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try to raise a laugh against Slatford, who had so much pleased the audience by his good delivery. Hamlet goes on by asking " How theatricals are supported in the city of Denmark ?" It ought to be here premised that the English companies then were generally on sharing plans. The performers were not then on weekly salaries : but the whole receipts of each night were divided after this manner : the manager took four shares (called “ dead shares)” for the use of his property in scenes, &c. as well as one share for his services as an actor; and thus he received five shares, exclusive of all the other expenses ! such as rent of the building, lights, play-bills, &c., therefore it was reckoned pretty fair sharing, if each actor got a shilling in the pound : that is, if for every ten pounds taken he got ten shillings. Even this to a stranger, may seem too little for the actor's share, but there are numerous expences which the public seldom think of; and as a general maxim it may be proved, that not half, perhaps not one-third of all the monies taken, can ever, with justice be expected by the performers of any regular theatre. The greater and better the establishment, the less money the performers receive (generally speaking) in proportion to the general receipts. This consideration is very mortifying to men of genius and great talent; whether as proprietors, authors, managers, actors, musicians or artists. But however mortifying, I ami sorry to say it cannot be avoided ; unless the publie will lead the way, by restraining imprudent speculations, and confining themselves within the bounds of what is sufficiently liberal, and at the same time, reason.
able, intelligent and just. These olservations are now introduced for the purpose of explaining the situation in which Mr. Watson stood as manager of a sharing company of comedians : an unpleasant situation and a very precarious one; consequently the uncertainty attending it, renders the speculation little better than that of a state lottery; and no truly prudent man will embark in the trade. At the moment we were just speaking of Mr. Watson, in order to mortify Shatford, (at that very time, as before observed, quite a stripling) the manager took him to the front part of the stage, and turned him round so as to draw the attention of the audience : then speaking with the dignified tone and manner of Prince Hamlet, Watson observed
Why my young friend, I fear theatricals are not so much encouraged now, as they were formerly, when I knew the city. Say, is that the case ? You look very thin, and more like a skeleton, then a well fed actor!" (Here he again turned poor Shatford round, so as to make the audience laugh at his very thin appearance !) Shatford's feelings at the moment were intense : his eyes sparkled with fire, but he preserved his calmness, and bowed with apparent dignified respect. The manager (Hamlet) then went on saying—“Speak, my young friend, am I right? Is bad business the causo of your looking so very thin, and chop-fallen? “No, my good lord, (replied Shatford, bowing) that is not the case at present :-- I thank your Highness for making the inquiry; but the truth is this : The public, at large, have been very liberal, very kind indeed; and lately our business has been excellent: but we have got a sad rogue of a manager, who keeps nearly all the money to himself, and more than half starves his performers !"
At these words the whole house was in a roar of laughter;. while Watson, as brazen-faced a man as ever lived, looked confused and absolutely confounded : even he could not (for the time) obtain sufficient nerve or power to speak one sentence more; and thus the scene dropt amidst the deafening shouts and plaudits of all parts of the Theatre.
There was not an actor in the company, but what had occasionally been made a butt of, by the manager, for the sole purpose of unfairly shooting his wit at him : therefore Shatford's successful bits on this occasion were rejoiced at by one and all. Twenty years afterwards, I knew one that was present when the circumstance occurred. This was a very useful actor, and a worthy nan; his name was Shutter. He related to me the particulars of this case; and added another jest somewhat similar, and that took place on the same evening. Mr. Shatford (as before observed) performed not only the Player King, but the part of Horatio : therefore he did not let slip the opportunity of having another-slap at the Manager's Hamlet !
As the play is now generally done, 'tis well known, that Horatio speaks the tag; which is the technical phrase for the last lines of any play. Now this business of tagging the play being in the hands of Sbatford, ho thus proceeded. Hamlet was, as is usual, dressed in black, and had some glittering ornaments, such as the Danish order of knighthood, and other trinkets, to decorate his personal and characteristic costume. The said ornaments were suspended by small gold and silver cords, and hung at his breast: in his last struggling fight with Laertes, the ornaments on Hamlet's dress became entangled with his sword-belt; the cords were broken, and just as he was breathing his last sigb, the said ornaments fell on the stage. Shatford (as Horativ) looked sorrowful and said _“There crack'd the cordage of a noble heart!” “Good night sweet Prince !” (raising his handkerchief as if to weep, but in reality to avoid the potent effluvia of the “ Poisoned Cup !” still half full of hot brandy and water. " Good night! (said he) and heavenly spirits lull theo to repose !" Thus ended Shakspeare's sublime tragedy, acted in this most powerful and truly spirited manner!
SKETCHES OF CHARACTERS,
REMARKS AND REMINISCENCES.
I have spoken of managers in other places, and thero never perhaps was one more eccentric, more truly homorous, than the one I first saw ; namely, Mr. Whitely. He for many years was the manager at the principal towns in the midland counties : Derby, Nottingham, Northampton, Lincoln, Leicester, &c. I believe Mr Whitely (with the exception of myself) built moro Theatres than any other manager in the kingdom. But he was more prudent than I have been. Building too then was less expensive than it has been ever since : besides, Mr. Whitely had the address to get the public to build Theatres for bim, and left them under his own direction. Now I have not been biessed with such powers of persuasion; I have all my life been so dull as to build Theatres for myself! Mr. Whitely's plan was much the best. But now for a story about him, which was told me long before he died, and wbich story was, I believe, founded on fact. He was one night performing the character of “ Macbeth :” 'tis the stage-keeper's duty to have a little blood (rose pink and water) ready in the chamber where Macbeth goes to murder Duncan! But in short, the whole must be done as quickly as possible. The moment came for Macbeth to commit the direful deed ! He hastily entered and inquired.-" Where's the blood ?-the blood !" “ Lord, sir, (said bis servant, a simple fellow) I beg your pardon, sir, but I quite forgot it, I have not got any blood' ready!” “ Yes, you have, you rascal; I see a bottle full !” The poor man stared wildly about, and said ~ Where, sir ?" • There, fellow ! (was the reply) giving the man a violent knock on his enormous red nose! The blood spouted outMacbeth besmeared his hands and daggers with it, and again rushed on the stage. The stage-keeper behind the scenes roared out with pain “Oh! Oh! Oh!" the audience thought they heard the dying groans of Duncan in his bed; great applause followed; and nineteen out of twenty declared they never before saw the scene so naturally represented !