صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

in twentie of their boates over the river upon ticket: mary, when silver comes in, remember to pay trebble their fare, and it will make your flounder-catchers to send more thankes after you, when you doe not draw, then when you doe: for they know, it will be their owne another daie..

“ Before the play begins, fall to cardes; you may win or loose (at fencers doe in a prize) and beate one another by confederacie, yet share the money when you meete at supper: notwithstanding, to gul the ragga-muffins that stand a loofe gaping at you, throw the cards (having first torne foure or five of them) round about the stage, just upon the third sound, as though you had lost: it skils not if the foure knaves ly on their backs, and outface the audience, there's none such fooles as dare take exceptions at them, because ere the play go off, better knaves than they will fall into the company.

« Now, Sir, if the writer be a fellow that hath either epigram'd you, or hath had a flirt at your mistris, or hath brought either your feather, or your red beard, or your little legs, &c. on the stage, you shall disgrace him worse then by tossing him in a blanket, or givin him the bastinado in a taverne, if in the middle of his play (bee it pastorall or comedy, morall or tra. gedy) you rise with a skreud and discontented face from your stoole, to be gone : no matter whether the scenes be good or no; the better they are, the worse doe you distast them: and beeing on your feete, sneake not away like a coward, but salute all your

gentle gentle acquaintance that are spred either on the rushes or on stooles about you, and draw what troope you can from the stage after you: the miinicks are beholden to you, for allowing them elbow roome: their poet cries, perhaps, a pox go with you, but care not you for that; there's no musick without frets.

“ Mary, if either the company, or indisposition of the weather, binde you to sit it out, my counsell is then that you turn plaine ape: take up a rush and tickle the earnest eares of your fellow gallants, to make other fooles fall a laughing ; mewe at the passionate speeches, blare at merrie, finde fault with the musicke, whewe at the children's action, whistle at the songs ; and above all, curse the sharers, that whereas the same day you had bestowed forty shillings on an embroidered felt and feather (Scotch-fashion) for your mistres in the court, or your punck in the cittie, within two houres after, you encounter with the very same block on the stage, when the haberdasher swore to you the impression was extant but that morning.

“ To conclude, hoord up the finest play-scraps you can get, upon which your leane wit may most savourly feede, for want of other stuffe, when the Arcadian and Euphuis'd gentlewomen have their tongues sharpened to set upon you: that qualitie (next to your shittlecocke) is the only furniture to a courtier that's but a new beginner, and is but in his ABC of complement. The next places that are fil'd after the playhouses bee emptied, are (or ought to be) tavernes : into a taverne then let us next march, where the


braines of one hogshead must be beaten out to make up another.”

I should have attempted, on the present occasion, to enumerate all other pamphlets, &c. from whence particulars relative to the conduct of our early theatres might be collected, but that Dr. Percy, in his first volume of Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (third edit. p. 128, &c.) has extracted such passages from them, as tend to the illustration of this subject; to which he has added more accurate remarks than my experience in these matters would have enabled me to supply.





It is well known that dramatick poetry, in this and most other nations of Europe, owes its origin, or at least its revival, to those religious shows, which in the dark ages were usually exhibited on the more solemn festivals. At those times they were wont to represent in the churches the lives and miracles of the saints, or some of the more important stories of scripture. And as the most mysterious subjects were frequently chosen, such as the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ, &c. these ex. hibitions acquired the general name of Mysteries. At first they were probably a kind of dumb shows, intermingled, it may be, with a few short speeches; at length they grew into a regular series of connected dialogues, formally divided into acts and scenes. Specimens of these in their most improved state (being at best but poor artless compositions) may be seen among Dodsley's Old PLAYS and in Osborne's HARLEYAN Miscel. How they were exhibited in their most simple form, we may learn from an ancient

novel (often quoted by our old dramatic poets *) entitled ..... a merye Jest of a man that was called How= leglas t &c. being a translation from the Dutch language, in which he is named Ulenspiegle. Howleglas, whose waggish tricks are the subject of this book, after many adventures comes to live with a priest, who makes him his parish-clerk. This priest is described as keeping a LEMAN or concubine, who had but one eye, to whom Howleglas owed a grudge for revealing his rogueries to his master. The story thus proceeds, ...." And than in the meane season, “ while Howleglas was parysh clarke, at Easter they " should play the resurrection of our Lorde: and for “ because than the men wer not learned, nor could “ not read, the priest toke his leman, and put her in " the grave for an Aungel; and this seeing, Howleglas “ toke to him iij of the symplest persons that were in " the towne, that played the iij Maries; and the Person “ [i. e. Parson or Rector] played Christe, with a “.baner in his hand. Than saide Howleglas to the “ symple persons; Whan the Aungel asketh you, " whome you seeke, you may saye, The parsons leman « with one iye. Than it fortuned that the tyme was $ come that they must playe, and the Aungel asked

* See Ben Jonson's Poetaster, A& 3. sc. 4. and his Masque of the Fortunate Isles. Whalley's Edit, vol. ii. p. 49. vol, vi. p. 190.

+ Howleglass is said in the Preface to have died in · M.cccc, L. At the end of the book, in M.ccc.L.

" them

« السابقةمتابعة »