The date of this fragment, which Nichols named _The Gentleman_, is
uncertain; it was first printed in 1809, together with _The School for
Scandal_. The autograph MS. is in the British Museum (Add. MS. 5145c).
Steele had written of high life below stairs in the _Spectator_ (No.
88), where he says that menservants “are but in a lower degree what
their masters themselves are; and usually affect an imitation of their
manners: And you have in liveries, beaux, fops, and coxcombs, in as
high perfection as among people that keep equipages. It is a common
humour among the retinue of people of quality when they are in their
revels, that is when they are out of their master’s sight, to assume in
a humorous way the names and titles of those whose liveries they wear.”
He then describes their behaviour at an ordinary at Westminster, where
he “heard the maid come down and tell the landlady at the bar that my
Lord Bishop swore he would throw her out at window if she did not bring
up more mild beer, and that my Lord Dick would have a double mug of
purl.” When news arrived that the House of Lords was rising, “down came
all the company together, and away!” Servants were wont to congregate
at the entrance to Hyde Park, while the gentry were at the Ring. “There
are men of wit in all conditions of life; and mixing with those people
at their diversions, I have heard coquets and prudes as well rallied,
and insolence and pride exposed (allowing for their want of education),
with as much humour and good sense as in the politest companies.” (See
page 281.)



_Tom._ I’ll serve you very faithfully in this particular, since you
have a curiosity to pry into the affairs of us poor servants.

_Sir Har._ I think you are happier than we masters. But how do you
contrive it, to be at a ball and masquerade of your own, all the time
we are at ours, and yet be in readiness to attend when we break up or
want you?

_Tom._ Sir, we leave sentries at all the places where you come out.
All of us cannot expect to be at the diversion every night; but the
forty or fifty who are to stay about the playhouse, or the person of
quality’s who entertains, send frequent expresses to us. Besides, I
own to you, sir, that we find means to have tickets of our own, and
can send in among you, by the help of them, when we please, and have
warning enough of your motions. If we are a little too tardy, the
coachmen can, when they think it convenient, make stops so as no one
can stir, and keep everything in a ferment till all troops are come

_Sir Har._ You put me in mind of a great many things that have been
till now unaccountable. Why, then, the sudden motion when we have
been all locked fast, tearing and swearing, coachmen lashing, footmen
bawling, and link-boys offering help to call chairs or coaches, and
striving to lead or light you, is usually a hurry contrived and made up
on purpose; and the sudden getting loose of one another, is only that
the word is given, “all are come,” “all is right”!

_Tom._ It is nothing else in the world.

_Sir Har._ But, then, how do you do for your habits and your music, and
all the rest of the conveniences?

_Tom._ You have been so good and kind a master, that I’ll hide nothing
that may contribute to your diversion. We are in fee with the wardrobe
keepers at the playhouses; and when the play is over, and all the
parties concerned are disposed of, as you are at your diversions, the
whole stock of clothes are in their hands; and they let them out for so
many hours, and pack [them] up again with great order, and no harm done.

_Sir Har._ Well, well, now there is no mystery; there is nothing
so easy, as all is safe without possibility of disappointment or
surprise.–But as to what is to be done to-night—-

_Tom._ This alehouse, where we all meet, is joining to a great
house very well furnished; and the care of letting it is committed
to our landlord. He has broken down a partition, which he can, in
a day or two, make up again; and we have noble apartments for our
entertainments, not inferior to those wherein our masters themselves
are received.

_Sir Har._ You divert me extremely with this new scene of pleasure.

_Tom._ We shall be in our tip-top jollity to-night; all the lower world
[will] be together in as much pleasure as ever the upper themselves

_Sir Har._ What have you extraordinary at this time more than any other?

_Tom._ Our landlord is giving up[142] his business, and marries his
daughter, Mrs. Jenny, my Lady Dainty’s chambermaid, to the favourite
footman of Sir John Plover, who is a great leader among us, and will
keep and increase the custom of the house. But the humour is, no one is
to know which is the bridegroom; for none but the girl herself [knows]
which of the company is Sir John.

_Sir Har._ How! Sir John?

_Tom._ I should have told you that we always call one another by the
names of our masters; and you must not be surprised at hearing me
answer to your honour’s to all who call to me; for, as I am a manager,
and to be barefaced, I cannot disguise that _I_ am _you_.

_Sir Har._ It is no matter if they will take me as readily for your

_Tom._ They’ll never suspect you for my master.–But here comes my

_Landlord._ Come, Sir Harry, Sir Harry, ’tis past nine o’clock; the
company is coming–they have put all in at the masquerade and the

_Tom._ [_Whispering_ SIR HARRY.] As I am barefaced, you can come to me
when you please, when you are at a loss.–But you see I must attend my

_Sir Har._ I beg your pardon; I’ll interrupt you no more; but if I
like–you understand.

_Tom._ You know my skill and diligence, my good master; but
adieu.–Landlord, you see the house fills; let all the waiters be
ready; pipes, tobacco, bread, cheese and the like, for those who are in
habits proper for such coarse fare. What! none of the stewards ready
but myself?

_Enter three others with wands, barefaced._

_2nd Steward._ Ay, ay, here we are–here we are.

_3rd Steward._ We stayed only till we saw some quality figures coming

_2nd Steward._ Look you, how we are overrun with nymphs and
shepherds!–But look, look! there is some sense in those stalking
things, which move like pageants, and are not of human shape.

_1st Steward._ Right, they cannot be out in their parts–there are no
such things in nature–but patched-up beings, out of mere fancy and

_3rd Steward._ But have a care, ladies, shepherdesses, nymphs; run,
run–Here, here is a dragon that devours virgins, as a pike does small

_2nd Steward._ Have a care–here he comes, here he come–he eats all
virgins without mercy, but will touch nobody else.

_Several women’s voices together._

Let him come, let him come.

_An old withered_ MAID, _crying out._

_Old Maid._ Have a care, have a care, have a care; let me get off, let
me get off; oh me–oh me! [_Running off._

_Figure of St. George_–DICKY, _borne on a war-horse._

_Dicky._ Fear not, fair one, fear not. I am St. George, I’ll save thee.

DRAGON _and_ ST. GEORGE _fight._

_The crowd cry out._ Ho-boy, St. George! Ho-boy, dragon!–there’s the
knight of the world.

_1st Masquer._ Hear, hear, the knight is going to speak. As he’s stout,
he’s merciful. He is going to give the dragon his life–no, no, he’s
going to speak to him.

_Constable._ Hold, hold, sir knight; the dragon’s my neighbour–he’s a
tailor in my neighbourhood.

_2nd Masquer._ Open the dragon; open the dragon; keep the peace; take
out the tailor.

_Lawyer Masquer._ Take care what you do; take care what you do. If he
is a denizen, the law is very severe.–Though there are nine to make up
a man, by a fiction of law it is murder to kill any one of them: the
law supposes him a whole man.

_1st Steward._ Ho! Mr. Fly-flap, Mr. Wardrobe-keeper, give the company
an account of the knight and of his horse.

_Wardrobe-keeper._ This is the poet’s horse that trod down all the
persons who have been killed in tragedy ever since I came to the house.
The gentleman that rides him has some verses about him, if he would
speak them.

_Many Masquers._ Hear, hear!–Hear the verses!

_St. George._ On this bold steed, with this dead-doing arm,
Without art magic, help of draught or charm,
Crowds have I slain, and routed from the field,
Or made, as captives, to my mercy yield.
My horse and me none could escape by flying,
But saved their lives by well dissembled dying.

_Cobbler Masquer._ Very well, very well, i’faith. Look ye, look ye,
gentlemen, I know the humour of that. I live just by in Vinegar Yard,
and I know the humour of that. You must know he means by that–that by
pretending to be dead, the men whom the valiant man in the play rides
over, or cuts down, are carried [off] safe and sound. Why, I have been
called in, when there has been a great battle in the house, to help to
carry off the dead; and I have brought a man off dead over-night, and
mended his shoes next morning.

_4th Masquer._ Ho, brave Crispin!–that’s a good jest, i’faith.

_Cobbler._ But my wife said a very good thing upon that. “Look thee,
Will,” said she, for you must know my name is William, “we shall never
make anything of this, if we are to wait for dead men’s shoes.”

_4th Masquer._ Ho-boy, Crispin! Thou art a merry rogue, Crispin!

* * * * *




(Pages xxviii–xxx.)


3° die Julii 1707.

_To the right hon^{rble} William Lord Cowper Baron of Wingham Lord high
Chancellor of Great Brittaine_

Humbly Complaining, Sheweth unto y^r Lordship your Orator Richard
Steele of Westm^{er} Gent That your Orat^{or} haveing writt Severall
Comedyes & Playes at the request of & for Christopher Rich Esq^r for
the use of the Theater or Playhouse in or near Bridges Street in Covent
Garden in the County of Middx of which playhouse the said Christopher
Rich was & is cheife Patentee or has an assignm^t or some other
Conveyance of the Patent thereof or otherwise hath the cheife Interest
therein and the profitts ariseing from the acting of Playes there
He the said Christopher Rich to induce your Orator to write further
for him on or about the Month of December in the year of our Lord one
Thousand seaven hundred & two advanced & payd to your Orat^{or} the
Summe of Seaventy & two pounds upon this Agreement then or about that
time made between them That your Orator should bring to him the said
Christopher Rich & for his use the next Comedy your Orator Should be
the Author of and out of the Profitts when the same should come to be
acted that belonged to your Orator as the Author according to the Usage
and Custome in such Cases he the said Christopher Rich was to deduct
& pay himself for the said seaventy & two pounds and Interest thereof
and in the meane time for the said Christopher Rich’s security your
Orator was prevailed with to give and accordingly did give his bond of
one hundred forty and four pounds penalty condiconed for the payment
of the said seaventy two pounds and alsoe a Warrant of Attorney to
enter up Judgment on the said bond to him the said Christopher Rich And
afterwards (viz.) sometime in or about the Month of Aprill in the Year
of our Lord one thousand seaven hundred & four[145] your Orator being
the Author of the Comedy called the Tender Husband he did bring to and
deliver into the hands of the said Christopher Rich the said Comedy
being the next Comedy your Orator was author of and it being then in
an ill season of the Year and your Orator being therefore unwilling to
have it then acted the said Christopher Rich promised to & agreed with
your Orator that it should not be to your Orator’s losse or Detriment
but that your Orator should have assigned to him the profitts of Two
Nights made by acting of the said Play the next following Winter in
Lieu of his Two dayes Profitts according to the Usage & Custome in
such case And the said Christopher Rich did cause the said Comedy or
Play to be acted on the said Theatre in or about the Month of Aprill &
year one thousand seaven hundred & four aforesaid And severall dayes
in the Autumne or Winter following which proved very successefull and
the said Christopher Rich made & received great profitt thereby And by
the Agreement aforesaid and accordinge to Usage & Custome in the like
Cases your Orator was to have the whole profitts of the first third
day it was acted in Autumne or Winter aforesaid without any diduccon
of Charges of Acting and alsoe of the second third day or Sixth day it
was acted on as aforesaid diducting only the charges of Acting Which
profitts of the said two dayes came to the hands of & was received
by the said Christopher Rich and was more than sufficient to pay &
satisfye the said Seaventy two pounds & Interest Whereupon your Orator
expected as he had reason that the said Christopher Rich would have
delivered up to your Orator the said bond & acknowledged satisfaccon on
the Record of the Judgment which the said Christopher Rich had caused
to be Entred upon Record against your Orator and would have payd your
Orator what was over & above the said seaventy Two pounds & Interest
thereof–But now soe it is May it please your Lordship That the said
Christopher Rich minding to oppresse your Orator and extort great
summes of Mony from him refuses to allowe your Orator the profitts of
the said two dayes Acting in Autumne or Winter following according to
his Agreement or any dayes profitts or any other profitt whatsoever
in consideracon of the said Comedy or Play but threatens to Sue your
Orator on the said Judgment & take your Orator in Execucon for the
same and hath caused a Scire facias or some other Suite or accon to
be commenced against your Orator on the said Judgment[146] In Tender
Consideracon of all which premisses & for as much as your Orator can
have noe releife therein save in a Court of Equity and for that your
Orator’s witnesses who could prove all & singular the premisses are
either dead or in parts beyond the Seas or in other parts remote & to
your Orator unknown To the end therefore that the said Christopher
Rich may true & perfect answare make to all and singular the premisses
as if here againe particularly interrogated and charged and in a more
particular manner sett forth & discover what Playes your Orator hath
brought & delivered to him & for his use And whether he did not advance
& pay your Orator the said summe of seaventy two pounds upon such
Agreement as aforesaid or upon what other Termes or Agreement and
whether your Orator did not bring and deliver to him for his use the
said Comedy or Play called the Tender Husband and when the same was
soe given or delivered as aforesaid & whether he & your Orator did not
come to such agreement for your Orator’s share of the profitts of the
said play as aforesaid and what other Agreement was made between him
and your Orator about itt and how often the same play was acted in the
summer of the said Year one thousand seaven hundred & four & how often
in the autumne or Winter of that year and whether your Orator was not
to have been allowed all or any and what profitts of any & what days
and what & how much he the said Christopher Rich hath received of the
said profitts and that the said Christopher Rich may come to an account
with your Orator and that the said bond may be delivered up to your
Orator and the said Christopher Rich may acknowledge satisfacion of
Record on the said Judgment and your Orator may have what is over and
above the payment of the said seaventy two pounds and Interest payd
to him and may be further relieved in all & singular the premisses
according to Equity & good Conscience & that in the Meantime all his
vexatious proceedings att Law against your Orator may be stayed by the
Injuncon of this hon^{rble} Court May it please your Lordship to grant
unto your Orator her Maj^{tyes} most gracious writt of Spa to the said
Christopher Rich directed therein & thereby commanding him personally
to be & appeare before your Lordship in this hon^{rble} Court at a
certaine day & place therein to be limited & appointed to true &
perfect answare make to all & singular the premisses and further to
stand to abide & obey such Order & Decree as your Lordship shall think
fitt to make touching the premisses And your Orator shall ever pray etc.




Jurat 9 die Novembris 1707 Coram me Jo: Edisbury.

_The Answere of Christopher Rich Esq^r Deft to the bill of Complaynt of
Richard Steele gent Complaynant._

This deft now & att all times hereafter saveing & receiving to himselfe
all & all manner of Benefitt & advantage of Exeption that may be had or
taken to the manyfold Errors untruthes unsufficiencies & Imperfections
in the Complaynant’s said Bill of Complaynt conteyned ffor answere
thereunto or unto as much thereof as this Defend^t is advised is any
wise materiall for him this Deft to make answere unto Hee this Deft
answereth and sayth That this Deft being one of the Assignees of the
patents of the Theatre or Playhouse in or neare Bridges Street in
Covent Garden as the Complt’s Bill menconed and of one other Theatre
or Playhouse in Dorsett Garden London and owner of part of the shares
or profitts arising by acting (if any) To his owne use the Complaynant
in or about the month of October in the yeare of our Lord One thousand
seaven hundred and one brought a Comedy or play to this Defend^t which
he the Complaynant alleadged he had written and stiled the ffunerall
for which he the Complaynant came to an Agreement with this Defend^t
in writing on about the Ninth day of October Anno Dni 1701 and thereby
for the Consideracon therein menconed sold the same to this Deft to be
acted by the Actors under this Deft’s Government as soone as they could
conveniently which Comedy was soone after acted in pursueance of the
said Agreement and the said Complaynant was paid and satisfyed in full
according to the Conditions and the tenor and true Intent of the said
Agreement and to the Content and Satisfaccon of him the Complt as he
acknowledged and declared and this Deft is informed and beleiveth that
he the Complt gave a Receipt to M^r Zachary Baggs[147] the then and
now Treasurer of the said Company for his the Complayn^{t’s} profitts
arising by acting of the said Comedy by vertue of the Agreement
aforesaid And this Defend^t further sayth that the Complayn^t in or
about the month of January Anno Dni 1702[148] inforeming this Defend^t
that he had neare finished another Comedy which he intended to call
the Election of Goatham he proposed to sell the same to this Deft and
accordingly in or by a certaine writing or Agreement beareing date
on or about the Seaventh of January Anno Dni 1702-3 signed by the
Complaynant in Consideracon of one shilling to him the Complt then
paid by this deft and for the Consideracon therein and herein after
menconed he the said Complaynant did sell or is therein or thereby
menconed to sell unto this Defend^t his heires and assignes A Certaine
Comedy which he the Complayn^t was then writing called the Election
of Goatham and which he was to deliver to this Defend^t on or about
the Twentyeth day of ffebruary then next in order to be acted by the
Company of Actors under this Defend^{t’s} Governm^t assoone as they
could conveniently[149] In Consideracon whereof the said Complayn^t
was to have all the Receipts of the third day on which the said play
should be acted Hee the Complt paying out of the same all the Charges
of the house both constant and Incident But if the Receipts on the
ffourth day should double the Charges thereof then the Charges of the
third should be returned to him and he thereby obliged himselfe to
make good the Charges of the second day out of the profitts of the
third day in case the Charges of the second day should not arise to soe
much Item if the Receipts on the ffourth day of acting the said play
should amount to fforty pounds or upwards the said Company was to act
it the ffifth day and if the ffifth dayes Receipts should be fforty
pounds Then they were to act it the sixth day for the Benefitt of the
Complayn^t Hee paying out of the same the Charges of that day But if
att any time there should appeare Reason to doubt whether the play
would bring Chardges or not Then the Company should not be obliged to
act it the next day unlesse he the Complayn^t would oblige himselfe
to make good the full charges And lastly the Complaynant was not to
print the said play untill a month should be expired from the ffirst
day it should be acted and three of the printed Books in Marble paper
Covers and Gilt edges were to be delivered into the office for the use
of the patentees assoone as the same should bee printed (As in and by
the said Agreem^t in Writing last menconed under the hand of the said
Complayn^t and to which this Defend^t for more Certainty referreth
himselfe ready to be produced to this honoble Court may appeare) And
this deft sayth that there being a ffreindship contracted between him
the Complt and this Deft and the Complt expressing greate kindnesse
to this Deft and telling him of his the Complts want of Money and of
his being likely to be arrested for moneys oweing by him prevayled
with this Deft to advance lend and pay to him the Complt and to his
use the Summe of Seaventy and Two pounds And he the Complaynant in
or by one Bond or Obligacon bearinge date on or about the Seaventh
day of January Anno Dni 1702[150] became bound unto this Defen^t in
the penall Sume of One Hundred fforty and ffower pounds Conditioned
for the payment of the said Seaventy and two pounds with Interest on
the Eighth day of March then next And alsoe he the Complt executed
a Warrant of Attorney to confesse a Judgem^t upon the said Bond in
the Court of Queen’s Bench att Westm^r which Judgement was Entred up
accordingly as by the said Bond Warrant of Attorney and the Record
of the said Judgement and to which this Defend^t referreth himselfe
may appeare And this defend^t sayth that he the Complt Steele as an
Additional Security for the better payment of the said Debt did by a
writing under his hand beareing date the Seaventh day of January Anno
Dni 1702[151] assigne and sett over or is therein menconed to assigne
and sett over unto this Deft all the Money and profitts which was or
were to come to him the Complt for his play intended to be called the
Eleccon of Goatham by the Agreem^t therein before written upon this
Condition That if the said debt should not be paid unto this Deft
before the acting of the said play That then this deft his Executors or
assignes might retaine and apply such profitts for or towards paym^t
of the said debt of Seaventy and two pounds with damages But if such
profitts should amount to more moneys then should be due to this Deft
or his assignes att the time of acting such play then the Overplus of
the moneys and profitts arising due to the Complaynant on his play by
the agreem^t aforesaid was to goe to the use of the Complt and his
assignes after payment of the aforesaid debt with damages to this deft
and his assignes as by an Agreement in writing under the hand of the
Complt bearing date the said Seaventh day of January Anno Dni 1702[152]
ready to be produced to this honoble Court and to which this deft alsoe
referreth himselfe may appeare And this deft sayth that the Complt did
not pay or cause to be paid unto this deft the said debt of seaventy
and two pounds or any part thereof or any Interest for the same
according to the Condition of the said recited Bond on the Eighth day
of March next after the date thereof nor hath he ever since paid the
said debt or any part thereof or any Interest for the same to this deft
And this deft sayth that he the Complt did not deliver to this deft
the said Comedy sold as aforesaid to this deft by the writing before
menconed to beare date the seaventh of January Anno Dni 1702-3 on the
twentyeth of ffebruary then next as thereby was mentioned nor hath
he the Complt ever since that time delivered to this deft any Comedy
called the Election of Goatham altho this deft very often requested
him the Complt for the same But this deft confesseth that the Complt
about the latter end of March Anno Dni 1705 brought a Comedy to this
deft which he stiled or called the Tender Husband or the accomplished
ffooles & desired and urged this deft and his cheife Actors that the
same might be acted by them with all speed which he the Complt said
was in leiu and in stead of the said play which he intended to have
called the Election of Goatham and the same was the next and onely
play or Comedy which the Complt has brought sold and delivered to this
deft since the lending of the said Seaventy Two pounds as aforesaid
And this deft Beleiveth that his this defts Company of Actors did
according to his the Complts desire gett up the said Comedy called the
Tender Husband with all the speed they could and acted the same the
first time on the three & twentyeth of Aprill 1705 and acted the same
the second time the next day after and the third time on Wednesday the
five and twentyth of the same month of Aprill for the Benefitt of the
Complt the Author according to the same Conditions in the said ffirst
and second Agreements menconed and acted the same the ffourth time on
the next day after being Thursday the sixth and twentyeth of Aprill
1705; on which day the Receipts being but Twenty Six pounds and Eleaven
shillings as this deft beleives the same was thirteen pounds and Nine
shillings short or wanting of fforty pounds the contingent in the said
agreement menconed This deft was not obliged by the said Articles or
any Agreement to cause the same to be acted on the Sixth day or any
more for the Benefitt of the Complayn^t save as hereinafter is menconed
And this deft sayth that the said Mr Baggs the Treasurer computing
each dayes charge of acting the said play called the Tender Husband to
amount to Thirty Eight pounds ffifteen shillings and Ten pence and the
Receipts of the third day being Sixty one pounds and six shillings &
noe more as this deft beleives out of which the said Summe of Thirty
Eight pounds ffifteen shillings and ten pence being deducted there
then rested two and twenty pounds ten shillings and two pence as this
Deft computes the summe But the Receipts of the second day of acting
the same play amounting to but twenty and six pounds and ffourteen
shillings being deficient Twelve pounds one shilling and ten pence to
make up the charge of that day which twelve pounds one shilling and
Ten pence being deducted out of the said two and twenty pounds and
ten shillings the Residue of Neate and cleere profitts to come to the
Complt pursueant to the Agreement aforesaid amounted to Ten pounds
Eight shillings and two pence and noe more as this Deft is informed
and beleives with which this deft beleives the Complt was acquainted
and that he was well contented and satisfyed with the account given to
him the Complt of the Receipts and Charges of and for the said play
called the Tender Husband for the ffower ffirst dayes of acting thereof
And this Deft sayth that the profitt accrewing due to the Complaynant
being soe small the Complaynant applyed himselfe to this deft and
alsoe to the principall Actors under this deft’s Government That he
the Complt would waive his profitt by the said play being Ten pounds
Eight shillings and two pence as aforesaid and permitt the same to goe
to the use of the Company provided they would act the said play the
then next Winter one day for his the said Complt’s Benefit instead of
the third day aforesaid he paying or allowing out of the Receipts on
such day in Winter the constant and incident charge thereof and alsoe
what money the Receipts on the said second day of acting the said play
wanted to make up the full charge for that day being Twelve pounds one
shilling and ten pence as aforesaid which this deft as well as most of
the Cheife Actors Consented to or to such effect And thereupon the said
Treasurer made the full Receipts on the third day of acting the said
play called the Tender Husband to be charged for the use of the Company
without chargeing any part thereof paid to the Complaynant in regard
the Complaynant refused to receive the profitts due to him for that day
But chose to have a day in Winter in Leiu thereof as aforesaid And this
deft sayth that in pursueance of such Request made by the Complt to
this deft and the Cheife actors as aforesaid a day was appoynted in the
winter following according as the Complaynant desired and Bills were
sett up the day before it was to have been acted and it was ordered by
this deft to be geven out that Night and Bills putt up for the same to
be acted the next day for the Author’s Benefitt; But a little before
it was to have been given out the Complt forbidd the same to be given
out on the Stage or putt into the Bills for his Benefitt saying that he
did not thinke there would be such an Audience att it as would please
him or used words to some such or the like Effect But how ever the
same play was acted on the then next day and the whole Receipts that
day being Thursday the Twentyeth of November[153] one thousand seaven
hundred and ffive amounted to sixty ffower pounds three shillings and
Six pence and noe more (as this deft beleives & is informed by the said
Treasurer) which was about two pounds seaventeen shillings more then
the Receipts came to on the said third day that the same play was
acted as aforesaid which two pounds seaventeen shillings and Six pence
this deft and the said principal Actors were willing should be paid
to the said Complt as well as the summe of Ten pounds Eight shillings
and two pence before menconed And this deft sayth that as to the Ten
pounds Eight shillings and two pence which was due to the Complt out of
the Receipts of the said third day according to the Agreement before
menconed this deft never received the same or any part thereof nor the
said two pounds seaventeen shillings and six pence But both the said
Summes remaine in the said Treasurers hands for the use of the Complt
as this deft beleives And this deft gave order to the said M^r Baggs
the Treasurer to pay the same to the Complaynant amounting together to
Thirteen pounds ffive shillings and Eight pence as this deft computes
the same And this deft beleives that M^r Baggs hath severall times
offered to pay the same to the Complt and is still ready to doe the
same But that he the Complt hath neglected or refused to receive the
same as the said Treasurer has informed this deft And this deft denyeth
that the said play called the Tender Husband was acted att any time in
the yeare one thousand seaven Hundred and ffower either in the Summer
or Winter as in the Complt’s Bill is suggested But the first time the
same was acted was on the said three & twentyeth of Aprill Anno Dni
1705 as this Deft verily Beleives and as is before sett forth And this
deft denyeth that he this deft ever made any other agreement with the
Complt touching or concerning the Comedyes or Playes before menconed
or either of them other than as is herein before sett forth And this
deft denyeth that he lent the said Seaventy two pounds upon any other
agreement then as aforesaid and Sayth that he this deft did never agree
to stay for the said debt untill the Complt should bring the said play
called the Eleccon of Goatham or any other play to this deft And this
deft denyes that he was or is minded to Oppresse the Complt and extort
greate Summes of money from him and not allow the Complt any profitt
whatsoever in Consideracon of the said Comedy called the tender Husband
which Comedy as this deft hath been informed and beleives hath been
severall times acted in the last yeare by the Company of Actors in
the playhouse in the Hay Markett[154] without this deft’s consent or
direccion & in Opposition to this deft’s Interest which this deft has
reason to beleive was soe done by the Incouragement or att least the
Conniveance of the Complt But what Benefitt or profitt the Complt hath
had from thence for the same this deft doth not know And this deft
Confesseth that the Complt haveing for a long time delayed the payment
of the said debt of seaventy two pounds with Interest and Damages to
this deft and not keeping his promises touching the same this deft
hath caused prosecucon to be made against Complt for Recovery of the
said debt with Interest & damages which this deft humbly insists was
& is lawfull for him to doe and humbly hopes this honoble Court will
not hinder him therein & this deft denyeth all and manner of unlawfull
combinacon & Confederacy for any the ends or purposes in the Complt’s
Bill menconed without that that [_sic_] there is any other matter
or thing Clause Sentence or allegacon in the Complt’s said Bill of
Complaynt conteyned materiall & effectual in the Law for him this deft
to make answere unto and not herein and hereby well and sufficiently
answered unto confessed or avoyded traversed or denyed is true to the
knowledge of this Deft all which matters & things this Deft is and
shall be ready to averre justifye maintaine and prove as this honoble
Court shall direct & humbly prayes to be hence dismissed with his
Reasonable Costes & Charges in this behalfe most wrongfully susteyned




STEELE _v._ WILBRAHAM, &c., 1722.

(Page liii.)

Steele’s bill,[155] after referring to the Letters Patent of the 14th
January 1714-15, and to the agreement then made by Steele with Wilks,
Cibber, and Booth, proceeds to state that in or about 1713 Steele had
contracted an acquaintance with Edward Minshull, Esq., of the parish of
St. Martin-in-the-Fields, who professed great friendship, and offered
to help Steele to money to supply his then urgent occasions. The offer
being accepted, Minshull became bound with Steele to one Cox for £500
or thereabouts, and to one Aston[156] for £400 or thereabouts, and
to some other persons, of whom he borrowed, as he pretended, money
to lend Steele; and he lent Steele at several times some small sums,
and about the 24th July 1716 desired Steele to give him some security
for the money he had lent to and stood engaged to pay for Steele, all
which he then pretended to compute at £1500 and more; and particularly
he desired that a security might be made to him of Steele’s fifth
part of the Letters Patent and of the clothes, scenes, &c., and of
the profits of the Theatre in Drury Lane; and Steele having a good
opinion of Minshull’s integrity, and believing the account made out to
be true, readily agreed to make such security, whereupon Minshull got
and prepared an assignment of Steele’s share to him, his executors and
assigns, dated the said 24th July 1716, the consideration whereof was
expressed to be the sum of £1500 paid to Steele; but in truth there was
not any sum then paid to Steele, nor were the debts for which Minshull
was bound then paid, nor was any account then drawn out or settled
between Steele and Minshull. And at the same time Minshull signed a
defeasance to Steele, that upon payment of the £1500 and interest at a
day therein mentioned the said assignment should be void; and Steele
thereupon directed Castleman, Treasurer of the Theatre, to pay his
share to Minshull or his order. And there having been great dealings
between Minshull and Charles Gery, Esq., of London, of whom Minshull
had at times borrowed several sums on several securities, and Minshull
proposing to assign over the security from Steele, Gery insisted that
Steele should join in the assignment; but Minshull declared there was
no occasion for it, and that Steele should make affidavit that he
had no otherwise encumbered his share in the Theatre; and Gery being
satisfied with this, Minshull told Steele that he was much pressed
for the payment of the debts to Cox and Aston, and that he must raise
money on Steele’s assignment to discharge those debts, and that for
that purpose the affidavit must be made, to which Steele consented.
And some time afterwards, as Steele had been lately informed, Minshull
assigned the security to Gery, but Steele could not discover what money
was paid by Gery. Minshull endorsed Steele’s note to Castleman, and
gave it to Gery, who received several sums from Castleman. Minshull
and Gery formed at that time a design to get Steele’s share of the
scenes, clothes, and profits; and Minshull undertook to purchase the
same absolutely of Steele for £4000, which it was agreed between
Minshull and Gery should be for their joint and equal benefit; but the
£4000 was to be paid by Gery, and £2000 repaid by Minshull as he could
raise the same out of his moiety of the profits; and this agreement was
marked in the assignment made by Minshull to Gery, or in some other
deed or writing between them. Minshull then often requested Steele to
sell his share, but being unsuccessful he said he perceived Steele
was in straits for money, and that it would be proper for Steele to
raise a considerable sum at once, and professed that he would advance
a further sum of £2500 upon the security of the said premises, and
allow Steele two years for the payment thereof. This Steele accepted,
and Minshull being in daily expectation, as he pretended, of receiving
£3000, or some such sum, directions were given by him to Mr. Ralph
Wilbraham, his attorney, to draw up an assignment to him of Steele’s
share, which Wilbraham accordingly got drawn up and engrossed. It was
dated on or about the 31st January 1716[-7], and was made absolute,
Minshull undertaking to give Steele a defeasance thereof in payment of
the said £4000 and interest within two years of the date thereof. And
this assignment being drawn and engrossed, Minshull and Wilbraham came
to Steele, who was then attending the service of his country in the
House of Commons, and carried him to the Horn Tavern, in the Palace
Yard, Westminster, and after the assignment was read over, Minshull,
speaking with Steele in another room, said that, being disappointed of
money, he could not pay Steele any part of the said £2500, but would in
a few days, and in the meantime would give a note for the money, and
that for Steele’s security the assignment should remain in Wilbraham’s
hands till the sum was paid, and that he (Minshull) would execute a
proper defeasance to Steele. Steele, being ignorant of matters of law,
spoke to Wilbraham, who assured him that he would receive no prejudice
thereby, adding that he (Wilbraham) was obliged to take extraordinary
care that Steele should not suffer because Steele put such great
confidence in him.[157] Steele was thus, at the earnest request of
Minshull and Wilbraham, induced to sign the assignment of the 31st
January 1717, and to sign a receipt endorsed on the back of the paper
for the sum of £4000 as the consideration thereof; and Wilbraham was a
witness that Steele executed this assignment and signed the receipt,
well knowing that not one penny was advanced as the consideration
thereof, and that the same was only to be security for the £1500 for
which the former assignment was given, and the £2500 when the same
should be paid to Steele, and for which Minshull then gave Steele a
receipt, Wilbraham being a witness; and Wilbraham assured Steele that
this receipt would screen him from any prejudice by signing the receipt
for £4000, and that if the £2500 were not paid to Steele, by virtue of
the said receipt for £2500, Steele would be entitled to an allowance
thereof out of the £4000. By agreement between Steele and Minshull the
assignment of the 31st January 1717 was then deposited in the hands
of Wilbraham as a common trustee between them, until the £2500 should
be paid to Steele and a proper defeasance executed by Minshull; and
until that was done no use was to be made of the assignment, and then
Steele’s former assignment for £1500 was also to be delivered up to
him. And Steele requiring some further memorandum from Wilbraham of
such trust, Wilbraham wrote a short memorandum, acknowledging that he
had received the indenture of the 31st January, purporting a sale from
Steele to Minshull of the fifth part of the Letters Patent, scenes,
clothes, &c., and profits in consideration of £4000, which Deed was
deposited in his hands in order that in case Steele, his executors,
&c., should redeem the same within two years, the same should be
delivered up to be cancelled and destroyed; and this he promised to
do, unless the Deed were lost by fire or other unavoidable accident.
Wilbraham and Minshull witnessed this memorandum by affixing their
signatures; and Steele depended upon Minshull’s Note, and Wilbraham’s
memorandum, and Wilbraham’s privity to and knowledge of the whole
affair, and the Deed being kept by Wilbraham, so that there should
be no prejudice to Steele, that the £2500 would have been paid, and
the former assignment delivered up; and he therefore then delivered
his counterpart and defeasance thereof to Minshull. And Minshull, or
Gery at his order, continued by virtue of the first assignment of
July 1716 to receive Steele’s fifth part of the profits; but Minshull
never paid Steele the £2500, to the very great disappointment of
Steele, who, depending upon the same, was reduced to great straits,
and therefore desired Minshull would supply him with some part of it;
this Minshull agreed to do if Steele would consent that the agreement
in Wilbraham’s hands should remain as security for such further sums as
Minshull should advance beyond the £1500 for which the first security
was given. Steele consented, being desirous that whatever money was
really advanced to him should be repaid with interest; and thereupon
Minshull supplied several sums and paid several sums for Steele; and
Gery received out of Steele’s share of the profits £2398 16s. 10d.,
or some such sum; and Steele’s share was received by Minshull, or his
order, Gery, for the years 1716 and 1717, to the amount of £1418.
Having paid to Minshull by one Mr. Paterson £400, Steele desired
Minshull, on or about the 22nd October, to state accounts with him,
which Minshull did, and notwithstanding the debt of Aston was included
in the first security for £1500, yet Minshull charged Steele with
the sum of £47 8s. for the costs thereof, and also with several sums
over and above the £1500, the total of one account amounting to £768
19s. 9d., and the total of the other to £712 5s. 10d., so that on the
whole Minshull charged Steele as debtor for £3029 3s. 7d., and at the
same time gave Steele credit for £1418 received of Castleman and £400
received of Paterson, whereby there was a balance of £1211 3s. 7d. due
from Steele to Minshull, as will appear by the said account signed
by Minshull and Steele; and Gery was privy to the stating of this
account, and continued by virtue of Steele’s note endorsed by Minshull
to receive Steele’s share of the profits until the 24th January 1719,
and received thereby £348. There remained then due to Minshull for
principal and interest only £886 16s. 6d. or thereabouts, but Steele
tendered to Minshull £900, and demanded the assignment for £4000, and
also the assignment for £1500, which Minshull pretended he had long
before redeemed, and often promised to deliver to Steele, and had
received back the defeasance and counterpart from Steele, and also
Steele’s note to Castleman. Minshull sent to Wilbraham’s house for the
said assignment, but Wilbraham being out of town or from home, Minshull
desired the matter might be put off to another opportunity, and that
in the meantime he might continue to receive the profits belonging to
Steele, the same to be afterwards deducted out of the said £886 16s.
6d. To this Steele agreed; and on the 4th February 1719 paid Minshull
the further sum of £300. And afterwards, on or about the 26th November
1719, Gery, by virtue of Steele’s note, received the further sum of
£238; but Minshull had in the meantime paid to and for Steele some
other sums, so that, on the 11th December 1719, there remained due
from Steele to Minshull £596 2s. 9d.; and thereupon Minshull by a
writing dated the said 11th December declared that Steele before the
expiration of two years from the 31st January 1717 tendered to him
full satisfaction for the consideration money mentioned to be advanced
to Steele by the said deed of sale, but that he (Minshull) could not
then come at the deed by reason of Wilbraham not being at home when
he sent for it, and therefore he desired Wilbraham by this writing to
deliver up to Steele or his order the deed dated 31st January 1717 on
payment of the sum of £596 2s. 9d., that being all the money then due
to Minshull. Steele sent this writing to Wilbraham, offering to pay
the £596 2s. 9d., and well hoped the deed would have been delivered up
to him, and that the other assignment of the 24th July 1716, and the
order to Castleman, would have been delivered up by Minshull. But now
Minshull, Wilbraham, and Gery, combining together, and with William
Woolley, Esq., of the county of Derby, and with others as yet unknown,
to defraud Steele of his share in the Theatre, Wilbraham utterly
refused to deliver up the deed of assignment of the 31st January 1717,
but threatened to deliver it to Gery, with whom he entered into an
agreement for that purpose; and Gery insisted that there was due to him
from Steele £2500 or some such great sum, and that Steele’s fifth share
ought to be charged therewith; and to cover these unjust proceedings he
pretended that he advanced £1500 to Minshull upon Minshull assigning
over to him Steele’s security of the 24th July 1716, and that on the
31st January 1717 he advanced to Minshull the further sum of £2500, and
that Minshull paid the same to Steele; and that by a deed poll dated
on or about the 31st January 1717, Minshull declared that the £4000
mentioned to be the consideration money of the said deed of sale of
that date was the proper money of Gery, Minshull’s name being used
only in trust for Gery; and by means of this pretended deed poll of
trust Minshull and Gery endeavoured to charge Steele with the whole
£4000, although for £1500, part thereof, they or one of them had a
former assignment, which was never delivered up, and no part of the
residue, £2500, was paid until long after, and then only some part
thereof in small sums, and, as Steele had reason to believe, raised
out of the very share of the profits belonging to him; and in truth
no such sum of £2500 was advanced by Gery at that time upon the said
security, nor was the said declaration of trust executed till long
afterwards, when there were various accounts between Minshull and
Gery, and Gery was apprehensive that he should lose money by Minshull;
nor did Gery till lately inform Steele of the said declaration of
trust, and Steele apprehended he had nothing to do with any person
but Minshull, as Minshull often informed him; and he looked upon Gery
only as the order of Minshull, and accountable to Minshull for what
he received; nor did Gery ever oppose or forbid Steele paying money
to Minshull. And if any such trust were fairly declared for Gery, yet
he ought only to stand in the place of Minshull as to what was due to
Minshull on the 31st January 1717, and which he long since received
with interest and a great overplus; and Wilbraham, in whose custody the
assignment for £4000 was left, ought to have acquainted Gery that no
part of the £4000 was advanced except the £1500 secured by Steele for
the assignment; or at least Gery would have received such information
if he had inquired of Wilbraham or Steele. And at other times Gery
pretended he had assigned his interest in the premises to Woolley, and
would not concern himself about the same, although he well knew that
since the 11th December 1719, he had received of Castleman at several
times the further sum of £394, so that upon a fair account there now
remained due from Steele to Minshull or his order only about £220,
which sum Steele was willing to pay to Minshull or Gery or Woolley, as
the Court should ordain, upon the cancelling of the several securities
entered into by Steele to Minshull. But Minshull, Gery, and Woolley
most unreasonably insisted upon charging Steele with the whole £4000
and interest from the 31st January, 1717, and nevertheless refused
to discover when or how this £4000 was advanced or paid by Gery to
Minshull, or what they knew or had been informed, or what interest
Woolley had therein. All which being contrary to equity, Steele prayed
that writs of subpœna might be directed to Minshull, Gery, Wilbraham,
and Woolley, commanding them to answer the matters contained in this

Wilbraham’s answer, dated 17th March 1721[-2], is the only one
existing. It states that some short time before the 31st January 1717
Minshull gave Wilbraham directions for preparing such assignment or
sale from Steele to Minshull of Steele’s fifth part in the Theatre, as
was mentioned in Steele’s Bill, and two parts of such assignment were
engrossed, leaving a blank for the consideration money; and Wilbraham
said that to the best of his remembrance he carried the engrossments to
Steele’s then house in St. James’s Street, and not to the Horn Tavern;
and Wilbraham read over the assignment, and then Steele and Minshull
retired to another room, as he apprehended to converse together upon
the subject-matter of the assignment. When they returned, a proposal
was made by one or both of them, that inasmuch as the assignment was
drawn absolute and without any clause of redemption, and yet it was
intended to be redeemable and to be only in the nature of a mortgage,
the assignment, when executed by Steele, should be deposited in
Wilbraham’s hands as a common trustee, and that he should give to
Minshull a note that the deed was in his custody, and that he would
deliver it up to Steele upon Steele’s redeeming the same within two
years’ time from the date of the deed. Steele particularly asked
Wilbraham whether, in case the deed was deposited in his hands, the
note would be sufficient to make the deed a mortgage, and Wilbraham
said that it would, if the note were attested and witnessed by
Minshull. Steele then acquiesced in the proposal, and did not in
Wilbraham’s hearing require any other defeasance of the deed; and
Wilbraham was ordered to fill up the blank, and make the consideration
£4000. The engrossed copies were then signed, and Steele gave a
receipt for £4000, which was endorsed on the deed executed by him, and
Wilbraham added his signature as witness. The deed was then handed to
Wilbraham, who gave a receipt–as mentioned in Steele’s Bill–which
was attested by Minshull. Wilbraham was of opinion that Steele, like
himself, then believed Minshull to be a man of substance. Wilbraham
did not remember to have seen any money paid by Minshull to Steele,
but believed Minshull gave Steele a note or receipt for £2500, for
which sum Minshull promised to be accountable to Steele, and Wilbraham
believed he added his signature as witness. Wilbraham denied that he
assured Steele that this note or receipt would effectually secure him
from any prejudice which might arise to him by his signing the receipt
for £4000, or that he told Steele that if the £2500 were not paid him
he would, by virtue of the note or receipt for £2500, be entitled to
an allowance thereof out of the £4000, or that Steele asked him any
questions relating thereto. He also denied that the deed was placed
in his hands as a common trustee until the £2500 should be paid to
Steele and a proper defeasance executed, or that until the same was
done no use was to be made of the deed, or that then Steele’s former
assignment for £1500 was to be delivered up to Steele; and he also
denied that the deed was given to him upon any other terms than those
set forth in the note which he gave; nor did he use any persuasion to
induce Steele or Minshull to entrust the deed to him, or to induce
Steele to sign the deed or the receipt thereon endorsed, or to accept
Minshull’s note or receipt for £2500; nor was he any way privy to or
acquainted with the reasons which induced Steele to do the same, save
that he knew the £1500 was or was mentioned to be the consideration
of a former deed of sale of Steele’s fifth share, dated about 24th
July 1716. And Wilbraham had heard that Gery had, before the 31st
January 1717, advanced £1500 to Minshull upon the credit of Steele’s
first assignment, and that Minshull had assigned over to Gery Steele’s
first assignment as security; but he did not then apprehend that Gery
had advanced to Minshull, or was to advance, £2500, and therefore he
understood himself to be only a trustee as between Steele and Minshull.
But some time afterwards Minshull and Gery came to Wilbraham and told
him that Gery had advanced a further sum of £2500, and that the whole
£4000 was therefore, in truth, Gery’s money. Wilbraham then drew up a
declaration of trust to that effect, dated 31st January 1717, which was
duly executed by Minshull in the presence of one Mr. William Aspin and
Wilbraham, witnesses. But Wilbraham admitted that this deed was not
executed on the 31st January 1717, as dated, but some time afterwards,
though he could not remember the particular time. After the execution
of this last deed Wilbraham considered himself as a common trustee
between Steele and Gery. After all this, when, as Wilbraham believed,
Minshull had failed in answering Steele’s drafts of money upon him,
Steele sent to Wilbraham and offered him thirty guineas to deliver
up the deed of assignment of the 31st January, and said Minshull was
consenting thereto; but Wilbraham answered that Minshull’s consent
would not indemnify him for so doing, because he knew that the money
intended to be secured by the assignment was not then Minshull’s but
Gery’s, and that he must have Gery’s consent; he therefore refused to
deliver up the deed. And he believed Minshull sent to him when he was
not at home, as narrated in Steele’s Bill; and he from time to time
acquainted Gery with the proceedings of Steele and Minshull; but he
denied that he had threatened to give the deed to Gery, or had entered
into any engagement with Gery for that purpose. The deed was still
in his hands or power. He was never taken into council by Steele and
Minshull, except that he paid, subsequently to the assignment of the
31st January 1717, £70 to Hugh Reason, Esq.,[158] for Steele by order
of, and with the money of, Minshull, and had also seen several notes
which Steele drew on Minshull, which he believed were paid by Minshull.

There is no record of this case having ever come before the Court, and
there are no answers to Steele’s Bill from Minshull, Gery, or Woolley.
Fresh arrangements were entered into in 1723, as will be seen below.





(Page lxviii.)

In their bill, dated 4th September 1725, the complainants,[159] after
describing the Indenture Quadrupartite of June 3, 1724,[160] the
Articles of Agreement of September, 1721,[161] the Indenture between
Steele and Woolley of June 17, 1723, and the note to Castleman of July
17, 1723,[162] said that they well hoped they should have had the
benefit of the assignment and letter of attorney to Scurlock for the
payment of Steele’s debts and incumbrances, and that Wilks, Cibber,
and Booth would have ordered the treasurer of the theatre to have paid
and duly accounted with Scurlock weekly, and for all arrears due to
Steele at the time of the assignment, as in all justice and equity they
ought to have done, the rather because Woolley had been long since
paid the £900 due to him, together with all interest thereupon. But
Wilks, Cibber, and Booth, confederating together with Castleman, their
treasurer, and with Woolley and others, to defraud the complainants
of their just right, and to elude the force of the assignment made
by Steele for the benefit of his creditors, refused to come to any
account with the complainants touching the profits, pretending that the
charges they had been put to in finding clothes, scenes, &c., had been
so great that they had made little or no clear profit, and yet they at
the same time refused to disclose their expenses; and at other times
they pretended that Steele by himself or his agents had from time to
time received his full share of the profits; whereas the complainants
expressly charged that the profits, over and above all expenses, had
been very great, and that neither Steele nor any person acting by his
order had received any but a very small and inconsiderable part of his
share of the profits since the time of his entering into partnership
with Wilks, Cibber, and Booth, and that there was now a very great
sum owing to him. And at other times the defendants, and especially
Woolley, pretended that the £900 secured for Woolley was not yet paid,
and that until that was paid the provisions for the other creditors
could not and ought not to take place; but the complainants expressly
charged that this £900 was and ought long since to have been paid out
of the profits of the fourth part belonging to Steele; and Woolley and
the others refused to inform Steele how much had been paid to Woolley.
And at other times Wilks, Cibber, and Booth pretended that they, on
the 24th January 1719[-20], were, together with Steele, suspended
by the Lord Chamberlain from further acting, and that from the time
of this suspension (whatever licence they afterwards obtained for
proceeding therein), they were not answerable to Steele for any part
of the profits; whereas Steele expressly charged that the suspension
lasted only two days or thereabouts, neither could the Lord Chamberlain
or any other person thereby or otherwise except by due course of law
deprive him of his share of the profits, wherein he had a just freehold
during his life by the Grant and Letters Patent from His Majesty; and
therefore Wilks, Cibber and Booth ought to pay and be accountable to
him for his just share as if no such suspension had been. And at other
times the defendants pretended that by some provision in the aforesaid
Articles of Agreement it was provided that neither of the parties
thereto should at any time sell, mortgage, part with or incumber his
or their share without the consent in writing of the rest of the said
parties, and it was pretended that Wilks, Cibber, and Booth never gave
such assent to the assignment made by Steele to Scurlock; whereas
Steele and Scurlock declared that Wilks, Cibber, and Booth were well
aware of the assignment before it was made, and had copies of it
delivered to them severally afterwards, and although they did not
give their consent in writing, yet they did not oppose or forbid the
same; and if they had, yet the same being for the payment of Steele’s
creditors, it ought to be supported and made good by the Honourable
Court, or at least it could not debar Steele from having an account of
his share of the profits. Yet upon these and the like pretences the
defendants not only refused to pay Scurlock, on behalf of Steele’s
creditors, but likewise refused to come to an account with Steele.
Sometimes they pretended that they were entitled to a dividend of £10
a piece each week, or some such considerable sum, out of the profits,
in consideration of their extraordinary trouble in the management
of the theatre and their playing their several parts, previous to
and exclusive of the dividend to be made under the Articles between
them and Steele, and they had accordingly ever since the date of the
said Articles appropriated these sums, regardless of Steele’s share
or interest. And they pretended to be entitled to the whole of the
money given by His Majesty or any of the Royal Family when they were
graciously pleased to be present at any performances, and they had kept
such moneys; whereas the complainants declared that Steele had a right
to his share of all profits whatsoever. And the defendants pretended
that they had a right to, and had set aside for their own use, £20 a
night or some greater sum under the name of several constant charges,
contingencies, and bills, and pretended that Steele had no right to
share therein; and Steele charged that in favour of Mrs. Oldfield,
Mrs. Porter, and Mrs. Booth, three of the actresses at Drury Lane, on
their respective benefit nights the defendants had forborne to deduct
the necessary expenses of the house out of the profits of the night,
as they ought to have done, but had placed the same to the account
of the partnership, whereby Steele had been charged a fourth part of
those expenses without any profit whatever; and on the benefit nights
allowed to under-officers and others of the theatre, they had deducted
each night, which they had shared and divided, without admitting Steele
to any share. And sometimes the defendants pretended that Steele had
no colour to call them to account touching any of these deductions
or allowances to themselves, because he had from time to time passed
and allowed these accounts without objection, and agreed to the said
deductions, &c.; but this he never did; if he had passed accounts
without objection, it was through want of knowledge or oversight.
And Wilks, Cibber, and Booth had in other ways defrauded Steele; it
was therefore prayed that writs of subpœna be issued to compel them,
together with Castleman and Woolley, to answer these premises.

The “joint and several answers” of Wilks, Cibber, Booth, and Castleman
are dated October 13, 1725. Long before the Letters Patent to Steele,
Wilks, Cibber, and Booth had, as they said, a licence to act at Drury
Lane, and were acting there at the Queen’s death, and had scenes, &c.,
there of great value; and a short time after the Queen’s death, they,
looking upon Steele as a person who had a great acquaintance, and who
was fit and able to promote the interest of the theatre, did, for these
reasons, and out of friendship and kindness to Steele, invite him to
come into a share and benefit of the theatre, for which he seemed
very thankful; and it was agreed he should apply for a new licence,
which he obtained, and which was afterwards, by agreement with them,
changed for a Patent. The application for the Patent was to be in
Steele’s name only, but upon the express trust that Wilks, Cibber,
and Booth should have an equal share in it; and when Steele applied,
he informed these defendants that he could not obtain a reference to
the Attorney and Solicitor-General for having such a Patent without
first having their consent, as they shared with him in the licence; and
they thereupon gave their written consent to Steele, to whom a Patent
was then granted. And some time afterwards Steele agreed to give them
£1200 as a consideration for the fourth part of the scenes, clothes,
&c., belonging to them, and did pay to each of them £400, as appears
from the receipts. Then came the Articles Quadrupartite of September
1721. By acting under the Letters Patent the defendants had received
large sums, which had been entered in books and kept by Richard
Castleman, their treasurer and cashier. Divers sums had been paid to
great numbers of persons weekly and otherwise, as they were entitled
to receive the same; and the accounts had been at sundry times stated
and settled by the defendants and Steele, and Steele had received his
share; on the 18th June 1723, in particular, he gave his receipt as
follows: “Received of Richard Castleman £708 8s. 2d., being so much due
to me arising from the profits of the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, I
say received in full to this day, RICHARD STEELE.” This was a stated
account, and ought not to be ravelled into. From June 18, 1723, to June
25, 1725, divers other considerable sums had been received and paid on
account of the theatre; and Steele, or persons lawfully authorised by
him, had received his share thereof. On June 25, 1725, Richard Eadnell
received of Castleman, by virtue of a letter of attorney executed
to him by Steele, £52 10s. 3d., as Eadnell’s receipt showed: “I say
received for Sir Richard Steel’s use ballance due for the year 1725,
£471 13s. 2d., being a fourth part of the clear profits,” &c.; and
these defendants acknowledged that they had each of them received to
their own use from the 18th June, 1723, £1 13s. 4d. for every day upon
which a play had been acted, exclusive of Steele. This they claimed
as a consideration for their acting and the extraordinary charge they
were put to in respect thereof, for which they had no allowance in the
said accounts; and they said that Steele never made any objection to
the same to their knowledge till the filing of this bill. There had
been from time to time paid to other actors more than £1 13s. 4d. a
day for acting. On the 18th June last the defendants left off acting
under the Letters Patent, and so discontinued until the 4th September
last, during which interval no profits did or could arise; and since
the 4th September they had acted seventeen nights and no more up to
the time of putting in this answer, and the clear profits of those
seventeen nights could not at present be set forth, because tradesmen’s
bills were not sent in; but as soon as they could the defendants were
ready to account for the same and to share all just allowances. They
denied that they had deducted or claimed £10 a week for management or
acting, or any sum other than as above mentioned, nor had they set
apart or divided among themselves £20 a night or other sum on pretence
of incidental charges, &c., exclusive of Steele, nor had they taken
to their own use, exclusive of Steele, any part of such bounty money
as His Majesty or any members of the Royal Family had given. And they
said that Mrs. Oldfield, Mrs. Porter, and Mr. Mills had plays once in
every year acted for their respective benefit, without any sums being
deducted for the charge of the house, which was the best agreement
the defendants could make with them; no other actors had the like
privilege of having benefit plays without deduction for the charges of
the house; and these defendants denied that they had had any benefit
thereby, exclusive of Steele. And they said that, finding by long
experience that the profits grew less towards the end of the spring
and until June or July, the time of leaving off acting, £5 for every
acting night was and had been kept back in order to make up the charges
of the house in case the money received should not be sufficient for
that purpose,–which often happened about the latter end of the season;
but when they left off acting the said sum of £5 was always brought
to account, and what remained after the charges were paid was divided
among these defendants and Steele equally. And these defendants said
that they had great ground to expect that Steele would not, contrary to
his own express agreement with them in writing, have sold, parted with,
or encumbered his property in the Patent, clothes, scenes, and profits
to any one without the defendants’ consent in writing, especially
because that to accommodate Steele and at his particular request (he
being indebted to Edward Minshull, Esq., in the sum of £200, by whom
the debt was assigned to Mr. Gery, and by him to Mr. Woolley) these
defendants consented and agreed with Steele and Woolley that Castleman
should pay to Woolley £200 a year out of Steele’s share till the debt,
with interest, should be paid. There was now £500 of the debt unpaid,
and no interest had been paid. By Articles Quadrupartite, dated 19th
September 1721,[163] between Steele, Wilks, Cibber, and Booth, reciting
the aforesaid Articles, and also that the then Lord Chamberlain did
some time since by his order direct that Steele should not be paid his
fourth part, Steele did, for himself, his executors, &c., agree that
if at any time the King, Lord Chamberlain, or other person authorised
by the King should order that Steele be not paid his share, but
should direct that Steele’s share should be paid to any other person,
that Steele’s share should cease to be paid to him, and he should be
debarred from demanding his share during the continuance of such order;
and so with any proportion of Steele’s share. Steele had some time
since been suspended, but the defendants denied that they ever took
advantage thereof. They were strangers to the several demands made by
persons named in the complainants’ bill as creditors of Steele, and
conceived they were in nowise concerned therein. Castleman denied that
he refused to let Steele see the books.

Richard Eadnell, of the Inner Temple, Gent., solicitor to Steele and
Scurlock, made oath on the 27th October, that on Wednesday the 20th
October he applied to Castleman, treasurer at the old playhouse in
Drury Lane, on behalf of the complainants, and told him that he had
occasion to look in the books of accounts kept for Steele and the
defendants, and that he, the deponent, would wait on Castleman for
that purpose when convenient. But Castleman said he could show no
books or give any information without an order to do so from the
other defendants. And on the 21st Eadnell applied to Wilks, Cibber,
and Booth, but they utterly refused to give an order to Castleman,
saying that no one should inspect the books or papers save Steele
himself. Notice was subsequently given to the defendants’ solicitor
that the Court would be asked to make an order that these books could
be examined by Steele or his solicitor;[164] and the order was duly
granted. On the 2nd February 1726 Eadnell made oath that by virtue
of this order he had looked over the books, and by them it appeared
that Wilks, Cibber, and Booth had each received of Castleman £480
10s. (_sic_) for clear profits from the beginning of that season till
Saturday, 15th January last, and Castleman had received the like sum
of £487 10s. for the use of Steele, out of which he had paid £200
to Woolley, as arranged; but Castleman refused to pay Eadnell the
remaining £287 10s. without the consent of Wilks, Cibber, and Booth.
Eadnell thereupon applied to them, and gave them a copy of a letter
of attorney duly executed by Steele and Scurlock, empowering him to
receive and give discharges for such money as should become due to
them from the theatre; but Wilks, Cibber, and Booth absolutely refused
to direct Castleman to pay Eadnell, unless Eadnell would give them
discharges for £30 which they received weekly on pretence of acting
exclusive of Steele, and which was now in dispute in that Court. Wilks,
Cibber, and Booth had received this £10 apiece weekly over and above
the £487 10s. since the commencement of the winter season, and still
intended to receive the same, as they informed Eadnell, notwithstanding
the same was in dispute. And it appeared that over and above the £487
10s. and the £30 weekly, the sum of £30 a week was kept in the hands
of the treasurer under the name of contingencies, in case there should
be occasion to advance any money at any time on account of any new
performances or otherwise.[165]

The defendants having put in their answer, Steele’s counsel obtained
leave, on the 12th February, to amend the complainants’ bill.[166] The
answer of Wilks, Cibber, and Booth to this amended bill is dated 15th
June 1726. The defendants said they never refused to disclose to Steele
the expenses incurred for scenes, clothes, &c.; those charges were
entered in books which Steele could examine, and which they had reason
to believe he had often inspected. In accordance with the order of the
Court of the 28th October last, Eadnell had often examined the books,
and was never denied the same. They submitted, therefore, whether they
need do more than refer to the books as regards the particular sums
laid out in clothes, scenes, &c. They never denied that Steele might
controvert the accounts, but they apprehended he had no reason to do
so, for the allowances they demanded were reasonable, and were for the
daily and extraordinary labour and expenses in acting their several
parts not otherwise charged for. If they had not taken upon themselves
to look after and manage the theatre, they and Steele, instead of being
gainers, would have lost by it; and if Steele had been as active on his
part in the management as they (which he ought to have been by their
Agreement), the same would have been an addition to the clear profits
of the theatre, at least one fourth part.

In the meantime, Wilks, Cibber, and Booth had commenced a cross action
against Steele.[167] In their bill, dated 11th January 1725-26, they
said that Swiney and Collier had both constantly attended the business
of the theatre, and much benefit had resulted therefrom; Collier
solicited persons of quality, and drew audiences to the theatre. When
Steele was invited to come into partnership, he faithfully promised
to attend the meetings and consultations of the Company, and to
write plays and other performances, and to use his utmost endeavour
to support the interest thereof; and he did continue to attend the
business of the Company until 28th January 1719-20, since when he had
altogether absented himself. From that date they had each taken to
their own use £1 13s. 4d. a day, and Steele was so conscious that they
deserved a much greater sum that he allowed the accounts wherein the
same was charged. The scope of this cross bill, therefore, was that
Wilks, Cibber, and Booth might be quieted in receiving the said £1 13s.
4d. apiece exclusive of Steele, and might have such allowance as the
Court should think reasonable for the expense they were at in clothes,
periwigs, laces, and linen, and for their trouble in instructing the
actors and overseeing artificers, &c., and might be indemnified in
paying the £1200 and interest to Woolley, and be relieved.

Steele’s answer to this bill was taken by commission by Alexander
and Theophilus Scurlock on June 23, 1726. He denied that on entering
into the partnership he promised to attend meetings or instruct young
actors, not being qualified or required to appear as an actor; but he
believed he did in general promise to write plays, and to promote the
interests of the theatre, and this he had done to the utmost of his
power, as the managers had often admitted; see, for example, Cibber’s
dedication to him of _Ximena. The Conscious Lovers_ “brought more
money to the House than any play was ever known to do;” and he was at
that time preparing, as fast as his health would permit, a new Comedy,
which, God willing, he hoped to finish by the next season, the plot of
which play was formed for the reformation of the theatre, and restoring
the credit and good sense of theatrical entertainments, which he was
sadly sensible was never more wanted. He had done and was doing as
much as his health would permit. He had entered into an agreement on
the 4th September 1721, and then or shortly before, when accounting
for his share during the time of the pretended suspension by the Lord
Chamberlain, the other managers had urged that they had lost much in
1720 in connection with the South Sea scheme, and that Steele had
not borne his share of the cost of scenes; and he then, out of pure
friendship and good-will, forgave them £1,200, which he believed was
due to him. Steele insisted that he was not obliged to make Wilks,
Cibber, and Booth any allowance for their managing and acting, as they
were by the Articles obliged to do their duty in consideration of the
three fourth parts they received; but he denied that he had pretended
they ought not to be allowed for clothes, &c., used on the stage,
he being willing to allow his share out of the joint stock; and he
believed they had frequently taken out of the joint stock for their own
private clothes, which they brought to the joint account; all which
Steele allowed without objection. He admitted he asked permission to
assign his share, and, being refused, assigned his interest without
such consent to Scurlock, and he hoped that what he did through the
need of satisfying his creditors would not in equity be a breach of
his covenant. He did not know of the deduction of £1 13s. 4d. a day
till the beginning of 1724[-5], when he brought his bill to be relieved
against it; and he hoped that notwithstanding his signing the receipt
of the 18th June 1723, he should be at liberty to call the managers to
an account touching the said deduction.

The original cause was before the Court several times in August and
October 1726.[168] Leave was given to Wilks, Cibber, and Booth to
examine Castleman, a material witness for their case, and in no way
concerned in point of interest in the matters in question; and upon
application that Castleman should pay Steele £468 4s., which was found
to be his share of the clear profits for 1725, it was ordered, by
consent, that Castleman should pay Steele £200, subject to the order
which should be made upon the hearing of the cause. In December leave
was given to Steele and Scurlock to examine Castleman as a witness for
them. The “answer of William Woolley, Esqre., one of the Defendants to
the Bill of Complaint” of Steele and Scurlock, was not put in until
the 20th October 1726.[169] It contains nothing fresh of importance.
Woolley said he had received £600 of the £900 due to him from Steele,
and that £300 was still due, besides interest; and he urged that he
was entitled to his £200 a year in preference to all other creditors
mentioned in Steele’s bill. On the 21st November, Wilks, Cibber, and
Booth obtained leave to amend their bill in the case in which they
were complainants; and Alexander and Theophilus Scurlock were again
commissioned to take Steele’s answer.[170] In this answer to the
amended bill, which was not sworn until the 11th May 1727, Steele said
it was true that he had declared that Cibber’s zeal for the _Conscious
Lovers_ was an obliging favour and friendship to him, but he was
referring to Cibber’s care in instructing the actors, &c. Cibber did
make several alterations in the play before it was acted, but to its
disadvantage, and therefore he did not pay Cibber anything for his
meddling. The piece ran eighteen nights, and brought £2,536 3s. 6d.
to the house, but how much was paid for charges and how much to him
Steele could not say, save £329 5s. or thereabouts, which he received
for three author’s benefit nights. He could not set forth particular
passages altered by Cibber; if he did, it might run him, in vindication
of his own performance, into a sort of criticism very improper, as he
apprehended, for the entertainment of that Honourable Court.

In October and November 1727, publication in the original cause was
twice enlarged, upon the petition of the defendants, and on the 3rd
February 1728, upon the original cause coming before the Court, the
defendants’ counsel alleged that the counter action was ready for
hearing, but that as Steele lived at Carmarthen the plaintiffs in that
action had not had time to serve him with a subpœna to hear judgment;
and they said that both causes were proper to be heard together.
Whereupon it was ordered that the original cause should stand over to
the fourth day of causes after the term, and that judgment should then
be pronounced in both causes.[171] The combined suits accordingly came
to a hearing before Sir Joseph Jekyll, Master of the Rolls, on Saturday
night, the 17th February 1728, at the Rolls Chapel,[172] when Cibber
addressed the Court, acting upon the advice of his counsel, who pointed
out that he could speak better upon the question of the business of a
manager than the most learned lawyer. Two of the counsel for Steele
afterwards held the post of Lord Chancellor, and Cibber professes to
have almost broken down with nervousness; but he succeeded, with the
help of notes, in making a successful speech of an hour’s length, which
he has printed at length in the sixteenth chapter of his _Apology_.
He maintained that Steele was as much obliged to do the duty and
business of a manager as either Wilks, Booth, or Cibber; and the reason
why he had ceased to take any part in the management was, that he was
annoyed at his fellow-managers, who had often helped him when he was
in want of money, but who found it necessary at last to peremptorily
refuse to advance another shilling until it was due to him. After
that Steele not only absented himself, but made an assignment of his
share, without the consent of the others, in breach of their Agreement,
thereby exposing them to the chance of trouble and inconvenience. His
absence, too, had led to more than proportionate loss, because his
rank, and figure in the world, and the ready access which he had at
Court, had been of great service; that was, in fact, the very end and
consideration of his share in the profits. Cibber proceeded to argue
that he, Wilks, and Booth had been justified in charging £1 13s. 4d. a
day for their extraordinary labour, in Steele’s absence, by graphically
describing the multitude of duties and disagreeable tasks which fell
to a manager’s lot. Steele had not written plays for nothing, and
though, said Cibber, in writing _The Conscious Lovers_, “he had more
assistance from one of the managers than becomes me to enlarge upon, of
which evidence has been given upon oath by several of our actors, yet,
Sir, he was allowed the full and particular profits of that play as an
author, which amounted to three hundred pounds, besides about three
hundred more which he received as a joint sharer of the general profits
that arose from it.” Cibber adds, in another place, that when they
told Steele of the salary they meant to take for themselves in future,
Steele only remarked that he had no reason to doubt of their doing him
justice, and he never complained for nearly three years; indeed it was
not until his affairs were put into the hands of lawyers and trustees
that his lawyer thought that here was a fair field for an action in
Chancery, in which, whatever the result might be, his bill would be

After hearing Cibber, and the counsel on both sides,–the proceedings
lasted five hours,–the Master of the Rolls declared that he saw no
good cause for breaking through the account dated 18th June 1723, or
for varying the allowances of £1 13s. 4d. which had been made at that
time to each of the defendants, Wilks, Cibber, and Booth. He therefore
ordered that the account dated the 18th June 1723 should stand, and
that it should be referred to Mr. Bennett to take an account of the
profits of the theatre from that time; the defendants were to produce
before the said Master upon oath all books of account, &c., and to be
examined as the Master should direct; and in taking the account the
Master was to make to the defendants all just allowances. His Honour
declared he conceived the allowance of £1 which had been already made
to each of the defendants for management every night was a reasonable
allowance, and that they ought to have this allowance continued to them
until Steele should come into the management of the theatre; but the
Master must determine what the defendants respectively deserved for
their charges for wigs, lace, and linen, for which Steele admitted by
his answer that an allowance should be made; and he was also to take
an account of what was due to Woolley for principal and interest on
his mortgage, and to tax Woolley’s costs in this suit. The Master was
also to ascertain what would be coming to Steele for his fourth part of
the profits on the balance of the account, and from what was certified
as due to Steele, Wilks, Cibber, and Booth should pay to Woolley what
was reported due to him in the first place for principal, interest,
and costs as aforesaid, and should pay the remainder to Scurlock for
the uses mentioned in the deed of assignment from Steele to Scurlock,
or to whoever Scurlock should authorise to receive the same; and
Wilks, Cibber, and Booth were hereby indemnified for so doing; and they
were to continue to pay Steele’s fourth part of the growing profits,
under such allowances as aforesaid, to Steele or to whoever he should
authorise to receive the same. And it was further ordered that Steele
and Scurlock’s bill against Castleman be dismissed out of the court;
and that no costs be paid to either of the said parties, except to

The Master’s Report is dated July 10, 1728.[173] Mr. Bennett said that
the plaintiffs’ solicitors having allowed Wilks, Cibber, and Booth 13s.
4d. apiece for every day a play was acted, from the 18th June 1723,
as the same had been allowed up to that time, he had taken an account
of Steele’s fourth part of the profits from the said 18th June to the
present time, and found that that fourth part amounted to £2,692 3s.
3d., in discharge whereof he found that the said defendants had paid to
Steele or order several sums, amounting to £1,601 3s. 3d., leaving due
to Steele £1,091. And the clerk in court for Woolley had admitted that
Woolley had been already paid off and discharged all the principal and
interest due to him on Steele’s account; and the Master had already, by
his Report of the 5th instant, taxed Woolley’s bill of costs at £29 2s.
10d., which sum he appointed Wilks, Cibber, and Booth to pay Woolley
out of the said sum of £1,091 in their hands, and the residue, £1,061
17s. 2d., they were to pay to Scurlock, as directed by the order of the
17th February. On the following day, July 11, 1728, upon motion made
by the counsel for the defendants in the original cause, this Report
and all contained therein was confirmed by order and decree of the