« ElőzőTovább »
Account of the riot occafioned by the advanced
prices to the two Gentlemen of Verona, and the tragedy of Elvira-Account of the chief agent.-Hero of the Fribbleriad, &c.
Riot in a playhouse is very
different from a tumult in the street; the lat- . ter is a sudden fray arising from ignorance or mistake, generally foon ended, and often without any mischief done to any body; whereas the former is almoft always the VOL. II.
result of a conspiracy, proceeding from private resentment, and in its consequences pernicious to the object against whom it is levelled.
In January 1763, a certain gentleman and his confederates circulated a printed advertisement throughout all the coffeehouses, taverns, and other public houses in the neighbourhood of Covent-garden and Drury-lane; wherein they set forth the great injustice of the managers of the play-houses, in presuming to exact the full prices on the night of a revived play; whereas they conceived that they had no reasonable claim to these charges from the beginning to the end of a night's entertainment, except on the addition of a pantomime. They declared, with seeming moderation, at the same time, that their demand of redress should be urged with decency and temper, and an explanation
, of the managers conduct required in a manner becoming gentlemen.
The confederates chofe a very odd, or Father improper, time to enforce the dac
trine of submission to their authority, on the benefit-night of the writer, who had altered the play of Shakespeare's TwoGentlemen of Verona, at a time when the full charges were never disputed. A Mr. Fitz-wk, who is fince dead,
-k appeared the avowed ringleader of these reformers, who were determined to disturb the audience, and deprive them of their right to enjoy the representation of a play unmolested.
This gentleman harangued the spectators from the boxes, and set forth, in very warm and opprobrious language, the impositions of the managers; and, with much vehemence, pleaded the right of the audience to fix the price of their bill of fare. When Mr. Garrick came forward to address the house, he was received with noise and uproar, and treated with the utmost contempt by the orator and his friends. He was not permitted to shew the progressive accumulation of theatrical expences, the nightly charge of which, from the year 1702 to 1760, had been raised from 341. to above B2
gol. They would not suffer him to speak one word in defence of himself and his partner. It had been an invariable custom with Booth, Wilkes, and Cibber, to demand full prices on the acting of a new play which cost them additional expence in decoration. I am informed too, that the present managers of Drury-lane and Covent-garden), from the prodigious increase of expen-, diture on various occasions, are obliged to charge their actors, for a benefit play, 100l.
But this tribune of the people, Mr. Fitz-mk, would hear no apology, would listen to no remonftrances in favour of the patentees; they must not be allowed a night's time, no, not an hour, to deliberate on a matter of fo much consequence to themselves and all dramatic writers, but must yield unconditional submission to a peremptory order of this despotical gentleman and his associates, or the house must be torn to pieces, as a punishment for non-compliance.
The consequence of not instantly giving up the privileges of authors to the superior