« VorigeDoorgaan »
would move, I think, Phalaris the tyrant, and terrifie all tyrannous minded men," &c. He moft probably means Shakfpeare's; and if fo, we may argue, that there is fome more ancient edition of this play than what I have mentioned; at least this fhows how early Shakspeare's play appeared; or if fome other Richard the Third is here alluded to by Harrington, that a play on this fubject preceded our author's. T. WARTON.
It appears from the following paffage in the preface to Nashe's Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, 1596, that a Latin tragedy of King Richard III, had been acted at Trinity College, Cambridge: " -or his fellow codfhead, that in the Latine tragedie of King Richard, cried—Ad urbs, ad urbs, ad urbs, when his whole part was no more than-Urbs, urbs, ad arma, ad arma." STEEVENS.
The play on this fubject mentioned by Sir John Harrington in his Apologie for Poetrie, 1591, and fometimes mistaken for Shakfpeare's, was a Latin one, written by Dr. Legge; and acted at St. John's in our univerfity, fome years before 1588, the date of the copy in the Museum. This appears from a better MS. in our library at Emmanuel, with the names of the original performers.
A childish imitation of Dr. Legge's play was written by one Lacy, 1583; which had not been worth mentioning, were they not confounded by Mr. Capell. FARMER.
The Latin play of King Richard III. (MSS. Harl. n. 6926,) has the author's name,-Henry Lacey, and is dated—1586. TYRWHITT.
Heywood, in his Actor's Vindication, mentions the play of King Richard III." acted in St. John's Cambridge, fo effentially, that had the tyrant Phalaris beheld his bloody proceedings, it had mollified his heart, and made him relent at fight of his inhuman maffacres." And in the books of the Stationers' Com- 1 pany, June, 19, 1594, Thomas Creede made the following entry : "An enterlude, intitled the tragedie of Richard the Third, wherein is fhown the deathe of Edward the Fourthe, with the fmotheringe of the two princes in the Tower, with the lamentable ende of Shore's wife, and the contention of the two houfes of Lancaster and Yorke." This could not have been the work of Shakspeare, unless he afterwards difmiffed the death of Jane Shore, as an unneceffary incident, when he revised the play. Perhaps, however, it might be fome tranflation of Lacey's play, at the end of the first Act of which is, "The fhowe of the proceflion. 1. Tipftaffe. 2. Shore's wife in her petticote, having a taper burning in her hande. 3. The Verger. 4. Querifters. 5. Singing-men. 6. Prebendary. 7. Bishoppe of London. 8. Citi
zens." There is likewise a Latin song fung on this occafion, in MS. Harl. 2412. STEEVENS.
The English King Richard III. which was entered on the Stationers' books in 1594, and which, it may be presumed, had been exhibited fome years before, was probably written by the author of The Contention of the Two Houfes of Yorke and Lan cafter. MALONE.
I fhall here fubjoin two Differtations, one by Dr. Warburton, and one by Mr. Upton, upon the Vice.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Thus like the formal vice, Iniquity, &c.] As this corrupt reading in the common books hath occafioned our faying fomething of the barbarities of theatrical representations amongst us before the time of Shakspeare, it may not be improper, for a better apprehenfion of this whole, to give the reader some general account of the rife and progrefs of the modern stage.
The first form in which the drama appeared in the weft of Europe, after the destruction of learned Greece and Rome, and that a calm of dulness had finished upon letters what the rage of barbarism had begun, was that of the Myfteries. These were the fashionable and favourite diverfions of all ranks of people both in France, Spain, and England. In which laft place, as we learn by Stow, they were in ufe about the time of Richard the fecond and Henry the fourth. As to Italy, by what I can find, the first rudiments of their ftage, with regard to the matter, were prophane fubjects, and, with regard to the form, a corruption of the ancient mimes and attellanes: by which means they got fooner into the right road than their neighbours; having had regular plays amongst them wrote as early as the fifteenth century.
As to thefe mysteries, they were, as their name speaks them, a representation of fome fcripture-ftory, to the life as may be feen from the following paffage in an old French history, intitled, La Chronique de Metz composée par le curé de St. Euchaire; which will give the reader no bad idea of the surprising abfurdity of these strange representations: "L'an 1437 le 3 Juillet (says the honeft Chronicler,) fut fait le Jeu de la Paffion de N. S. en la plaine de Veximiel. Et fut Dien un fire appellé Seigneur Nicolle Dom Neufchaftel, lequel etoit Curé de St. Victour de Metz, lequel fut prefque mort en la Croix, s'il ne fût eté fecourus; & convient qu'un autre Prêtre fut mis en la Croix pour parfaire le Perfonnage du Crucifiment pour ce jour; & le lendemain le dit Curé de St. Victour parfit la Refurrection, et fit trés hautement
fon perfonage; & dura le dit Jeu-Et autre Prêtre qui s' appelloit Mre. Jean de Nicey, qui eftoit Chapelain de Metrange, fut Judas lequel fut prefque mort en pendent, car le cuer li faillit, et fut bien bâtivement dependu & porté en Voye. Et etoit la bouche d'Enfer trefbien faite; car elle ouvroit & clooit, quand les Diables y vouloient entrer & iffer; & avoit deux gross Culs d'Acier," &c. Alluding to this kind of representations Archbishop Harfnet, in his Declaration of Popish Impoftures, p. 71, fays: "The little children were never so afraid of Hellmouth in the old plays, painted with great gang teeth, ftaring eyes, and foul bottle nofe." Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall, gives a fuller description of them in these words, The Guary Miracle, in English a Miracle Play, is a kind of interlude compiled in Cornish out of fome fcripture hiftory. For reprefenting it, they raise an earthen amphitheatre in fome open field, having the diameter of an inclosed playne, fome 40 or 50 foot. The country people flock from all fides many miles off, to hear and fee it. For they have therein devils and devices, to delight as well the eye as the ear. The players conne not their parts without book, but are prompted by one called the ordinary, who followeth at their back with the book in his hand," &c. &c. There was always a droll or buffoon in these mysteries, to make the people mirth with his sufferings or abfurdities and they could think of no better a perfonage to fuftain this part than the devil himself. Even in the mystery of the Paffion mentioned above, it was contrived to make him ridiculous. Which circumftance is hinted at by Shakspeare (who had frequent allufions to these things) in The Taming of the Shrew, where one of the players aiks for a little vinegar, (as a property) to make the devil roar. * For after the sponge with the gall and vinegar had been employed in the reprefentation, they used to clap it to the nose of the devil; which making him roar, as if it had been holywater, afforded infinite diversion to the people. So that vinegar in the old farces, was always afterwards in ufe to torment their devil. We have divers old English proverbs, in which the devil is represented as acting or fuffering ridiculously and abfurdly, which all arose from the part he bore in these mysteries, as in that, for inftance, of Great Cry and little Wool, as the Devil faid when he fheered his Hogs. For the fheep-fhearing of Nabal being reprefented in the mystery of David and Abigail, and the devil always attending Nabal, was made to imitate it by fhearing a hog. This kind of abfurdity, as it is the propereft to create laughter, was the subject of the ridiculous in the ancient mimes,
*This is not in Shakspeare's play, but in the old play entitled The Taming of a Shrew. MALONE.
as we learn from these words of Saint Auftin: Ne faciamus ut mimi folent, & optemus à libero aquam, à lymphis vinum.*
Thefe mysteries, we fee, were given in France at first, as well as in England fub dio, and only in the provinces. Afterwards we find them got into Paris, and a company established in the Hotel de Bourgogne to represent them. But good letters and religion beginning to make their way in the latter end of the reign of Francis the firft, the ftupidity and prophaneness of the mysteries made the courtiers and clergy join their intereft for their fuppreffion. Accordingly, in the year 1541, the procureur-general, in the name of the king, prefented a request against the company to the parliament. The three principal branches of his charge against them were, that the representation of the Old Teftament ftories inclined the people to Judaism; that the New Teftament ftories encouraged libertinism and infidelity; and that both of them leffened the charities to the poor. It seems that this profecution fucceeded; for, in 1548, the parliament of Paris confirmed the company in the poffeffion of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, but interdicted the reprefentation of the mysteries. But in Spain, we find by Cervantes, that they continued much longer; and held their own, even after good comedy came in amongst them : as appears from the excellent critique of the canon, in the fourth book, where he shows how the old extravagant romances might be made the foundation of a regular epic (which, he fays, tambien puede efcriverfe en profa como en verfo ;t) as the mystery-plays might be improved into artful comedy. His words are, Pues que fi venimos à las comedias divinas, que de milagros falfos fingen en ellas, que de cofas apocrifas, y mal entendidas, attribueyendo a un fanto los milagros de otro ; which made them fo fond of miracles that they introduced them into las comedias humanas, as he calls them. To return :
Upon this prohibition, the French poets turned themselves from religious to moral farces. And in this we foon followed them: the publick tafte not suffering any great alteration at first, though the Italians at this time afforded many juft compofitions for better models. These farces they called moralities. Pierre Gringore, one of their old poets, printed one of thefe moralities, intitled La Moralité de l'Homme Obftine. The perfons of the drama are l'Homme Obftiné-Pugnition Divine-Simonie-Hypocrifie and Demerites-Communes. The Homme Obftine is the atheift, and comes in blaspheming, and determined to persist in his impieties. Then Pugnition Divine appears, fitting on a throne in the air, and menacing the atheift with punishment. After this fcene, Simonie, Hypocrifie, and Demerites-Communes appear
*Civ. D. L. IV.
+ B. IV. c. 20.
and play their parts. In conclufion, Pugnition Divine returns, preaches to them, upbraids them with their crimes, and, in fhort, draws them all to repentance, all but the Homme Oliftiné, who perfifts in his impiety, and is deftroyed for an example. To this fad ferious fubje&t they added, though in a separate representation, a merry kind of farce called Sottie, in which there was un Payfan [the Clown] under the name of Sot-Commun [or Fool]. But we, who borrowed all these delicacies from the French, blended the Moralité and Sottie together: So that the Paufan or SotCommun, the Clown or Fool, got a place in our ferious moralities: Whose business we may understand in the frequent allufions our Shakspeare makes to them as in that fine speech in the beginning of the third Act of Meafure for Meafure, where we have this obfcure paffage :
merely thou art Death's Fool,
"For him thou labour'ft by thy flight to fhun,
"And yet runn'ft tow'rd him still.'
For, in these moralities, the Fool of the piece, in order to fhow the inevitable approaches of Death, (another of the Dramatis Perfonæ,) is made to employ all his ftratagems to avoid him; which, as the matter is ordered, bring the Fool, at every turn, into the very jaws of his enemy: So that a representation of these scenes would afford a great deal of good mirth and morals mixed together. The very fame thing is again alluded to in these lines of Love's Labour's Loft:
"So Portent-like I would o'er-rule his ftate,
Act IV. fc. ii.
But the French, as we fay, keeping these two forts of farces diftinct, they became, in time, the parents of tragedy and comedy; while we, by jumbling them together, begot in an evil hour, that mongrel fpecies, unknown to nature and antiquity, called tragi-comedy. WARBURTON.
TO this, when Mr. Upton's Differtation is fubjoined, there will, perhaps, be no need of any other account of the Vice.
Like the old Vice.] The allufion here * is to the Vice, a droll character in our old plays, accoutred with a long coat, a cap with a pair of afs's ears, and a dagger of lath. Shakspeare alludes to his buffoon appearance in Twelfth Night, A& IV : "In a trice, like to the old Vice ;·
"Who with dagger of lath, in his rage and his wrath, Cries, ah, ha! to the Devil."
In The Second Part of King Henry IV. A& III. Falstaff com
* i. e. p. 3, of Mr. Upton's book, where the words---like the old Vice