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Bankside, and to leave playing in London and Middlesex for the most part. The number of watermen, and those that live and are maintained by them, and by the only labour of the oar and scull, cannot be fewer than forty thousand; the cause of the greater half of which multitude hath been the players playing in the Bankside.”
This son of Thespis was more remarkable for the witty, though wicked pranks he played, than for his acting; he was seized, one morning, by two bailiffs, for a debt of £20, as the Bishop of Ely was passing by in his coach. Quoth Joe to the bailiffs, “ Gentlemen, here's my cousin, the Bishop of Ely, going into his house ; let me but speak to him, and he'll pay the debt and charges.” The bailiffs thought they might venture this, as they were within three or four yards of him ; Joe now went boldly up to the coach, and pulled off his hat to the bishop. His lordship ordered the coach to stop, when Joe whispered him gently, “My lord, here are two poor men who have such great scruples of conscience, that, I fear, they'll hang themselves.”—“Very well," said the bishop; so, calling to the bailiffs, he said, “You two
men, come to me to-morrow morning, and I'll satisfy you.” The men bowed, and went away; and Joe, well pleased with the success of his stratagem, bade them “Good morning." Early on the following day, the bailiffs, expecting the debt and charges, paid a visit to the Bishop; when, being introduced, his lordship addressed them : “Well, my good men, what are your scruples of conscience ?"-"Scruples !(echoed the bailiffs,) we have no scruples; we are bailiffs, my lord, who yesterday, arrested your cousin, Joe Haines, for a debt of £20; your lordship kindly promised to satisfy us to-day, and we cannot doubt but your lordship will be as good as your word." The bishop, on this, reflecting that his honour and name would be exposed, were he not to comply, paid the debt and charges.
In the early part of this celebrated comedian's career, he suffereu many and strange vi
' cissitudes. At one period, having left Birmingham, he determined on a visit to Stratford-uponAvon, to view the birth-place of the immortal Bard.
About his time, the Warwickshire Militia, were to be embodied, and great numbers of the recruits were assembled from different parts of the country, to join the regiment at Stratford. Numbers presented themselves on the road, one of whom, seemingly more intelligent than the rest, our adventurer chose for his companion, and to each other their mutual necessities were imparted. Munden learned from his comrade that the regiment would consist of a numerous body of men, and that it would not be difficult to obtain a night's lodging. His friend, whose brain necessity had rendered fertile, suggested a thought which was approved of, and put in practice; it was to present himself before the Serjeant as a recruit, and, by that means, obtain a billet for the night.
After some time spent by his friend in searching for the Serjeant's quarters, he at length found him. The Serjeant inquired if Munden was of the regiment who, replying in the affirmative, he obtained, fg the night, bed and board, and, in every respect, was entertained as a gentleman soldier. If the reader will call to mind Falstaff's description of his ragged regiment, then will he be able to form some idea of this motley set of heroes, in number htween
thirty and forty, assembled in a large room belonging to an aged. tenement which time had nearly shaken to its fall.
After the cravings of nature were satisfied, his mind, in spite of its depression, became elated, and diffused its influence over the whole assembly. From the cherished stores of Shakspeare, Otway, Rowe, and the moon-struck Lee, our young actor drew forth a fund of entertainment, which enriched the evening, and rendered him The King of his company, who sighed, or smiled, as his effusions were mournful or merry. Nor was the tuneful Muse forgotten : many a welcome song, by way of interlude, heightened the entertainment, while heroes, fresh from the barn door, where, to its own strokes, the flail resounded, and who had taken the last leave of the ploughtail, listened with attention, and congratulated each other on the acquisition they had gained in a lively fellow, who would convert three months of duty into so many months of pleasantry. But, alas! all earthly enjoyments have their close; the hour of rest came on, and the call of the landlady must be obeyed. The mirthfulcrew repaired to a room allotted for the night; on the floor were spread beds of straw; but, at
the farthest end, a little more of dignity marked the couch of the Serjeant. There, to the straw was added a mattress and a quilt; and the enclosing curtain guarded the spot where this great man was to forget his marching and counter-marching, in the arms of Morpheus. Each man at his weary length-shall we say silence reigned around ? not so—full many a snore, which, to nicer ears, would have“ murdered sleep," interrupted the stillness of the night.
In the morning, our Hero, who reposed next to the superb pavilion before described, awoke to behold the head of one of the recruits on the lap of the Serjeant, a head which had taken its turn to come under his adorning hands. Each aspiring youth was making ready for a general muster, and many a hair, taught by nature to lay upon an humble level, was, by the ingenuity of the Serjeant, furnished with soap suds, and armed with the torturing tongs, turned from
The important business of preparation over, the company went to breakfast ; about ten, the drum beat to arms, the regiment mustered, and, with colours flyiny, repaired to the field, where Munden was previously told by his friend, to follow, in order to be enlisted ;