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every companye broughte forthe theire pa- | maior, and before that was donne the seconde giant, wcb was the cariage or place wch the came; and the firste went into the Waterplayed in; and before these playes weare gate Streete, and from thense unto Bridge played, there was a man web did ride, as I Streete, and so one after an other 'till all take it, upon St Georges daye throughe the the pagiantes weare played appoynted for Cittie, and there published the tyme and the the firste daye, and so likewise for the matter of the playes in breeife: the weare
seconde and the thirde daye. These pagiantes played upon Mondaye, Tuesday, and Wense- or carige was a hyghe place made like a daye in Whitson weeke. And thei first be .howse with 2 rowmes, beinge open on the ganne at the Abbaye gates; and when the tope; the lower rowme theie apparrelled and firste pagiante was played at the Abbaye dressed themselves, and the higher rowme gates, then it was wheled from thense to the theie played, and thei stoode upon
vi Pentice, at the hyghe Crosse, before the wheeles.”
BIBLE HISTORIES AND MORALITIES.
We have very distinct evidence that stories, but none comes away reformed in manners. from the Sacred Scriptures, in character per- And of all abuses this is most undecent haps very little different, from the ancient and intolerable, to suffer holy things to be Mysteries, were performed upon the London handled by men so profane, and defiled by stage at a period when classical histories, interposition of dissolute words.” (Page 103.) romantic legends, and comedies of intrigue, Those who have read the ancient Mysteries, attracted numerous audiences both in the and even the productions of Bishop Bale capital and the provinces. At the period which appeared not thirty years before which immediately preceded the true drama this was written, will agree that the players there was a fierce controversy on the sub- ought not wholly to have the blame of the ject of theatrical exhibitions; and from the “ interposition of dissolute words.” But unvery rare tracts then published we are en questionably it was a great abuse to have abled to form a tolerably accurate estimate « histories of the Bible set forth on the of the character of the early theatre. In stage;" for the use and advantage of such one of these tracts, which appeared in 1580, dramatic histories had altogether ceased. entitled “A Second and Third Blast of Re- Indeed, although scriptural subjects might trait from Plaies and Theaters,' we have the have continued to have been represented in following passage :-" The reverend word of 1580, we apprehend that they were princiGod, and histories of the Bible, set forth on pally taken from apocryphal stories, which the stage by these blasphemous players, are were regarded with little reverence even by so corrupted by their gestures of scurrility, those who were most earnest in their hosand so interlaced with unclean and whorish tility to the stage. Of such a character speeches, that it is not possible to draw any is the very curious play, printed in 1565, profit out of the doctrine of their spiritual entitled 'A pretie new Enterlude, both moralities. For that they exhibit under pithie and pleasaunt, of the story of King laughing that which ought to be taught Daryus, being taken out of the third and received reverendly. So that their au and fourth chapter of the third book of ditory may return made merry in mind, | Esdras.'
“The Prolocutor” first comes forward to Charity comes in, and reads him a very explain the object of “The worthy Enter severe lecture upon the impropriety of his tainment of King Daryus :"
deportment. It is of little avail; for two
friends of Iniquity-Importunity and Par“Good people, hark, and give ear awhile,
tiality—come to his assistance, and fairly For of this enterlude I will declare the style. drive Charity off the stage. Then Equity
enters to take up the quarrel against A certain king to you we shall bring in
Iniquity and his fellows; but Equity is Whose name was Darius, good and virtuous;
no match for them, and they all make way This king commanded a feast to be made, And at that banquet many people had.
for King Darius. This very long scene has
nothing whatever to do with the main acAnd when the king in counsel was set
tion of the piece, or rather what professes to Two lords commanded he to be fet,
be its action. Its tediousness is relieved by As concerning matters of three young men;
the Vice, who, however dull was his profligacy, Which briefly showed their fantasy then: contrived to make the audience laugh by the In writings their meanings they did declare, whisking of his tail and the brandishing of And to give them to the king they did not his sword, assisted no doubt by some wellspare.
known chuckle like that of the Punch of our
own days. King Darius, however, at length Now silence I desire you therefore,
comes with all his Council; and most capiFor the Vice is entering at the door.”
tal names do his chief councillors bear, not The stage-direction then says, “The Pro unworthy to be adopted even in courts of logue goeth out and Iniquity comes in." greater refinement-Perplexity and Curiosity. This is “ the formal Vice Iniquity” of The whole business of this scene of King * Richard III.;' the “ Vetus Iniquitas of Darius is to present a feast to the admiring The Devil is an Ass;' the Iniquity with spectators. Up to the present day the
wooden dagger,” and “ a juggler's jerkin English audience delights in a feast, and with false skirts,” of “The Staple of News.' will endure that two men should sit upon But in the interlude of ‘Darius' he has less the stage for a quarter of an hour, uttering complex offices than are assigned him by the most uprepeatable stupidity, provided Gifford—“to instigate the hero of the piece they seem to pick real chicken-bones and to wickedness, and, at the same time, to pro- drink real port. The Darius of the intertect him from the devil, whom he was per- lude feasted whole nations—upon the repremitted to buffet and baffle with his wooden sentative system; and here Ethiopia, Persia, sword, till the process of the story required Judah, and Media eat their fill, and are very that both the protector and the protected grateful. But feasts must have their end; should be carried off by the fiend, or the and so the curtain closes upon the eaters, latter driven roaring from the stage by some and Iniquity “cometh in singing:"miraculous interposition in favour of the re
La, soule, soule, fa, my, re, re, pentant offender.” * The first words which
I miss a note I dare well say: Iniquity utters indicate, however, that he
I should have been low when I was so high; was familiar with the audience, and the
I shall have it right anon verily.” audience familiar with him:
Again come his bottle-holders, Importunity “How now, my masters; how goeth the world
and Partiality; and in the course of their now? I come gladly to talk with you."
gabble Iniquity tells them that the Pope
is his father. Unhappily his supporters go And in a most extraordinary manner he out; and then Equity attacks him alone. does talk; swaggering and bullying as if Loud is their debate; and faster and more the whole world was at his command, till
furious is the talk when Constancy and * Ben Jonson's Works, Note on "The Devil is an Ass.' Charity come in. The matter, however,
ends seriously; and, they resolving that it is useless to argue longer with this impenitent
“ UPON A STAGE PLAY, WHICH I SAW WHEN sinner, “ somebody casts fire to Iniquity," and
I was A Child. he departs in a tempest of squibs and crackers. “ In the city of Gloucester the manner is The business of the play now at length begins. (as I think it is in other like corporations) Darius tells his attendants that the three men that, when players of interludes come to town, who kept his chamber while he slept woke they first attend the mayor to inform him him by their disputing and murmuring, what nobleman's servants they are, and so
to get license for their public playing; and Every man to say a weightier matter than the
if the mayor like the actors, or would show other."
respect to their lord and master, he appoints The subject of their dispute was, what is the them to play their first play before himself strongest thing; and their answers, as we are
and the aldermen and common council of informed by the King's attendants, had been the city; and that is called the mayor's play, reduced to writing :
where every one that will comes in without
money, the mayor giving the players a re“ The sentence of the first man is this,
ward as he thinks fit, to show respect unto Wine a very strong thing is; The second also I will declare to you,
them. At such a play my father took me That the king is stronger than any other
with him, and made me stand between his thing verily;
legs, as he sat upon one of the benches, The third also I will declare
where we saw and heard very well. The Women, saith he, is the strongest of all,
play was called “The Cradle of Security,' Though by women we had a fall."
wherein was personated a king or some great
prince, with his courtiers of several kinds, Of their respective texts the three young amongst which three ladies were in special men are then called in to make exposition ; grace with him, and they, keeping him in and certainly, whatever defects of manners delight and pleasures, drew him from his were exhibited by the audiences of that day, graver counsellors, hearing of sermons, and they must have possessed the virtue of pa- listening to good counsel and admonitions, tience in a remarkable degree to have en that in the end they got him to lie down in abled them to sit out these most prolix a cradle upon the stage, where these three harangues. But they have an end ; and ladies, joining in a sweet song, rocked him the king declares Zorobabel to be deserv- asleep, that he snorted again, and in the ing of signal honours, in his demonstration
mean time closely conveyed under the clothes that, of all things, woman is the strongest. wherewithal he was covered a vizard like a A metrical prayer for Queen Elizabeth, ut- swine's snout upon his face, with three wire tered by Constancy, dismisses the audience chains fastened thereunto, the other end to their homes *.
whereof being holden severally by those The most precise and interesting account three ladies, who fall to singing again, and which we possess of one of the earliest of then discovered his face, that the spectator the theatrical performances is from the re- might see how they had transformed him collection of a man who was born in the going on with their singing. Whilst all this same year as William Shakspere. In 1639
was acting, there came forth of another door R. W. (R. Willis), stating his age to be se at the farthest end of the stage two old men, venty-five, published a little volume, called the one in blue, with a sergeant-at-arms his
Mount Tabor,' which contains a passage mace on his shoulder, the other in red, with which is essential to be given in any his a drawn sword in his hand, and leaning with tory or sketch of the early stage : the other hand upon the other's shoulder,
and so they two went along in a soft pace, * There is a copy of this very curious production in the
round about by the skirt of the stage, till at Garrick Collection of Plays in the British Museum; and a transcript of Garrick's copy is in the Bodleian Library. last they came to the cradle, when all the
court was in greatest jollity, and then the sion in me, that when I came towards man's foremost old man with his mace stroke a estate it was as fresh in my memory as if fearful blow upon the cradle, whereat all I had seen it newly acted.”. the courtiers, with the three ladies and the It would appear from Willis's descripvizard, all vanished; and the desolate prince, tion that The Cradle of Security' was for starting up barefaced, and finding himself the most part dumb show. It is probable thus sent for to judgment, made a lament- that he was present at its performance at able complaint of his miserable case, and so Gloucester when he was six or seven years was carried away by wicked spirits. This of age. It evidently belongs to that class prince did personate in the moral the of moral plays which were of the simplest wicked of the world; the three ladies, construction. And yet it was popular long pride, covetousness, and luxury; the two after the English drama had reached its old men the end of the world and the last highest eminence. judgment. This sight took such impres
In a later period of the stage, when the men hath decayed, and they are thought actors chiefly depended upon the large sup- to be covetous by permitting their servants, port of the public, instead of receiving which cannot live by themselves, and whom the wages of noblemen, however wealthy for nearness they will not maintain, to live and powerful, the connection of a company on the devotion or alms of other men, passof players with a great personage, whose ing from country to country, from one gentle
servants” they were called, was scarcely man's house to another, offering their service, more than a licence to act without the in- which is a kind of beggary. Who, indeed, terference of the magistrate. But, in the to speak more truly, are become beggars for period of the stage which we are now de- their servants. For commonly the good-will scribing, it would appear that the players men bear to their lords makes them draw were literally the retainers of powerful the strings of their purses to extend their lords, who employed them for their own liberality to them, where otherwise they recreation, and allowed them to derive a
would not.” Speaking of the writers of profit from occasional public exhibitions. plays, the same author adds,—“ But some In "The Third Blast of Retreat from Plays perhaps will say the nobleman delighteth and Theatres' we have the following pas- in such things, whose humours must be consage, which appears decisive upon this point: tented, partly for fear and partly for com
“What credit can return to the nobleman modity; and if they write matters pleasant to countenance his men to exercise that they are best preferred in Court among the quality which is not sufferable in any com- cunning heads.” In the old play of The monweal? Whereas, it was an ancient cus Taming of a Shrew' the players in the ‘Intom that no man of honour should retain duction are presented to us in very homely any man but such as was as excellent in guise. The messenger tells the lordsome one good quality or another, whereby, if occasion so served, he might get his own
“ Your players be come, living. Then was every nobleman's house a And do attend your honour's pleasure here." commonweal in itself. But since the retaining of these caterpillars the credit of noble- | The stage-direction then says,
“ Enter two
of the players with packs at their backs, and perboles, amphibologies, similitude.” * It a boy.” To the question of the lord, is a dramatized romance, of which the title
“Now, sirs, what store of plays have you!”— expresses that it represents a possible aspect the Clown answers, Marry, my lord, you
of human life; and the name of the chief may have a tragical or a commodity, or
character, Common Conditions, from which what you will ;" for which ignorance the
the play derives title, would import that other player rebukes the Clown, saying,
he does not belong to the supernatural or al“A comedy, thou shouldst say: zounds? legorical class of personages. Mr. Collier, in thou 'lt shame us all.” Whether this pic
his “ History of Dramatic Poetry,' expresses ture belongs to an earlier period of the
an opinion that the character of Common stage than the similar scene in Shakspere's Conditions is the Vice of the performance.
Induction, or whether Shakspere was fa- It appears to us, on the contrary, that the miliar with a better order of players, it is ordinary craft of a cunning knave—a little, clear that in his scene the players appear action,' in the same way that the Vice
restless, tricky servant-works out all the as persons of somewhat more importance, had formerly interfered with it in the and are treated with more respect :
moral plays ; but that he is essentially “ Lord. Sirrah, go see what trumpet 't is and purposely distinguished from the Vice. that sounds :
Mr. Collier also calls this play merely an Belike, some noble gentleman, that means,
interlude: it appears to us in its outward Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
form to be as much a comedy as the Re-enter a Servant.
Winter's Tale. How now? who is it?
Three tinkers appear upon the stage,
An it please your honour, singing,
“Hey tisty toisty, tinkers good fellows they be; Enter Players.
In stopping of one hole, they used to make
three.” Now, fellows, you are welcome.
These worthies are called Drift, Unthrift, Players. We thank your honour. Lord. Do you intend to stay with me to
and Shift; and, trade being bad with them, night?
they agree to better it by a little robbing. 2 Play. So please your lordship to accept Unthrift tells his companions, our duty.
“ But, masters, wot ye what? I have heard news Lord. With all my heart.”
about the court this day,
That there is a gentleman with a lady gone The lord, however, even in this scene, gives
away; his order, “ Take them to the buttery,”
And have with them a little parasite full of a proof that the itinerant companies were
money and coin.” classed little above menials. Of the performances of an itinerant com
These travellers the tinkers agree to rob; pany at this period we will select an example and we have here an example of the readiof “Comedy.”
ness of the stage to indulge in satire. The 'A Pleasant Comedie called Common Con- purveyors who, a few years later, were deditions' is neither a Mystery nor a Moral
nounced in Parliament, are, we suppose, here Play. It dispenses with impersonations of pointed at. Shift says, Good and Evil; Iniquity holds no
“We will take away their purses, and say we do troversy with Charity, and the Devil is it by commission;" not brought in to buffet or to be buffeted. to which Drift replies, The play is written in rhymed verse, and
“Who made a commissioner of you? very ambitiously written. The matter is If thou make no better answer at the bar, thou “ set out with sweetness of words, fitness wilt hang, I tell thee true.” of epithets, with metaphors, allegories, hy * Gosson. "Plays Confuted,' second action.