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to be permitted to read it.” Mrs. Hudson's friends were instantly inflamed; and, indeed, the whole of the audience declared that Mrs. M. must appear, and give an account of her conduct. At last, after a continued uproar and confusion, Queen Elinor appeared in a rage. She said, she would read, or she would not perform the part at all; illness, and study for her own benefit, had prevented her. The audience, with one voice, told her, that if she did not perform the part, as was her duty, she must depart that instant; for, rather than submit to such intentional insult and effrontery, they would desire the cook maid from the ale house to read it!-On which she placed herself in a tragic attitude, and having obtained, by this stratagem, a moment's truce, said aloud, " So, I may not be permitted to read the Queen ?"-" No, No, No! Off, Off, Off !”—“ Well, then," said she,
curse you all!” Upon this, she threw the book into the pit, and made her exit, amid showers of disapprobation; but not entirely without laughter from those who.“ smiled at the tumult, and enjoyed the storm."
" DIDO." Of this tragedy, the production of Joseph
Reed, author of the “Register Office,” Mr. Nicholls, in his “ Literary Anecdotes,” gives some curious particulars. He also relates an anecdote of Johnson concerning it. “ It happened that I was in Bolt Court on the day that Henderson, the justly celebrated actor, was first introduced to Dr. Johnson; and the conversation turning on dramatic subjects, Henderson asked the Doctor's opinion of “ Dido," and its author. " Sir,” said Johnson, “ I never did the man an injury, yet he would read his tragedy to me.”
· HelvIoT, THE FRENCH ACTOR. Helvior, a celebrated French actor, was one day walking on the Boulevards at Paris, accompanied by Baptiste and his lady, when they were attracted by the sounds of a harp, played by an old beggar. As the talent of the harper was not of the first order, he obtained but little notice from the Parisian promenaders. Helviot, however, was so much interested for him, that he stept aside with his companions, to propose rendering him a service. Madame Baptiste lowered her veil, and sat down to the harp; while her husband and Helviot accompanied her in a trial of their voices. The excellence of the performance
soon attracted an immense crowd, who expressed their admiration, by filling the hat of Helviot who held it for the benefit of the beggar, with pieces of silver. The joy of the old man may easily be conceived.
The presence of Scenery in the booths and temporary erections in Inn-yards, where the first rude companies of comedians exhibited, is not to be supposed; and the evidence collected on the subject goes, for the most part, to prove, that the first regular Theatres were nearly as destitute of scenic decorations as their beggarly predecessors. The absence of this essential article of theatrical furniture affords a decisive proof of the excessive poverty of the first dramatic establishments; since the account-books of the Master of the Revels, for 1571, and several subsequent years, clearly point out the use of four varieties of scenery, in almost every play or masque exhibited at court.
1, temporary erections on the stage; 2, painting on canvas, stretched on frames; 3, mechanical contrivances; and 4, furniture and properties generally. The following are extracts from the office books :
“ One hundred and fifty ells of canvas, for the houses and properties made for the players.”
• A paynted cloth, and two frames.” “ Wm. Lyzarde for size, cullers, pots, nails, and pensills, used and occupied upon the painting of seven cities, one village, one country-house, one battlement, &c.”
“ One city and one battlement of canvas.”
“Wm. Lyzarde, for paynting by great, CCX. yards of canvas."
Six plays “furnished, perfected and garnished, necessarily, and answerable to the matter, person, and part to be played; having apt howeses made of canvass, framed, fashioned and paynted accordingly, as might best serve their several purposes.”
In fact, all sorts of scenery and machinery were put in requisition for the “ garnishing" of those representations which took place in the royal presence; castles, battlements, houses, arbours, prisons, altars, tombs, rocks and caves, devices of hell and hell-mouth, and, on one occasion, a church is specified, which appears, from another item, to have contained a light. Trees, hobby-horses, lions, dragons, and fish, also frequently recur in the accounts.
With respect to machinery, the sun suspended in a cloud; “ flakes of yse, hayle stones, and snowballs," delicately composed of " sugar plate, musk cumfetts, corianders prepared, clove cum
fetts, synnamon cumfetts, &c.;" thunder and lightning; charrott of 14 foote long and 8 foote brode, with a rocke upon it, and a fountain therein, for Apollo and the Nine Muzes ;" are striking instances of the complicated nature of many of the contrivances made use of at Court.
On the public stage, however, at the same period, a simple hanging of arras or tapestry was all that appeared in the way of ornament; and this, as it became decayed or torn, was clumsily repaired by the display of pictures over the fractured places. A plain curtain, suspended in a corner, separated the most distant regions ; and a board, inscribed with the name of a country or city, indicated the scene of action, the change of which was marked by the removal of one board, and the substitution of another. A table, with pen and ink, thrust in, signified that the stage was a counting-house; if these were withdrawn, and two stools put in their places, it became a Tavern, When the Theatres were entirely destitute of scenery, the protruded board indicated that the empty stage was to be considered as a city, a house, a wood, or any other place; and when scenes' were first introduced,