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ALL TRE WORLD'S A STAGE
THE STORY OF SHAKSPEARE'S MEASURE FOR
FROM MR. DOUCE'S ILLUSTRATIONS. THREE sources whence the plot of this play might have been extracted, have already been mentioned, viz. Whetstone's Heptameron, 1582, 4to. ; his Promos and Cassandra, 1578, 4to.; and novel 5. decad. 8. in Cinthio Giraldi. It is probable that the general outline of the story is founded on fact, as it is related, with some variety of circumstances, by several writers, and appears to have been very popular. It has therefore been thought worth while to point out the following works in which it
In Lipsii Monita et exempla politica, Antverp. 1613, 4to. cap. viii. Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, causes one of his noblemen to be put to death for offend. ing in the manner that Angelo would have done ; hut he is first compelled to marry the lady. This story has been copied from Lipsius into Wanley's Wonders of the little World, book iii. chap. 29. edit. 1678, folio; and from Wanley into that favourite little chap book Burton's Unparalelled Varieties, p. 42. See likewise The Spectator, No. 491. This event was made the subject of a French play by Antoine Maréchal, called Le Jugement équitable de Charles le Hardy, 1646, 4to. Here the offender is called Rodolph, governor of Maestrick, and by theatrical licence turns out to be the duke's own son. Another similar story of Charles's upright judgment may be found in the third volume of Goulart's Thresor d'Histoires admirables, 1628, 8vo. p. 373.
Much about the time when the above events are supposed to have happened, Olivier le Dain, for his wickeduess surnamed the Devil, originally the barber, and afterwards the favourite, of Louis XI. is said to have committed a similar offence, for which he was deservedly hanged, See Godefroy's edition of the Memoirs of Philip de Comines, Brussels, 1723, 8vo. tom. v. p. 55.
At the end of Belleforest's translation of Bandello's Novels, there are three additional, of his own invention.
The first of these relates to a captajn, who, having seduced the wife of one of his soldiers, under a promise to save the life of her husband, exhibited him soon afterwards, through the window of bis apartment, suspended on a gibbet. His commander, the Marshal de Brisac, after compelling him to marry the widow, adjudges him to death. The striking similitude of a part of this story to what Mr. Hume has related of Colonel Kirke will present itself to every reader, and perhaps induce some to think with Mr. 'Ritson (however they will differ in his mode of expressing the sentiment), that Mr. Hume's narration" is an impudent and barefaced lie." See The Quip Modest, p. 30. A defence also of Kirke may be seen in the Monthly Magazine, vol. ii. 544. Yet though we may be inclined to adopt this side of the question, it will only serve to diminish, in a single instance, the atrocities of that sanguinary monster.
In Lupton's Siquila, Too good to be true, 1580, 4to. there is a long story of a woman, who, her husband having slain his adversary in a duel, goes to the judge for the purpose of prevailing on him to remit the sentence of the law. He obtains of her, in the first place, a large sum of money, and afterwards the reluctant prostitution of her person, under a solemn promise to save her husband. The rest as in Belleforest's Nove!.
In volume i. of Goulart's Thrésor d'Histoires Admirables, above cited, there are two stories on this subject. The first, in p. 300, is of a citizen of Como, in Italy, who in 1547 was detained prisoner by a Spanish captain on a parge of murder. The wife pleads for him as before, d'obtains a promise of favour on the same terms. The husband recommends her compliance, after which the Spaniard beheads him. Coinplaint is made to the Duke of Ferrara, who compels the captain to marry the widow, and then orders him to be hanged. The other, in p. 304, is of a provost, named La Vouste, whose conduct resembles that of the other villain's, with this additio?: He says to the woman, “ I promised to restore your husband; I have not kept him, here he is.” No punishment is inflicted on this fellow,
The last example to be mentioned on this occasion occurs in Cooke's Vindieation of the Professors and Profession of the Law, 1646, 4to. p. 61. During the wars between Charles the Fifth and Francis the First, one Raynucio had been imprisoned at Milap for betraying a
fort to the French. His wife petitions the governor, Don Gárcias, in his favour, who refuses to listen but on disa honourable terms, which are indignantly rejected. The husband, like Claudio, in Measure for Measure, at first commends the magnanimity of his wife, and submits to his sentence; but when the time for his execution approaches, his courage fails him, and he prevails on his wife to acquiesce in the governor's demands. A sum of ten thousand crowns is likewise extorted from the unhappy woman, and she receives in return the dead body of her husband. The Duke of Ferrara, Hercules of Este, who was general for the Emperor, is informed of the circumstance. He first persuades the governor to marry the lady, and then orders him to be beheaded.
THE PLAYHOUSE. This profest diversion of the age flourishes with luxurious elegance, in defiance of timid moralists, and the more furious attacks of the puritan and methodist.
In the ardour of well-meant but mistaken zeal, these declaimers forget that a love of pleasure is a natural, and, if inoderately iudulged, a rational principle, implanted for wise purposes in the breasts of us all.
That it is unlawful to laugh, and criminal to pretend to be happy, an impious idea, which describes the Almighty and benevolent Disposer of the Universe as a tyrant, and man as the victim of a severe destiny, could only' have entered an imagination clouded by despair, and impervious to the mild rays of hope and mercy,
But, if the doors of our theatres could be closed, I fear the divine and philanthropist would gain an ineffectual victory, by driving the promiscuous multitude of a crowded metropolis
to the sties of sensuality and drunkenness, or the recesses of secret sin.
Yet the merit of Collier, and those who followed him, should not be forgotten; they attacked and drove from the stage those impious railleries and obscene allusions, injurious to correct amusement, and disgraceful to national taste, which tainted the dramas of the day, and too often sully the pages of Wycherly, Congreve, Farquhar, and Vanburgh.
It would be easy, in the present instance, from the abuse to argue against the use of amusement; but does it follow from reason, or the nature of things, or from a negligent and corrupted police, that the avenues of our theatres must, on every side, be surrounded by the noi. some dens of prostitution and fraud, where women and wine are employed, by well-known desperadoes and their emissaries, as decoys to the gaming table, whilst plunder and suicide close the dismal scene?
The same argument might with equal propriety be al. leged against kings, because St. James's palace, the residence of a prince exemplary for pure manners and decorous conduct, is almost elbowed by gamblers, pickpochets and impures; and in such nuinbers, that if fire from heaven, as in the days of the patriarchs, should descend and destroy every house of infamy in the royal purlieus, our gracious monarch would almost have a desart around him.
It is not our intention to criticise on the drama, or moralise on its abuses, but to notice the
decorations and bulky magnificence of our new-built theatres, which, leaving regal splendour and ecclesiastic grandeur at an humble distance, rival or outstrip the vast dimensions and graceful proportions of ancient art. . The coup d'æil is certainly striking; but, after the stare of wonder and the exclamations of panegyric are satiated and exhausted, when the critic and dramatic amateur are seated in the brilliant magic circle, to enjoy that for which most rational men visit a theatre, they will find, with regret, that comfort, and the pleasure of distinctly hearing what is said on the stage, have been wholly sacrificed to architectural grandeur and vastness of space; a space which the woeful experience of past seasons has feelingly told the managers is never, but on the rare occasion of some temporary stimulants, adequately occupied.
Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door has repeatedly presented itself to the imagination as well as feelings of many a shivering spectator.
Mr. Sheridan might have been taught, without paying so dearly for his knowledge, and without exhibiting the degrading spectacle of a half-finished building (that unerring symptom of an empty treasury,) he might have been taught, that there is a degree of space, accurately
determined by reason and experience, beyond which the human voice, however artificially assisted or violently strained, cannot with efficacy reach.
The rapture of an immense receipt may seize the imagination or tempt the avarice of a manager, but he ought never to lose sight of the prior claims of the public to comfort and amusement, or he will, as in the case of Drury Lane Theatre, be often obliged to exhibit bis gilded lattices, his stuccoes, his pilasters, his processions, his cavalcades, his laughing tragedies and crying comedies, to empty benches ; whilst the few who are so unlucky as to be entrapped by the gaudy puppet-shew will suffer mischiefs not easily remedied, from damp space unoccupied, and from freezing currents of air; and all they have, in return, is a view of apparently dumb actors, whom they may like to see, but, with the exception of the fiddlers, cannot possibly hear. The public would have been to the full
as well amused, and much better satisfied, had the theatres prepared for their reception been less gaudy and less stupendous, without levying additional contributions on their pockets; contributions which, in the present rage for sumptuous exhibition, they would have paid with less regret, had not the pleasure derived from the drama, and the comfort of hearing a good play, been proportionately diminished, if not almost wholly destroyed. C. P. B.
MACKLIN AND GARRICK. GARRICK and Macklin frequently rode out together, and often baited at some of the public houses on the Richmond road. Upon these occasions, whenever they came to a turnpike, or to settle the account of the luncheon, Garrick either had changed his breeches that morning, and was without money, or else used to produce
a 36s. piece, which made it difficult to change. Upon · these occasions, Macklin, to use his own phrase,
Captain Flashman;" that is, paid the charge. This went on for some time, when Macklin, finding that Garrick never took his turn of paying the expenses, or repaying those he had advanced for him, challenged him one day for a debt he owed him, and then pulled out a long slip of paper, in which the several disbursements were entered according to date, place, and company;