Зображення сторінки

his employer. Mr. Ross used to declare, though he never knew his name, or saw the individual, to his knowledge, he received, for nine or ten years, at his benefit, a note, sealed up, with ten guineas, and these words :—"A tribute of gratitude from one who was highly obliged and saved from ruin, by witnessing Mr. Ross's performance of George Barnwell.


This ancient Theatre, memorable, above all others, for its connexion with Shakspeare, who first acted in it, and afterwards became one of the proprietors, was situated on the Bankside, nearly opposite to the end of Queen Street. It was originally a bear garden; but, about the year 1990, when the refined amusement of bear baiting began to yield, in fashionable estimation, to the attractions of the resuscitated comedy, it was converted into a Theatre; and, in the year 1996, the proprietors had the old edifice pulled down, and a more commodious building erected in its stead. The form of the new Theatre was hexagonal, externally; but Malone conjectures, that it was a rotunda within : and the following passage from Shaks

peare's Henry thé Fifth" seems to confirm this opinion.

“ Can this cock-pit hold
The vasty fields of France ? or can we cram
Into this wooden 0, the very casques

That did affright the air at Agincourt?" The area was very spacious, and open above; the partial roof was covered with rushes; and, on the top of it, a silk fag, the usual sign of places of amusement, was displayed. In the front of the building was a figure of Hercules supporting a Globe, under which was written Totus Mundus Agit Histrionem, whence the building derived its name. The Globe was a Summer Theatre, and the exhibitions took place in the day-time. This seems to have been the most frequented house until about the year 1604 or 1605, when the private Theatres, as they were called, especially the Black-friars, began to attract from the public ones the more fashionable portion of the audience, and left them, almost entirely, to the citizens and to the rabble. Before this time, the resort to the Theatres on the Bankside, of which the Globe was the principal, was so great, that we are told by Taylor, the Water-poet, that," about the year 1596, the players began to play on the

Bankside, and to leave playing in London and Middlesex for the most part. The number of watermen, and those that live and are maintained by them, and by the only labour of the oar and scull, cannot be fewer than forty thousand; the cause of the greater half of which multitude hath been the players playing in the Bankside.”


This son of Thespis was more remarkable for the witty, though wicked pranks he played, than for his acting; he was seized, one morning, by two bailiffs, for a debt of £20, as the Bishop of Ely was passing by in his coach. Quoth Joe to the bailiffs, “Gentlemen, here's my cousin, the Bishop of Ely, going into his house ; let me but speak to him, and he'll pay the debt and charges.” The bailiffs thought they might venture this, as they were within three or four yards of him ; Joe now went boldly up to the coach, and pulled off his hat to the bishop. His lordship ordered the coach to stop, when Joe whispered him gently, “My lord, here are two poor men who have such great scruples of conscience, that, I fear, they'll hang themselves.”—“Very well,” said the bishop; so, calling to the bailiffs, he said, “You two

men, come to me to-morrow morning, and I'll satisfy you.” The men bowed, and went away; and Joe, well pleased with the success of his stratagem, bade them “Good morning.” Early on the following day, the bailiffs, expecting the debt and charges, paid a visit to the Bishop; when, being introduced, his lordship addressed them: “Well, my good men, what are your scruples of conscience ?"-"Scruples ! (echoed the bailiffs,) we have no scruples; we are bailiffs, my lord, who yesterday, arrested your cousin, Joe Haines, for a debt of £20; your lordship kindly promised to satisfy us to-day, and we cannot doubt bat your lordship will be as good as your word.” The bishop, on this, reflecting that his honour and name would be exposed, were he not to comply, paid the debt and charges.


In the early part of this celebrated comedian's career, he suffered many and strange vicissitudes. At one period, having left Birmingham, he determined on a visit to Stratford-uponAvon, to view the birth-place of the immortal Bard.

About this time, the Warwickshire Militia,

were to be embodied, and great numbers of the recruits were assembled from different parts of the country, to join the regiment at Stratford. Numbers presented themselves on the road, one of whom, seemingly more intelligent than the rest, our adventurer chose for his companion, and to each other their mutual necessities were imparted. Munden learned from his comrade that the regiment would consist of a numerous body of men, and that it would not be difficult to obtain a night's lodging. His friend, whose brain necessity had rendered fertile, suggested a thought, which was approved of, and put in practice; it was to present himself before the Serjeant as a recruit, and, by that means, obtain a billet for the night.

After some time spent by his friend in searching for the Serjeant's quarters, he at length found him. The Serjeant inquired if Munden was of the regiment who, replying in the affirmative, he obtained, for the night, bed and board, and, in every respect, was entertained as a gentleman soldier. If the reader will call to mind Falstaff's description of his ragged regiment, then will he be able to form some idea of this motley..set of heroes, in number between



« НазадПродовжити »