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THE ACTORS OF THE RESTORATION.
THE CIVIL WAR.
OF THE RESTORATION.
THE ACTORS OF THE RESTORATION.
THE CIVIL WAR-SUPPRESSION
THEATRESDAVENANT'S MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT - GENERAL MONK—THE RESTORATION-REVIVAL OF THE STAGE -The King's COMPANY—THE DUKE's COMPANY DESCRIPTION OF THE THEATRE OF THE RESTORATIONANECDOTES—THE ACTORS-CHARLES HART-BURT JAMES NOKES-JOHN LACY-WILLIAM CARTWRIGHT -MAJOR MOHUN « Scum GOODMAN-HARRI8SCUDAMORE—ANTHONY LEIGH-SANDFORD-SMITHCADEMAN - CAVE UNDERHILL - JOSEPH
As everybody knows, plays, at least the public performance of them, and players, so far as the law could touch them, were suppressed by the Long Parliament in 1647.* Many efforts were made to propitiate the authorities, but all in vain; and during the Commonwealth period, sock and buskin found their occupation gone. Some private representations were given at rare intervals—for instance,
The ordinance of suppression described " those proud parroting players" as "a sort of superbious ruffians; and because sometimes the asses are clothed in lions' skins, the dolts imagine themselves somebody, and walk in as great state as Cæsar.” Some of the actors betook themselves to the wars, mostly on the King's side. Robinson, a player of merit, was fated to encounter the fanatical Harrison, who, when he asked quarter, ran his sword through the hapless actor's body, crying, “Cursed be he who doeth the work of the Lord negligently!”.
Cowley's Comedy of “The Guardian” was played at Cambridge ; but to the general public the theatre door was religiously kept shut.* A bold attempt was made to re-open the Cockpit in 1648, but on the fourth day a troop of soldiers entered it, drove out the audience, destroyed the stage in a frenzy of iconoclastic enthusiasm), and arrested the players, who were marched through the streets in their theatre costume, and imprisoned for awhile in the Compter and the Gatehouse. This severe example was accepted as a warning by the members of the despised profession, and to meet the exigencies of the situation Richard Cox invented a new kind of dramatic exhibition, at the Red Bull playhouse, in which ropedancing was put forward as the pièce de resistance, to deceive the authorities, while the taste of the audience was gratified by the performance of what were called “ Humours," or "Drolleries”--that is, a combination of the richest comic scenes from Shakespeare, Marston, Shirley, and others, into one piece, disguised under a new title. Thus: “The Equal Match” was concocted from Beaumont and Fletcher's “Rule a Wife and Have a Wife;" “ The Bouncing Knight; or, the Robbers Robbed," was an adaptation of the Falstaff scenes from the second part of “Henry IV.” These Drolleries were collected by Marsh in 1662, and reprinted by Kirkman in 1672, who, in his preface, says :
“ As meanly as you may now think of these Drolls, they were then acted by the best comedians; and I may say, by some that then exceeded all now living ; the in
* A fine of 58. was inflicted on any person attending illegal performances ; money taken at the doors was to be confiscated and given to the poor of the parish ; and any player caught in the act was, the first time, publicly whipped ; and afterwards, if he offended, to be treated as "an incorrigible rogue.”
comparable Robert Cox, who was not only the principal actor, but also the contriver and author of most of these farces. How have I heard him cried up for his John Swabber and Simpleton the Smith; in which he being to appear with a large piece of bread and butter, I have frequently known several of the female spectators and auditors to long for it; and once that well-known natural Jack Adams of Clerkenwell, seeing him with bread and butter on the stage, and knowing him, cried out, ‘Cuz! Cuz! give me some !' to the great pleasure of the audience. And so naturally did he act the Smith's part, that being at a fair in a country town, and that farce being presented, the only master-smith of the town came to him, saying, "Well, although your father speaks so ill of you, yet when the fair is done, if you will come and work with me, I will give you twelve-pence a week more than I give any other journeyman.' Thus was he taken for a smith bred, that was, indeed, as much of any trade."
The fall of the Long Parliainent, by which they had been so cruelly persecuted, was grateful enough to the players, and we may fairly assume that Alexander Brome spoke their feelings in the verses which, in 1653, he prefixed to the collected edition of Richard Brome's Plays. The players, he exclaims, have survived the Parliament:
"See the strange twirl of times when such poor things