Зображення сторінки

plied by the simple expedient of writing the names of the Vol. I. ditterent places where the scene was laid in the progress of PROLEGO

the MESA.

mentioned by Ben Jonson in the induction to his Cynthia's
Revels, might be properly introduced to cover cld tapeitry;
for to hang pictures over faded arras, was then and is still lufiici-
ently common in antiquated mansions, such as those in which
the scenes of dramatic writers are often laid. That Shakspeare
himself was no stranger to the magic of theatrical ornaments,
may be inferred from a paffage in which he alludes to the scenery
of pageants, the fashionable news of his time :

• Sometimes we see a cloud that's dragonish,
“ A vapour sometimes like a lion, a bear,
* A toured citadel, a pendent rock,
" A forked mountain, or blue promontory
., With trees upon't, that nod unto the world,
“ And mock our eyes with air :- these thou hast seen,
They are black Vesper's pageants *."

Antony and Cleopatra.
" To conclude, the richest and most expensive scenes had
been introduced to dress up those spurious children of the muse
called Masques ; nor have we sufficient reason for believing that
Tragedy, her legitimate offspring, continued to be exposed in
rags, while appendages more suitable to her dignity were known
to be within the reach of our ancient managers. Shakspeare,
Burbage, and Condell, must have had frequent opportunities of
being acquainted with the mode in which both masques, trage-
dies, and comedies, were represented in the inns of court, the
halls of noblemen, and in the palace itself. STEEVENS."

& “ Sir Crack, I am none of your fresh pi&tures that use to beautify the decayed old arras, in a publick theatre.” Induction to Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson, 1601.

• In the induction to an old tragedy called A Warning for fair W'emer, 1599, three personages are introduced under the names

" Lic. Have you no news o' the fage ?
“ There is a legacy left to the king's players,
“ Both for their various sifting of their scenes,
“ And dextrous change of their persons to all shapes

“ And all disguises, &c."
• After a pageant had passed through the streets, the characters
that composed it were allembled in lome hall or other spacious
'apartment, where they delivered their respective speeches, and
were finally set out to view with the advantages of proper scenery
and decoration.

" Tho. O yes;


VOL. I. the play, which were disposed in such a manner as to be PROLEGO- visible to the audience.

Though the apparatus for theatrick exhibitions was thus scanty, and the machinery of the fimplest kind, the invention of trap-doors appears not to be modern; for in an old morality, entitled, All for Money, we find a marginal direction, which implies that they were very early in use s.

It appears from Heywood's Apology for Astor's ", that the covering, or internal roof of the stage, was anciently termed the heavens. It was probably painted of a sky-blue colour ; or perhaps pieces of drapery tinged with blue were suspended across the stage, io represent the heavens.

NO TE S. of Tragedy, Comedy, and History. After some contest for fuperiority, Tragedy prevails; and History and Comedy retire with these words : Hif.Look, Comedie, I mark'd it not till now,

The stage is hung with blacke, and I perceive

" The auditors prepar'd for tragedie.
Com. Nay then, I lee she shall be entertain'd.

66 These ornaments beseem not thee and me;
" Then, Tragedie, kill them to-day with forrow,

" We'll make them laugh with mirthful jests to-morrow.'. So, in Marston's Insatiate Countel, 1603 :

“ The fage of heaven is hung with folemn black,

66 A time best fitting to act tragedies."
Again, in our author's K. Henry VI. 1. I.

Hung be the heavens with black, &c.”
Again, more appofitely, in his Rape of Lucrece, 1594:

Black fiage for tragrilies, and nurthers fell.”'
f " What child is there that coming to a play and seeing
Thebes written upon an old door, doth believe that it is Thebes ?
Defence of Poefić, by Sir Philip Sidney. Sig. G. 1595.
& “ Here

with some fine conveyance, Pleasure shall appeare from beneathe." All for Money, 1578. So, in Mariton's Antonio's Revenge, 1002:

" Enter Bilurdo from under the page." In the fourth act of Macbeth, several apparitions arise from beneath the stage and again dcfcend.—The cauldron likewise finks :-“ Why fiks that cauldron, and what noise is this?"

In the Roaring Girl, a comedy by Middleton, 1611, there is a character called Trap-door. h Apol. for Aflors, 1612. Sig. D 3.


[ocr errors]

From a plate prefixed to Kirkman's Drolls, printed in Vol. La 1672, in which there is a view of a theatrical booth, it should PROLEGOseem that the ftage was formerly lighted by two large MENA. branches, of a form similar to those now hung in churches. They being, I suppołe, found incommodious, as they obfructed the right of the spectators', gave place in a subse. quent period to small circular wooden frames, furnished with candles, eight of which were hung on the stage, four at either Gide: and these within a few years were wholly removed by Mr. Garrick, who, on his return from France, first introduced the present commodious method of illuminating the stage by lights not visible to the audience.

If all che players whose names are enumerated in the first folio edition of our author's works, belonged to the same theatre, they composed a numerous company; but it is doubtful wherber they all performed at the same period, or in the same house k. Many of the companies, certainly were so thin, that one person played two or three parts';



i Fleckno, in 1664, complains of the bad lighting of the ftage, even at that time : "Of this curious art [scenery] the Italians (this latter age) are the greatest masters; the French good proficients; and we in England only scholars and learners yet, having proceeded no farther than to bare painting, and not arrived to the ftupendous wonders of your great ingeniers ; especially not knowing yet how to place our lights, for the more advantaze and illuminating of the scenes.Short Discourse of the Englise frage.

An actor, who wrote a pamphlet against Mr. Pope, foon after the publication of his edition of Shakspeare, fays, he could prove that they belonged to several different companies. It appears from the MS. Register of lord Stanhope, treasurer of the chambers to king James I. that Jofeph Taylor, in 1613, was at the head of a distinct company from that of Hemminge, called the lady Elizabeth's servants, who acted at the Hope on the Bankfde. Some of the players too, whose names are prefixed to the firft folio edition of our author, were dead in the year 1600, or foon after; and others there enumerated, might have appeared in a subsequent period, to supply their loss. See the Can talogae of Astors, poft.

In the induction to Marston's Antonio and Mellida, 1602, Piero aiks Alberto, what part he acts. He replies, “the neces




Vol. I. and a battle on which the fate of an empire was supposed to Prolego. depend, was decided by half a dozen combatants in It ap

pears to have been a common practice in their mock engage. ments, to discharge small pieces of ordnance on the stage ".

Before the exhibition began, three flourishes or piece of musick were played, or, in the ancient language, there were three soundings. Musick was likewise played between the acts P. The instruments chiefly used were trumpets, cornets, and hautboys. The band, which did not consist of more than five or six performers, sat (as I have been told by a very ancient stage veteran, who had his information

NOT E S. fity of the play forceth me to act two parts." See also the Dra. matis Persona of many of our ancient plays; and poit. p. 28. (Note').

mis And so our scene must to the battle fly,

" Where, O for pity! we shall much disgrace
With four or five most vile and ragged foils,
" Right ill dispos'd in brawl ridiculous,

“ The name of Agincourt.” K. Henry V. act IV.
n. Much like to some of the players that come to the scafa
fold with drumme and trumpet, to proffer skirmishe, and when
they have founded alarme, off go the pieces, to encounter a
Shadow or conquer a paper-monster.” Schoole of Abuse, by Ste-
phen Goffon, '579.

So, in The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and the Death of good King Henrie the Sixt, 1600 : ** Alarmes to the battaile.—York flies—then the chambers be discharged—then enter the king, &c."

o • Come let's but think ourselves what may be found
“ To deceive time with till the fecond found.

Notes from Black-fryars, by A. Fitz-Jeoffery, 1617. See also Decker's Gul's Horn-bouke, 1609 : " Throw the cardes about the stage jutt upon the third found, as though you had lost."

It has been thought by some that our author's dramas were exhibited without any pauses, in an unbroken continuity of scenes. But this appears to be a mistake. In a copy of Romeo and Juliet, 1599, now before me, which clearly belonged to the play-house, the endings of the acts are marked in the margin; and directions are given for musick to be played between each act. The marginal directions in this copy appear to be of a very old date, one of them being in the ancient Ityle and hand Play muficke.


from Bowman, the contemporary of Betterton) in an upper Vol. I. balcony, over what is now called the stage box.

PROLEGOThe person who spoke the prologue, was ushered in by MENA. trumpets 9, and usually wore a long black velvet cloak, whicb, I suppose, was considered as best suited to a supplicatory address. Of this custom, whatever might have been its origin, some traces remained till very lately; a black coat having been, if I mistake not, within these few years, the constant stage-habiliment of our modern prologuespeakers. The dress of the ancient prologue-speaker is still retained in the play that is exhibited in Hamlet, before the king and court of Denmark.

An epilogue does not appear to have been a regular ap-
pendage to a play in Shakspeare's time ; for many of his
dramas bad none; at least, they have not been preserved.
In All's Well that Ends Well, the Midsummer Night's Dream,
As you like It, Troilus and Cresida, and The Tempest, the epi-
logue is spoken by one of the persons of the drama, and
adapted to the character of the speaker ; a circumstance that
I have not observed in the epilogues of any other author of

See Decker's Gul's Horn-book, 1609. “ Present not your
felfe on the itage (especially at a new play) untill the quaking
prologue bath by rubbing got cullor into his cheeks, and is ready
to give the trumpets their cue, that he's upon the point to

See the Induction to Cynthia's Revels, 1601:
Child. Pray you, away ; why children what do you mean?
2 Child." Marry, that you should not speak the prologue.

i Child. “ Sir, I plead possession of the cloak. Gentlemen,
your fuffrages, for God's fake."
So, in the prologue to The Coronation, by Shirley, 1640:

" Since 'tis become the title of our play,
“ A woman once in a coronation may
“ With pardon fpeak the prologue, give as free
" A welcome to the theatre, as he
" That with a little beard, a long black cloak,
" With a starch'd face and supple leg, hath spoke
" Before the plays this twelvemonth, let me then

“ Present a welcome to these gentlemen."
Again, in the prologue to The Woman-Hater, by B. and
Fletcher : " Gentlemen, inductions are out of date, and a
prologue in verse is as ftale as a black velvet cloak, and a bay


[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »