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court was in greatest jollity, and then the sion in me, that when I came towards man's foremost old man with his mace stroke a estate it was as fresh in my memory as if fearful blow upon the cradle, whereat all I had seen it newly acted.” the courtiers, with the three ladies and the It would appear from Willis's descripvizard, all vanished; and the desolate prince, tion that “The Cradle of Security' was for starting up barefaced, and finding himself the most part dumb show. It is probable thus sent for to judgment, made a lament- | that he was present at its performance at able complaint of his miserable case, and so Gloucester when he was six or seven years was carried away by wicked spirits. This of age. It evidently belongs to that class prince did personate in the moral the of moral plays which were of the simplest wicked of the world ; the three ladies, construction. And yet it was popular long pride, covetousness, and luxury; the two after the English drama had reached its old men the end of the world and the last highest eminence. judgment. This sight took such impres
In a later period of the stage, when the men hath decayed, and they are thought actors chiefly depended upon the large sup- to be covetous by permitting their servants, port of the public, instead of receiving which cannot live by themselves, and whom the wages of noblemen, however wealthy for nearness they will not maintain, to live and powerful, the connection of a company on the devotion or alms of other men, passof players with a great personage, whose ing from country to country, from one gentle“servants” they were called, was scarcely man's house to another, offering their service, more than a licence to act without the in- which is a kind of beggary. Who, indeed, terference of the magistrate. But, in the to speak more truly, are become beggars for period of the stage which we are now de- their servants. For commonly the good-will scribing, it would appear that the players men bear to their lords makes them draw were literally the retainers of powerful the strings of their purses to extend their lords, who employed them for their own liberality to them, where otherwise they recreation, and allowed them to derive a
would not.” Speaking of the writers of profit from occasional public exhibitions. plays, the same author adds,—“ But some In “The Third Blast of Retreat from Plays perhaps will say the nobleman delighteth and Theatres' we have the following pas- in such things, whose humours must be consage, which appears decisive upon this point: tented, partly for fear and partly for com
—“ What credit can return to the nobleman modity; and if they write matters pleasant to countenance his men to exercise that they are best preferred in Court among the quality which is not sufferable in any com- cunning heads.” In the old play of “The monweal? Whereas, it was an ancient cus- Taming of a Shrew' the players in the 'Intom that no man of honour should retain duction' are presented to us in very homely any man but such as was as excellent in guise. The messenger tells the lord some one good quality or another, whereby, if occasion so served, he might get his own
“ Your players be come, living. Then was every nobleman's house a And do attend your honour's pleasure here." commonweal in itself. But since the retaining of these caterpillars the credit of noble- | The stage-direction then says, “Enter two
of the players with packs at their backs, and perboles, amphibologies, similitude." * a boy.” To the question of the lord, - is a dramatized romance, of which the title
“Now, sirs, what store of plays have you?”— expresses that it represents a possible aspect the Clown answers, Marry, my lord, you
of human life ; and the name of the chief may have a tragical or a commodity, or
character, Common Conditions, from which what you will ;" for which ignorance the
the play derives its title, would import that other player rebukes the Clown, saying,
he does not belong to the supernatural or al“A comedy, thou shouldst say: zounds ? legorical class of personages. Mr. Collier, in thou 'It shame us all.” Whether this pic
his ‘ History of Dramatic Poetry,' expresses ture belongs to an earlier period of the
an opinion that the character of Common stage than the similar scene in Shakspere's Conditions is the Vice of the performance. • Induction, or whether Shakspere was fa
It appears to us, on the contrary, that the miliar with a better order of players, it is ordinary craft of a cunning knave—a little, clear that in his scene the players appear action, in the same way that the Vice
restless, tricky servant-works out all the as persons of somewhat more importance, and are treated with more respect :
had formerly interfered with it in the
moral plays; but that he is essentially “ Lord. Sirrah, go see what trumpet 't is and purposely distinguished from the Vice. that sounds :
Mr. Collier also calls this play merely an Belike, some noble gentleman, that means, Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
interlude: it appears to us in its outward
form to be as much a comedy as the Re-enter a Servant.
Winter's Tale.' How now? who is it?
Three tinkers appear upon the stage, Serv. An it please your honour,
singing, Players, that offer service to your lordship. Lord. Bid them come near.
“Hey tisty toisty, tinkers good fellows they be; Enter Players.
In stopping of one hole, they used to make
three." Now, fellows, you are welcome. Players. We thank your honour.
These worthies are called Drift, Unthrift, Lord. Do you intend to stay with me to and Shift; and, trade being bad with them, night?
they agree to better it by a little robbing. 2 Play. So please your lordship to accept Unthrift tells his companions, our duty.
“ But, masters, wot ye what? I have heard news Lord. With all my heart.”
about the court this day, The lord, however, even in this scene, gives
That there is a gentleman with a lady gone
away; his order, “ Take them to the buttery,”
And have with them a little parasite full of a proof that the itinerant companies were classed little above menials.
money and coin.” Of the performances of an itinerant com
These travellers the tinkers agree to rob; pany at this period we will select an example and we have here an example of the readiof “ Comedy."
ness of the stage to indulge in satire. The 'A Pleasant Comedie called Common Con- purveyors who, a few years later, were deditions' is neither a Mystery nor a Moral nounced in Parliament, are, we suppose, here Play. It dispenses with impersonations of pointed at. Shift says, Good and Evil ; Iniquity holds no
“We will take away their purses, and say we do troversy with Charity, and the Devil is it by commission;" not brought in to buffet or to be buffeted. to which Drift replies, The play is written in rhymed verse, and
“Who made a commissioner of you ? very ambitiously written. The matter is If thou make no better answer at the bar, thou “set out with sweetness of words, fitness wilt hang, I tell thee true.” of epithets, with metaphors, allegories, hy- * Gosson. Plays Confuted,' second action.
The gentleman and lady from the court, | hang himself, and to help him up in the Sedmond and Clarisia, then come out of tree to accomplish his determination. They the wood, accompanied by their servant, consent, arguing that if he hangs himself Conditions. It appears that their father they shall be free from the penalty of hanghas long been absent, and they are traveling him; and so into the tree he goes. Up ling to seek him. Clarisia is heavy-hearted; the branches he runs like a squirrel, hallooand her brother thus consoles her, after the ing for help, whilst the heavy tinkers have fashion of “ epithets, metaphors, and hyper- no chance against his activity and his Shefboles :"
field knife. They finally make off; and Con“You see the chirping birds begin you melody ditions releases his mistress. The next scene to make,
presents us Sedmond, the brother, alone. He But you, ungrateful unto them, their pleasant | laments the separation from his sister, and voice forsake:
the uncertainty which he has of ever finding You see the nightingale also, with sweet and his father: pleasant lay,
“But farewell now, my coursers brave, attrapped Sound forth her voice in chirping wise to ba- to the ground; nish care away.
Farewell, adicu, all pleasures eke, with comely You see Dame Tellus, she with mantle fresh
hawk and hound:
Farewell, ye nobles all; farewell each martial For to display everywhere most comely to be knight; seen;
Farewell, ye famous ladies all, in whom I did Yon see Dame Flora, she with flowers fresh delight.” Both here and there and everywhere, her Sedmond, continuing his lament, says,banners to display.”
“Adieu, my native soil; adieu, Arbaccas king;
Adieu, each wight and martial knight; adieu, The lady will have no comfort. She replies
each living thing: to her brother in a long echo to his speech, Adieu, my woful sire, and sister in like case, ending
Whom never I shall see again each other to "And therefore, brother, leave off talk; in vain
embrace; you seem to prate:
For now I will betake myself a wandering Not all the talk you utter can, my sorrows can
knight to be, abate."
Into some strange and foreign land, their
comeliness to see." Conditions un gallantly takes part against the lady, by a declamation in dispraise of women;
When Conditions released the lady, we learnt which is happily cut short by the tinkers
that the scene was Arabia: rushing in. Now indeed we have movement “And, lady, it is not best for us in Arabia which will stir the audience. The brother longer to tarry.” escapes; the lady is bound to a tree; Con- It is to Arabia, his native soil, that Sedmond ditions is to be hanged; but his adroitness, bids adieu. But the audience learn by a very which is excessively diverting, altogether re- simple expedient that a change is to take minding one of another little knave, the Flib- place: a board is stuck up with the word bertigibbet of Scott, sets the audience in a
“ Phrygia” upon it, and a new character, roar. They are realizing the description of Galiarbus, entereth “out of Phrygia." He Gosson,—“ In the theatres they generally is the father of the fugitives, who, banished take up a wonderful laughter, and shout alto- from Arabia, has become rich, and obtained gether with one voice when they see some a lordship from the Duke of Phrygia; but he notable cozenage practised."* When the thinks of his children, and bitterly laments tinkers have the noose round the neck of that they must never meet. Those children Conditions, he persuades them to let him have arrived in Phrygia; for a new character * Plays Consuted,' &c.
appears, Lamphedon, the son of the Duke,
who has fallen violently in love with a lady If Fortune then fail not, and our next voyage whom we know by his description to be prove, Clarisia. Conditions has discovered that his We will return merrily and make good cheer, mistress is equally in love with Lamphedon;
And hold altogether as friends link'd in love; all which circumstances are described and The cans shall be filled with wine, ale, and not rendered dramatic: and then Conditions,
beer. for his own advantage, brings the two lovers
Lustily, lustily," &c. together, and they plight their troth, and are The action of this comedy is conducted for finally married. The lost brother, Sedmond, the most part by description; an easier thing next makes his appearance under the name than the dramatic development of plot and of Nomides; and with him a Phrygian lady, character. Lamphedon falls in with the Sabia, has fallen in love. But her love is pirates, and by force of arms he compels them unrequited; she is rejected, and the un- to tell him of the fate of his wife. She has courteous knight flies from her. Lamphedon been taken, it seems, by Conditions, to be and Clarisia are happy at the Duke's court; sold to Cardolus, an island chief; and then but Conditions, as it obscurely appears, want- Lamphedon goes to fight Cardolus, and he ing to be travelling again, has irritated the does fight him, but finds not the lady. ConDuchess against her daughter-in-law, and ditions has however got rid of his charge, by they both, accompanied by Conditions, fly to persuading her to assume the name of Metake ship for Thracia. They fall in with træa, and enter the service of Leosthines. pirates, who receive them on ship-board, hav- Hardship must have wonderfully changed ing been secretly promised by Conditions that her; for after a time her brother, Sedmond, they will afford a good booty. We soon learn, arrives under his assumed name, and becomes by the appearance of Lamphedon, that they a candidate for her affections. The good old have thrown him overboard, and that he has man under whose protection she remains has lost his lady; but the pirates, who are by no adopted her as his daughter. Lamphedon is means bad specimens of the English mariner, on the way to seek her, accompanied by Consoon present themselves again, with a sea- ditions; and thus by accident, and by the insong, which we transcribe; for assuredly it trigues of the knavish servant, all those are was fitted to rejoice the hearts of the play- reunited who have suffered in separation : for goers of a maritime nation:
Leosthines is the banished father. How " Lustily, lustily, lustily, let us sail forth ;
Conditions is disposed of is not so clear. He The wind trim doth serve us, it blows from
is constantly calling himself a little knave, the north.
and a crafty knave, a parasite, a turncoat; All things we have ready and nothing we want
To furnish our ship that rideth hereby; “ Conditions ? nay, double Conditions is my Victuals and weapons they be nothing scant; Like worthy mariners ourselves we will try. That for my own advantage such dealings can Lustily, lustily, &c.
frame." Her flags be new trimmed, set flaunting aloft; | It is difficult to discover what advantage he Our ship for swift swimming, oh, she doth derives from his trickiness, yet he has alexcel :
ways a new trick. It is probable that he We fear no enemies, we have escaped them oft:
was personated by some diminutive perOf all ships that swimmeth, she beareth the former, whose grimaces and ugliness would bell.
make the audience roar with delight. The Lustily, lustily, &c.
tinkers in the first scene say they know not And here is a master excelleth in skill,
what to do with him, except to “set him to And our master's mate he is not to seek; And here is a boatswain will do his good will, keep crows." The object of the writer of the
* A leaf or two is lost of the original copy, but enough And here is a ship, boy, we never had leak.
remains to let us see how the plot will end. We learn that Lustily, lustily, &c.
Nomides repents of his rejection of Sabia.
and he says,
comedy, if he had any object, would appear dramas formed upon romances and legendary to be to show that the purposes of craft may tales, as ‘Common Conditions' was, says, produce results entirely unexpected by the “ Sometimes you shall see nothing but the crafty one, and that happiness may be finally adventures of an amorous knight, passing obtained through the circumstances which from country to country for the love of his appear most to impede its attainment. This lady, encountering many a terrible monster comedy is remarkable for containing none of made of brown paper; and at his return is the ribaldry which was so properly objected so wonderfully changed, that he cannot be to in the plays of the early stage. It is cha known but by some posy in his tablet, or by racterised, also, by the absence of that melo- a broken ring, or a handkerchief, or a piece dramatic extravagance which belonged to of cockle-shell.”+ When the true masters of this period, exhibiting power, indeed, but not the romantic drama arose, they found the the power of real art. These extravagances people prepared for the transformation of the are well described by the author of 'The ridiculous into the poetical. We have anaThird Blast of Retreat from Plays and Thea- lysed this very curious comedy from the tres;' although his notion that an effort of transcript in the Bodleian Library made imagination, and a lie, are the same thing is under the direction of Malone from the only very characteristic:—“The writers of our printed copy, and that an imperfect one, time are so led away with vain glory that which is supposed to exist. their only endeavour is to pleasure the hu- which contains the passage "Farewell, ye mour of men, and rather with vanity to con- nobles all,” &c., Malone has inserted the foltent their minds than to profit them with lowing foot-note, after quoting the celebrated good ensample. The notablest liar is become lines in Othello, “Farewell the tranquil the best poet; he that can make the most mind,” &c.:-“ The coincidence is so striking notorious lie, and disguise falsehood in such that one is almost tempted to think that sort that he may pass unperceived, is held Shakspeare had read this wretched piece." the best writer. For the strangest comedy It is scarcely necessary for us to point out brings greatest delectation and pleasure. how constantly the date of a play must be Our nation is led away with vanity, which borne in mind to allow us to form any fair the author perceiving, frames himself with opinion of its merits. Malone himself connovelties and strange trifles to content the siders that this play was printed about the vain humours of his rude auditors, feigning year 1570, although we believe that this concountries never heard of, monsters and pro-jecture fixes the date at least ten years too digious creatures that are not: as of the early. It appears to us that it is a remarkArimaspie, of the Grips, the Pigmies, the | able production even for 1580; and if, as a Cranes, and other such notorious lies.” Sid-work of art, it be of little worth, it certainly ney, writing of the same period of the drama, contains the elements of the romantic drama, speaks of the apparition of “ a hideous mon- except the true poetical element, which could ster with fire and smoke.”* And Gosson, only be the result of extraordinary indihaving direct reference to some romantic vidual genius. * Defence of Poesy.
In the page
t 'Plays Confuted.