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They sang terli terlow:
back the date of the play to the reign of So merrily the shepherds their pipes can blow.” Edward III., though the language is occaThere is then a song “ the women sing :"
sionally modernized. We have then the
three kings with their gifts. They are “Lully, lulla, you little tiny child;
brought before Herod, who treats them By, by, lully, lullay, you little tiny child:
courteously, but is inexorable in his cruel By, by, lully, lullay.
decree. Herod rages in the streets; but O sisters two, how may we do
the flight into Egypt takes place, and then For to preserve this day
The address of the women to This poor youngling, for whom we do sing the pitiless soldiers, imploring, defying, is By, by, lully, lullay?
not the least curious part of the performHerod the king, in his raging,
ance; for example, Charged he hath this day
“Sir knightes, of your courtesy, His men of might, in his own sight,
This day shame not your chivalry, All young children to slay.
But on my child have pity,"
is the mild address of one mother. Another That woe is me, poor child, for thee, And ever mourn and say, For thy parting neither say nor sing
“He that slays my child in sight, By, by, lully, lullay.”
If that my strokes on him may light,
Be he squire or knight, The shepherds again take up the song :
I hold him but lost.” “Down from heaven, from heaven so high,
The fury of a third is more excessive :-
“Sit he never so high in saddle, They sang terly, terlow:
But I shall make his brains addle, So merrily the shepherds their pipes can blow.” And here with my pot ladle
With him will I fight.” The simple melody of these songs has come
We have little doubt that he who described down to us : they are part songs, each hav
the horrors of a siege, ing the treble, the tenor, and the bass*. The star conducts the shepherds to the Whiles the mad mothers with their howls con“ crib of poor repast,” where the child lies; fused and, with a simplicity which is highly cha
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry racteristic, one presents the child his pipe,
At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen,”+the second his hat, and the third his mittens. had heard the howlings of the women in the Prophets now come, who declare in length- Coventry pageant. And so “fynes lude de ened rhyme the wonder and the blessing :
taylars and scharmen." “ Neither in halls nor yet in bowers
The pageants thus performed by the Born would he not be,
Guilds of Coventry were of various subjects, Neither in castles nor yet in towers
but all scriptural. The Smiths' pageant That seemly were to see.”
was the Crucifixion ; and most curious are The messenger of Herod succeeds ; and very which we are speaking, for expenses of hel
their accounts, from 1449 till the time of curious it is, and characteristic of a period mets for Herod, and cloaks for Pilate ; of when the king's laws were delivered in the
tabards for Caiaphas, and gear for Pilate's language of the Conqueror, that he speaks wife; of a staff for the Demon, and a beard in French. This circumstance would carry for Judas. There are payments, too, to a * This very curious pageant, essentially different from
man for hanging Judas, and for cock-crowthe same portion of Scripture-history in the 'Ludus Co- ing. The subject of the Cappers' pageant ventriæ,' is printed entire in Mr. Sharp's . Dissertation,' as well as the score of these songs.
# Henry V., Act 111., Scene Ill.
was the Resurrection. They have charges | true drama, has not been preserved. It for making the play-book and pricking the would be curious to contrast it with the songs; for money spent at the first rehearsal beautiful dramatic poem on the same suband the second rehearsal ; for supper on the ject, by an accomplished scholar of our own play-day, for breakfasts and for dinners. | day, also a member of the University of Os- ! The subject of the Drapers' pageant was ford. But the list of characters remains, that of Doomsday; and one of their articles which shows that the play was essentially of machinery sufficiently explains the cha- historical, exhibiting the contests of the racter of their performance—“A link to set Jewish factions as described by Josephus. the world on fire,” following “ Paid for the The accounts manifest that the play was got barrel for the earthquake.” We may readily up with great magnificence in 1584 ; but it believe that the time was fast approaching was not played again until 1591, when it i when such pageants would no longer be was once more performed along with the tolerated. It is more than probable that famous Hock Tuesday. It was then ordered the performances of the Guilds were origin- tha no other plays whatever should be perally subordinate to those of the Grey Friars; formed ; and the same order, which makes perhaps devised and supported by the paro- this concession “at the request of the Comchial clergy *. But when the Church be- mons," directs" that all the May-poles that came opposed to such representations-when, now are standing in this city shall be taken indeed, they were incompatible with the down before Whitsunday next, and none spirit of the age—it is clear that the efforts hereafter to be set up.” In that year Coof the laity to uphold them could not long ventry saw the last of its pageants. But be successful. They would be certainly per- Marlowe and Shakspere were in London, formed without the reverence which once building up something more adapted to that belonged to them. Their rude action and age; more universal: dramas that no change simple language would be ridiculed ; and, of manners or policies can destroy. when the feeling of ridicule crept in, their The pageant of “The Nine Worthies' nature would be altered, and they would be- was often performed by the dramatic body come essentially profane. There is a very of the Coventry Grammar School; the an. curious circumstance connected with the cient pageant, such as was presented to Coventry pageants, which shows the struggle Henry VI. and his Queen in 1455, and of that was made to keep the dramatic spirit which the Leet-book contains the faithful of the people in this direction. In 1584 the copyt. The lofty speeches which the three Smiths performed, after many preparations llebrews, Joshua, David, and Judas Macand rehearsals, a new pageant, the Destruc- cabeus ; the three Infidels, Ilector, Alexantion of Jerusalem. The Smiths applied to der, and Julius Cæsar ; and the three Chrisone who had been educated in their own tians, Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of town, in the Free School of Coventry, and Boulogne, utter in this composition, are who in 1584 belonged to St. John's, Oxford, singular specimens of the mock heroic. to write this new play for them. The fol- Hector thus speaks :lowing entry appears in the city accounts:
“Most pleasant princes, recorded that may be, " Paid to M' Smythe of Oxford the xrth daye I, Hector of Troy, that am chief conqueror, of aprill 1584 for hys paynes for writing of the Lowly will obey you, and kneel on my knee.” tragedye--xiij', vj', viija.”
And Alexander thus :We regret that this play, so liberally paid
“I, Alexander, that for chivalry beareth the for when compared with subsequent pay
ball, ments to the Jonsons and Dekkers of the
Most courageous in conquest through the * It is clear, we think, that the pageants performed by
world am I named, the Guilds were altogether different from the · Ludus Welcome you princes.” Coventriæ,' which Dugdale expressly tells us were performed by the Grey Friars.
| Sharp, page 145
We have very distinct evidence that stories | ditory may return made merry in mind, from the Sacred Scriptures, in character per- but none comes away reformed in manners. haps very little different from the ancient And of all abuses this is most undecent Mysteries, were performed upon the London and intolerable, to suffer holy things to be stage at a period when classical histories, handled by men so profane, and defiled by romantic legends, and comedies of intrigue, interposition of dissolute words.” (Page 103.) attracted numerous audiences both in the Those who have read the ancient Mysteries, capital and the provinces. At the period and even the productions of Bishop Bale which immediately preceded the true drama which appeared not thirty years before there was a fierce controversy on the sub- this was written, will agree that the players ject of theatrical exhibitions; and from the ought not wholly to have the blame of the very rare tracts then published we are en-“interposition of dissolute words.” But unabled to form a tolerably accurate estimate questionably it was a great abuse to have of the character of the early theatre. In “ histories of the Bible set forth on the one of these tracts, which appeared in 1580, stage;" for the use and advantage of such entitled ' A Second and Third Blast of Re- dramatic histories had altogether ceased. trait from Plaies and Theaters,' we have the Indeed, although scriptural subjects might following passage :- -“The reverend word of have continued to have been represented in God, and histories of the Bible, set forth on 1580, we apprehend that they were princithe stage by these blasphemous players, are pally taken from apocryphal stories, which so corrupted by their gestures of scurrility, were regarded with little reverence even by and so interlaced with unclean and whorish those who were most earnest in their hosspeeches, that it is not possible to draw any tility to the stage. Of such a character profit out of the doctrine of their spiritual is the very curious play, printed in 1565, moralities. For that they exhibit under entitled “A pretie new Enterlude, both laughing that which ought to be taught pithie and pleasaunt, of the story of King and received reverendly. So that their au- Daryus, being taken out of the third and **Love's Labour's Lost,' Act. v.
fourth chapter of the third book of 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 “Good people, hark, and give ear awhile,
friends of Iniquity-Importunity and ParFor of this enterlude I will declare the style.
tiality—come to his assistance, and fairly
drive Charity off the stage. Then Equity A certain king to you we shall bring in
enters to take up the quarrel against Whose name was Darius, good and virtuous; Iniquity and his fellows; but Equity is This king commanded a feast to be made, no match for them, and they all make way 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 mcanings 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 Now silence I desire you therefore,
own days. King Darius, however, at length
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 a “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 unrepeatable 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 bafile with his wooden sentative system; and here Ethiopia, Persia, sword, till the process of the story required Judah, and Media cat 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 caters, 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 :“How now, my masters; how goeth the world
Again come his bottle-holders, Importunity now?
and Partiality; and in the course of their 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
Charity come in. The matter, however,
* Ben Jonson's Works. Note on "The Devil is an Ass.'
ends seriously; and, they resolving that it is useless to argue longer with this impenitent
“UPON A STAGE PLAY, WHICH I SAW WIEN 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;
them. At such a play my father took me The second also I will declare to you, That the king is stronger than
with him, and made me stand between his any
other thing verily; legs, as he sat upon one of the benches,
The The third also I will declare
where we saw and heard very well. 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, Fenty-five, published a little volume, called the one in blue, with a sergeant-at-arms bis "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