He wandered from village to village and town to town, preaching to enormous audiences, always in the open air; the earnestness and straightforward eloquence with which he insisted that true repentance came from the heart, that pious pilgrimages and the absolution of the Church were mere outward symbols, appealed to all classes.
In 1757 Voltaire came to reside at Lausanne; and although he took but little notice of the young Englishman of twenty, who eagerly sought and easily obtained an introduction, the establishment of the theatre at Monrepos, where the brilliant versifier himself declaimed before select audiences his own productions on the stage, had no small influence in fortifying Gibbon's taste for the French theatre, and in at the same time abating that "idolatry for the gigantic genius of Shakespeare which is inculcated from our infancy as the first duty of an Englishman."
In 1567 he was elected a fellow of his college, and subsequently was chosen lecturer of St Clement's church, Cambridge, where he preached to admiring audiences for many years.
He would frequently have audiences of the king, by whom he was graciously received.
A pageant and masque given by 2,000 participants before audiences of Ioo,000 led to the construction in 1917 of a municipal theatre in Forest Park, with accommodation for 9,270.
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