Obrázky stránek

addressed by Thomas Carew to Mr. (afterwards whom the piece was played, sat in the balcony; sir William) Davenant, he thus describes the au and a curtain being hung across the stage, the perdiences and actors at these public theatres : formers entered between that curtain and the real

“These are the men, in crowded heaps that throng audience ; and when it was drawn, began their per-
To that adulterate stage, where not a tongue
Of th' untund kennel can a line repeat

formances, addressing themselves to the balcony, Of serious sense."

with their backs to the spectators in the theatre.

A tolerable idea of this balcony, &c. may be THE CURTAIN THEATRE

gathered from the fac-simile wood-cut prefixed to Was situated in the neighbourhood of Shore- the description of the Red Bull Theatre. ditch. The Curtain Road still exists; and near When tragedies were performed, the stage was this spot, it is very probable that the playhouse hung with black, as appears from the following stood. It was called The Curtain, because the extract from the Induction to A Warning for Fair origioal sigo bong outside was a striped curtain. Women, 1599; as well as from many other pasWhen it was built, has not, we believe, been as sages in the old dramatic writers : certained; but it is mentioned, in Heath's Epi “ History..Look, Comedie, 1 mark'd it not till now, grams, 1610, as being then open; and The Hecior

The stage is hung with blacke, and I perceive of Germany was performed in it by a company of

The auditors prepar'd for tragedie.” young men in 1615.

Trap-doors are not a modern invention. Their The performers at this theatre were called The early use is implied in the marginal directions of Prince's Servants, till the accession of Charles the many of the old plays. In All for Money, a moralFirst, soon after which period, it appears to have ity, 1578, is the following: " Here, with some fine been used only by prize-fighters.

conveyance, pleasure shall appeare from beneathe.'' So, in Marston's Antonio's Revenge, 1602: “ Enter

Balurdo from under the stage." In Macbeth, the INTERIOR OF THE THEATRES.

cauldron sinks; and in The Roaring Girl, 1611, It bas already been observed, that many of our there is a character called Trap Door. ancient dramatic pieces were performed in inn The prompter, or book-bolder as he was someyards, in which, in the beginning of Elizabeth's times called, and the property-man, were regular reign, the comedians, who then first united them- appendages of the stage. In the Induction to selves into companies, erected an occasional stage. Cynthia's Revels, 1601, we bave the following pasThe galleries at the end, and on each side of the sage: “I assure you, sir, we are not so ofliciously inn-sards, were similar to our modern inns, and befriended by him, (the author,) as to have bis were well adapted for the accommodation of the presence in the tiring-house, to prompt us aloud, aadieace. They were ranged over each other; and stamp at the book-holder, zwear for our properties, the same form was retained in the erection of the

curse the

poor tire-man, rayle the musické out of regular theatres. The small rooms under the low- tune, &c.” And in A Midsummer Night's Dream, est, answered to oar present boxes, and were called Quince says, “In the mean time, I will draw a bill rooms. The stage was erected in the area, with of properties, such as our play wants.” its back to the gateway, where the admission The stage was lighted by candles fixed in large money was taken. The iniddle of the area was branches similar to those used in churches; and appropriated to the lowest class of visitants. Plays before 1611, we find that wax-lights were used. could only be acted in these places in fine weather, These branches being found inconvenient, from as there was no roof. In the middle of the Globe, their obstructing the sight of the spectators, were and other public theatres, there was likewise an subsequently removed, and small circular wooden open area, where the common people stood to see frames, with holes in which candles were fitted, the exbibition; from which circumstance, they are supplied their place : four of these frames were bung called by Shakspeare “the groundlings,” and by on each side of the stage. It was not till Garrick's Ben Jonson, the " understanding gentlemen of the return from France in 1765, that the present mode ground." This part, in the private theatres, was of lighting the scenery by lamps invisible to the termed the pit, and had seats. The boxes (or andience, was adopted. It appears from the cut rooms as they were called) were of considerable which accompanies the description of the Red Bull size in the public theatres. The body of the house theatre that the front of the stage was illuminated was lighted by cressets, a sort of large open lan- by a row of lamps or candles. terns, pearly similar in size to those fixed in the poop of a sbip.


WHETHER what we understand by scenes were The stage was separated from the audience only in use in Shakspeare's time, is a matier of dispute by pales, and was strewed with rushes, the usual among the commentators. Steevens takes the covering of floors in Shakspeare's time. On some affirmative side of the question; but a great portion occasions it was entirely matted ; but this was very of his argument seems to rest on mere analogy rare. The curtain, which hangs in front of the and conjecture. “Where” says he, “ machinery modern stage, drawn up by lines and pullies, though was discovered, the less complicated adjunct of not a modern invention, (for it was used by Inigo scenes was scarcely wanting....... Where a bed Jones in the masque at court) was yet an apparatus, is introduced, the scene of a bed-chamber would of to which the simple mechanism of our ancient course be at hand. ...... Macduff' examines the theatres bad not arrived. The curtains opened in outside of Inverness castle with such minuteness, the middle, and were drawn backwards and for that he distinguishes even the nests which the wards oa an iron rod. In some playhouses they martins had built under the projecting parts of its were woollen, in others made of silk. Towards the roof. Romeo, standing in a garden, points to the rear of the stage was a balcony, or upper stage, tops of fruit-trees gilded by the moon. The proabout eight or nine feet from the ground. On the logue-speaker to the Second Part of King Henry front of it, curtaius were hung, to occasionally IV. expressly shews the spectators this wormconceal the persons who sat in it. At each side of eaten hold of ragged stone,' in which Northumberit was a box, sometimes called the private box, land was lodged. lachimo takes the most exact which was at a lower price, and where some per- inventory of every article in Imogen's bed-chamber, sous sate, either from economy or singularity from the silk and silver, of which ber tapestry was From this balcony, a part of the dialogue was wrought, down to the Cupids that support her spoken, when a play was exhibited within a play andirons. Had not the inside of this apartment, (as in Hamlet); the court, or audience, before I with its proper furniture, been represented, how


ridiculous must the actions of Iachimo have ap- the middle of the freese was a compartment, wherein peared! He must have stood looking out of the was written Rhodes." room for the particulars supposed to be visible Nothing in the shape of proof that scenery was within it.” [Absurd as this niay seem, it was most employed can be adduced from the descriptions probably the case.] .... “In one of the parts of which appear in the old plays. The author might King Henry VI. a cannon is discharged against a be very profuse in such descriptions, to assist the tower; and conversations are held in almost every imagination of his readers ; but it would by po scone from different walls, tarrets, and battle means follow that his play was actually represented ments," &c.

with these auxiliaries. Malone adopts the opposite opinion, and appears to have the best of the argument. The following is

THE ACTORS. an epitome of his reasoning. He contends that IN 1583, soon after a furious attack had been moveable scenes were not in use in England till made on the stage by the Puritans, twelve of the 1605, when three plays were performed at Oxford principal actors were selected from the companies before James I. thus described by a contemporary ihen subsisting, under the license and protection of writer: “ The stage was built at the upper end of various noblemen, and were sworn her majesty's the ball, as it seemed at the first sight: but indeed servants. Eight of them had an annual allowance it was but a false wall faire painted, and adorned of £3 : 6s : 8d. each. At that time, there were with stately pillars, which pillars would turn about: eight companies of comedians, each of which by reason whereof, with the help of other painted performed iwo or three times a week. About clothes, the stage did vary three times in one tra the latter part of Sbakspeare's time, there were gedy." It is observable that the writer of this five principal companies in London: the King's account does not appear to be acquainted with the Servants, who performed at the Globe, and in word scene, but employs painted clothes" in that Blackfriars ; the Prince's Servants, who performed

Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598, gives at the Curtain ; the Palsgrave's Servants, at the three definitions of the word, but none applicable to Fortune; the Players of the Revels, at the Red the modern acceptation. Cotgrave's English and Bull; and the Lady Elizabeth's Servants, or, as French Dictionary, 1611; Bullokar's English Ex- they are sometimes called, the Queen of Bobemia’s positor; Minsheu's Guide to the Tongues, 1617; Players, at the Cockpit. The Players at the Globe and Cockeram's English Dictionary, 1656; are aud at Blackfriars belonged to the same company, equally deficient; "and can it be supposed says namely, the King's Servants, which title they obMalone, “ that all these writers should have been tained after a license had been granted to them by ignorant of it?" Steevens makes a weak attempt James I. in 1603. Like the other servants of the to confute this by saying, that “ little deference is household, they were sworn into office, and each due to the authority of ancient dictionaries, which allowed four yards of bastard scarlet for a cloak, usually content themselves with allotting a single and a quarter of a yard of velvet for a cape, every sense to a word, without attending to its different second year, shades of meaning;” but here is not a shade of If all the players, whose names are enumerated meaning, but a distinct meaning.

in the first folio edition of Shakspeare's works, Sir Philip Sydney, describing the state of the belonged to the same theatre, they formed a nustage in his time, says: “Now you shall have three merous company; but this is by no means probable. ladies walk to gather flowers, and then we must Indeed, at one time, their complement was so believe the stage to be a garden. By and by, we meagre, that it was common for one actor to play heare news of shipwracke in the same place, then three parts, and a battle was decided by balf-awe are to blame it

' we accept it not for a rock,” &c. dozen combatants. From these remarks, and the result of much research

Boys, or young men, performed the female chainto the early dramatic writers, Malone is led to racters; and though as early as 1592, female perconclude, that scenery was onknown till 1605; but formers acted in foreign theatres, the prejudices that what is termed machinery was in very early against it in England continued so strong, that use, though it seldom went beyond a tomb, a women did not appear till near the time of the painted chair, sinking cauldron, or a trap-door. Restoration; and even then it was considered Some doubt may, however, be entertained, whether necessary to apologize for what was considered the in Romeo and Juliet any exhibition of Juliet's mo indecorum of the innovation. The first female per nument was given on the stage. Romeo, perhaps, former played Desdemona; her name is unknown only opened with his mattock one of the stage trap- | The verses which were written to introduce doors, which might have represented a tomb-stone, female for the first time to an English audience by which he descended to a vault beneath the stage, were the production of Thomas Jordan, an actor a where Juliet was deposited.

the Red Bull, and the author of four plays. As The stage was hung with arras or tapestry, as literary curiosity we subjoin them: appears from a passage in the dedication to Ben

“A Prologue, to introduce the first Woman that came to acto Jonson's New Inn, performed at Blackfriars, and the Stage, in the Tragedy called The Moor of Venice. damned. The poet, incensed at its reception, pub

"I come, unknown to any of tbe rest,

To tell you news; I saw the lady drest: lished the play, and accusing his auditors of igno

The woman plays to-day: mistake me not, rance, says: “As the stage furniture or arras clothes, No man in gown, or page in petticoat: they were there; as spectators, away; for the faces

A woman to my knowledge; yet I can't,

If I should die, make affidavit on't. in the hangings and they beheld alike.” So also in

Do you not twitter, gentlemen? I know the Induction to Cynthia's Revels, 1601: “Sir

You will be censuring: do it fairly though.

'Tis possible a virtuous woman may John, I am none of your fresh pictures, that use to Ahhor all sorts of looseness, and yet play: beautify the decayed old arras in a publick theatre.Play on the stage,---where all eyes are upon her:--

Shall we count that a crime, France counts an honour In the early part of Shakspeare's connexion with

In other kingdoms husbands safely trust 'em; the stage, the want of scenery seems to have been

And let it be our custom, I advise ; supplied by writing the names of the different

I'm sure this custom's better than th' excise, places of action on boards, which were placed so

And may procure us custom: hearts of flint

Will melt in passion, when a woman's in't. as to be visible to the audience. In The Defence

“But, gentlemen, you that as judges sit of Poesie, by sir Philip Sydney, 1595, he says: In the star.chamber of the house, the pit, " What child is there, that coming to a play, and

Have modest thoughts of her ; pray, do not run

To give her visits when the play is done, seeing Thebes written upon an old door, doth believe With damo me, your most humble servant, lady: that it is Thebes ?" And Davenant, in the Intro

She knows these things as well as you, it may be:

Not a bit there, dear gallants, she doth know duction to his Siege of Rhodes, 1656, says: "In Her own descris,--and your temptations too.

The difference lies only in the custom.

But to the point: In this reforming age,

tion to their rank and merit. Malone conjectures We have intents to civilize the stage. Our women are defective, and so siz'd,

that "the whole clear receipt was divided into Yea'd think they yere some of the guard disguis'd: sorty shares, of wbich the proprietors had fifteen, Fer, tu speak truth, men act, that are between Perry and fifty, venches of fifteen;

the actors twenty-two, and three were devoted to With bone to large, and nerve so incompliant, When you call Desdemona, enter Giant....

the purchase of new plays, dresses, &c. From We shall purge every thing that is unclean,

Ben Jonson's Poetaster, it should seem that one of Lascivious, scurrilous, impious, or obscene; And when we've put all things in this fair way,

the performers had seven shares and a half; but of Barebones himself may come to see a play."

what integral sum is not mentioned. Shakspeare in The Epilogue, which consists of but twelve lines, his Hainlet (Act III. Sc. 2.) speaks of a whole is in the same strain of apology:

share as no contemptible emolument; and from the "Apd how do you like ber? Come, what is't ye drive at?

same play we learn that some of the performers had She's the same thing in publick as in private;

only half

a share. Others probably had still less." As far from being what you call a whore ;

About twenty pounds was a considerable receipt at As Desdemona, injurd by the Moor: Tbea he that censures her in such a case,

the Blackfriars and Globe on any one day. The flath a soul blacker than Othello's face.

players had not, as now, annual benefits. This was Bat, ladies, what think you for if you tax Her freedom with disbonour to your sex,

a custom which did not come into practice till about She means to act no more, and this shall be

1650. No other play but her own tragedy. She will submit to none but your commands,

Skottowe says: “The actors on the old stage And lake con sission only from your hands.

were divided into two classes, sharers and bireEren after the Restoration, and when female lings. The sharer was remunerated by a proporperformers became somewhat general, men acted tion of the profits of the theatre; and an allowance women's parts. Kynaston, who was very hand of four, five, or six shillings a week was given to some, divided the palm with them, and in many his boy, who played either juvenile or female characters was supposed to be superior.

characters. The hireling was engaged at a weekly In the masques and other dramatic pieces repre- salary, and his services sometimes secured, by sented at court, the performers' dresses were special articles of agreement, to a particular theasplendid ; gold, silver, silk, satin, velvet, and fea- tre, for two or three years. His stipend was natbers, were employed with profusion: but the turally proportioned to his abilities : one notice pablic theatres were at first but scantily furnished; occurs of the engagement of an actor at five shilsabsequently, however, the left-off clothes of the lings a week for one year, and six shillings and zobility, and the dresses ased in the masques, found eight-pence for the second. ... It is improtheir way into the player's wardrobe.

bable that Shakspeare obtained more than six Some curious manuscripts relative to the stage shillings and eight-pence a week for his services were found at Dulwich-college, which were trans on tbe stage." mitted to Mr. Malone. Among them, was a large At the end of the play, it was customary for the solio volume of accounts kept by Mr. Philip Hen actors to kneel on the stage, and pray for their slowe, proprietor of the Rose, which throw con patroos; and, in the public theatres, for the king siderable light on theatrical affairs from 1597 to

and queen. This prayer sometimes made part of 1603, and particularly on that part of the subject the epilogue. (See the epilogue to Henry IV, now auder consideration. There is an inventory of Part II.) From this, Steevens conjeetures, arose the dresses, stage properties, &c., of the Lord the addition of Vivant rex et regina to the modern Admiral's Servants, hy wbich it would appear that play-bills. the dresses were rather of a costly description.

THE MUSIC. Among them are mentioned an orange tawny satin doablet, laid thick with gold lace; a blue taffeta suit; The band consisted of eight or ten performers, a pair of carnation satin venetians, laid with gold who sat in an upper balcony, over what is now lace; Harry the Fifth's velvet gown; an ash-coloured | terined the stage-box. The principal instrusatin doablet, laid with gold; a peach-coloured ments were cornets, (a sort of horn) bautboys, ditto; a pair of cloth of gold hose, with silver pins; lates, recorders, (similar to a flageolet) viols, and a loog robe with spangles; and a variety of other organs. Before the play began, there were three rieb dresses; besides an ample stock for the less flourishes, or soundings, as they were then termed : costly attired characters. Some idea of their value music was likewise played between the acts. An may be formed from another part of this inventory, annual fee of twenty shillings was paid by the muwhich states a doublet of white satin, laid thick sicians of Shakspeare's theatre to the Master of the with gold lace, and a pair of “rowne pandes” hose Revels for a license. of cloth of silver, to have cost £7, and nine other Shortly after Shakspeare's death, the band at soits are stated at £37. • Kings,” says Skottowe, the Blackfriars theatre became more numerous, “figured in crowns, imperial, plain, or sarmounted and was in such high repute, that they were emwith a sup; and globes and sceptres graced their ployed in the splendid masque given by the four hands. Neptone had his garland and trident, and inns of court in 1633, and are thus eulogized by Mercary bis wings. Armour was in common use sir Bulstrode Whitelocke, who had the manageon the stage...... Greene introduces a player, in ment of the musical department of the masque: bis Groat's Worth of Wit, boasting that his share in “For the musicke, which was particularly committhe stage apparel could not be sold for two hundred ted to my charge, I gave to Mr. Ives, and to Mr. pounds."

Lawes, £100 a-piece for their rewards: for the Those who played male characters frequently four French gentlemen, the queen's servants, I wore periwigs, which, in the age of Shakspeare, thought that a handsome and liberall gratifying of were not in common ase; for in Hall's Virgide them would be made known to the queen their marion, 1597, the fashion is ridiculed as novel and mistris, and well taken by her. I therefore invited fantastic. Vizards were also occasionally used, them one morning to a collation att St. Dunstan's "partly," says Pattenham in bis Arte of English taverne, the great room, the Oracle of Apollo, Poesie, 1589, " to supply the want of players, when where each of them had his plate lay'd by him, cothere were more parts than there were persons.” vered, and the napkin by it, and when they open

The precise emoluments of the actors cannot be ed their plates, they found in each of them forty ezsily ascertained. From some docaments which pieces of gould, of their master's coyne, for the remain, it appears, that after deducting the expenses first dish, and they had cause to be much pleased of the theatre, the profits were divided into shares, with this surprisall. of which, part belonged to the proprietors, and the “ The resi of the musitians bad rewards anremainder was divided among the actors, in propor- I swearable to their parts and qualities ; and the


whole charge of the musicke came to about one, advancing to the front of the stage, thus addressed thousand pounds. The clothes of the horsemen, the audience: reckoned one with another at £100 a suit, att the Gentlemen, this fellow, with his face of mapple, least, amounted to £10,000.—The charges of all the

Instead of a pippin bath thrown me an apple;

But as for an apple he hath east a crab, rest of the masqne, which were borne by the so So, instead of an honest woman, God hath sent him a drab." cieties, were accounted to be above twenty thou “The people,” says the relator,“ laughed sand pounds.

beartily; for the fellow had a quean to his wife.” “I was so conversant with the musitians, and Another of these stories, we give in the author's so willing to gain their favour, especially at this own words: “At the Bull at Bishops-gate, was a time, that I composed an aier my selfe, with the play of Henry the Fifth, [the performance which assistance of Mr. Ives, and called it Whitelocke's preceded Sbakspeare's,] wherein the judge was to Coranto; which being cried up, was first played iake a box on the eare ; and because he was abpubliquely by the Blackefryars musicke, who sent that should take the blow, Tarleton himselfe, were then esteemed the best of common musitians in ever forward to please, tooke upon him to play London.

the same judge, besides his own part of the clowne;

and Knel, then playing Henry the Fifth, hit TarlePROLOGUES AND EPILOGUES,

ton a sound box indeed, which made the people The speaker of the prologue entered imme- laugh the more, because it was he: but anon, the diately after the third sounding of the music, attired judge goes in, and immediately Tarleton in bis in a long black velvet cloak, as appears from the clownes cloathes comes out, and asks the actors, Induction to Cynthia's Revels, 1001; and from What news? O, saith one, had'st thou been here, the prologue to The Coronation by Shirley, of thou sbouldest have seen prince Henry bit the which the following is an abstract:

judge a terrible box on the eare. What, man, "Since 'tis become the title of our play,

said Tarleton, strike a judge! It is true, i'faith, A woman once in a coronation may

said the other. No other like, said Tarleton, and With pardon speak the prologue, give as free A welcome to the theatre, as he

it could not be but terrible to the judge, when the That with a little beard, a long black cloak,

report so terrifies me, that metbinkes the blowe With a starch'd face and supple leg, hath spoke

remaines still on my cheeke, that it burnes againe. Before the plays this twelve month, let me then Present a welcome to these gentlemen."

The people laught at this mightily, and to this day

I have heard it commended for rare ; but no marAgain, in the prologue to The Woman-Hater, by vell, for he had many of these. But I would see Beaumont and Fletcher, 1607: “Gentlemen, inductions are out of date, and a prologue in verse

our clownes in these days do the like. No, I waris as stale as a black velvet cloake and a bay gar

rant, ye; and yet they thinke well of themselves

too. land." Some traces of this custom may be observed in the suit of black, which used, within

The principal oftice, however, of the Clown was these few years, to be always worn by prologue

to amuse the audience at the end of the perform

ance, On these occasions, it was usoal to desspeakers; and the complete dress of the ancient prologue speaker is still retained in the play exhi- proposed to him by the spectators; but they were

cant, in a humourous style, on various subjects bited in Hamlet. Epilogues were not always regular appendages

more commonly entertained with what was termed to plays in Shakspeare's time: many of his dramas

a jig: this was a ludicrous composition in rhymne, had none, or if they, bad, they bave not been pre- tabor. In these jigs there were sometimes more

sung by the Clown, accompanied by his pipe and served. In such of his plays as have them, with the

actors than one, and the most oubounded license of exception of the Second Part of Henry IV. where it is spoken by a dancer, the epilogue is spoken by tongue was allowed; the pith of the matter being one of the persons of the drama, and is adapted to

usually some scurrilous exposure of persons among

or well known to the audience. the character of the speaker; a circumstance not observable in the epilogues of any of his coutem


OLDYS, in one of his manuscripts, intimates that THE CLOWN.

authors had their benefit on the first day of a new This was a personage of no mean importance, play; but in the latter part of the reign of Elizawhose constant oflice was to preserve the stage | beth, the second day appears to have been approfrom vacancy, by amusing the audience with his priated to their remuneration. It is not known when extemporary buffoonery. “When stage plays,” the custom of giving the third day commenced; says Lupton in his Eleventh Book of Notable but it seems that in 1612, it was an established Things, “ were in use, there was in every place usage; although instances occur at a subsequent one that was called the Foole; as the proverb period, (particularly between 1625 and 1611) of saies : like a foole in a play.' At the Red Bull their having the second day. The profit of three playhouse it did chance that the Clown or the representations did not become the established Fool being in the attireing house, was suddenly right of authors till after the year 1720. Otway called upon the stage, for it was empty. He sud- bad only one, and this his necessities frequently denly going, forgot his fooles-cap: 'One of the obliged him to mortgage before the representation plavers bad his boy take it, and pnt it on his head When an author sold his piece to the proprietors as he was speaking. No such matter (saies the of a theatre, it could not be performed by ang boy) there's no manners nor wit in that nor wis- other company; but when that was not the case doin neither; and my master needs no cap, for he he caused it to be published. This however seeinis known to be a fool without it as well as with it." ed rather to be an act of self-desence, to prevent

Encounters of wit often took place between the the sale of surreptitious copies, than for the sake of Clown and the spectators; and be usually express- emolument. Marston, in his preface to the Maleed his jokes in doggrel rhyme. Wilson and content, 1601, seems to regret the necessity of it Tarletop (the latter particularly) were much cele- • One thing only affects me; to think, that scene brated for their talent in this way. It is said of invented merely to be spoken, should be inforciele Tarleton, that the moment he shewed bis face, he published to be read; and that the least lurt I can set the theatre in a roar. The following anecdotes receive is to do myself the wrong, But sinc are related of him :

others otherwise would do me more, the least in He was once performing at the Red Bull, when convenience is to be accepted: I have therefora fellow in the gallery threw an apple at him, which myself set forth this comedie.” hit him on the cheek, He took up the apple, and About twentynobles (£6:13s: 4d.) seem to bar

been the usual price of the copyright of a play in off their tragick habits, and conclude the day with Sbakspeare's time. The printed play was sold for the Merry Milk-maides. And unlesse this were sixpence; and the usual present of a patron for a done, and the popular humour satisfied, (as somededication was forty sbillings. Dramatic poets times it so fortan'd, that the players were re(as in our time) had free admission to the theatres. fractory,) the benches, the tiles, the laths, the Every play was licensed by the Master of the Re stones, oranges, apples, nuts, flew about most vels before it could be performed. His fee, in the liberally; and, as there were inechanicks of all time of Elizabeth, was only a noble; but at a sub-professions, who fell every one to his own trade, sequent period, it was two pounds.

and dissolved a house in an instant, and made a It was usual to carry table-books to the theatre, raine of a stately fabrick. It was not then the to note down the passages, wbich were made mat most mimical nor fighting man, Fowler nor Andrew ter of ceosare or applause: this may account for Cane, could pacifie : prologues nor epilogues sone motilated copies of Sbakspeare's plays, would prevaile; the devill and the fool were which are yet extant. The custom of "damning" quite out of favour. Nothing but noise and tumult a play on its first representation, is at least as an. fils the house, untill a cogg take 'em, and then to cient as Shakspeare's time. No less than three the bawdy houses and reforme them; and instantly plays of Ben Jonson seem to have suffered this to the Bank's Side, were the poor bears must confate.

clude the riot, and fight twenty dogs at a time be

sides the butchers, which sometimes fell into the THE AUDIENCE.

service; this performed, and the horse and jack-anBEFORE the performance commenced, and be- apes for a jigge, they had sport enough tbat day for tween the acts, the audience amused themselves in nothing." various ways,-reading, playing at cards, drinking

MISCELLANEA. ale, and smoking tobacco. Refreshments were supplied by attendants, who cried their articles THOUGH there were not any newspapers or pewith as much vociferation as our modern pur- riodical publications in Shakspeare's time, the veyors. In 1633, women smoked tobacco in the want of them was well supplied by play-bills, theatre as well as men.

which were distributed about the town, and were We have already stated (p. xliii.) that the pasted on the numerous posts which were then in superior class of the spectators in what were term London. The long and whimsical titles, prefixed ed the private theatres, were allowed to sit on the to the quarto copies of Sbakspeare's plays, could stage.'" Here the fastidious critic was asnally to

never bave been written by bimself. They were be met with, the wit ambitious of distinction, and no doubt either fabricated by the booksellers who the gallant, stadions of the display of his apparel published them, or, were copied from the playor bis person. Either seated, or else reclining on

bills. the rushes on the floor, they regaled themselves The modes of conveyance to the theatres were with the pipes and tobacco, which their attendant various, some going in coaches, others on horsepages furnished. The felicity of their situations back; but “it was the very acme of gentility to excited envy, or their affectation and impertinence be rowed across the river by a pair of oars: the disgust, among the less polished part of the audi- employment of a sculler was carefully shunned by ence, who frequently vented their spleen in hissing, the fine gentleman as plebeian and ignoble.” hooting, and throwing dirt at the intruders on the The price of admission into the best rooms or stage: it was the cue of these gallants to display boxes seems to bave factoated, but the general their bigh breeding by an entire disregard of the price was a shilling. In the Scorpful Lady, printproceedings of the ill-mannered rabble.” The ed in 1616, one-and-sixpenny places are mentioned. spleen of the audience was not vented merely on From the prologue to The Queen of Arrogan, acted these interlopers ; the players were frequent vic- in May 1640, we learn that as much as two shillings tims to their caprice, of which the following ex was paid ; aud in Wit without Money, acted be. tract from Gayton's Notes on Don Quixote, 1654, fore 1620, mention is made of the * half-crown furnishes a lively picture:

boxe.” The galleries and pit were sixpence; but, “Men came not to stady at a playhouse, but in the meaner playhouses, only a penny, in others, love such expressions and passages, which with two-pence. On the first day of a new play, the ease insinuate themselves into their capacities. prices were raised, sometimes to doable, and Lingua, that learned comedy of the contention be even to treble the usual sum. This was also the twist the five senses for superiority, is not to be case on the author's nights, or on the representaprostituted to the common stage, but is only pro- tion of expensive plays. per for an academy; to them bring Jack Drum's Daring the reign of Elizabeth, plays were per. Entertainment, Greene's Tu Quoque, the Devil of formed in the public theatres on Sundays, (out of Edmonton, and the like; or if it be on holy dayes, the hours of prayer,), as well as on other days. when saçlers, watermen, shoe-makers, batchers, This practice was prohibited at the interference of and apprentices, are at leisure, then it is good po- the magistrates; but the prohibition does not aplicy to amaze those violent spirits with some pear to have lasted long; for we find that queen tearing tragedy, full of fights and skirmishes, as Elizabeth, when she visited Oxford, in 1592, did tbe Goelphs and Guiblins, Greeks and Trojans, or pot scruple to be present at an exbibition on Sunthe Three London Apprentices; which commonly day night, the 24th September, iv that year. ends in six acts, the spectators frequently mount The

performance commenced at one o'clock in ing the stage, and making a more bloody catas the afternoon, and was sometimes concluded in tropbe amongst themselves, than the players did. two hoprs. As late as 1667 they commenced at I bave known upon one of these festivals, but espe-three; in 1696 they were an hour later. Only one cially at Shrove-lide, where the players bave been piece was acted in a day. In the time of James I. appointed, notwithstanding their bills to the con- plays appear to have been acted every day, at each trary, to act what the major part of the company theatre, during the winter season, except in the time bad a mind to; sometimes Tamerline, sometimes of Lent, when they were not permitted on WednesJagarth, sometimes The Jew of Malta, and some days and Fridays. For leave to perform on the times parts of all these; and, at last, none of the other days of Lent, they paid a fee to the Master of three laking, they were forced to undress and put the Revels.

« PředchozíPokračovat »