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usually about seventy pounds, and the play itself being sold to the bookseller for thirty guineas.
Lane held such a number of persons as produced a hun. dred and thirty pounds (the price of admission to the boxes being half a crown; see Dryden's Prologue to THE MISTAKES, 1690); and the nightly charges of the house, as they are called, did not exceed thirty pounds. In 1709 the charges were £.40. In 1750 they were £.60.; and at present they are £.200.
Southerne is supposed to have been the first dramatick author, who had two benefits, on the production of a new play. In the Dedication of Sir ANTONY LOVE, a comedy, in 1691, he speaks of his being interested in the third and sixth representation of that piece. The custom, however, does not appear to have been immediately established, for in 1696 the author of THE TREACHEROUS BROTHERS should seem, from his Epilogue, to have had only one benefit:
"See't but three days, and fill the house the last, "He shall not trouble you again in haste."
Yet in the very next year in the Prologue to BOADICEA, the sixth night is mentioned, as belonging to the poet as well as the third.
Whether, however, Dryden had the advantage of two representations of his ARTHUR, CLEOMÉNES, and Love TRIUMPHANT, or not, (for DoON SEBASTIAN and AmPHITRYON preceded this regulation,) his profits should seem not to have exceeded the sum mentioned in the text; for in a letter to his son in 1697, he mentions that he was employed on a play called THE CONQUEst of CHINA BY THE TARTARS, which had been put into his hands by the author, Sir Robert Howard. "It will cost me,” he adds, “ six weeks study, with the probable be
Nothing, perhaps, more strongly shews the great fertility of his mind, than his having written near one hundred Prologues and Epilogues, for the most part of extraordinary excellence; having never been assisted by a friend with this kind of decoration to any of his own plays, except in two instances; and having supplied the contemporary
nefit of an hundred pounds." Perhaps indeed, he here meant only to speak of the theatrical profits, exclusive of the copy-money. In the Preface to CLEOMENES, however, he says, "the reward I have from the stage is so little, that it is not worth my labour."
The following receipt is copied from the original, which was found among Mr. Tonson's papers:
“Oct. yo 6th, 1691.
"Receiv'd the sum of Thirty Guinneys, for which I resigne to Mr. Tonson all my right in the printing y* copy of CLEOMENES, a tragedy.
Pope does not seem to have known that Dryden had ever received so much money for the copy of a play; for speaking of him to Mr. Spence, (as that gentleman has mentioned in his ANECDOTES,) he said, " For some time he wrote a play at least every year; but in those days ten broad pieces was the usual highest price for a play, and if they got £.50. more in the acting, 'twas reckoned very well."-This, perhaps, was the case in part of the time of Charles the Second; but afterwards, we see a larger sum was given; and in the middle of the reign of Queen Anne the common price of the copy-right of a play was fifty pounds.
dramatists with above forty pieces, of this difficult species of composition. His price for a Prologue or Epilogue is said by Dr. Warburton to have been originally four guineas; till being asked by Southerne to write one, he required six; "Not, (said he,) young man, out of disrespect to you, but the players have had my goods too cheap." This story, Warburton says,' was told by Southerne to him and Pope, nearly at the same time. In the Life of Southerne, however, published shortly afterwards by Shiels and the younger Cibber, on the testimony of a gentleman who had been personally acquainted with that poet, the sums are said to have been five and ten guineas; and Dr. Johnson with more probability supposes, that Dryden's original price for a Prologue was two guineas, and that from Southerne he demanded three: so difficult is it to elicit truth from any traditional tale.
By his translation of Virgil he got at the least twelve hundred pounds. Of his other works it is not easy to ascertain the price; but from the letters which passed between him and his bookseller, it may be collected, that he usually received fifty guineas for about fifteen hundred lines.
7 In a note (first pulished in 1751,) on Popes's lines on Southerne's birth-day, 1742:
May Tom, whom heaven sent down to raise "The price of Prologues and of Plays," &c.
• See p. 237.
Tonson, who seems to have considered the making of verses as much a manufacture as the
Each word and syllable brought to the scale,
And valued to a scruple in the sale;
for on one occasion we find him complaining bitterly, that he had not enough for his money. "If (says he,) the matter of fact as I state it be true, (and upon my word what I mention I can shew you in your letter,) then pray, Sir, consider, how much dearer I pay than you offered it to the other bookseller; for he might have had to the end of the story of Daphnis [Daphne] for twenty guineas, which is, in your translation, 759 lines; and then suppose twenty guineas more for the same number, (759 lines,) that makes for forty guineas 1518 lines; and all that I have for fifty guineas are but 1446 so that, if I have no more, I pay ten guineas above forty, and have seventy-two lines less for fifty, in proportion, than the other bookseller should have had for forty."!-Degrading as it may appear to our author, we must therefore now estimate his works, not by their value, but their bulk. At the rate already mentioned, his translation of Juvenal and Persius, to which he contributed about 3500 verses, would not have produced more than f. 125.; but in consideration of the excellence of the original, as well as the translation, and that the latter was not a detached but an entire work, a hundred and fifty pounds may perhaps be estimated
as the profit of that undertaking. From the FABLES, we know, he derived but two, hundred and sixty-eight pounds, fifteen shillings; (though afterwards, on that contract, a further sum became due to his representatives :) and for the two volumes of MISCELLANIES published within this period, the versions of Du Fresnoy and the first book of Tacitus, various Dedications, and some other productions, £.300. more may be allowed. To these several sums, which amount to £.2418. 15. O., we may add, perhaps, a sum of one thousand pounds, derived probably from the munificence of Lord Dorset, the Marquis of Normanby, the Duchess of Ormond, and his wealthy kinsman of Chesterton, whose noble present, in return for the Epistle addressed to him, he received about a month before his death; and whose liberality at a former period he also acknowledges, in a letter which has come to my hands since some of the preceding sheets were printed. At an average, therefore, supposing these statements to be correct, his annual income from all these sources, including his private estate, even during this distressful period of eleven years, was above £.400. per annum. Yet his complaints were not without ground; for let it be remembered, that his three sons were now grown to man's estate, without any prospect of future provision, except what his little patrimony afforded; that when he made these complaints, he had no certain revenue but about £.120. per annum ; and that the principal support of his family was