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Briggs, William Dinsmore. On a Document concerning Christo
pher Marlowe. SP., xx, 153-9. Briggs, William Dinsmore. Marlowe's 'Faustus, 305-18, 548-70.
MLN., XXXVIII, 385-93. Burchardt, C. C. Marlowe. Edda, XVIII, pt. 3. Busby, Olive Mary. Studies in the Development of the Fool in the
Elizabethan Drama. New York: Oxford University Press,
American Branch, 1923. Pp. 87. This monograph was approved for the degree of master of arts in the University of London. In spite of the large and complex subject which the author dares to handle in such brief space, she has succeeded in giving a clear and interesting history of the stage fool. By fool she means not only the professional, or court, fool and the natural, or domestic, fool, but all varieties of the stage clown-Vice, stupid rustic, funny servant, etc. In the chapter on origins wandering buffoons, folk drama, “sotties,” French Fool Societies,“ dia dell'arte” and jest books are all mentioned as furnishing materials which went into the composition of the very popular Elizabethan fun-maker. Two chapters trace briefly the growing importance of the fool and indicate the chief lines along which his character developed. A final chapter summarizes his functions in early drama and his idiosyncrasies in language, behavior, and costume. A concluding section very sensibly attributes the decline in popularity of the stage fool early in the seventeenth century to the new spirit which came over drama during the reign of the Stuarts. The author has read rather widely in preparing her dissertation, though one is surprised to find in her work no reference to Eckhardt's well-known book.
Byrne, M. St. Clare. Anthony Munday's Spelling as a Literary
Clue. Library, iv, 9-23. Campbell, Lily B. A Note on Scaliger's Poetices. MP., xx,
, 375-8. Campbell, Lily B. Scenes and Machines on the English Stage
during the Renaissance. A Classical Revival. Cambridge University Press, 1923. Pp. x, 302. Rev. in LTS., Aug. 2, 1923, p. 517.
Miss Campbell's study was undertaken as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago. Very briefly, her chief contention is that the theory and practice of stage presentation as evolved by the Italians in accordance with their interpretation of the methods of the ancients influenced to a considerable degree the theatrical conditions in England prior to the closing of the theaters but made themselves felt in a more marked manner during the latter part of the seventeenth century. The first part of her study discusses in some detail the classical revival in Italy and the methods of stage presentation employed by these neo-classicists; the second attempts to point out the effects of such methods upon the English academic, court, and public stages during the sixteenth century; the third undertakes a similar task for the first half of the seventeenth century; and the final part deals with the influence of both France and Italy upon the Restoration theater.
In covering such an extensive field Miss Campbell bas obviously put forth a good deal more energy than is usually expended on a doctoral dissertation. She has read extensively in works dealing with architecture, painting, theories of staging, and the Renaissance in general. Her account of early Italian conditions is interesting, clear, and scholarly. Few students, I believe, will find much objection to her treatment of Caroline and Restoration staging. The book is beautifully printed and elaborately illustrated with valuable text-figures and plates. Her discussion of the Elizabethan period, however, is unsatisfactory. Miss Campbell has sought long and hard for direct and tangible proof of neo-classic influence on the playhouses of Burbage and his fellows, but, like other scholars who have dared to meddle with the difficult problem of the Elizabethan playhouse, she has been unable to place her finger on much evidence that is definite and satisfactory; hence, like the rest of us, she has been tempted into conjecture and theorizing. At this point-saturated with the methods advocated by Serlio and others and approaching her subject from a strictly neo-classic point of view—she has naturally at times seen an influence from Italy and Rome where probably none exists and has failed to take into proper consideration the probability, or even certainty, of influences other than neo-classicism.
In her enthusiasm she would go so far as to suggest that the public theaters in England were constructed on the same plan as the neoVitruvian theaters on the Continent; and in criticising a dissertation written by the reviewer a good many years ago she states (p. 208) that the writer “ does not consider the Renaissance theory of dramatic representation in its inevitable influence on theater building,” and remarks that this is one of several neglected matters necessary to the “just estimate of the influence that contributed to the theatre of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and to its constant growth and change.” Now I do not have the slightest desire to defend the shortcomings of a dissertation written more than a dozen years ago; but if Miss Campbell is contemplating an attempt to show any stant growth and change ” in the playhouses of Elizabeth's reign, I can assure her that she is not going to have a pleasant time. As for the “inevitable influence” of neo-classicism on theater building before 1603 I must beg leave to think that convincing evidence for any such influence is still unpublished. Miss Campbell makes much
in this connection (p. 119) of the Swan sketch and the accompanying comment, which, she says, seems to attest that the early playhouses
were recognized as built after classical models.” She quotes, too, the well-known passage from Stockwood's sermon-a not very pertinent remark. She could have cited other writers-for example, Weever, Dekker, Nash, and Brathwaite—who challenged a comparison of Roman and London theaters, or the comment of the foreign visitor to the Globe in 1600: “ Audivimus Comoedian Anglicam: theatrum ad morem antiquorum Romanorum constructum ex lignis,” etc. But what value have such passages beyond showing that the early play. houses were not crude makeshifts and that they were not square or rectangular?
I suppose that everyone who has had any serious dealing with the provoking sketch of the Swan has been beset with the temptation to declare that this particular structure might have been an attempt to reproduce a Roman stage, but any one who insists on such a view will shortly become submerged in difficulties sufficient to make him abandon completely any such notion or conclude that if the Swan ever had a neo-classic stage the innovation was discarded in a very few years as impracticable and unfitted to English needs. I may mention in this connection that in my student days when I was looking around for similarities between “classic” and Elizabethan playhouses I ran across the engraved Theatrum on the title page of the 1616 folio edition of Jonson and somewhat excitedly carried it for examination to one on whose judgment I long ago learned to rely. He pronounced it the engraving of a Roman theater, and I dismissed the matter from my mind. I still believe he was right, although Mr. E. K. Chambers in his recent Elizabethan Stage (II, 520) calls attention to the engraving and comments that “it may be merely a bit of classical archaeology, but appears to have the characteristic Elizabethan hut”; and on page 546 of the same volume he refers to the engraving as having an “L-shaped superstructure.” It is possible that this peculiar L-shaped appearance may have resulted from an attempt to draw from a particular point of view a double hut such as that revealed in the Vischer view of London (1616); but even if it could be demonstrated that the engraving in question is that of an English theater, we shall still have a long way to go before we càn give any convincing reasons for believing that Burbage and his immediate successors constructed their stages on neo-classic lines.
In attempting to show the effects of the classical revival on the Elizabethan stage proper, Miss Campbell is too eager to emphasize the influence of Italy. She does not point out, for example, that some of the “houses” of academic and court stages could hardly have been the type advocated by Serlio. She remarks (p. 119) that the division of the Elizabethan stage into “outer " and "inner " parts
was but following the ancient division of the stage and was one
of the fundamental principles followed by the Renaissance artists in stage construction.” But did Serlio and his school make any provision for houses that could be equipped with curtains or which could adequately accommodate interior scenes? And is it not a considerable stretch of the imagination to see any noteworthy similarity between the projecting platform of the Elizabethans and the “ first scaffold” of Serlio? In the absence of provisions for exhibiting interior scenes on the neo-classic stage, Miss Campbell very unconvincingly argues (pp. 136-139) for the use of a sort of eccyclema or exostra in the Elizabethan playhouse; and in her desire to see the effect in England of the Italian Renaissance stage and its necessary observance of the unity of place she remarks (p. 127) that in English drama prior to the building of the public theaters this unity was consciously or unconsciously observed, and adds that “ Professor Boas, indeed, says that he knows of no instance of a play before this date which violates the rule.” This is bold language in face of the existence of such productions as The Disobedient Child, Mary Magdalene, Gorboduc, Archipropheta, Patient Grissel, Orestes, Common Conditions and Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes. Again, Miss Campbell fails to see that a better case can be made out for a native source of the Elizabethan “heavens” than can be advanced for a neo-classic origin; and in her eagerness to trace Italian influence she unduly strains the significance of certain details, for example her interpretation (p. 89) of the passage regarding the unsatisfactory stage at Cambridge in 1564 and her suggestion (p. 155) that strolling Italian actors might have aided in the importation of neo-classic methods of stage presentation. Such performers did not appear so often in England as Miss Campbell apparently believes; and it has by no means been demonstrated that similar strollers exerted any such influence in France where they figured much more extensively.
That the theater of the neo-classicists in Italy made itself felt to a considerable degree upon the structure and methods of the Elizabethan court and university stages or that it affected to some extent the public playhouses of the time no one will deny. But that such an influence was anything like so extensive as Miss Campbell sug. gests is far from being proved.
In attempting to show neoclassic influence on Elibazethan stage structure Miss Campbell does not investigate the interesting possibility of whether some of the early playhouses, like those of the Restoration, did not have four stage doors instead of two and whether this general arrangement could have owed anything to the scena of Vitruvius with its porta regia, portae minores, and versurae. In showing the interest of sixteenth century Englishmen in the playhouses of the Romans the author might also have pointed out that travelers were considerably interested in viewing the ruins of ancient theaters and amphitheaters (cf. Moryson's Itinerary, ed. 1907, DI,
486; Reresby's Travels, ed. Ivatt, p. 26; Brathwaite's Survey of History, ed. 1638, p. 15). Evelyn, too, in describing the theater of Palladio (Diary, ed. Bray, I, 348-9) implies that he is especially interested because it is built “ in exact imitation of the ancient Romans ”; and his description of the structure indicates to me at least that he was not acquainted with any such type of theater in England. To the evidence which Miss Campbell gives to show that Vitruvius was well known in England may be added the references in Harrison's Description of England, ed. Furnivall, 1. 238; William Stafford's Compendious or briefe examinacion (1581), p. 24; John Davies of Hereford's Scourge of Folly, Epigram 157; Sir John Harington's Ulysses upon Ajax, ed. 1814, p. 44; Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, ed. Shiletto, 1. 84, 352, 11, 75, III, 125, 152. Perhaps, too, of some significance is the fact that in No. 12 of Vives's Dialogues, a widely used text-book (cf. Watson's Tudor School-boy Life, p. xxxiv), Vitruvius is the chief character. Other school books of the period would perhaps throw light on the Elizabethan interest in and knowledge of the Roman theater. At least Thomas Godwyn's Romanae Historiae Anthologia (1625), prepared for use in the Abingdon School, has an interesting account of the ancient stage. Speaking of the various parts of the theater, he says (p. 18):
“To the Actors first belonged the proscenium, id est, the house, whence the Players came: where they apparelled themselves, though sometimes it is taken for the scaffold, or stage itself: secondly the pulpitum, id est, the stage or scaffold, vpon which they Acted: and thirdly, the scena, that is, the partition which was comonly made of wood, not of hangings. Now that they might change their scene according to their pleasure, they made it Versatilem, id est, so that with engines, it might vpon the sudden bee turned round, & so bring the pictures of the other side into outward appearance; or otherwise ductilem, id est, so that by drawing aside some wainscot shuttles (which before did hide the inward painting) a new partition might seeme to be put vp: and I thinke because those sheepheards did Act no more at a time, then one of our Scenes, hence wee distinguished our playes into so many parts, which we call Scenes.”
The “Orchestra,” he writes (pp. 18-19), was the place where the senators sat rather than the place adjoining the stage where the chorus spoke to people at the end of acts—the view of Rhodiginus and others. Describing (p. 109) the “accidental ornaments” of Roman drama, he mentions the “beautifying of the Scene.” “By the Scene in this place,” he adds, “I vnderstand the partition betweene the players vestry, and the stage or scaffold. This partition at the acting of a Tragedie, was vnderpropped with stately columnes and pillars, and beautified with the paintings, resembling princely buildings, and the images as well of Gods and Kings. At the acting of a Comedy, country cottages and priuate buildings were painted