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to reason on it, would then be liable to be sent to prison ! Equally wise are many other of the doctrines maintained on the subject of Theatres. I here allude to those illusive and most miraculous notions that seem to influence legal understandings as to musical, or unmusical noises, technically called accompaniments.
Thus, at the minor Theatres the Actors were supposed to be amenable to the laws, if they spoke properly and plainly; but they escaped all penalty if accompanied by a Jew's-harp, a Hurdy-gurdy or a Pennywhistle, a Brass-drum, or a Brass-pot-lid ! or any other agreeable musical instrument !! It is true these wise notions as to what was Theatrically legal, are in a certain degree exploded or not acted upon, and we now speak of them only as things that were !
It was the mention of the Royalty Theatro that suggested this subject. Perhaps it may afford a little amusement, and remind old play-goers of what was then the custom, if I here insert a copy of an old Play Bill, which I happen to have kept in my possession ever since the time I witnessed the performance of the pieces advertised.
ROYALTY-THEATRE; near GOODMAN'S FIELDS.
Open every evening during the summer with a variety of entertainments,
ON WEDNESDAY AUGUST 22, 1787,
Or, the fortunate Tar,
Accompanymeuts. Composed by Mr. Reevo, The principal characters by Mr. Bannister, Mr Follett, and Mr, W.
Palmer and Mrs. Fox.
END OF WHICH
LECTURE ON HEADS.
This Evening the Catches and Glees will be buried,
THE VOCAL PARTS BY
and Mr. Bannister.
TO WHICH WILL BE ADDED,
several Persons of fashion.
The whole to conclude with (the 9th. time)
Scaramouch, by Mr. Delpini
Doors open at Six and begin precisely at Seven,
· Some of the Performers named in the above bill, I had seen before, particularly Mr. and Mrs. Hudson; she was, a few years previous, a great favorite at Nottingham, and most deservedly so, being certainly a very good Actress.
I had 'been favored by a short and accidental interview with Mr. Shatford, while he was in London, at the opening of the Royalty, but as he perceived that I was inexperienced he did not engage me. Some few weeks afterwards I saw Mr. Hudson, and intimated to him my intention of returning into Nottinghamshire, if I could not speedily procure an engagement in some Theatre. He remarked that Mr. Shatford whom I had lately seen, had just written to him, saying he should shortly have a vacancy for a useful actor, “but” said Mr. Hudson, “I fear you are not sufliciently studied and experienced to suit his purpose." I replied, that as I was going through the town, where the Company was, (Newport Pagnel) in my way home, I could make the trial without much additional expence and, if he would oblige me with a letter of introduction, I would, at all events, stay a few days with Mr. Shatford, and he might judge for himself whether I should suit him or not. The letter was given me and in a day or two I left London. When I reached Newport I perceived by Mr. Shatford's looks, that he felt disappointed at Mr. Hudson's sending down a raw recruit instead of a well disciplined and effective man. However after some explanation he was satisfied and became very pleasant and agreeable : we were soon familiar with each other, and he took me with him on a fishing expedition that very afternoon.
I remained in Newport until the conclusion of the season, which I remember was about three weeks; for the company were then going to perform at Huntington ,
I may be pardoned, perhaps, if I notice a circumstance that occurred, merely to show what may be done with good health, youthful spirits, and a romantically ardent mind.
Mr. and Mrs. Shatford and myself breakfasted together, after which they set off in a post-chaise for Huntington: -I intimating that I should soon follow by hook or by crook. They had a young female with them. ,
Mr. Shatford had given me (at my request) three parts to study; namely,-Courtall (in the “ Belles Stratagem” Charles Euston in “ I'll tell you what !” and Horatio in the tragedy of “ Hamlet !” As soon as I had settled my little account at the Inn, I commenced my journey, and proceeded for at least twenty miles without once thinking of either eating or drinking! so much was my mind occupied with what I had already done, what I was studying to do, and the prospect of acting and participating in the pleasure derived from the brilliant stage-prospects before me! Thus I walked on briskly! reading, spouting and singing, until sunset. I bought as I passed through a village two half-penny loaves (they were then as big as penny ones are now); seeing a girl milking her cows in a field by the road side, I asked her for a little milk she said I was welcome to take whatever I chose. I took her at her word, drank some milk and snatched a kiss with it! I saw at a distance a country boy approaching : I shook hands with the girl, took another kiss, and parted.
This little adventure raised my spirits and infused as it were quicksilver into my heels, and I trudged on with renovated strength. The moon now appeared from behind a shadowing cloud ; it was a calm delightful evening! I still continued walking and meditating. I found myself nearly perfect in all my parts – so much 80, that by the aid of the pale light which the moon afforded, I was able to repeat the whole of them literally and without omitting a syllable.
What places and towns I passed through I cannot say, further than that I stayed about half an hour over a cup of tea at Bedford: but again I trudged on gaily and merrily as before; the redness of the eastern sky gave goodly token of the approaching morning ; the glorious orb of day arose and shone with unspeakable splendour. I soon perceived symptoms of a town at some distance before me, and on inquiry found that it was Huntington. I met a gentleman on horseback; a commercial traveller; he directed me to the Inn from whence he came, saying none of the family were stirring but the ostler, and I should find him in the stable. I went accordingly but found no one moving, so I got into the hay-loft and slept for about an hour. At half-past six I heard the ostler talking to his horses : I went down and told him who I was, and inquired about Mr. Shatford. “Oh (said he) I suppose you mean the gentleman who came in rather late last night: he is, I believe, at our house, but none of the family are yet up. If you want a bed though, I can show you one :
I thanked him. Before going to rest I perceived under a shed some symptoms of Theatri