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HE history of the stage as far as it relates to Shak.
speare, naturally divides itself into three periods : the period which preceded his appearance as an actor or dramatick writer; that during which he flourished; and the time which has elapsed since his death. Having now gone through the two former of these periods, I shall take a transient view of the itage from the death of our great poet to the year 1741, still with a view to Shak. speare, and his works.
Soon after his death, four of the principal companies then subfisting, made a union, and were afterwards called the United Companies; but I know not precisely in what this union consisted. I suspect it arose from a penury of actors, and that the managers contracted to permit the performers in each house occasionally to aflist their brethren in the other theatres in the representation of plays. We have already seen that John Heminge in 1618 pay'd Sir George Buck, " in the name of the four companys, for a lenten dispensation in the holydaies, 44.5.;" and Sir Henry Herbert observes that the play called Come see a Wonder, “ written by John Daye for a company of strangers,” and represented Sept. 18, 1623,
" acted at the Red Bull, and licensed without his hand to it, because they [i. e. this company of strangers] were none of the four companys,” The old comedy entitled Amends for Ladies, as appears from its title-page, was acted at Blackfriars before the year 1618, by the Prince's servants and Lady Elizabeth's,” though
other way entitled to a benefit from it. Alleyn's own play-house, the Fortune, was then open, but I imagine, he had told of his property in it to a kinsman, one Thomas Allen, an actor likewise. In his Diary he frequently mentions his going from Dulwich to London after dinner, and supping with him and some of “ tbe Fortune's men." From this Mf. I expected to have learned several particulars relative to our ancient stage; but unluckily the Diary does not commence till the year 1617, (at which time he had retired to his College at Dulwich,) and contains no theatrical intelligence whatsoever, except the article already quoted.
the theatre at Blackfriars then belonged to the king's servants.
After the death of Shakspeare, the plays of Fletcher appear for several years to have been more admired, or at least to have been more frequently acted, than those of our poet. During the latter part of the reign of James the First, Fletcher's pieces had the advantage of novelty to recommend them. I believe, between the time of Beaumont's death in 1615 and his own in 1625, this poet produced at least twenty-five plays. Sir Afton Cokain has informed us, in his poems, that of the thirtyfive pieces improperly ascribed to Beaumont and Fletcher in the folio egition of 1647, much the greater part were written after Beaumont's death”; and his account is partly confirmed by Sir Henry Herbert's Manuscript, from which it appears that Fletcher produced eleven new plays in the lait four years of his life. If we were poffeffed of the Regifter kept by Sir George Buck, we thould there, I make no doubt, find near twenty dramas written by the same author in the interval between 1615 and 1622. As, to ascertain the share which each of these writers had in the works which have erroneously gone under their joint names, has long been a desideratum in dramatick history, I shall here fet down as perfect a list as I have been able to form of the pieces produced by Fletcher in his latter years.
For what a foul
Verses addrefled by Sir Aton Cokain to Mr.
Charles Cotton. See also his verses addressed to Mr. Humphry Moseley and Mr. Humphry Robinson:
“ In the large book of playes you late did print
The Honeft Man's Fortune, though it appeared first in the folio 1647, was one of the few pieces in that collection, which was the joint production of Beaumont and Fletcher. It was first performed at the Globe theatre in the year
1613, two years before the death of Beaumont. The Loyal Subject was the sole production of Fletcher, . and was first represented in the year 1618.
It appears from Sir Henry Herbert's Manufcript that the new plays which Fletcher had brought out in the course of the year, were generally presented at court at Christmas. As therefore The Ijland Princess, The Pila grim, and The Wild Goose Chaje are found among the court exhibitions of the year 1621, we need not hesitate to ascribe these pieces also to the fame poet. The WildGoose Chase, though absurdly printed under the joint names of Beaumont and Fleccher, is expressly ascribed to the latter by Lowin and Taylor, the actors who published it in 1652. The Beggar's Bush, being also acted at court in 1622, was probably written by Fletcher. The Tamer tamed is expressly call'd his by Sir Henry Herbert, as is the Mad Lover by Sir Afton Cokain : and it appears from the manuscript so often quoted that The Night-Walker and Love's Pilgrimage, having been left imperfect by Fletcher, were corrected and finished by Shirley.
I have now given an account of nine of the pieces in
A Manuscript copy of this play is now before me, marked 1613.
1623. August 29, The Maid of the Mill, written by
Fletcher and Rowley ; acted at the Globe.
Blackfriars. This piece is also loit. 1624. May 27, A Wife for a Month. Acted by the
Octob. 19. Rule a Wife and have a Wife. 1625-6. January 22. The Fair Maid of the Inn. Acted
fame theatre. In a former page an account has been given of the court-exhibitions in 1622. In Sir Henry Herbert's Office-book I find the following “ Note of such playes as were acted at court in 1623 and 1624," which confirms what I have suggested, that the plays of Shakspeare were then not lo much admired as those of the poets of the day.
“Upon Michelmas night att Hampton court, The Mayd of the Mill by the K. Company.
“ Upon Allhollows night at St. James, the prince being there only, The Mayd of the Mill againe, with reformations.
“ Upon the fifth of November att Whitehall, the prince being there only, The Gipsve, by the Cockpitt company
Upon St. Stevens daye, the king and prince being there, The Mayd of the Mill by the K. company. Att Whitehall.
“ Upon St. Johns night, the prince only heing there, The Bondman by the queene [of Bohemia's] company. Att Whitehall.
“ Upon Innocents night, falling out upon a Sonday, The Buck is a theif, the king and prince being there. By the kings company. Ate Whitehall. Upon New-years night, by the K, company,
The Wandering Lovers, the prince only being there. Att
Upon the Sonday after, beinge the 4 of January 1623, by the Queene of Bohemias company, The Changelinge; the prince only being there. Att Whitehall.
Upon Twelfe night, the maske being putt of, More diljemblers besides Women *, by the kings company, the prince only being there. Att Whitehall.
* To the Duchess of Richmond, in the kings absence, was given The Winters Tale, by the K. company, the 18 Janu. 1623. Att Whitehall.
• Upon All-hollows night, 1624, the king beinge at Roiston, no play,
“ The night after, my Lord Chamberlin had Rule a wife and have a wife for the ladys, by the king's company.
• Upon St. Steevens night, the prince only being there, (was acted] Rule a wife and have a wife, by the king's company. Att Whitehall.
Upon St. Johns night, (the prince) and the duke of
“Upon Innocents night, the (prince] and the duke of Brunswyck being there, Cupids Revenge, by the Queen of Bohemias Servants. Att Whitehall, 1624.
Upon New-years night, the prince only being there, 'The first part of Sir John Falstaff, by the king's company. Att Whitehall, 1624.
“Upon Twelve night, the, Masque being putt of, and the prince only there, Tu Quoque, by the Queene of Bohemias servants. Att Whitehall, 1624.
Upon the Sonday night following, being the ninthe of January, 1624, the Masque was performd.
1. On Candlemas night the 2 February, no play, the king being att Newmarket."
From the time when Sir Henry Herbert came into the office of the Revels to 1642, when the theatres were shut op, his Manuscript does not furnish us with a regular *“The worst play that credraw," says the writer, in a marginal note. Vol. I. PART II.