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though the yielded in this inftance to the frenzy of the time, was during the whole courfe of her reign a favourer of the ftage, and a frequent attendant upon plays. So early as in the year 1569, as we learn from another puritanical writer, the children of her chapel, (who are defcribed as "her majefty's unfledged minions,") "flaunted it in their filkes and fattens," and acted plays on profane fubjects in the chapel-royal. In 1574 fhe granted a licence to James Burbage, probably the father of the celebrated tragedian, and four others, fervants to the earl of Leicester, to exhibit all kinds of ftage-plays, during pleasure, in any part of England," as well for the recreation of her loving fubjects, as for her own folace and pleafure when the fhould think good to fee them;" and in the year 1583, foon

Even in her majefties chapel do thefe pretty upflart youthes prophane the Lordes-day by the lafcivious writhing of their tender limbs, and gorgeous decking of their apparell, in feigning bawdie fables, gathered from the idolatrous heathen poets," &c. The Children of the Chapel fript and whipt, 1569, fol. xiii. b. Thefe children acted frequently in Queen's Elizabeth's reign at the theatre in Whitefriars.

3 For the notice of this ancient theatrical licence we are indebted to Mr. Steevens. It is found among the unpublished collections of Rymer, which were purchafed by parliament, and are depofited in the British Mufeum. Afcough's Catalogue of Sloanian and other manufcripts, No. 4625.

"Pro Jacobo Burbage et aliis, de licentia fpeciali.

"Elizabeth by the grace of God, Quene of England, &c. To all juftices, mayors, fheriffes, baylyffes, head conftables, under conflables, and all other oure officers and my nifters, gretinge.

"Know ye, that we of our efpeciall grace, certen knowledge, and mere motion, have licensed and auctorifed, and by these prefents do lycenfe and auctorife our loving fubjectes James Burbage, John Perkyn, John Lanham, William Johnfon, and Robert Wilfon, fervaunts to our truftie and well beloved cofen and counfeyllour the Earle of Leyceller, to ufe, exercyfe and occupie the arte and facultye of playenge commedies, tragedies, enterludes, ftageplayes, and fuch other like as they have alredie ufed and studied,

after a furious attack had been made on the stage by the puritans, twelve of the principal comedians of that time, at the earnest requeft of Sir Francis Walfingham, were felected from the companies then fubfifting, under the licence and protection of various noblemen, and were fworn her majesty's

or hereafter shall use and studie, as well for the recreation of our lovinge fubjectes as for our folace and pleafure when we fhall thinke good to fee them, as alfo to use and occupie all fuche inftrumentes as they have alredie practifed or hereafter thall practise, for and duringe our pleasure; and the faid commedies, tragedies, enterludes, and ftage-plaies, together with their muficke, to thew, publishe, exercife and occupie to their best commoditie, during all the terme aforefaid, as well within the liberties and freedomes of anye our cities, townes, bouroughs, &c. whatfoever, as without the fame, thoroughoute our realme of England. Wyllinge and commaundinge yowe and every of you, as ye tender our pleasure, to permit and fuffer them herein withoute anye lettes, hynderaunce, or moleftation, duringe the terme aforefaide, any acte, ftatute, or proclamation or commaundement heretofore made or hereafter to be made notwythftandynge; provyded that the faide commedies, tragedies, enterludes and flage-playes be by the Master of our Revells for the tyme beynge before fene and allowed; and that the fame be not published or fhewen in the tyme of common prayer, or in the tyme of greate and common plague in our faide citye of London. In wytnes wherof, &c.

Wytnes our felfe at Westminster the 10th daye of Maye. [1574-] "Per breve de private figillo."

Mr. Steevens fuppofed that Mr. Dodiley was inaccurate in faying in the preface to his collection of Old Plays, p. 22, that "the firft company of players we have any account of in history are the children of Paul's in 1578," four years fubfequent to the above licence. But the figures 1578 in that page are merely an error of the prefs for 1378, as may be feen by turning to a former page of Mr. Dodfley's preface, to which, in p. 22, he himself


4 The fervants of the earls of Derby, Pembroke, and Effex; thofe of the Lord Chamberlain; the fervants of the Lord Admiral (Nottingham); thofe of Lord Strange, Lord Suffex, Lord Worcefter, &c.-By the ftatute 39 Eliz. c. 4. noblemen were autho rifed to licenfe players to act both in town and country; the statute declaring "that all common players of interludes wandering abroad, other than players of interludes belonging to anie baron of this

fervants. Eight of them had an annual ftipend of

realme, or anie other honourable perfonage of greater degree, to be authorised to play under the hand and feale of arms of fuch baron or perfonage, fhall be adjudged and deemed rogues and vagabonds."

This ftatute has been frequently mis-ftated, by Prynne and others, as if it declared all players (except noblemen's fervants) to be rogues and vagabonds: whereas it was only made againft ftrolling players.

Long after the playhouses called the Theatre and the Curtain had been built, and during the whole reign of Elizabeth, the companies belonging to different noblemen acted occafionally at the CrofsKeys in Gracechurch-street, and other inns, and alfo in the houfes of noblemen at weddings and other feftivals.

s" Comedians and ftage-players of former time were very poor and ignorant in refpect of thefe of this time; but being now [in 1583] growne very skilfull and exquifite actors for all matters, they were entertained into the service of divers great lords; out of which companies there were twelve of the best chofen, and, at the request of Sir Francis Walfingham, they were fworne the queenes fervants, and were allowed wages and liveries as groomes of the chamber: and untill this yeare 1583, the queene had no players. Among these twelve players were two rare men, viz. Thomas Wilfon, for a quicke, delicate, refined, extemporall witt, and Richard Tarleton, for a wondrous plentifull pleafant extemporall wit, he was the wonder of his tyme. He lieth buried in Shoreditch church." "He was fo beloved," adds the writer in a note, "that men ufe his picture for their fignes." Stowe's Chron. published by Howes, fub. ann. 1583, edit. 1615.

The above paragraph was not written by Stowe, not being found. in the last edition of his Chronicle published in his life-time, 4to. 1605 and is an interpolation by his continuator, Edmund Howes.

Richard Tarleton, as appears by the register of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, was buried there, September the third, 1588.

The following extract from Strype fhews in how low a state the ftage was at this time:

Upon the ruin of Paris Garden, [the fall of a fcaffold there in January 1583-4] fuit was made to the Lords [of the Council] to banish plays wholly in the places near London: and letters were obtained of the Lords to banish them on the Sabbath days.

"Upon thefe orders against the players, the Queen's players pe titioned the Lords of the Councel, That whereas the time of their service drew very near, fo that of neceflity they must needs have exercife to enable them the better for the fame, and alfo for their better keep and relief in their poor livings, the feason of the year

31. 6s. 8d. each." At that time there were eight companies of comedians, each of which performed twice or thrice a week.?

King James the First appears to have patronized the stage with as much warmth as his predeceffor. In 1599, while he was yet in Scotland, he folicited Queen Elizabeth (if we may believe a modern historian) to send a company of English comedians to Edinburgh; and very foon after his acceffion to the throne, granted the following licence to the company at the Globe, which is found in Rymer's Federa.


"A. D. 1603. Pat.

"1. Jac. P. 2, m. 4. James by the grace of God, &c. to all juftices, maiors, fheriffs, conftables, headboroughs, and other our officers and loving fubjects, greeting. Know you that wee, of our

being paft to play at any of the houfes without the city: Their humble petition was, that the Lords would vouchsafe to read a few articles annexed to their fupplication, and in confideration [that] the matter contained the very ftay and ftate of their living, to grant unto them confirmation of the fame, or of as many as should be to their honours good liking; and withal, their favourable letters to the Lord Maior, to permit them to exercife within the city; and that their letters might contain fome orders to the Juftices of Middlefex in their behalf," Strype's Additions to Stowe's Survey, Vol. I. p. 248.

6 Household-book of Queen Elizabeth in 1584, in the Museum, MSS. Sloan. 3194. The continuator of Stowe fays, she had no players before, (fee n. 5,) but I fufpect that he is mistaken, for Q. Mary, and K. Edward the Sixth, both had players on their eltablishments. See p. 154.

7 For reckoning with the leafte the gaine that is reaped of right ordinarie places in the citie, (which I know,) by playing but once a weeke, (whereas many times they play twice, and fometimes thrice,) it amounteth to two thousand pounds by the year. A Ser mon preached at Paules Croffe, by John Stockwood, 1578.

fpecial grace, certaine knowledge, and meer motion, have licensed and authorifed, and by these prefentes doe licence and authorize theife our fervaunts, Laurence Fletcher, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Richard Burbage, Auguftine Phillippes, John Hemings, Henrie Condel, William Sly, Robert Armin, Richard Cowly, and the reft of their affociates, freely to use and exercife the art and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies, hiftories, interludes, morals, paftorals, ftage-plaies, and fuch like other as thei have alreadie ftudied or hereafter shall ufe or ftudie, as well for the recreation of our loving fubjects, as for our folace and pleasure when we fhall thincke good to fee them, during our pleafure: and the faid comedies, tragedies, hiftories, enterludes, morals, paftorals, ftage-plaies, and fuch like, to fhew and exercife publiquely to their best commoditie, when the infection of the plague fhall decrease, as well within theire nowe ufuall house called the Globe, within our county of Surrey, as alfo within anie towne-halls or moute-halls, or other convenient places within the liberties and freedom of any other citie, univerfitie, toun, or boroughe what foever, within our faid realmes and dominions. Willing and commanding you and everie of you, as you tender our pleasure, not onlie to permit and fuffer them herein, without any your letts, hindrances, or moleftations, during our pleafure, but also to be aiding or affiftinge to them if any wrong be to them offered, and to allow them fuch former curtefies as hathe been given to men of their place and quallitie; and alfo what further favour you fhall fhew to theife our fervaunts for our fake, we fhall take kindlic at your handes. In witnefs whereof, &c.

"Witness our felfe at Westminster, the nynteenth daye of Maye.

"Per Breve de privato figillo."

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