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Hirelings, as living in a degree of splendour, which was thought enormous in that frugal age.
At the same time, the ancient prices of admission were often very low. Some houses had penny-benches, * The “ two-penny gallery” is mentioned in the prologue to Beaumont and Fletcher's Woman-Hater, And seats of three-pence and a groat seem to be intended in the passage of Prynne above referred to. Yet different houses varied in their prices : That play
PLAYERS-MEN : “ Over-lashing in apparel is so common
knowen, that some of them are sober, discreete, pro-
“ whom they succour with stipend) cause them to be ," somewhat ill-talked of abroad,"
* So a MS. of Oldys, from Tom Nash, an old pamphlets · writer. And this is confirmed by Taylor, the Water-Poet,
in his Praise of Beggerie, (page 99.)
house, called the Hope, had five several priced seats from sixpence to half a crown*. But the general price of what is now called the Pit, seems to have been a shilling t.
The day originally set apart for theatrical exhibi, tion, appears to have been Sunday ; probably because the first dramatick pieces were of a religious cast, During a great part of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the playhouses were only licensed to be opened on that day I: but, before the end of her reign, or soon after, this abuse was probably removed,
* Induction to Ben Jonson's Bartholomew-Fair.
+ Shakspere's Prologue to Henry VIII.-Beaumont and Fletcher's Prologue to the Captain, and to the Mad-Lover, The Pit, probably, had its name from one of the Playa houses having been a Cock-Pit,
† So Stephen Gosson, in his Schoole of Abuse, 1579, 12mo. speaking of the Players, says, “ These, because " they are allowed to play every Sunday, make iij. or v, “ Sundayes, at least, every week.” fol, 24.-So the Author of A Second and Third Blast of Retrait from Plaies, “ Let the magistrate but repel them from the 4 libertie of plaieing on the Sabboth-daie, ..... Ta " plaie on the Sabboth is but a privilege of sufferance, "; and might with ease be repelled, were it thoroughly " followed." page 61, 62. So again, “ Is not the Sabboth “ of al other daies the most abused ? .,. Wherefore, abuse « not so the Sabbotn-daie, my brethren; leave not the ” temple of the Lord.” ..... “ Those unsaverię morsels
The usual time of acting was early in the afternoon*, plays being generally performed by day-light t. All female parts were performed by men, no English actress being ever seen on the publick stage I before the civil wars. And as for the playhouse furniture
of unseemelie sentences, passing out of the mouth of a 46 ruffenlie plaier, doth more content the hungrie humors < of the rude multitude, and carrieth better rellish in 66 their mouthes, than the bread of the worde, &c.'' Vide page 63, 65, 69, &c. I do not recollect that exclamaa tions of this kind occur in Prynne, whence I conclude that this enormity no longer subsisted in his time.
It should also seem, from the author of the Third Blast,
* " He entertains us (says Overbury, in his character of
I say " no ENGLISH Actress on the PUBLICK
and ornaments, though some houses were probably more decorated than others, yet, in general, “ they • had no other scenes nor decorations of the stage,
but only old tapestry, and the stage strewed with “ rushes, with habits accordingly* :” as we are assured in a short discourse on the English stage, subjoined to Flecknoe's Love's KINGDOM, 1674, 1 2mo,
" long since personated in Black-Friars Playhouse." This was in 1629, vide p. 215. And though female parts were performed by men or boys on the publick stage, yet in Masques at Court, the Queen and her ladies made no scruple to perform the principal parts, especially in the reigns of James I. and Charles I,
Sir William Davenant, after the Restoration, introduced women, scenery, and higher prices. See Cibber's Apology for his own Life.
* It appears from an epigram of Taylor, the Water-Poet, that one of the principal theatres in his time, viz. The Globe on the Bankside, Southwark (which Ben Jonson calls the Glory of the Bank, and Fort of the whole Parish), had been covered with thatch till it was burnt down in 1613. (See Taylor's Sculler, Epig. 22, p, 31. Jonson's Execra, tion on Vulcan.)
Puttenham tells us, they used Vizards in his time, 6 partly " to supply the want of players, when there were more parts so than there were persons, or that it was not thought meet to " trouble... princes chambers with too many folks." [Art of Eng. Pocs,"1589. p. 26.] From the last clause, it should seçin that they were chiefly used in the Masques at Court,
Τ Η Ε
ORIGIN of the ENGLISH STAGE.
It is not easy to ascertain the time when Plays of Miracles began in England, but they appear to have been exhibited here very soon after the conquest. Mat. Paris tells us, that Geoffery, afterwards Abbot of St. Albans, a Norman, who had been sent for over by Abbot Richard to take upon him the direction of the school of that monastery, coming too late, went to Dunstable, and taught in the abbey there; where he caused to be acted (probably by his scholars) a MIRACLE-Play of St. CATHARINE, composed by himself *. This was long before the year 1119, and
* Apud Dunestapliam .... quendam ludum de san&ta Katerina (quem MIRACULA vulgariter appellamus) facit. Ad quæ decoranda, petiit a sacrista sancti Albani, ut sibi Capæ Chorales accommodarentur, et obtinuit. Et fuit ludus ille de sanita Katerina. Vitæ Abbat. ad fin, Hist. Mat. Paris, fol. 1639, p. 56.-We see here that plays of Miracles were become common enough in the time of Mat, Paris, who flourished