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blanket; they were coarse fellows, and there was no month when the cry of "Clubs" did not call them out of their shops to exercise their brawny arms. When the beer took effect, there was a great upturned barrel in the pit, a peculiar receptacle for general use. The smell rises, and then comes the cry, "Burn the juniper!" They burn some in a plate on the stage, and the heavy smoke fills the air. Certainly the folk there assembled could scarcely get disgusted at any thing, and cannot have had sensitive noses In the time of Rabelais there was not much cleanliness to speak of. Remember that they were hardly out of the middle age, and that in the middle age man lived on a dunghill.
their imagina..ons took all this upor them. A scroll in big letters an nounced to the public that they were in London or Constantinople; and that was enough to carry the public to the desired place. There was no trou ble about probability. Sir Philip Sid ney writes:
Africke of the other, and so many other under kingdomes, that the Plaier when hee comes in must ever begin with telling where hee is, o else the tale will not be conceived. Now sha!! you have three Ladies walke to gather flowers, garden. By and by wee heare newes of ship and then wee must beleeve the stage to be z wracke in the same place, then wee are to blame if we accept it not for a rocke;... while in the meane time two armies flie in, represented
"You shall have Asia of the cne side, and
with foure swordes and bucklers, and then what hard heart will not receive it for a pitched field? Now of time they are much more liberall. For ordinary it is, that two young Princes fall in love, after many traverses, shee is got with childe, delivered of a faire boy, hee is lost, groweth a man, falleth in love, and is readie to get another childe; and all this in two houres
Above them, on the stage, were the spectators able to pay a shilling, the elegant people, the gentlefolk. These were sheltered from the rain, and if they chose to pay an extra shilling, could have a stool. To this were re-space." * duced the prerogatives of rank and the Doubtless these enormities were some. devices of comfort: it often happened what reduced under Shakspeare; with that there were not stools enough; a few hangings, crude representations then they lie down on the groun!: this of animals, towers, forests, they assisted was not a time to be dainty. They somewhat the public imagination. But play cards, smoke, insult the pit, who after all, in Shakspeare's plays as in all gave it them back without stinting, and throw apples at them into the bargain others, the imagination from within is They also gesticulate, swear in Italian chiefly drawn upon for the machinery, it must lend itself to all, substitute all, French, English; crack aloud jokes accept for a queen a young man who in dainty, composite, high-colored, has just been shaved, endure in one words in short, they have the eneract ten changes of place, leap suddenly getic, original, gay manners of artists, the same humor, the same absence of miles,t take half a dozen supernume over twenty years or five hundred constraint, and, to complete the resem-raries for forty thousand men, and to blance, the same desire to make them- have represented by the rolling of the selves singular, the same imaginative drums all the battles of Cæsar, Henry cravings, the same absurd and pictu- v., Coriolanus, Richard III. resque devices, beards cut to a point, imagination, being so overflowing and into the shape of a fan, a spade, the etter T, gaudy and expensive dresses, so young, accepts all this! Recal copied from five or six neighboring deepest emotions I have ever felt at a your own youth; for my part, the nations, embroidered, laced with gold, theatre were given to me by a strolling motley, continually heightened in effect, or changed for others: there was, as it bevy of four young girls, playing were, a carnival in their brains as well comedy and tragedy on a stage in a coffeehouse; true, I was eleven years as on their backs. old. So in this theatre, this moment, their souls were fresh, as ready to feel every thing as the poet was to dare every thing.
With such spectators illusions could be produced without much trouble: here were no preparations or perspectives; few or no movable scenes:
*Ben Jonson, Every Man in his Humour ; Cynthia's Revels.
*The Defence of Poesie, ed. 1629, p. 563.
These are but externals; let us try to advance further, to observe the passions, the bent of mind, the inner man: it is this inner state which raised and modelled the drama, as every thing else; invisible inclinations are every where the cause of visible works, and the interior shapes the exterior. What are these townspeople, courtiers, this public, whose taste fashions the theatre? what is there peculiar in the structure and condition of their minds ? The condition must needs be peculiar ; for the drama flourishes all of a sudden, and for sixty years together, with marvellous luxuriance, and at the end of this time is arrested so that no effort could ever revive it. The structure must be peculiar; for of all theatres, old and new, this is distinct in form, and displays a style, action, characters, an idea of life, which are not found in any age or any country beside. This particular feature is the free and complete expansion of nature.
What we call nature in men is, man such as he was before culture and civlization had deformed and reformed him. Almost always, when a new generation arrives at manhood and consciousness, it finds a code of precepts impose on it with all the weight and authority of antiquity. A hundred kinds of chains, a hundred thousand kinds of ties, religion, morality, good Dreeding, every legislation which regu.ates sentiments, morals, manners, fetter and tame the creature of impulse and pa sion which breathes and frets within each of us. There is nothing like that here. It is a regeneration, and the curb of the past is wanting to the present. Catholicism, reduced external ceremony and clerical chi canery, had just ended; Protestantism, restel in its first gropings after truth, or straying into sects, had not yet gained the mastery; the religion of discipline was grown feeble, and the religion of morals was not yet established men ceased to listen to the directions of the clergy, and had not yet speit out the law of conscience. The church was turned into an assembly-room, as in Italy; the young fellows came to St. Paul's to walk, laugh,
chatter, display their new cloaks; the thing had even passed into a custom They paid for the noise they made with their spurs, and this tax was a source of income to the canons ;* pickpockets, loose girls, came there by crowds; these latter struck their bargains while service was going on. Imagine, in short, that the scruples of conscience and the severity of the Puritans were at that time odious and ridiculed on the stage, and judge of the difference between this sensual, unbridled Eng. land, and the correct, disciplined, stifl England of our own time. Ecclesiastical or secular, we find no signs of rule. In the failure of faith, reason had not gained sway, and opinion is as void of authority as tradition. The imbecile age, which has just ended, continues buried in scorn, with its ravings, its verse-makers, and its pedantic textpooks; and out of the liberal opinions derived from antiquity, from Italy, France, and Spain, every one could pick and choose as it pleased him, without stooping to restraint or acknowledging a superiority. There was no model imposed on them, as nowa. days; instead of affecting imitation, they affected originality. Each strove to be himself, with his own oaths, peculiar ways, costumes, his specialties of conduct and humor, and to be unlike every one else. They said not, "So and so is done," but" I do so and so." Instead of restraining they gave free vent to themselves. There was no etiquette of society; save for an exaggerated jargon of chivalresque courtesy, they are masters of speech and
Strype, in his Annals of the Reformation (1571), says: "Many now were wholly departed from the communion of the church, and came no more to hear divine service in their paris: cording to the laws of the realm." Richard churches, nor received the holy sacrament, acBaxter, in his Life, published in 1696, says: "We lived in a country that had but little lived the Reader read the Common Prayc: preaching at all. . . . In the village where 1 briefly; and the rest of the day, even till dark night almost, except Eating time, was spent in Dancing under a Maypole and a great tree, not far from my father's door, where all the Town did meet together. And though one of my father's own Tenants was the piper, he could not restrain him nor break the sport. So that we could not read the Scripture in our family Pipe and noise is the street. without the great disturbance of the Taber and
Ben Jonson, Every Man in his Humour
action on the impulse of the moment. | and making of ballads." He leaps the You will find them free from deco- moats with a pole, and was once withrum, as of all else. In this outbreak and absence of fetters, they resemble fine strong horses let loose in the meadow. Their inborn instincts have not been 'amed, nor muzzled, nor diminished
in an ace of being killed. He is so fond of wrestling, that publicly, on the field of the Cloth of Gold, he seized Francis I. in his arms to try a throw with him. This is how a common sol dier or a bricklayer nowadays tries a new comrade. In fact, they regarded gross jests and brutal buffooneries as amusements, as soldiers and bricklay ers do now. In every nobleman's house there was a fool, whose business it was to utter pointed jests, to make eccentric gestures, horrible faces, to sing licentious songs, as we might hear now in a beer-house. They though insults and obscenity a joke. They were foul-mouthed, they listened to Rabelais' words undiluted, and delighted in conversation which would revolt us. They had no respect for
the habits of good breeding began only under Louis XIV., and by imitation of the French; at this time they all blurted out the word that fitted in, and that was most frequently a coarse word You will see on the stage, in Shak speare's Pericles, the filth of a haunt of vice.* The great lords, the welldressed ladies, speak Billingsgate When Henry V. pays his court tc Catherine of France, it is with the coarse bearing of a sailor who may have taken a fancy to a sutler; and like the tars who tattoo a heart on
On the contrary, they have been preserved intact by bodily and military training; and escaping as they were from barbarism, not from civilization, they had not been acted upon by the innate softening and hereditary tempering which are now transmitted with the blood, and civilize a man from the moment of his birth. This is why man, who for three centuries has been a domestic animal, was still almost a savage beast, and the force of his muscles and the strength of his nerves increased the boldness and energy of his passions. Look at these unculti-humanity; the rules of properties and vated men, men of the people, how suddenly the blood warms and rises to their face; their fists double, their lips press together, and those hardy bodies rush at once into action. The courtiers of that age were like our men of the people. They had the same taste for the exercise of their limbs, the same indifference toward the inclemencies of the weather, the same coarseness of 'anguage, the same undisguised sensuality. They were carmen in body and gentlemen in sentiment, with the dress of actors and the tastes of artists. "At fourtene," says John Hardyng, "aheir arms to prove their love for the lordes sonnes shalle to felde hunte the dere, and catch an hardynesse. For dere to hunte and slea, and see them blede, ane hardyment gyffith to his courage. At sextene yere, to werray and to wage, to juste and ryde, and castels to assayle and every day his armure to assay in fete of armes with some of his meyne." When ripened to manhood, he is em- Earl of Hertford, 1544: You are there to put + Commission given by Henry VIII. to the ployed with the bow, in wrestling, all to fire and sword; to burn Edinburgh town, leaping, vaulting. Henry VIII.'s court, and to raze and deface it, wher you have sacked in its noisy merriment, was like a vil-what you can out of hand, and without long it, and gotten what you can ou. of it. lage fair. The king, says Holinshed, tarrying, to beat down and overthrow the castle, exercised himself "dailie in shooting, sack Holyrood-House, and as many towns and singing, dancing, wrestling, casting of villages about Edinburgh as ye conveniently the barre, plaieing at the recorders, all the rest, putting man, woman, and child to can; sack Leith, and burn and subvert it, and flute, virginals, in setting cf songs, fire and sword, without exception, when any resistance shall be made against you; and this done, pass over to the Fife land, and extend like extremities and destructions in all towns
The Chronicle of John Hardyng (1436). ed. H. Ellis, 1812. Preface.
girls they left behind them, there were men who "devoured sulphur and drank urine "t to win their mistress by a proof of affection. Humanity is as much lacking as decency. Blood,
*Act iv. 2 and 4. See also the character of Calypso in Massinger; Putana in Ford; Protalyce in Beaumont and Fletcher.
f Middleton, Dutch Courtezan.
suffering, does not move them. The court frequents bear and bull baitngs, where dogs are ripped up and chained beasts are sometimes beaten to death, and it was, says an officer of the palace, "a charming entertainment." * No wonder they used their arms like clodhoppers and gossips. Elizabeth used to beat her maids of honor, "so that these beautiful girls could often be heard crying and lamenting in a piteous manner." One day she spat upon Sir Mathew's fringed coat; at another time, when Essex, whom she was scolding, turned his back, she gave him a box on the ear. It was then the practice of great ladies to beat their children and their servants. Poor Jane Grey was sometimes so wretchedly "boxed, struck, pinched, and ill-treated in other manners which she dare not relate," that she used to wish herself dead. Their first idea is to come to words, to blows, to have satisfaction. As in feudal times, they appeal at once to arms, and retain the habit of taking the law in their own hands, and without delay. "On Thursday laste," writes Gilbert Talbot to the Earl and Countess of Shrews bury, " as my Lorde Rytche was rydynge in the streates, there was one Wyndam that stode in a dore, and shotte a dagge at him, thynkynge to have slayne him. The same daye, also, as Sr John Conway was goynge in the streetes, Mr. Lodovyke Grevell came sodenly upon him, and stroke him on the hedd wth a sworde.
. I am forced to trouble yor Honors wth thes tryflynge matters, for I know no greater." No one, not even the queen is safe among these violent dispositions. Again, when one man struck another in the precincts of the court, his hand was cut off, and the and villages whereunto ye may reach conveniently, not forgetting amongst all the rest, so to spoil and turn upside down the cardinal's town of St. Andrew's, as the upper stone may be the nether, and not one stick stand by another, sparing no creature alive within the same, specially such as either in friendship or blood be allied to the cardinal. This journey
shall succeed most to his majesty's honour."
Laneham, A Goodly Relief.
13th February, 1587. Nathan Drake, Shakspeare and his Times, ii. p. 165. See also
the same work for all these details.
Essex, when struck by the queen, put his
hand on the hilt of his sword.
arteries stopped with a red-hot iron Only such atrocious imitations of their own crimes, and the painful image of bleeding and suffering flesh, could tame their vehemence and restrain the up rising of their instincts. Judge now what materials they furnish to the the atre, and what characters they look for at the theatre. To please the public, the stage cannot deal too much in open lust and the strongest passions; it must depict man attaining the limit of his desires, unchecked, almost mad, now trembling and rooted before the white palpitating flesh which his eyes devour, now haggard and grinding his teeth before the enemy whom he wishes to tear to pieces, now carried beyond himself and overwhelmed at the sight of the honors and wealth which he covets, always raging and enveloped in a tempest of eddying ideas, sometimes shaken by impetuous joy, more often on the verge of fury and madness, stronger, more ardent, more daringly let loose to infringe on reason and law than ever. We hear from the stage as from the history of the time, these fierce murmurs: the sixteenth century is like a den of lions.
Amid passions so strong as these there is not one lacking. Nature appears here in all its violence, but also in all its fulness. If nothing had been weakened, nothing had been mutilated. It is the entire man who is displayed, heart, mind, body, senses, with his noblest and finest aspirations, as with his most bestial and savage appetites, without the preponderance of any domi nant circumstance to cast him alto gether in one direction, to exalt or degrade him. He has not become rigid, as he will be under Puritanism. He is not uncrowned as in the Restora tion. After the hollowness and weari. ness of the fifteenth century, he rose up by a second birth, as before in Greece man had risen by a first birth; and now, as then, the temptations of the outer world came combined to raise his faculties from their sloth and torpor. A sort of generous warm'h spread over them to ripen and make them flourish. Peace, prosperity, comfort began; new industries and increasing activity suddenly multiplied objects of utility and luxury tenfold America
and India, by their discovery, caused | tions. Such were the men of this time, the treasures and prodigies heaped up | Raleigh, Essex, Elizabeth, Henry VIII. afar over distant seas to shine before himself, excessive and inconstant, ready their eyes; antiquity re-discovered, for devotion and for crime, violent in sciences mapped out, the Reformation good and evil, heroic with strange weak begun, books multiplied by printing, nesses, humble with sudden changes ideas by books, doubled the means of of mood, never vile with premeditation enjoyment, imagination, and thought. like the roysterers of the Restoration People wanted to enjoy, to imagine, never rigid on principle like the Puri anil to think; for the desire grows with tans of the Revolution, capable of weep the attraction, and here all attractions ing like children,* and of dying like were combined. There were attractions men, often base courtiers, more than for the senses, in the chambers which once true knights, displaying constantly, they began to warm, in the beds newly amidst all these contradictions of bearfurnished with pillows, in the coaches ing, only the fulness of their characwhich they began to use for the first ters. Thus prepared, they could take time. There were attractions for the in every thing, sanguinary ferocity imagination in the new palaces, ar- and refined generosity, the brutality of ranged after the Italian manner; in shameless debauchery, and the most the variegated hangings from Flanders; divine innocence of love, accept all the in the rich garments, gold-embroidered, characters, prostitutes and virgins, which, being continually changed, com- princes and mountebanks, pass quickly bined the fancies and the splendors of from trivial buffoonery to lyrical sublim all Europe. There were attractions for ities, listen alternately to the quibbles the mind, in the noble and beautiful of clowns and the songs of lovers. The writings which, spread abroad, trans- drama even, in order to imitate and lated, explained, brought in philosophy, satisfy the fertility of their nature, must eloquence, and poetry, from restored talk all tongues, pompous, inflated antiquity, and from the surrounding verse, loaded with imagery, and side Renaissances. Under this appeal all by side with this, vulgar prose: more, aptitudes and instincts at once started it must distort its natural style and up; the low and the lofty, ideal and limits; put songs, poetical devices, sensual love, gross cupidity and pure into the discourse of courtiers and the generosity. Recall what you yourself speeches of statesmen; bring on the experienced, when from being a child stage the fairy world of the opera, as you became a man: what wishes for Middleton says, gnomes, nymphs of the happiness, what breadth of anticipation, land and sea, with their groves and what intoxication of heart wafted you their meadows; compel the gods to towards all joys; with what impulse descend upon the stage, and hell itself your hands seized involuntarily and all to furnish its world of marvels. No at once every branch of the tree, and other theatre is so complicated; for would not let a single fruit escape. nowhere else do we find men so com At sixteen years, like Chérubin,* we plete. wish for a servant girl while we adore a Madonna; we are capable of every species of covetousness, and also of every species of self-denial; we find virtue more lovely, our meals more enjoyable; pleasure has more zest, heroism more worth; there is no allurement which is not keen; the sweetness and novelty of things are too strong; and in the hive of passions which buzzes within us, and stings us like the sting of a bee, we can do nothing but plunge, one after another, in all direc-palaces and offices. To this day, war
A page in the Mariage de Figaro, a comedy by Beaumarchais.-TR.
In this free and universal expansion, the passions had their special bent withal, which was an English one, inasmuch as they were English. After all, in every age, under every civiliza tion, a people is always itself. What ever be its dress, goat-skin blouse, gold laced doublet, black dress-coat, the five or six great instincts which it possessed in its forests, follow it in its
*The great Chancellor Burleigh often wept so harshly was hesed by Elizabeth.