of her personal appearance, says: 'And yet this fine creature was not handsome, her Mouth op'ning most on the Right Side, which she strove to draw t'other way, and, at Times, composing her Face, as if sitting to have her Picture drawn. Mrs. Barry was middle siz'd, and had darkish Hair, light Eyes, dark Eye-brows, and was indifferently plump: Her Face somewhat preceded her Action, as the latter did her Words; her Face ever expressing the Passions; not like the Actresses of late Times, who are afraid of putting their Faces out of the Form of Non-meaning, lest they should crack the Cerum, White Wash, or other Cosmetic, trowel'd on.'
Betterton says Mrs. Bracegirdle was the daughter of Justinian Bracegirdle of Northamptonshire, Esq., whilst Aston, who calls her 'the Diana of the Stage,' says 'The
|most received Opinion is, that she was the Daughter of a Coach Man, Coach maker, or Letter out of Coaches in the Town of Northampton, but I am inclinable to my Father's Opinion, (who had a great Value for her reported Virtue) that she was a distant Relation, and came out of Staffordshire from about Wallsal or Wolverhampton.' She is believed to have been born about the year , and somehow came to be placed, when an infant, under the care of Betterton and his Wife, who naturally brought her up to the stage. So young did she enter her future profession that she acted as a page in 'The Orphan,' at the Dorset Garden Theatre in , when only six years old. She was not only remarkable for her magnificent acting, but for the exceeding purity of her life, which no breath of scandal could sully; although it could not be said it was from want of temptation. Congreve writes of her:-|
She was wonderfully charitable, and would go daily about the slums of Clare Market relieving the necessitous; and woe be to anyone who should have dared to molest her-his fate would have been speedy. She retired from the stage in , but did not die till . Her personal description is: ' She was of a lovely Height, with dark-brown Hair and Eye brows, black sparkling Eyes, and a fresh blushy Complexion; and, whenever she exerted herself, had an involuntary Flushing in her Breast, Neck and Face, having continually a
|chearful Aspect, and a fine Set of even White Teeth; never making an Exit, but that she left the Audience in an Imitation of her pleasant Countenance. Genteel Comedy was her chief Essay, and that too when in Men's Cloaths, in which she far surmounted all the Actresses of that Age' (Aston).|
Her great rival was Mrs. Anne Oldfield, who was born in Pall Mall in . Her father was in the Horse Guards, and on his death left his wife and daughter in very straitened circumstances. Tradition says that she was living with her aunt, who kept the Mitre Tavern in St. James's Market, when Sir John Vanbrugh heard her read some plays: certain it is, he introduced her to Rich, in , when she played Candiope, in 'Secret Love, or The Maiden Queen.'  Mrs. Oldfield was far from being as immaculate in character as her rival. Her last performance was on April 28, ; she died October 23, , and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Allusion has been made to her mode of burial at the commencement of this book (vol. i. p. 49).
Steele gives her portrait thus: ' FLAVIA is ever well dressed, and always the genteelest woman you meet; but the make of her mind very much contributes to the ornament of her body. She has the greatest simplicity of manners of any of her sex. This makes everything look native about her, and her clothes are so exactly fitted, that they appear, as it were, part of her person,' etc.
Hers was a romantic history. Her maiden name was Percival, and she married Mountford the actor, who was killed by Lord Mohun for protecting Mrs. Bracegirdle. Betterton says,' Her Father Mr. Percival had the Misfortune to be drawn into the Assassination Plot against King William; for this he lay under Sentence of Death, which he received on the same Night that Lord Mohun killed her Husband, Mr. Mountfort. Under this, almost insuperable Affliction, she was introduced to the good Queen Mary, who
|being, as she was pleased to say, Struck to the Heart upon receiving Mrs. Mountfort's Petition, immediately granted all that was in her Power, a Remission of her Father's Execution for that of Transportation. But Fate had so ordered it that poor Mrs. Mountfort was to lose both Father and Husband. For as Mr. Percival was going abroad, he was so weakened by his Imprisonment, that he was taken Sick on the Road, and died at Portsmouth.' She afterwards married Jack Verbruggen, and their married life is thus described by Aston: ' She was the best Conversation possible; never Captious, or displeased at any Thing but what was gross or indecent; for she was cautious lest fiery Jack shou'd so resent it as to breed a Quarrel; for he wou'd often say Dammee ! tho' I don't much value my Wife yet no Body shall affront her, by G-d; and his Sword was drawn on the least occasion, which was much the fashion in the latter End of King William's Reign.' She is described as being 'a fine fair Woman, plump, full featured, her Face of a fine smooth Oval.'|
The theatre never solely depended upon the drama for its attractions, and there was generally a ballet of some description; not, of course, such elaborate affairs as we have now, but performances by one or two artists, such as M. L'Abbe and Mrs. Elford. The dances were such as chacones, minuets, allmands, corantos, jigs, sarabands, etc., and we have already seen the pains taken with this art, and the elaborate instructions of its professors.
 London Spy.
 Daily Courant, April 30, 1703.
 Daily Courant, Oct. 22, 1706.
 By George Farquhar.
 Daily Courant, June 8, 1703.
 By N. Rowe.
 Can this be an early work of Carey's? See Appendix.
 By Colley Cibber.
 Daily Courant, Oct. 5, 1703.
 By J. Crowne, 1677.
 See p. 10
 Daily Courant, June 28, 1712.
 Daily Courant,Dec. 14, 1703.
 Ibid. Feb. 8 1704.
 Lady Sunderland, second daughter of the Duke of Marlborough. See Vol. I. P. 28.
 Roscius Anglicanus, 1712.
 Daily Courant Feb. 4, 1708.
 All for Love, or the World Well Lost, by Dryden.
 Postman, Feb. 5/8, 1704.
 A translation from the Ecole des Femmes of Moliere, and attributed to John Caryll.
 By Edward Ravenscroft, 169,.
 Daily Courant, March 9, 1704.
 London Gazette, Feb. 1/5, 1705.
 Spectator, No. 48.
 Spectator, No. 45
 Ibid. No. 240.
 Humours of the Army, Chas. Shadwell, 1713.
 Daily Courant, July 26, 1704.
 By Thos. Otway.
 Daily Courant, July 6, 1704.
 Spectator, No. 44.
 By Beaumont and Fletcher.
 Supplement to Cibber.
 Roscius Anglicanus, 1708.
 Tatler, 167.
 Harl. MSS. 5996, 100.
 Comparison between the two Stages.
 Tatler, 22
 No. 468.
 Comparison between the two Stages.
 Spectator, 370
 Tatler, 188.
 By Thos. Shadwell.
 Harl. MSS. 5931, 251.
 'For the Benefit of Will. Bullock. 'At the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, on Whitson Monday, being the 5th of June, will be reviv'd a Diverting Comedy call'd the Miser [Thomas Shadwell]. Written by the Author of the Squire of Alsatia ; the part of Timothy Squeez the Scriveners foolish Son to be acted by Will. Bullock. With Entertainments of Dancing by Monsieur du Ruell. And Mr. Clinch of Barnet will perform these several Performances, first an Organ with three Voices, then the Double Curtel, the Flute, the Bells, the Huntsman, the Horn, and Pack of Dogs, all with his Mouth; and an old Woman of Fourscore Years of Age nursing her Grand Child; all of which he does open on the Stage. Next a Gentleman will perform several Mimick Entertainments on the Ladder, first he stands on the top round with a Bottle in one hand and a Glass in the other, and drinks a Health; then plays several Tunes on the Violin, with fifteen other surprizing Performances which no man but himself can do. And Will Pinkeman will dance the Miller's Dance and speak a comical joking Epilogue on an Ass. Beginning exactly at five a Clock by reason of the length of the Entertainments. At Common Prices.'-Daily Courant, June 2, 1704.
 Diary, Jan. 7, 1661.
 The History of the English Stage.
 By Beaumont and Fletcher.
 Pepys, Feb. 12, 1661.
 By the Earl of Orrery.
 By Thos. Otway.
 By Dryden.
 Tatler, 212.