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0. P.'s, or rather B. D.’6. Order to have resigned its sway at this thea. being in some degree restored, he ad. tre, and the reign of taste and criticism dressed the house :
to have recommenced. The perform“ LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,—Having
ances were henceforth uninterrupted; bad the misfortune to incur your displen- the rancour against Mr Brandon was sure, Mr Brandon has withdrawn him- nightly diminishing ;* and on the 230 self from the office of box-book, and of December, a deputation from the house-keeper to the theatre.”
committee of the O. P.'s had an inThis communication was hailed terview with Messrs Kemble and with loud applause, and the first act Henry Harris, in which it was agreed of the play was concluded with little to throw open all the private boxes or no interruption. Towards the except ten, including the boses on commencement of the second act, ypthat being the number which was in
the stage, and over the orchestra, roar began again ; and a letter having the theatre previously to the year been thrown upon the stage, it was
1802. taken to Mr Kemble, who immediately came forward, and said :
Let us now calmly look back upon
this long.continued tumult, and re“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,-Under- gard it for a moment, at this distance standing that some notice ought to be of time and place, with respect to taken of the introduction of improper what has been called its public spirit. persons into the theatre, I have only to We say “ public spirit,” for it was declare, in my own name, and in that of not the inhabitants of London alone the rest of the proprietors, that we la- who took part in the question between ment the circumstance, and shall consi- the proprietors of the theatre and the der it as our first duty to prevent its recurrence.
0. P.'s. It was thought important Mr Kemble was now cheered by an
enough, in a great degree, to agitate
the nation ; and “ three cheers for universal huzza, and a large placard O. P.” were given in other theatres, was hoisted up from the pit, inscri- than in the immediate theatre of war. bed, “ We are satisfied.” On the The country audiences followed the next day, the 20th of December, the example of London, without the
, following advertisement appeared at the bottom of the play-bills :
same interest in the question ; and a similar riot in the Liverpool Theatre,
to compel its proprietary to admit at prietors, that the advertisement relative half-play, has evinced that the slight
; to that part of the front-boxes, which is est quarrel between audience and now occupied by annual boxes, is liable manager will not fail now to be reto misconstruction, they beg leave most venged with O. P. vigour, unless, inrespectfully to state, that, at the end of deed, the punishment which has been the present season, they will open to the properly inflicted upon the ringleadpublic use the circle of upper boxes, re- ers of that riot shall operate as a cortaining only the seven annual boxes on each side, as they stood in the old thea- the extent and importance of the O,
rective to the feeling. No idea of tre.”
P. uproar, indeed, can be derived From this time, tumult may be said from likening it to any former dra
* Mr Brandon has since been reinstated in luis sitiration.
matic disturbances. When the box. rather see his benches crowded at the prices of Covent Garden Theatre latter price a-head, than half full at were raised to six shillings, and the the former. Nor is it enough to say upper gallery was done away with, that there is not the same competithere was a riot for three nights, and tion in theatres as there is in other then peace was restored upon the public concerns. There are two theamere restoration of the gallery ; but tres ; and competition can as well ex-' the late O. P. riot lasted for sixty- ist between two as between two hunand-six nights, and was, for all that dred. One of these theatres is open at time, almost the exclusive topic of six shillings, and very good acting may conversation all over the country ; be seen there for that price; but yet pamphlets on the subject were issued that theatre is not found to fill to the from the press, pro and con; ballads proportionate desertion of the other. were sung about the streets ; the On the trial of the cause, “ Clifford, wits wrote jeux d'esprits in the Esq., v. Brandon,” Mr Serjeant newspapers ; the most eminent com- Best, for the plaintiff, argued, that posers set them to music; the cari. the proprietors, by their first advercaturists covered the windows of the tisement, asked the opinion of the print-shops with the topic ; medals public as to the rise of their prices of were struck in its commemoration; admission, and his client accordingly and puffing tradesmen advertised gave his opinion against them. But their goods at “Old Prices.” this argument is wholly fallacious ;
Not to question the right of a the- the proprietors did, indeed, hope that atrical audience riotously to enforce their measure 6 would be honoured what they please from the proprie. by the concurrence” of the public, tors, a question which reason as well but did not ask them to declare their as the law of England at once decides sentiments by riot within the walls of in the negative, we are clearly of opic the theatre. If their opinion were nion that the advanced prices of thea- against the proceeding in question, trical admission were no more than a the alternative was, to stay away just compensation to the proprietors from the theatre ; by coming into it for the cost of their elegant theatre to declare their opinions, they had al. and its munificent appointments. ready sanctioned the measure by payWe will go further, and say, that no ing their 78. or 4s. The utmost they proprietors of a public concern will had a right to do, was to pay a visit ever raise their prices beyond what to the money-taker, ask to be admitwill ensure them a reasonable profit ted at the “ Old Prices," and, in the upon that concern. These, and all event of his refusal, peaceably protest other men know very well, that if to him their dissent from the advance. their demands are exorbitant, the But we repeat, that, from the great public will diminish the consump- rise in every article connected with tion of their commodity. In the case dramatic exhibitions, and from the inof a theatre, if the admission price is creased wealth, or at least the more too high, where the public formerly profuse habits, of the community, sewent twice to the theatre, they wil ven shillings for the boxes, and four then go but once ; and a theatrical shillings for the pit, is not too much proprietor, who knows that twice six to ask for theatrical admission in the shillings is more than seven, will far present times ; and we dare say there was not a single O. P. who had not the pit, than to perpetuate scenes se raised the prices of his shop-goods disgraceful and so alarming. This over and over again since the admis. ' conduct on the part of the propriesion to the boxes was 6s. and to the tors we approve ; but we openly ut. pit 35. 6d. The argument of these ter our reprobation of the violence men, to use one of their own homely which rendered it necessary; a viocouplets, was
lence so unlike the generosity of the “ John Kemble, let your monopoly cease, English character, that it remains to And then raise your prices as high as you this moment an anomalous and inexplease."
plicable blot. We have never heard We are by no means advocates for it contended, that the prices of adtheatrical monopoly: we wish the mission before the rebuilding of the stage of our country were as free as theatre were too high ; and the evithe press, and despair indeed of see- dence of the committee for examining the drama revive till this freedom ing the affairs of the theatre, (evishall take place. But “ John Kem- dence as respectable as this great ble,” (as the proprietors of this the country could select from its comatre were throughout the contest per- mercial body,) proves that the profits sonified,) has no controul over this of the concern for several years had monopoly ; and could no more have been far less than is common in the bidden it to cease, than the 0. P. ordinary speculations of trade. How, riot. The king will have the the. then, was a small rise improper, when. atres limited by letters patent ; and is every thing else had risen? It is vain it not very hard to say to one of to contend that this rise was occathese patentees, “ You shall not be sioned by the existence of a theatrisuffered to raise your demands, in cal monopoly. That argument would proportion as demands are raised be all-powerful, if the increased deupon you, till a contingency happens mand had really been exorbitant; but
, over which you have no controul ?" the use of it was a cruel appeal to If they are not to be the better for popular prejudice, when no such exthe patent, do not let them be the orbitancy was even pretended ; and worse. It is almost idle to argue it is surely hard that a fair claim this question ; for the king's patent should be resisted, merely because very properly gives its holders per- made in circumstances which might mission to demand such prices as they have rendered it possible to enforce shall think reasonable ; and, in point an unjust one. For our own part, of law, they have a right to do so. we believe that Old Prices were cla. In point of fact, they, on the pre- moured for, because power was in sent occasion, compromised that the hands of the acclamants; and that right upon the principle of, “ Any the pleasure enjoyed in the despotic thing for a quiet life.” They had exercise of that power, aided by the struggled against public fury vain. absurd introduction of boxing Jews ly and hopelessly for nearly three and hired ruffians, was the chief, if months; and, seeing no prospect of not the sole excitement, to all the any termination to the riots which riots which we have recorded. nightly shook the walls of their We are not such advocates for the house, they chose rather to sacrifice expediency of private boxes in a pubthe rise on the price of admission to lic theatre, to which there are many
objections, chiefly founded on the po- have been directed. But we are dispular nature of a theatre, and the na. gusted with the thoughts of this distural dislike of a free people to the graceful scene ; and, glad as we were obtrusion of aristocratic distinctions ; to see it closed, we could have wish. but we cannot wonder that opulent fa- ed that that end had been brought milies should wish to preserve their about by the high hand of the law, wives and daughters from the increa. rather than by the friendly one of sing contamination of the public lob- compromise, this mode establishing bies, the shamelessness and open pro- no security whatever against the refligacy of which have arrived at a pitch petition of theatrical riot. that almost precludes the possibility Another year must elapse before of permitting one's family to pay even we can record the tears and the an annual tribute of admiration to the smiles of the tragic and comic muses talents of Mrs Siddons.
upon their return to this theatre; for In looking back upon the history this barbarous war, which had chaof this riot, it is impossible not to be ced them away so long, has brought disgusted with the unfeeling wrong. us to the close of the year 1809. headedness of the rioters. Their be. haviour was indeed so completely
HAYMARKET THEATRE. wanting in that refinement, which it is the part of the drama to induce, On the 1st day of Easter term, Sir that we cannot help thinking the Samuel Romilly moved the Court of 0. P.'s of the theatre were by no Chancery, on behalf of Messrs Mormeans the theatrical public of Lon- ris, Winston, and others, proprietors don. They consisted, if we may cre- of one half of the Haymarket Thedit the description of those whose atre, to remove Mr Colman, the pronames were recorded at Bow street, prietor of the other half, from the of idle city clerks and apprentices, chief management of the theatre, who preferred Covent-Garden pit to upon the alleged ground of his inabithe Fives Court near the Pad and lity to fulfil the duties of his situaSwimmer, * just at that time, be- tion, in consequence of his being concause there was a better row going fined for debt in the King's Bench priforward there. Truly theatrical men son ; and for the court to appoint ano
; would have known better than to re- ther person in his stead, who might, by venge the acts of the proprietors of his personal attention and exertions, the theatre upon Mr Kemble, who be able to do more ample justice to was merely their mouth, or upon Mr the situation. The learned counsel Brandon, who was only their hand. stated, that the bill filed by the They would have reflected, that the plaintiffs set forth that the defendmost obnoxious measure to which ant was, in 1804, sole proprietor of recourse was had, the introduction of the theatre ; he became embarrassed, fighting Jews to combat the O. P.'s, and sold four-eighthsof it to the plainwas the entire act of an individual, of tiffs ; that, since that period, he had Mr Henry Harris, at whom, and not again become embarrassed, and had at Mr Brandon, their rage would not given his assistance to the the.
* Slang translation of the Horse and Dolphin, a public house near the Haymarket, kept by Richmond, the fighting black.
atre, by which means the property trusted it would be found in the preand interest of it had decreased, for sent case. want of an active person at its head. The Lord Chancellor took a few It was alleged, that the defendant had days to consider the difficulties of the entered into a treaty with Mr Har. case, before he gave judgement; and ris, proprietor of the late Covent- on the 22d of April, his lordship or. Garden Theatre, to dispose of to him dered the case to stand over till the his play of the Africans, for 10001., 4th of May, to afford the parties ar although he might have had 11001. opportunity to settle the business from the proprietors of the Haymar- amicably. On that day, Sir Samuel ket Theatre; and also, that he had Romilly informed the court, that the stopped the performance of a popu- parties could not agree in the aplar piece, called the Critic, which pointment of arbitrators. Mr Craw. they had played for three nights last ford, the barrister, was chosen by the season to overflowing houses. Sir plaintiffs, and Mr Harris, the manaSamuel Romilly contended, that these ger, by the defendant, and mutually were sufficient grounds for the dis- objected to. The Lord Chancellor missal of the defendant from the ma- concurred in the opinion, that Mr nagement.
Harris was a very unfit person for an Mr Hart, counsel for the defende arbitration in such a case, and said ant, stated, that, by a deed of agrec- he should take till the 8th of May to ment, all differences were to be settled come to his decision, which he felt by arbitration—none had taken place, confident would be disagreeable to all and until there had, the court had no the parties. Mr Hart_“My Lord, cognizance. He admitted the Afri- it will not be necessary, as we will cans had been offered to Mr Harris appoint another arbitrator without for 1000l. ; but that sum was more giving your lordship the trouble of advantageous to Mr Colman than interfering." Lord Guildford was 11001. from his own theatre, of accordingly appointed, and his lordwhich 5501. would have come out of ship and Mr Crawford not agreeing, his own pocket. As to the Critic, he a further application was made to the prevented its performance to oblige Chancellor on the 6th of June, on beMr Sheridan, who had signified his half of Mr Morris. The application displeasure on the occasion. It was complained that Mr Colman had infurther contended, that the value of terfered in the treasurership, contrarily the property had increased, the shares, to his contract, and had engaged perwhich, in 1805, brought 25001., be- formers, not only without the coring estimated in 1807 at 5000l. The sent, but in defiance of Mr Morris. circumstance of the defendant's con- In answer, it was stated, that Mr Col. finement could be no ground for man received the money, merely to his dismissal ; being in the Bench, he enable him to perform his engagewas sure to be found at home. In ment with the public, and that, if his the case of Mr Taylor, the manager partner was ready to receive it, he of the Opera House, who had at- had no objection. It was replied, tachments and outlawries against that Mr Morris would, by such an him, the interest of the concern was act, acquiesce in the engagements of proved not to have suffered by ne- which he disapproved. On the 13th glect, and so the learned counsel of June, the Lord Chancellor ordered