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The D. N. B. cites another criticism in the Short Discourse of the English Stage, by Richard Flecknoe: 'In this time were poets and actors in their greatest flourish; Jonson and Shakespeare, with Beaumont and Fletcher, their poets, and Field and Burbage their actors.'
It is difficult to judge exactly of the extent of Field's work as a playwright. He is the sole author of two comedies, A Woman is a Weathercock, 1612, and Amends for Ladies, 1618. These may be found in Haz.-Dods. and in the Mermaid Series in the volume Nero and other Plays. Field collaborated with Massinger on the Fatal Dowry, and Fleay, Dram. 1. 171 ff., says he later collaborated with Fletcher. There exists a letter from Massinger, Field, and Robert Daborne addressed to Henslowe, asking for money to release them from imprisonment. Cf. Malone's Shakespeare, Boswell, 3337.
In the Prologue to Bussy D'Ambois he is commemorated as the one whose action did first give it name', and Chapman has some verses To his Loved Son, Nat. Field, and his Weathercock Woman, both to be found in Haz.-Dods., vol. 11. Jonson, in his Conv., vol. 9. 379 (1619), said 'Nid Field was his schollar, and he had read to him the Satyres of Horace, and some Epigrams of Martiall'. Among the commendatory verses gathered by Gifford for his edition will be found, vol. 1, p. cclii, those of Nat. Field To his worthy and beloved friend Master Ben Jonson, on his Catiline. The most important biographical references are: Dictionary of National Biography; Collier's Preface to his plays, Haz.-Dods. vol. 11; Collier, History of Eng. Dram. Poetry 1. 415; Fleay, Dram. 1. 171. There is an etching of Nathaniel Field, copied from the portrait in the Dulwich Gallery, in the volume of the Mermaid Series which contains the two plays.
Gil. Carie. Gifford calls attention to the fact that he, Attawel, and Pen are recorded among the principal performers in the dramas of Beaumont and Fletcher. Otherwise of him, as of Pen, there is nothing known.
Hvg. Attawel. The D. N. B. is authority for the two facts we have of this player, that this reference in Epicæne is the first memorandum of him in his profession, and that there is extant a funeral elegy by William Rowley upon the death of Hugh Attawell, servant of Prince Charles', Sept. 25, 1621,
Ioh. Smith. Fate has succeeded in concealing this member of the Revels Boys' by naming him Smith'.
Will. Barksted. Just when he lived, or what he achieved in literature, is not known, but we may judge by the two compositions authoritatively ascribed to him, Mirrha, the Mother of Adonis; or Lustes Prodegies (1607), and Hiren, or the Faire Greeke (1611). Bullen, in the Introduction to his edition of Marston, writes, p. xlviii : ‘The tragedy of The Insatiate Countess was published in 1613, with Marston's name on the title-page ... The play was reprinted in 1631, and Marston's name is found on the title-page of most copies of that edition; but the Duke of Devonshire possesses a copy in which the author's name is given as William Barksteed
. . It is probable he is to be identified with the Wm. Barksted, or Backsted, who was one of Prince Henry's players in August 1611 (Collier's Memoirs of Edward Alleyn, p. 98), and belonged to the company of the Prince Palatine's players in March 1615–16 (ibid. 126). In conclusion, Bullen thinks the play was probably left unfinished by Marston, and that Barksted completed it. But, all things considered, his biographer in D. N. B. concludes that he was but ill-educated, and lacked almost every requirement of a literary artist. Fleay gives him brief mention, Dram. 1. 29.
Will. Pen. Cf. supra, Gil. Carie.
Ric. Allin. The name of this actor is all that survives of him, unless he be identical with a boy whose good speaking at the great Entertainment when James I entered London caused Dekker to leave a record of it. Cf. Dram. Wks. 1. 280: 'In the play Genius and Thamesis were the only Speakers : Thamesis being presented by one of the children of her Maiesties Reuels; Genius by M. Allin (seruant to the young Prince), his gratulatory speech (which was delivered with excellent Action, and a well tun'de audible voyce) being to this effect,' &c. The M. may, of course, stand for Master, , as in Epicæne 3. 6.79. The Kings Entertainment was March 15, 1603, and Allin might have become a member of the company before our play in 1618.
Master of Revells. The origin of the office is sketched by Stow : At the feast of Christmas in the King's court, wherever he chanced to reside, there was appointed a lord of misrule, or master of merry disports ; the same merry fellow made his appearance at the house of every nobleman and person of distinction, and
among the rest the lord mayor of London and the sheriffs had severally of them their lord of misrule ... This pleasant potentate began his rule at All-Hallows eve, and continued the same till the morrow after the feast of the Purification; in which space there were fine and subtle disguisings, masks, and mummeries.' These early 'lords' or 'masters' had as their first duty to provide mirth and jollity for holiday occasion. But the office developed into one in which the holder had no longer to provide, but to select and control the entertainment.
"The appointment in 1546', says Ward in his Eng. Dram. Lit., of Sir Thomas Cawarden as Magister locorum Revellorum et Mascorum at Court was possibly neither the first of its kind nor one in which the censorial functions were predominant. Nor does the “wise gentleman and learned" George Ferrers, who in 1551 became “master of the pastimes” of King Edward VI, appear to have owed his appointment to his political so much as to his literary and dramaturgical abilities, which, although a Protestant, he was afterwards found ready to devote alike to the services of Queen Mary'
In Jonson's time Edmund Tilney held the office from July 24, 1579, until 1608, when he retired, to be followed by his deputy Sir George Buc, historian and poet, whose first duty seems to have been performed on Oct. 4, 1608, when he licensed Middleton's A Mad World my Masters; Sir John Astley was granted a reversion of the office Apr. 3, 1612, and Jonson on Oct. 5, 1621. So when Buc retired, in 1621, it went to Astley as holder of the earliest reversion. His patent was made out May 2, 1622. That Jonson was eager to be · Master of the Revels' we glean from Satiromastix, p. 231: Master Horace, let your witte inhabite in your right places; if I fall sansomely vpon the Widdow, I haue some cossins German at Court, shall beget you the reuersion of the Master of the King's Reuels, or else be his Lord of Misrule now at Christmas.'
But the office never came to him; Sir John Astley lived two years longer than he, dying Jan. 1639-40, and having as his deputy many years before his death Sir Henry Herbert. Cf. Malone's Shaks., Boswell, 3. 57 note.
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