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OF THE LONDON THEATRES.-No. VII.
DORSET Gardens Theatre. Since We see the Wells have stoln the Vizard
the account of this Theatre appeared in vol. LXXXIII. ii. p. 221, I have met with The Young Gallant's Academy, or, Directions how he should behave in all Places and Company, &c. By Sam. Overcome, 1674; again reprinted as by S. V. 1696. This little octavo volume was a slight alteration of Decker's Gull's Horn-book (a circumstance the Editor of the late valuable edition of that amusing work does not appear to have been acquainted with), and the characters and places re-adapted to the times. The scene of the Theatre is therefore altered from the Globe; and Chap. 5. concludes, "Some are gone to one theatre, some to the other. Let us take a pair of oars for Dorset-stairs, and so into the Theatre after them as fast as we can." With other alterations of the original, the following is given as instructions: "The play-house is free for entertainment, allowing room as well to the Farmer's son as to a Templer; yet it is not fit that he whom the most Taylor's bills make room for when he comes, should be basely, like a viol, cased up in a corner: therefore, say, let our gallant (having paid his half crown, and given the door-keeper his ticket) presently advance himself into the middle of the pit, where hauing made his honour to the rest of the Company, but especially to the Vizardmasks, let him pull out his comb, and manage his flaxen wig with all the grace he can. Hauing so done, the next step is to give a hum to the China orange-wench, and give her her own rate for her oranges (for 'tis below a gentleman to stand haggling like a Citizen's wife) and then to present the fairest to the next Vizardmask. And that I may incourage our Gallant not like Tradesman to save a shilling, and so sit but in the middle gallery, let him but consider what large comings-in are pursed up sitting in the pit.-First, A conspicuous eminence is gotten, by which means the best and most essential parts of a gentleman, as his fine cloaths and perruke are perfectly revealed.-Second, By sitting in the pit, if you be a knight, you may happily get you a mistress; which, if you would, I advise you neer to be absent when Epsome Wells is plaid: for,
GENT. MAG, July, 1814.
afterwards exhibited. In 1709 it was razed to the ground; as appears by the following extract from a periodical paper, called The Gazette à-lamode: or Tom Brown's Ghost, No. 3. Thursday, May 26, 1709.
"I wonder (says the Writer) that a man whose wits run so much a wool gathering as my Coz. Bickerstaff's should not all this time have pick'd up some Epigram, Elegy, or other doleful ditty, on such a lamentable occasion as the pulling down the Theatre in Dorset Garden; upon which melancholy subJect, an old acquaintance of my friend Isaac's, a water-poet, has been so kind as to oblige me with the following lines, composed and dated on board the Folly, now lying opposite to the ruined Playhouse.
"Ye Muses weep, weep all ye Nine, The Poets vainly call Divine: See there that scene of Melancholy While yet here floats the sinking Folly; From whence that falling pile we view, Once sacred to the Gods and you, Which buskin'd Heroes use to tread, And represent the glorious dead. Now, now, alas, 'tis servile made, And is from pleasure turn'd to trade. The manag'd stage, and well-wrought
Adorn'd with exquisite machine,
No longer please our wand'ring eyes,
Whether perform'd in Greece or Rome. Mysterious (Edipus appears
Here full of grief as he's of years; Young Ammon's passion mounts as high,
As it in Babylon cou'd fly,
Now made a Wood yard.
Shall burlesque Theatres arise,
The site was used as a timber-yard for several years. It is described as such in some lines" On a Lady's favourite Cat," inserted in "Count Pi per's Packet, being a choice and curious Collection of Manuscript papers in prose and verse. 1732.”
Near that fam'd place, where in old times there stood
A Theatre; but now huge piles of wood: Where silver Thames runs gliding by the [fares; And Watermen stand bawling to their Where noble Dorset claims a royalty, And Bride's fair steeple towers to the sky; Where mug-house members kept their
clubs of late,
And rioters met their untimely fate: Close in a nook a little house you'll find," &c.
A South view of the Dorset Gardens Theatre is given in the present Number (See Plate). Some alteration was niade in the exterior of the building after the view was taken that is given in Settle's Empress of Morocco, un less that represents, as probable, the North front. At the time of the repairing above noticed, the arms and ornaments might be altered, as the view from which the present engraving is copied is supposed to have been made after the repairs were coinpleted. Other views, in the same direction, may be found in the large sheet maps of a Prospect of London and Westminster, taken at several stations to the Southward thereof, by William Morgan; and also in Henry Overton's New Prospect of London of the South side, dedicated to Gideon Harvey bublisher Jas.. the Walker. It stood near the mouth of Fleet ditch, which had on the opposite, side a handsome structure, with a balcony, belonging to a noted empiric, Dr. Salmon; a part of which is shewn in the annexed View.
In Buck's Views (1749) the site is represented as a Timber-yard.
China-hall, Rotherhithe. This sub.. urbian Theatre is supposed to have A Saw-pit.
been opened in the summer of 1777. It was formed from the warehouse of a paper-manufacturer; and novelty crowning the first season with suffi cient encouragement, the proprietors ventured to embellish and materially improve the premises; the adver tisement for the commencement of the following season, stating the Proprie tors" haye spared no expence in en larging and beautifying the Theatre; and as they are determined to preserve the exactest punctuality in the time of beginning, and to make regularity and decorum their chief study, hope they shall render themselves deserving of that favourable encouragement they have before experienced." The prices of admission were,boxes 3s. pit 28. gallery 1s. and time of of cool mencing varied by the season half past six to seven o'clock. The Wonder and Lying Valet; Love in a Village with Comical Courtship (a new piece) were among the pieces performed; and in the season of 1778 one of the performers was the late celebrated George Frederick Cooke. Some time in the winter of 1778-9 the whole building was destroyed by fire.
Ruckholl-house, Leyton, Essex. Ruckholt-house is said to have been once the mansion of Queen Elizabeth; and is now mentioned as forming, for a short period, an auxiliary place of amusement for the Summer to the establishedTheatres,and situate within the environs of London. It was open
ed about the year tor, Wm. Barton, public breakfasts, weekly concerts, and occasional oratorios. The place is thus describe ed in a ballad addressed
with the propries
An Invitation to Ruck holt-house. "Delia, in whose form we trace All that can a virgin grace, Hark where pleasure blith' as May, Bids us to Ruckholt [haste] away. Verdant vestos, melting sounds, Magic echoes, fairy rounds, Beauties ev'ry where surprize, Sure that spot dropt from the skies. Delia, in, &c.*
The "sweet singers of Ruckbolt" are immortalized by Shepstone; and the place appears to have been the drive of fashion for about three seasons. In Music in good time, a new ballad, 1745, fol. it is enumerated with other places in the following stanzas: "Oh L--c--n, oh C---ke, and each belman appear,
With your songs and your sonnets to charm ev'ry ear;
To spin catches and odes, and your pas t'rals fine,
Assist them Grub Phoebus, assist bunters Derry down, &c.
That Vauxhall, and Ruckholt, and Rane
lagh too, [new, And Hoxton and Sadler's, both old and My Lord Cobham's head, and the Dulwich Green-man,
May make as much pastime as ever they Derry down, &c."
The following votive ditty upon Hampstead, and the Well
I have only discovered since the note in the last Volume, ii. p. 554, was printed; and which is not mentioned, I believe, by the intelligent Author of the recent valuable Volume upon The Topography and Natural History of Hampstead. It may be found in The Musical Entertainer, engraved by George Bickham, Jun. fol. vol. II. No. 15, entituled "The Beautys of Hampstead," and also as a broad-side, from which the present copy is taken.
HAMPSTEAD. A Ballad, set by Mr. ABEL WHICHELLO. Sung by Mr. JOHN Baker. "Summer's heat the town invades, All repair to cooling shades,
Are the hills and flow'ry meads!
Here, where lovely Hampstead stands,
And the neighb'ring vale commands, What surprising
All around adorn the lands.
Here ever woody mounts arise,
There verdant lawns delights our eyes,
Where Thames wanders,
Lofty domes approach the skies.
Here are grottos, purling streams, Shades defying Titan's beams,
Lovers wishes, Poets themes.
Of the chrystal bubbling well,
Life, and strength, the current swell,
Smiling here, united dwell.
Here, nymphs and swains indulge your Share the joys our scene imparts, [hearts,
Here be strangers
To all dangers,
All- but those of Cupid's darts.”
July 1. Tis not proper that I should re
His first "reason," for he counts it as one, is, that the Preface of 1765 should have been preferred, because "it was written on occasion of the publication of that Edition." That
I main silent after the invective of 18, that this Preface of 1765 was really
Mr.Hawkins, because it involves some matters of fact, necessary to state in vindication of my own fidelity as a Literary Historian; and equally so, to shew what kind of an Historian Mr. Hawkins is likely to turn out.
Among my researches, in the topic of "Literary Quarrels from personal motives," I had to record one, where the late Sir John stood in a dilemma as the Editor of Johnson's Works. Hawkins owed no good-will to Steevens for his caustic pleasantries; and he was not a magnanimous enemy. Averse to preserve Johnson's high commendation at the close of the Preface to Shakespeare, of Steevens, he pretended that he reprinted the Preface of 1765; which, having appeared before Johnson's union with Steevens, was free from the tender passage. On examination, however, it was discovered that all the collected Works were properly reprinted from the latest Editions. This fact was apt enough for the purpose of my illustrations; it is noticed as derived from "a periodical Critic," and marked as a quotation. This detection, of the mutilated Preface originating, as the Reviewer expresses it," from the spleen and the covered malice of the Editor" may be found in the Monthly Review, vol. LXXVII. p. 69.
And here I would willingly have closed this literary quarrel, had I not considered it as my duty, not indeed to reply to the invective of so weak a temper; but to discover what sort of a genius it is Mr. Hawkins displays, in that narrative of absurdities which he has so clumsily wrought into a kind of Bibliographical Romance,
written for the Edition of 1765! but he can take nothing, as the Lawyers say, by this motion; 'tis granted that a Preface is a Preface!
Secondly, that "this Preface of 1765 more particularly referred to that Edition" and therefore, being a Preface to the obsolete Edition of 1765, it should be republished in an Edition of 1787. This still is no "reason;" and of this the Bookseller, as we shall see, was fully aware.
And now the Reader has his " reasons!" though with all his strainings he hardly reaches the plural number. But any one thing is, or are, “reasons" to him who from such untenable premises with the most provoking confidence infers, that "every intelligent man must see, that to have printed the Preface in its latter state, and not as originally written,would have been improper." It is then the result of this "Propriety," that the work touched by the finishing hand is not so proper for preservation, as the first state!— a critical discovery! which adds one more to the celebrated "Canons of Criticism." If Sir John had really this odd faste, why did he not prefer reprinting the original Ramblers, which, the curious diligence of Mr. Alexander Chalmers has discovered, often scarcely exhibit the same work.
So much for the clear exposition of the "intention" of Sir John! Mr. Hawkins has added another confirmation to a valuable truism, that it seems impossible to know the intention of any man!
But a greater difficulty remained to overcome, than assigning such shadowy and impalpable grounds, for
the preference of the obsolete Preface. For-Mirabile dictu!-it is agreed that this pretended Preface was not reprinted, but the later one! that very one which contains the offending panegyric; and which, somehow or another, was nicely dropped!
sings-"Of this circumstance I am confident my Father was never informed; because living with him as I constantly did, it is scarcely likely that, if he had known it, I should not have heard of it, which I never did.” The Critics have been unsatisfied with the Catastrophes of the Iliad and the Eneid; no ending is complete that is not final to all the incidents of the action. Now this is an excellence our Author has most happily, and even elegantly, obtained. For, just at the close, our Narrative-poet thus declares that he has been cele brating an event, with all its numerous particulars, which he never heard of! And as he is a genius, of the reversing species, if he really never heard all these circumstances and yet tells them so completely, we are led to conjecture that he knows still more thau he has told. However, this catastrophe is a beautiful imitation of the shining ivory gate of Sleep in Virgil; for it announces, as that does, that the regions we have past are the regions of fiction-and that the whole is a dream!
Let him answer how the Printer came to stop at the panegyric of Steevens, which was open before him?
And now from reasoning we come to narrative. The late Sir John, seated in the chair of justice, judicially issues an order that the Preface of 1765 should be reprinted-but the Bookseller "PROBABLY" — mark" BABLY," for it is the tottering keystone of this arch, could not readily procure one; and "sent one of the later Editions to be printed from." It is like cruelty to pinch the Narrative so tender all over! Sir John knew nothing of this substitution of the perfect for the imperfect Edition; yet the Printer intuitively, as if Sir John, or Sir John's Son, had been at his elbow, suddenly sickens at the vile panegyric of Steevens, stops his hand in the right place, and rejects it. Why, using the latest Editions (for well he knew his purchasers would not tolerate the odd taste of Sir John) with the panegyric of Steevens lying before him, he should mutilate the Preface, who can tell? The secret history of Literature is not often contemporary. All this has proved a little fatiguing to me, and I fear more to the Reader: but what is more cold and lifeless than the analysis of a work of imagination? The Author of this Bibliographical Romance has vied with Homer in the creation of his incidents; but I cannot bestow the time to exhibit them in their due march and order; our Romancer having involved himself in complicated difficulties, and studious of the counsel of Horace, rightly called down a Deity to cut asunder the untwistable knot; a Deity, whose name in Heaven, as Homer sings, is PROBABLY," and on Earth, as Burchell in the Vicar of Wakefield would have translated it,must be—“FUDGE!" The admirable part of this Narrative as it should be, is the most extraordinary catastrophe that romantic literature can display among all its “speciosa miracula." Our Romancer, at that critical moment when the presence of the Hero was most wanted, to account for that aweful disappearance, -or to descend to plainer matters, when the Printer substituted the pro-its per for the improper Edition, be thus
Such is the ineptitude of an unskilful advocate who attempts to cover the truth by scanty subterfuge; who invents, without the proper genius; and concludes, as genius reversed is apt to do, by confirming what he would confute.
Yet, let it not be imagined that wrote from any personal motive against the late Sir John Hawkins. With me it was mere matter of His tory. Of Hawkins's literary character I am inclined to think far better than the Criticks have hitherto allowed; the confused statements of objects which had passed under his eye, his feeble taste, his imperfect views, origi nate in the contraction of his intellect, and will for ever exclude him from the order of genius; but his fervent researches, his literary habits, aud that passion for Literature he inspired through his family, excite our respect, and rauk him among the estecinable men of letters. The redeeming genius of that family, the genius which, like the figure of the antients, bears wings on its shoulders and a flame on head-must be a Female! Yours, &c.