Зображення сторінки

saying that my youth would shut the mouth of criticism. Racine, who, from devotion, or from motives of policy, no longer frequented the Theatre, (the King having prescribed the same privation to himself,) was, however, present the first time of performance, and seemed to take extreme pleasure, every time I was applauded."


IF the Globe is celebrated for its connexion with the imperishable name of Shakspeare, the Curtain is no less honoured by the circumstance of Ben Jonson having acted there, before he attained celebrity as an author. One of the best of the clowns of the age of Elizabeth, the inimitable Tarleton, whose appearance was always hailed by the spectators with shouts of laughter, even before he had uttered a word, and who was famous for his extempore wit, also belonged to this Theatre. Notwithstanding their powerful attractions, the Curtain never seems to have attained above a secondary rank; for Aubrey, who wrote in 1678, speaks of it as "a kind of nursery, or obscure Play House, called the Green Curtain,' situated in the suburbs towards Shoreditch." Its situation, as well as that of another


house called, par excellence, the Theatre, is clearly ascertained by the following passage in Stowe's Survey, which appears entirely to have escaped the notice of Theatrical critics, who have, one after another, without rhyme or reason, assigned different and even opposite parts of the town for the situation of the latter. "There was," says Stowe," formerly, in this neighbourhood, a famous well called Holy-well, (the name of which still survives in Holywell Lane,) and a very ancient building, called the Priory of St. John the Baptist, which being pulled down, on the suppression of the Monasteries, &c. in the reign of Henry the Eighth, many houses were erected there for the lodging of Noblemen; and near thereunto are builded two public houses for acting comedies, tragedies, and histories whereof the one is called the Curtain, the other the Theatre, both standing on the south-west side, towards the fields."

This Theatre, to judge from its name, was probably the first building erected in or near the metropolis, for the exhibition of plays; and the Curtain probably derived its name from its being the first to adopt that very necessary appendage to the stage. The Curtain Road took its name from this

Theatre, but no remains of the ancient building

are now extant.


DURING the year 1778, their Majesties, in reviewing the summer encampments, visited Winchester, and honoured the College with their presence. Dr. Warton's house, at that period, was filled with men of exalted and acknowledged talents, among whom were Lord Palmerston, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Messrs. Stanley, T. Warton, and D. Garrick. To the latter a very whimsical accident occurred. The horse that carried him to the review, on his casually alighting, by some means got loose, and ran away. In this dilemma, assuming the attitude of Richard III. amidst the astonished soldiery, he exclaimed, A horse! A horse! my Kingdom for a horse," which reaching the ears of the King, he said, "These must be the tones of Garrick; see, if he is on the ground." Mr. Garrick was immediately sought, and presently found, and presented to his Majesty, who, among many other compliments, assured him, that his delivery of Shakspeare would never pass undiscovered.



My visit to his Grace of York was so successful in its consequences, and so flattering in its tendency, both to myself, personally, and to the profession in which I was embarked-thatI must relate it.

I found his Grace at breakfast, in his study. After desiring me, with great complacency, to be seated, he said, "You are, I presume, Mr. Jackson." I bowed. "You reside in the Temple."

"I do, my Lord."- "You belong to the Law." "No, my Lord."-"I judged so by the place of your residence."--No answer from me to this delicate mode of enforcing the question.

"I have a memorial from you, respecting your father, but I sent for you to know more fully from yourself the particulars respecting it."

I related every thing I knew, concerning the matter, minutely. His Grace listened to me with great attention, and promised to make immediate inquiry into the facts I had stated. I was on my legs, and on the point of departing, when I observed to his Grace, that when he asked if I belonged to the Law, I had continued silent. I now informed him, that I had no intention of con

[ocr errors]

cealing my profession: "I am, my Lord, upon the stage."-A pause

"Sir," said his Grace," I, know no distinction of persons; I respect worth, wherever it is found. Goodness may adorn the breast of an actor, as well as that of a divine; and I see no just reason, why I should discredit or disregard you the more for being on the stage, than if you were in the pulpit, provided you have kept your character. I shall inquire into your conduct, and if I find it such as I can sanction with credit, you shall always have my patronage and support; make my compliments to Mr. Garrick, and tell him, I expect he will use you well; I do not go to the Theatre myself; but let me know when your night comes, and I will send my family."

His Grace saw me to the door, and told the porter, that, whenever I called, he should be at home. He then again wished me well,

"Vowed me assistance, and performed it too."


It is related in the annals of the stage as a remarkable instance of the force of imagination, that when Banks's play of the "Earl of Essex" was last performed, a soldier, who stood sentinel on the stage, entered so deeply into the distress

« НазадПродовжити »