Slike strani

the first time to appear, the whole of the impression would be sold in a twelvemonth.

At this time Betterton, who in 1695 had seceded from Drury-Lane to the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, finding that the modern plays did not fill his treasury, called in the aid of Shakspeare, and revived the first part of KING HENRY THE FOURTH, in which he performed the part of Falstaff, with considerable success.* Soon afterwards MEASURE FOR MEASURE was altered by Gildon, and produced at the same theatre, with the aid of a Masque, and the attraction of Purcell's musick. To comply with the fashion of the day, Vanbrugh, then an officer, who had already acquired considerable reputation by two plays, THE RELAPSE and THE PROVOKED WIFE, and appears to have been one of the numerous band of accomplished

4 "The Wits of all qualities (says a contemporary,) have lately entertained themselves with a revived humour of Sir John Falstaff, in Henry the Fourth, which has drawn all the town more than any new play that has bin produced of late; which shews that Shakspeare's wit will always last: and the criticks allow that Mr. Betterton has hitt the humour of Falstaff better than any that have aimed at it before." Letter from Mr. Villiers Bathurst to Dr. Arthur Charlett, Master of University College, in Oxford, dated Bond-street, January 28, 1699-1700, -Ballard's MSS. in Bibl. Bodl. vol. xxxiii. p. 64.-The writer, who was son of George Bathurst, Esq. and uncle to Pope's friend and correspondent, the first Earl Bathurst, died and was buried at Chelsea, Sept. 9, 1711.

young men with whom Dryden lived in great intimacy, revised Fletcher's comedy entitled THe PILGRIM, for the company of actors who, after Betterton's departure, continued to play in DruryLane; with whom he stipulated that our author should have the benefit of the third night's performance,' in consideration of his having enriched the piece with a Prologue and Epilogue, a Dialogue between two mad lovers, and other additions. The precise time of its first representation has not been recorded by the writers of theatrical history; nor have I been able to ascertain it, from


5 It is not easy to ascertain the exact time when this revived play was first performed. Cibber in his APOLOGY, p. 219, says, "it was revived in 1700 for Dryden's benefit, in his declining age and fortune:" and afterwards adds, tha "Sir John Vanbrugh, who had given some slight touches of his pen to THE PILGRIM, to assist the benefit-day of Dryden, had the disposal of the parts," and assigned to him that of the stuttering Cook, and the speaking of the Epi. logue; and that " Dryden upon hearing him repeat it, made him a further compliment of trusting him with the Prologue also."-From this account it might be presumed that the play was performed in Dryden's life-time, on the day for which I suppose it to have been intended, March 25th, 1700. The last speech, however, of the printed play speaks of him as dead: "I hope, before you go, Sir, you'll share with us an entertainment the late great poet of our age prepared, to celebrate this day. Let the Masque begin."—But even these words are not decisive; for the word late might have been written subsequent to the first representation, and added to the printed copy, which was published on the 18th of June, as appears from the following

[blocks in formation]

the newspapers of the time; but doubtless it was intended to have been produced on the 25th of March, 1700, on which day the new year at that

advertisement in the London Gazette, No. 3610, Monday June 17, 1700:

"To-morrow will be published THE PILGRIM, a comedy, as it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in DruryLane; written originally by Mr. Fletcher, and now very much altered, with several additions: likewise a Prologue, Epilogue, Dialogue, and Masque, written by the late Mr. Dryden, just before his death; being the last of his works. Printed for B. Tooke," &c.

Gildon, in his COMPARISON BETWEEN THE STAGES, published in 1702, says, this play was performed for the benefit of Dryden's son, and that it was brought out after HENRY THE FOURTH and MEASURE FOR MEASURE (which last he himself altered,) had been acted at Lincoln's-Inn Fields. The latter was produced probably in February. After having mentioned the success of HENRY THE FOURTH and HENRY THE EIGHTH, he makes one of the speakers in his Dialogue say, "The battle continued a long time doubtful, and victory hovering over both camps, Betterton solicits for some auxiliaries from the same author, and then he flanks his enemy with MEASURE FOR MEASURE. ----Nay then, says the whole party at Drury-Lane, we'll even put THE PILGRIM upon him." Ay, 'faith, so we will,' says Dryden: and if you'll let my son have the profits of the third night, I'll give you a Secular Masque.' 'Done,' says the House; and so the bargain was struck."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

One of Curll's authors, in the Memoirs of Mrs. Oldfield published in 1731, says, that "THE PILGRIM was revived for the benefit of Mr. Dryden in Ann. 1700; but he dying on the third night of its representation, his son


time began; for our author, beside the aid already mentioned, furnished the scene with a Secular Masque, introduced at the end of the piece; in which the commencement of the year is particu larly mentioned. It is a singular circumstance


attended the run of it, and the advantages accrued to his family." According to this account, its first represen tation was on Monday the 29th of April. But I do no believe this to have been the case.

6 The Masque commences with the following speeches:
JANUS. Chronos, Chronos, mend thy pace;
An hundred times the rolling Sun
Around the radiant belt has run,

In his revolving race:

Behold, behold, the goal in sight!

Spread thy fans, and wing thy flight!

Enter CHRONOS, with a scythe in his hand, and a grea globe on his back, which he sets down at his entrance. CHRONOS. Weary, weary of my weight,

Let me, let me drop my freight,

And leave the world behind;

I could not bear,

Another year,

The load of human-kind.

The name of the original composer of this Masque i not recorded; but probably Daniel Purcell was employe on this occasion. At a subsequent period, as Dr. Burney mentions, it was set to musick by Dr. Boyce, and per formed, in still life, at either the Castle Concert or Hick ford's Great Room in Brewer-street. In 1749 it was performed at Drury-Lane Theatre with great success; and the Song sung by Diana, beginning-" With horns and with hounds I waken the day," continued long a popula

that Dryden, as well as some other eminent men of that day, should have fallen into the errour respecting the beginning of the century, which has found some partisans in our own time; conceiving that the seventeenth century closed on the 24th of March, 1699, and that the new century began on the following day: in conformity to which notion a splendid Jubilee was celebrated at Rome in the year 1700. By this kind of reckoning, the second century began in the year 100; 100; and the first, in opposition to the decisive evidence furnished by the word itself, consisted of only ninety-nine years! Prior, however, was guilty of the same oversight."

For whatever day this Masque may have been written, it should seem from the last speech of the comedy in which it was introduced, that it was not acted till after Dryden's death. The Prologue and Epilogue, in the former of which he has retaliated on Blackmore, for his recent attack in the


* See his CARMEN SECULARE for the year 1700.

See vol. iii. p. 649.—It is not quite clear, whether a a passage in our author's Preface to his FABLES, in which he speaks of Blackınore's having traduced him in a libel, relates to the SATIRE AGAINST WIT, or to Blackmore's Preface to PRINCE ARTHUR, published in 1695. Dr. Johnson thought it related to the former; and, I believe, was right in his conjecture: for from an advertisement in the POSTBOY, No. 763, February 29, 1699-1700, it appears, that a satirical production entitled "COMMENDATORY VERSES on the Author of the two ARTHURS, and the SATIRE AGAINST WIT," was then published; THE

[blocks in formation]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »