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From several passages in our old plays we learn, that spec- Vol. I. tators were admitted on the stage', and that the critics and

PROLEGOwits of the time usually fat there . Some were placed on MENA. the ground; others fat on stools, of which the price was either fixpence or a shilling k, according, I suppose, to the commodiousness of the situation. And they were attended by pages, who furnished them with pipes and tobacco, which


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a fresh habit
" Of a fashion never seen before, to draw
“ The gallants' eyes

that sit


the stage.”

Prologue to Maffinger's City Madam.
So, in .4 Mad World my Masters, by Middleton, 1608: “The
actors have been found in a morning in less compass than their
lage, though it were ne'er fo full of gentlemen."

-to fair attire the stage
“ Helps much; for if our other audience see
You on the siage depart, before we end,

Our wits go with you all, and we are fools."
Prologue to All Fools, a comedy, acted at Black-friars, 1605.

See allo the preface to the first folio edition of our author's Forks :-" And though you be a magistrate of wit, and fit on the leage at Black-friars, to arraigne plays dailie

Being on your feet, sneake not away like a coward, but Talute all your gentle acquaintance that are spred either on the rufoes, or on stooles about you ; and draw what troops you can from the itage after you

Decker's Gul's Horn-book, 1609. This accounts for Hamlet's fitting on the ground at Ophelia's feet, during the represention of the play before the king and court of Denmark. Our author has only placed the young prince in the fame fituation in which he perhaps often saw Eflex or Southamptop at the feet of some celebrated beauty. What some chose from æconomy, gallantry might have recommended to others.

1" By fitting on the flage, you may with small cost, purchase the deere acquaintance of the boyes; have a good stoole for fixpence" Gul's Horn-book.

* “ These are most worne and most in fashion
" Amongst the bever gallants, the stone riders,
“ The private stage's audience, the twelvepenny ftoole


The Roaring Girl, a comedy by Middleton, 1611. So, in the induction to Marston's Malcontent, 1604:

By God's flid if you had, I would have given you but fixpence for pour ftool." _This therefore was the lowest rate; and the price of the most commodious stools on the stage was a shilling,



Vol. I. was smoked here as well as in other parts of the house', PROLEGO- Yet it should seem that persons were suffered to fit on the

stage only in the private play-houses, (such as Black-friars, &c.) where the audience was more select, and of a higher class ; and that in the Globe and the other public theatres, no fuch licence was permitted m.

The stage was strewed with rushes ", which we learn from Hentzner and Caius de Ephemera, was in the time of Snakspeare, the usual covering of floors in Englando. The curtain which hangs in the front of the present stage, drawn up by lines and pullies, though not a modern invention, (for it was used by Inigo Jones in the masques at court) was yet an apparatus to which the simple mechanism of our ancient theatres had not arrived; for in them the curtains opened in the middle, and were drawn backwards and forwards on an iron rod P. In some play-houses they were

To When young Rogero goes to see a play,

“ His pleasure is you place him on the stage,
“ The better to demonttrate his array,
" And how he fits attended by his page,
" That only serves to fill thoie pipes with smoke,
" For which he pawned hath his riding cloak."

Springes for Woodcocks, by H. P. 1613.
en See the induction to Marston's Malecontent, 1604, which
was acted by his majesty's servants at Black.friars:

Tyreman. “ Sir, the gentlemen will be angry if you sit here.

Sly." Why, we may fit upon the stage at the private house. Thou dost not take me for a country gentleman, dost? Doelt thou think I fear hiising? Let them that have stale fuits, fit in the galleries, hiss at me”

See also, The Roaring Girl, by Middleton : "the private Page's audience.—” Ante p. 13. (Note k).

À “On the very rushes where the comedy is to daunce, yea, and under the state of Cambyses himselfe, must our feather'd eitridge, like a piece of ordnance, be planted valiantly, because impudently, beating down the mews and hiffes of the opposed ratcality.” Decker's Gul's Horn-book.

u See also Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, 1600 : “ Fore G-, sweet lady, believe it, I do honour the meanest rul in this chamber for your love."

p The epilogue to Tancred and Gismund, a tragedy, 1592, concludes thus : " Now draw the curtaines for our scene is done."


Fcollen, in others, made of filką. Towards the rear of Vol. I. the stage there appears to have been a balcony', the plat- PROLEGO


very much.'

So, in the induction to Marston's What You Will, a comedy,
1607: " Let's place ourselves within the curtaines; for good
faith the stage is to very little, we shall wrong the general eye

Again, in Lady Alimony, 1657: "Be your stage curtains ar-
tificially drawn, and so covertly shrowded, that the squint-eyed
groundling may not peep in."

See also a stage direction in The First Day's Entertainment at
Retiaad House, by Declamation and Music after the manner of the
Ancients, by Sir William D'Avenant, 1658 :

** The fong ended, the curtains are drawn open again, and the
epilogue enters."

4 See A Prologue upon removing of the late Fortune Players to the Bull, by J Taceham; Fancie's Theatre, 1640 :

“ Here gentlemen our anchor's fixt; and we

Disdaining Fortune's mutability,
“ Expect your kind acceptance; then we'll fing,
“ (Protected by your smiles our ever-spring)
" As pleasant as if we had still possest
“ Our lawful portion out of Fortune's breast.
" Only we would request you to forbear
“ Your wonted custom, banding tyle and peare
“ Against our curtains, to allure us forth;

“ Pray take notice—these are of more worth;
“ Pure Naples filk, not worfled. We have ne'er
“ An actor who has mouth enough to tear
Language by the ears. This forlorn hope shall be
“ By us refin'd from such gross injury:
" And then let your judicious loves advance

“ Us to our merits, them to their ignorance.”
See Nabbes's Covent Garden, a comedy, 1639:

“ Enter Dorothy and Susan in the balcone.'
So, in The Virgin Martyr, a tragedy by Maffinger, 1622:

They whisper below. Enter above Sapritius-with him
Artemisia the princess, Theophilus, Spungius, and Hercius.”
And these five personages speak from this elevated fituation dur-
ing the whole scene.”

See also the early quarto editions of our author's Romeo and
Julict, where we meet _". Enter Romeo and Juliet aloft.So,
in The Taming of a Shrew: “ Enter aloft the drunkard." -Al
most the whole of the dialogue in that play between the tinker and
bis attendaúts, appears to have been spoken in this balcony.


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VOL. I. form of which was probably eight or ten feet from the ground. PROLEGO- I suppose it to have been supported by pillars. From hence

in many of our old plays, part of the dialogue was spoken ; and in the front of this balcony, curtains likewise were hung:

A doubt has been entertained, whether in our ancient theatres there were side and other scenes. The question is involved in so much obscurity, that it is very difficult to form any decided opinion upon it. It is certain, that in the year 1605, Inigo Jones exbibited an entertainment at Oxford, in which moveable scenes were used'; but he appears to have introduced several pieces of machinery in the masques at court, with which undoubtedly the public theatres were unacquainted. A passage which has been produced from one of the old comedies “, proves, it must be owned, that even these were furnished with some pieces of machinery, which were used when it was requisite to exhibit the descent of some god or faint ; but from all the contemporary accounts, I am inclined to believe, that the mechanism of our ancient stage


• This appears from a stage-direction in Maffinger's Emperor of the East, 1632 : “ The curtaines drawn above-Theodofius and his eunuchs discovered." + See Peck's Memoirs of Milton, p. 292 :

66 The above men- , tioned art of varying the face of the whole stage was a new thing and never feen in England till August 1605, at what time, king James I. being to be entertained at Oxfurd;" the heads of tbat University hired the aforesaid Inigo Jones (a great traveller) who undertook to further them much, and to furnish them with rare devices for the king's entertainment. Accordingly he erected a Itage close to the upper end of the hall, (as it seemed at the first fight) at Christ-church ;' but it was indeed but a false wall, fair painted and adorned with stately pillars, which pillars would turn about. By reason whereof, with other painted clothes, on Wednesday Aug. 28. he varied their stage three times in the acting of one tragedy."

u "Of whyche the lyke thyng is used to be thewed now adays in stage-playes, when some god or some saynt is made to appere forth' of a cloude ; and succoureth the parties which seemed to be towardes fome great danger, through the Soudan's crueltie" The author adds in a marginal note : the lyke manner used nowe at our days in stage-playes.” Acolastus, a comedy by T. Paligrave, chaplain to king Henry VIII. 1540.


fellom went beyond a painted chair, or a trap-door, and that Vol. I. tew, if any of them, had any moveable scenes ?. When


king MENA. NOTES. * All the ancient writers on the English stage, assert that until after the death of king Charles I it was unfurnished with scenes : " Now for the difference betwixt our theatres and those of former times, (says Fleckno, who lived near enough the time to be accurately informed) they were but plain and simple, with no ether Scenes nor decorations of the stage, but only old tapestry, and the frage strewed with rushes ; with their habits accordingly.”— Stutt Discourse of the English Stage, 1664. But though the theatres were not supplied with these costly ornaments, it appears frun this writer, as well as from the paffage above quoted, p. 16, note ') that scenes themselves were not a novelty at the Restoration : " For scenes and machines, (he adds, in a sublequent page) they are no new invention; our masques, and some of our playes in former times, (though not so ordinary) having had as good, or rather better, than any we have now." -To reconcile this paffage with the foregoing, the author must be supposed to speak here, not of the exhibitions at the publick theatres, but of private plays, performed either at court or at noblemens' houses. He does not tay, "fome of our theatres,”—but, “ some of our plays having had," &c.” In the reign of king Charles I. the periormance of plays at court, and at private houses, seems to have been very common; and gentlemen went to great expence in these exhibitions. See a letter from Mr. Garrard to lord Straford, dared Feb. 7. 1637. Strafford's Letters, Vol. Il. Do 150 : “ Two of the king's servants, privy-chamber men both, have writ cach of them a play, Sir John Sutlin (Suck ling] and Wi!l. Barclay, which have been acted in court, and at the Black-friars with much applause. Sutlin's play cost three or four kundred pounds setting out; eight or ten suits of new cloaths he gave the players ; an unheard-of prodigality.”—The play on which Sir John Suckling expended this large fum, was, I believe, The Goblins.

To the authority of Fleckno, may be added that of Edward Philips, who, in his Theatrum Poetarum, 1674, [article D'Ave. bant) praites that poet for “the great fluency of his wit and fancy, especially for what he wrote for the Englith stage, of which, having laid the foundation before by his mufical dramas, when the usual plays were not suffered to be acted, he was the firð Pediver and improver, by painted scenes.. Wright also, who appears to have been well acquainted with the history of our ancient tage, says, in his Historia Histrionica, 1699, that " fienes were first introduced by Sir William D'Avenant, on the publick stage, u the Duke's old theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields." See also



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