**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


No. 001 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

[Footnote 9: ‘St. James’s’ Coffee House was the last house but one on the south-west corner of St. James’s Street; closed about 1806. On its site is now a pile of buildings looking down Pall Mall. Near St. James’s Palace, it was a place of resort for Whig officers of the Guards and men of fashion. It was famous also in Queen Anne’s reign, and long after, as the house most favoured Whig statesmen and members of Parliament, who could there privately discuss their party tactics.]

[Footnote 10: The ‘Grecian’ Coffee House was in Devereux Court, Strand, and named from a Greek, Constantine, who kept it. Close to the Temple, it was a place of resort for the lawyers. Constantine’s Greek had tempted also Greek scholars to the house, learned Professors and Fellows of the Royal Society. Here, it is said, two friends quarrelled so bitterly over a Greek accent that they went out into Devereux Court and fought a duel, in which one was killed on the spot.]

[Footnote 11: The ‘Cocoa Tree’ was a Chocolate House in St. James’s Street, used by Tory statesmen and men of fashion as exclusively as ‘St. James’s’ Coffee House, in the same street, was used by Whigs of the same class. It afterwards became a Tory club.]

[Footnote 12: Drury Lane had a theatre in Shakespeare’s time, ‘the Phoenix,’ called also ‘the Cockpit.’ It was destroyed in 1617 by a Puritan mob, re-built, and occupied again till the stoppage of stage-plays in 1648. In that theatre Marlowe’s ‘Jew of Malta,’ Massinger’s ‘New Way to Pay Old Debts,’ and other pieces of good literature, were first produced. Its players under James I. were ‘the Queen’s servants.’ In 1656 Davenant broke through the restriction upon stage-plays, and took actors and musicians to ‘the Cockpit,’ from Aldersgate Street. After the Restoration, Davenant having obtained a patent, occupied, in Portugal Row, the Lincoln’s Inn Theatre, and afterwards one on the site of Dorset House, west of Whitefriars, the last theatre to which people went in boats. Sir William Davenant, under the patronage of the Duke of York, called his the Duke’s Players. Thomas Killigrew then had ‘the Cockpit’ in Drury Lane, his company being that of the King’s Players, and it was Killigrew who, dissatisfied with the old ‘Cockpit,’ opened, in 1663, the first ‘Drury Lane Theatre’, nearly upon the site now occupied by D.L. No. 4. The original theatre, burnt in 1671-2, was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, and opened in 1674 with a Prologue by Dryden. That (D.L. No. 2) was the house visited by ‘the Spectator’. It required rebuilding in 1741 (D.L. No. 3); and was burnt down, and again rebuilt, in 1809, as we now have it (D.L. No. 4). There was no Covent Garden Theatre till after ‘the Spectator’s’ time, in 1733, when that house was first opened by Rich, the harlequin, under the patent granted to the Duke’s Company.

In 1711 the other great house was the theatre in the Haymarket, recently built by Sir John Vanbrugh, author of ‘The Provoked Wife,’ and architect of Blenheim. This ‘Haymarket Theatre’, on the site of that known as ‘Her Majesty’s,’ was designed and opened by Vanbrugh in 1706, thirty persons of quality having subscribed a hundred pounds each towards the cost of it. He and Congreve were to write the plays, and Betterton was to take charge of their performance. The speculation was a failure; partly because the fields and meadows of the west end of the town cut off the poorer playgoers of the City, who could not afford coach-hire; partly because the house was too large, and its architecture swallowed up the voices of the actors. Vanbrugh and Congreve opened their grand west-end theatre with concession to the new taste of the fashionable for Italian Opera. They began with a translated opera set to Italian music, which ran only for three nights. Sir John Vanbrugh then produced his comedy of ‘The Confederacy,’ with less success than it deserved. In a few months Congreve abandoned his share in the undertaking. Vanbrugh proceeded to adapt for his new house three plays of Moliere. Then Vanbrugh, still failing, let the Haymarket to Mr. Owen Swiney, a trusted agent of the manager of ‘Drury Lane’, who was to allow him to draw what actors he pleased from ‘Drury Lane’ and divide profits. The recruited actors in the ‘Haymarket’ had better success. The secret league between the two theatres was broken. In 1707 the ‘Haymarket’ was supported by a subscription headed by Lord Halifax. But presently a new joint patentee brought energy into the counsels of ‘Drury Lane’. Amicable restoration was made to the Theatre Royal of the actors under Swiney at the ‘Haymarket’; and to compensate Swiney for his loss of profit, it was agreed that while ‘Drury Lane’ confined itself to the acting of plays, he should profit by the new taste for Italian music, and devote the house in the ‘Haymarket’ to opera. Swiney was content. The famous singer Nicolini had come over, and the town was impatient to hear him. This compact held for a short time. It was broken then by quarrels behind the scenes. In 1709 Wilks, Dogget, Cibber, and Mrs. Oldfield treated with Swiney to be sharers with him in the ‘Haymarket’ as heads of a dramatic company. They contracted the width of the theatre, brought down its enormously high ceiling, thus made the words of the plays audible, and had the town to themselves, till a lawyer, Mr. William Collier, M.P. for Truro, in spite of the counter-attraction of the trial of Sacheverell, obtained a license to open ‘Drury Lane’, and produced an actress who drew money to Charles Shadwell’s comedy, ‘The Fair Quaker of Deal.’ At the close of the season Collier agreed with Swiney and his actor-colleagues to give up to them ‘Drury Lane’ with its actors, take in exchange the ‘Haymarket’ with its singers, and be sole Director of the Opera; the actors to pay Collier two hundred a year for the use of his license, and to close their house on the Wednesdays when an opera was played.

This was the relative position of ‘Drury Lane’ and the ‘Haymarket’ theatres when the ‘Spectator’ first appeared. ‘Drury Lane’ had entered upon a long season of greater prosperity than it had enjoyed for thirty years before. Collier, not finding the ‘Haymarket’ as prosperous as it was fashionable, was planning a change of place with Swiney, and he so contrived, by lawyer’s wit and court influence, that in the winter following 1711 Collier was at Drury Lane with a new license for himself, Wilks, Dogget, and Cibber; while Swiney, transferred to the Opera, was suffering a ruin that caused him to go abroad, and be for twenty years afterwards an exile from his country.]

[Footnote 13: ‘Jonathan’s’ Coffee House, in Change Alley, was the place of resort for stock-jobbers. It was to ‘Garraway’s’, also in Change Alley, that people of quality on business in the City, or the wealthy and reputable citizens, preferred to go.]

[Footnote 14: pains … are.]

[Footnote 15: ‘The Spectator’ in its first daily issue was ‘Printed for ‘Sam. Buckley’, at the ‘Dolphin’ in ‘Little Britain’; and sold by ‘A. Baldwin’ in ‘Warwick Lane’.’]

[Footnote 16: The initials appended to the papers in their daily issue were placed, in a corner of the page, after the printer’s name.]