THE PATENT THEATRES V. Mn. ARNOLD'S PETiriost.—The special inquiry, relative
to Mr. Arnold's petition for a licence from year to year, and the assumed patent rights set up by the theatres of Drury Lane and Covent Garden, commenced on Tuesday. The Lord Chancellor pre- sided, assisted by the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, the Vice- Chancellor, and Mr. Justice James Parke. By a singular arrangement, the case of Mr. Arnold, who claims, under obvious and recognized principles of law, the benefit of the favour of the Crown in the exercise of its prerogative, was opened in the first instance. Hence a very in- complete view of the contest can be afforded (the counsel of Mr. Arnold being ignorant of the precise nature of the claims of their opponents), until the arguments of both sides have been given. On Tuesday, the Solicitor- General occupied the whole time of the Court, and on Thursday completed his address. Sir Edward Sugden followed on the same side, and will resume his argument on. Tuesday next. The discussion is likely so occupy a considerable time, as every opportunity is to be afforded to the parties to reply upon each other, by permitting an interval for the private investigation of the opponents' case.
Mr. Arnold is the proprietor of the English Opera House ; and since 1809 has enjoyed the privilege of a licence. In the first instance, it per- mitted him to perform throughout the year ; but latterly, it has been re- stricted to the summer months, the most unfavourable season for theatrical performances. Last year, it will be recollected, the English Opera House was burnt, and it is stated that Mr. Arnold's loss, in con- sequence, amounted to the sum of 67,0001.! To afford him the fair means of indemnity, Mr. Arnold seeks the renewal of his licence from year to year, permitting performances throughout the whole period. He relies on no right, but refers his case to the benevolent consideration of the Crown. The original licence in 1809 was granted to Mr. Arnold to enable him to establish English operas, in opposition to the Italian (which are performed in the winter months), with a view to encourage native talent, and to improve the character of stage performances. No attempt has ever been made to oppose the renewal of the licence on the ground of improper conduct, or for any other cause, except the opposition of the Great Theatres.
These theatres claim under two patents, granted by Charles the Second to Betterton and, Killigrew. Subsequently, these persons united, and joined their interest in the patents which had been granted for the theatres separately. The counsel for Mr. Arnold contended that the non-usage of the patents for the purposes for which they were granted, was an abandonment of them. But they contended, also' that Charles II. had no power to grant a patent to the exclusion of the exercise of the same prerogative by succeeding monarchs ; and argued, from the absurdity of the proposition, that two theatres, established when the population was comparatively few in number, and extended over a small district, should supply all theatrical amusement to poste.. rity for all time to come. The patent theatres, it is said, plead, also, that they cannot bear the enormous expenditure on scenery and spectacle, if they are met by the competition of other theatres ; and that, as it is, they have been nearly ruined by such competi. tion. It is replied to this, that competition would excite a theatrical taste, and purify the errors of the great houses which have contributed to ruin them ; and it is urged, that theatres are affected by the law of James the First, which forbids monopoly in any trade or manufacture, as tradesmen and artisans are necessarily employed in the preparation of the performances: moreover, the inviolability of the patents contended for is inconsistent with the object for which they weregranted—the pro- tection of public morals,—for the patenthinight fall into the hands of children, or improper persons, and the character of the performances be so changed as to be unfit for the public, and no remedy would be left. Besides all this, the parties claiming under the patents have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Lord Chamberlain, not pretending to be placed beyond it. Mr. Sheridan, when proprietor of Drury Lane Theatre, entered into an agreement with Mr. Arnold for the use of his, until Drury Lane was rebuilt ; and in the deed, the licence of Mr. Arnold, and his right to perform under it, were distinctly recited. In short, from the year 1809 to 1829, no objection, on the score of patent rights, has been made by the great theatres to the renewal of that licence ; though, latterly, the superior interest of persons connected with theta may have induced the predecessors of the present Lord Chamberlain as restrict the licence to a short period of the year.
Thus the case stands at present. The supposed defence of the Great Theatres has been collected from the arguments of Mr. Arnold's coun- sel ; it is not possible to foresee what its precise course may be.
MR. ASTELL, THE EAST INDIA DIRECTOR.—Articles of the peace were exhibited against Henry Edgar Kearney, on Wednesday last, at the instance of Mr. Astell, Chairman of the Court of Directors of the East India Company. The affidavit detailed the circumstances deposed to at the police-office. An attachment was directed to issue; and ore Thursday Mr. Kearney was brought up, to be bound over to keep the peace. The articles having been read, and the affidavit in support of them, the defendant was charged in custody of the Sheriff, to be de- tained till he entered in recognizauces, himself in 500/., and two sure- ties in 2001. each, for his keeping the peace for a year towards the exhi- bitant. (court of King's Bench. Ex parte AS tell.)
ILLEGALITY OF CHARGES UPON LIVINGS.—In the case of air annuity granted by a clergyman, and secured by a warrant of attorney, the Court set aside the proceedings, on the ground that the transaction was a fraud upon the statute of Elizabeth, which forbids the charging ef livings with incumbrances. The annuity had been received for some years ; but being in arrear, judgment was entered up on the warrant of attorney, and a writ of sequestration issued, under which the plaintiff took possession of the living, and received the profits until the death of the incumbent. This . application was made by his son, who under- took to pay the principal and interest due ; to ascertain which, the usual reference to the Master was ordered. (King's Bench, Jan. 12. Flight v. Salter.) EFFECT OF BANKRUPT'S CERTIFICATE.—Action of assumpsit is
brought to recover 800/. The plaintiff (Yallop) had been the lessee of the Opera House, and gave up the establishment to the dee fendant (Ebers)' on an arrangement that Ebers should pay a bill of 8001., which had been accepted by the plaintiff. The defendant became a bankrupt before the bill was due, and the plaintiff was obliged to pay it. To the action the defendant pleaded his bankruptcy and certificate; but the Judge thought that this was a debt not proveable under- the commission and the verdict was given for the plaintiff. On a motion to set aside the verdict the Court refused ; because the Bankrupt Act was confined to cases of debt only ; and this was not a debt, but an under- taking. (King's Bench, Jan. 13. Yallop v. Ebers.)
CORPORATE OFFICES—The Court discharged a rule for a quo war- ?auto, on the ground that time office of Common Councilman of the borough of Carmarthen, which the defendant filled conjointly with that of Town Clerk, was not incompatible with the latter office. (King's Bench, Jan. 12. King v. Jones.) CHECK UPON INSOLYENCY.—An insolvent, discharged within five years, applied again for his discharge, not being opposed. He had obtained the consent of three-fourths of his creditors in value, but not in number, and only wanted one to complete the number. The Com- missioners decided, that the act peremptorily required the consent of three-fourths in number also, which must be obtained before the insol- vent could be heard upon his petition. (Insolvent Debtors' Court, Jan. 12. Re Harry Child).
"JUSTICE SHALL NOT BE SOLD:.—Mr. Carpenter, the publisher of the weekly "Political Letters," which are printed on unstamped paper, has been prosecuted for the non-payment of the newspaper-duties. On Thursday, he applied to the Court for a rule to show cause why he might not enter an appearance without the intervention of a Clerk in Court. At the Exchequer Office' the usual Clerk's fee of 14s. 4d. was demanded, and the Clerk refused to enter the appearance until it Was paid. The applicant claimed, by the law of the land, the right of de- fending himself without the intervention of any other person. Mr. Bowyer, the Clerk in question, stated, that in all Crown cases in that Court, it was customary to employ a Clerk in Court. 111r. Baron Bayley said, the applicant might take his rule ; but on being informed, that if appearance were not entered on that day, judgment would pass by defaulnhis Lordship recommended him to pay the fees, and take a rule to show cause why they should not be refunded. On Friday, Mr. Baron Bailey said he had found precedents in which permission had been granted to defendants to appear in person without paying the fee or employing a clerk in Court. The learned Baron directed the defendant to apply at the office for the fee which would be refunded. (Court of Exchequer, Jan. 13. King v. Carpenter.)