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Vol. I. king Henry VIII, is to be discovered by the dukes of SufPROLEGO-folk and Norfolk, reading in his study, the scenical direc

tion in the first folio, 1623, (which was printed apparently from play house copies) is, “ The king draws the curtaine, [i. e. draws it open] and fits reading pensively;" for, beldes the principal curtaines that hung in the front of the stage, they used others as substitutes for scenes y. If a bed-cham. ber is to be exhibited, no change of scene is mentioned; but the property-man is simply ordered 10 thruft forth a bed. When the fablé requires the Roman capitol to be exhibited, we find two officers enter, to lay cufhions, as it were in the capitol.” So, in King Richard 11. act iv. sc. i. “ Bolingbroke, &c. enter as to the parliament?" Again, in Sir Ichn Oldcaftle, 1600: “ Enter Cambridge, Scroop, and Gray, as in a chamber.” In Romeo and Juliet, I doubt much whether any exhibition of Juliet's monument was given on the stage. I imagine Romeo only opened with his mattock one of the stage trap-doors, (which might have represented a tomb-ftone) by which he descended to a vault beneath the stage, where Juliet was deposited ; and this idea Vol. 1. is countenanced by a passage in the play, and by the poem PROLEGOon which the drama was founded *.


NOTES. Rofcius Anglicanus, p. 20, 1708: “ In spring 1662, Sir Wil. liam D'Avenant opened his house with the firit and second parts of The Siege of Rhodes; having new scenes and decorations, being. the fir} that were introduced in England.” Downes the prompter, who was the author of Rofrites Anglica

hiinself acted in The Siege of Rhodes, on the opening of Sir William D'Avenant's house.- Scenes, however, we have already observed, had been be. fore used in private exhibitions ; he ought therefore to have added" on a publick theatre.” They had been introduced by Sir William, probably in a less perfect ftare, about four years before the period Downes speaks of, not indeed in a play, but in au entertainment, entitled, The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru, expreft by vocal and instrumental Musick, and by Ari of per/polivie in Scenes. Represented daily at the Cockpit in Drury Lane, 1658;" a performance, which Cromwell, froin his hatred to the Spaniards, permitted, though he had prohibited all other theatrical exhibitions.

y In The Devil's Charter, a tragedy, 1607, the following stagedirection is found : “ Alexander draweth (that is, draws open] the curtainc of his findie, where he discovereth the devill sitting in his pontificals.” Again, in Satiromastix, by Decker, 1602: “Horace fitting in his fiudy, behind a curtaine, a candle by him burning, books lying confusedly, &c." z See these several stage-directions in the first folio, 1623.


MINA. How little the imaginations of the audience were aflifted by scenical deception, and how much necessity our author had to call on them to “ piece out imperfections with their thoughts," may be also collected from Sir Philip Sidney, who, describing the state of the drama and the stage, in his time, says, Now you shall see three ladies walk to gather flowers, and then we must believe the stage to be a garden. By and by we heare news of a shipwracke in the same place; then we are to blame if we accept it not for a rock. Upon the back of thai, comes out a hideous monster with fire and smoke; then the miserable beholders are bound to take it for a cave; while in the mean time two armies fly in, represente ed with four swords and bucklers, and then what hard heart will not receive it for a pitched field b."

All these circumstances induce me to believe that our ancient theatres, in general, were only furnished with curtains, and a Gingle scene composed of tapestry, which appears to

." Why I descend into this bed of death.” Romeo and Juliet,
act v. So, in The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, 1562:

" And then our Romeus, the vault-stone set up-right,
Defcended downe, and in his hand he bore the can.

" dle light."
Juliet, however, after her recovery, speaks and dies upon the
stage.--If therefore, the exhibition was such as has been now
supposed, Romeo must have brought her up in his arms from the
vault beneath the stage, after he had killed Paris, and then ad-
dressed her—“O my love, my wife, &c."

Defence of Poesie, 1595. Sign. H. 4.

· After all, however, it is difficult to conceive how some of our author's plays could have been exhibited without some species of scenery. The sentiments of Mr. Steevens, who is of opinion that our ancient theatres were not unfurnished with scenes, appear fo weighty, that I shall add them in his own words :

“ li must be acknowledged that little more is advanced on this occasion, than is fairly supported by the testimony of contempotary writers. Were we, however, to reason on such a part of the subject as is now before us, fome fufpicions might arise, that where machinery was discovered, the less complicated adjunct of {cenes was scarcely wanting. When the column is found standing, no one will suppose but that it was once accompanied by its




E VOL. I. have been sometimes ornamented with pictures d ; and PROLEGO. some pallages in our old dramas incline one to think, that




ufual entablature. If this inference be natural, little impropriety can be complained of in one of the stage-directions above inentioned.' Where the bed is introduced, the scene of a bedchamber (a thing too common to deserve description) would of course be at hand. Neither should any great it reis be laid on the words of Sir Philip Sidney. Are we not still obliged to receive the stage alternately as a garden, as an ocean, as a range of rocks, or as a cavern? With all our modern advantages, so much of vraisemblance is wanting in a theatre, that the apologies which Shakspeare offers for scenical deficiency, are still in some degree needful; and be it always remembered that Sir Philip Sidney has not positively declared that no painted scenes were in use. Who that mentions the present stage, would think it necessary to dwell on the article of scenery, unless it were peculiarly striking and magnificent? Sir Philip has not spoken of fage-habits, and are we therefore to suppose that none were worn Belides, between the time when Sir Philip wrote his Defence of Poply, and the period at which the plays of Shakspeare were represented, the stage in all probability had received much additional embellish

Let me repeat, that if in 1529 (the date of Acolasius) * machinery is known to have exiled, in 1592 (when Shakspeare commenced a play-wright) a greater number of ornaments might naturally be expected, as it is usual for one improvement to be foon followed by another. That the plays of Shakspeare were exhibited with the aid of machinery, the following itagedirections, copied from the folio 1623, will abundantly prove.In The Tempeft, Ariel is said to enter " like a harpey, claps his wings on the table, and with a quaint device the banquet va. nishes." In a subsequent scene of the same play, Juno “ de. fcends ;" and in Cymbeline, Jupiter " descends likewise, in thunder and lightening, fitting upon an eagle.” In Macbeth, “ the cauldron finks, and the apparitions risc.It may be added, that the dialogue of Shakspeare has such perpetual reference to objects fuppoled visible to the audience, that the want of scenery


What happy deceptions could be produced by the aid of frame. work and painted canvas, we may learn from Hulinned, and yet more ancient historians. The pageants and tournaments at the beginning of Henry VIIlh's reign very frequently required that the cattles of imaginary beings should be exlubiced Of such con. trivances fome descriptions remain. These extempore buildings afforded a natural introduction to scenery on the stage.



when tragedies were performed, the stage was hung with VOL. I. black


In NOT E s. could not have failed to render many of the descriptions uttered by his speakers ablurd and laughable.- Macduff examines the outlide of Internets castle with such minuteness, that he diftin. guites even the neits which the martins had built under the projetting parts of its roof.-Romeo, standing in a garden, points to the tops of fruit trees gilded by the moon.-The prologuepeaker to the second part of K. Henry IV. expressly mews the spectators “ this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone, in which Northumberland was lodged. Jachimo takes the moit exact inTentory of every article in Imogen’s bed-chamber, from the lilk and filver of which her tapeitry was wrought, down to the Cupids that support her andirons. Had not the infide of this apartment, with its proper furniture, been represented, how ridiculous inus the action of Jachimo have appeared! He must have food looking out of the room for the particulars fupposed to be vifible within it. In one of the parts of K. Hen. 11. a cannon is discharged against a tower; and conversations are held in almost every scene from different walls, turrets, and battlements.

belief in ancient fcenery entirely founded on conjec. ture. In the folio edition of Shakipeare's plays, 1623, the following traces of it are preserved. In King John: "Enter, before Angiers, Philip king of France, &c." -" Enter a citizen upon ite walls

- Enter the herald of France with trumpets to
the gates.”—“ Enter Arthur on the walls.In K. Hen. V.
“ Enter the king, &c. with fialing ladders at Harfleur.—“En-
ter the king with all his train before the gates." In K. Hen. VI.
- Enter to the protector at the Tower gates, &c.”—“ Enter Sa.
lifury and Talbot on the walls."— The French leap over the
call in their shirts."'_“ Enter Pucelle on the top of the tower,
thrusting out a torch burning.”_.“ Enter lord Scales upon the
touer walking. Then enter two or three citizens below."
"Enter king and queen and Somerset on the terrace." Enter
three watchinen to guard the king's tent." In Coriolanus :
cius follows them to the gates, and is fout in.” In Timon : “ En-
ter Tinion in the woods *.”-“ Enter Timon from his cave."

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Apemantus must have pointed to the scenes as he spoke the
following lines :

" --shame not these woods,
" By putting on the cunning of a carper."
Again :

" --will these moist trees
“ That have outliv'á the eagle, &c."
A piece of old tapestry must have been regarded as a poor substi-
tok for these towering thades.

C 3



VOL. I. In the early part, at least, of our author's acquaintance PROLEGO- with the theatre, the want of scenery seems to have been fup

plied NOTES. In Julius Cæfar: "Enter Brutus in his orchard," &c. &c.-In hort, without characteristick discriminations of place, the historical dramas of Shakspeare in particular, would have been wrapped in tenfold contusion and obscurity; nor could the fpec. tator have felt the poet's power, or accompanied his rapid tranfitions from one situation to another, without such guides as painted canvas only could supply. The audience would with dif. ficulty have received the catastrophe of Romeo and Juliet as natural and affecting, unless the deception was confirmed to them by the appearance of a tomb. The managers who could raise ghosts, bid the cauldron sink into the earth, and then exhibit a train of royal phantoms in Macbeth, could with less difficulty lupply the flat paintings of a cavern or a grove. The artists who can put the dragons of Medea in motion, can more easily repre, sent the clouds through which they are to pass. But for these, or such assistances, the spectator, like Hamlet's mother, must lave bent his gaze on mortifying vacancy; and with the guest invited by the Barmecide, in the Arabian tale, must have furnished from his own imagination the entertainment of which his eyes were solicited to partake.

" It should likewise be remeinbered, that the intervention of civil war would easily occafion many customs of our early theatres to be lilently forgotten. The times when Wright and Downes produced their respective narratives, were by no means times of exactness or curiolity. What they heard, might have been heard imperfectly; it might have been unskiltully related; or their own memories might have deceived them :")

• Ad nos vix tenuis famæ perlabitur aura. “One assertion made by the latter of these writers, is chronologically disproved. We may remark likewise, that in private theatres, a part of the audience was admitted on the stage, but that this licence was refused in the public play-houses. To what circumstance Shall we impute this difference between the customs of the one and the ather? Perhaps the private theatres had no scenes, the public had; and a crowded stage would prevent them from being commodiously beheld, or conveniently shifted *. The frems pictures

mentioned • To pift a frene is at least a phrase employed by Shakspeare himself in K. Hen. V.

" --and not till then “ Unto Southampton do we shift our scene." and by Ben Jonson, yet more appositely, in The Staple of News:

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