תמונות בעמוד

any, is

iambic, hexameter, and elegiac measures; and has five acts,
but is contained in eight quarto pages. The plot, if
entirely a compliment to the emperor; and the personages,
twenty-four in number, among which was the poet, are
Mercury, Diana, Bacchus, Silenus drunk on his ass, Satyrs,
Nymphs, and Bacchanalians. Mercury, sent by Diana,
speaks the Prologue. In the middle of the third act, the
emperor places a crown of laurel on the poet's head : at the
conclusion of which ceremony, the chorus sings a panegyric
in verse to the emperor. At the close of the fourth act, in
the true fpirit of a German shew, the imperial butlers re-
fresh the performers with wine out of golden goblets, with
a symphony of horns and drums : and at the end of the
play, they are invited by his majesty to a sumptuous banquet'.

It is more generally known, that the practice of acting Latin plays in the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, continued to Cromwell's ufurpation. The oldest notice I can recover of this sort of spectacle in an English university, is in the fragment of an antient accompt-roll of the diffolved college of Michael-house in Cambridge: in which, under the year 1386, the following expence is entered. Pro ly pallio

brusdato et pro fex larvis et barbis in comedia.” That is, for an embroidered pall, or cloak, and fix visors and fix beards, for the comedy". In the year 1544, a Latin comedy, called PAMMACHIUS, was acted at Christ's college in Cambridge: which was laid before the privy council by bishop Gardiner, chancellor of the university, as a dangerous libel, containing

[ocr errors]

1 In the colleges of the Jesuits in Italy this was a constant practice in modern times. Denina says, that father Granelli's three best tragedies were written, for this purpose, between


and 1731. ch. v. $ 9. The tragedies of Petavius, Bernardinus and Stephonius, all Jesuits, feem intended for this ose. See Morhoff, POLYHIST. LITERAR. lib. vii. cap. iji. tom. i. 15. pag. 1069.

edit. Fabric. Lubec. 1747. 4to. Riccoboni
relates, that he saw, in the Jesuit's college
at Prague, a latin play acted by the ftu-
dents, on the fubject of Luther's heresy;
and the ridicule consisted in bringing Lu-
ther on the stage, with a bible in his hand,
quoting chapter and verse in defence of the

* Inter M6S. Rawliaf. Bibl. Bodl. Oxon.

Vol. II.

C cc


many offensive refletions on the papistic ceremonies yet unabolished". The comedy of GAMMAR GURTON'S NEEDLE was acted in the same society about the year 1552. In an original draught of the statutes of Trinity college at Cambridge, founded in 1546, one of the chapters is entitled, De Præfe&to Ludorum qui ÎMPERATOR dicitur, under whose direction and authority, Latin comedies and tragedies are to be exhibited in the hall at Christmas; as also Sex SPECTACULA, or as many DIALOGUES. Another title to this statute, which seems to be substituted by another and a more modern hand, is, De Comediis ludisque in natali Christi exhibendis. With regard to the peculiar business and office of IMPERATOR, it is ordered, that one of the masters of arts shall be placed over the juniors, every Christmas, for the regulation of their games and diversions at that season of festivity. At the same time, he is to govern the whole society in the hall and chapel, as a republic committed to his special charge, by a set of laws, which he is to frame in Latin or Greek verse. His fovereignty is to last during the twelve days of Christmas, and he is to exercise the same power on Candlemas-day. During this period, he is to see that fix Spectacles or DIALOGUES be presented. His fee is forty fhillings'. Probably

* MSS. Coll. C. C. Cant. CATAL. Nafmith. p. 92. This mode of attack was feldom returned by the opposite party: the catholic worship, founded on sensible representations, afforded a much better hold for ridicule, than the religion of some of sects of the reformers, which was of a more simple and spiritual nature. But I say this of the infancy of our stage. In the next century, fanaticism was brought upon the English stage with great succefs, when polished manners had introduced humour into comedy, and character had taken place of spectacle. There are, however, two English interludes, one of the reign of Henry the eighth, called Every MAN, the other of that of Edward the fixth, call

ed Lusty Juventus, written by R. Weever : the former defends, and the latter attacks, the church of Rome.

• This article is struck out from CAP. xxiv. p. 85. MSS. Rawlins. Num. 233. Only that part of the statute is retained, in which comedies and Tragedies are ordered to be acted. These are to be written, or rather exhibited, by the nine lecturers. The senior lecturer is to produce one: the eight others are charged with four more. A fine" of ten shillings is imposed for the omission of each interlude. Another clause is then ftruck out, which limits the number of the plays to THREE, if FIVE commode exponi ROR queant.


the constitution of this officer, in other words, a Master of the Revels, gave a latitude to some licentious enormities, incompatible with the decorum of a house of learning and religion; and it was found necessary to restrain these Chriftmas celebrities to a more rational and sober plan. The SPECTACULA also, and DIALOGUES, originally appointed, were growing obsolete when the substitution was made, and were giving way to more regular representations. I believe these Itatutes were reformed by queen Elizabeth's visitors of the aniversity of Cambridge, under the conduct of archbishop Parker, in the year 1573. John Dee, the famous occult philofopher, one of the first fellows of this noble society, acquaints us, that by his advice and endeavours, both here, and in other colleges at Cambridge, this master of the Christmas plays was first named and confirmed and EMPEROR. « The firft was Mr. John Dun, a very goodly man of person,

habit, and complexion, and well learned alfo P." He also further informs us, little thinking how important his bogiji attempts and exploits scholastical would appear to future ages, that in the refectory of the college, in the character of Greek lecturer, he exhibited, before the whole university, the Eignun, or Pax, of Aristophanes, accompanied with a piece of machinery, for which he was taken for a conjuror : is with the performance of the fcarabeus his flying up to

Jupiter's palace, with a man, and his basket of victuals, on her back: whereat was great wondering, and many vain

reports spread abroad, of the means how that was effected." The tragedy of Jepthah, from the eleventh chapter of the book of Judges, written both in Latin and Greek, and dedicated to king Henry the eighth, about the year 1546, by a very grave and learned divine, John Christopherson, another

P COMPENDIO.US REHEARSALL of Glastonienfis CHRON. edit. Hearne, Oxon. John Deo, &c. written by himself, A. D. 1726. 1592. ch. i. p. 501. 502. APPEND. J. CCC 2


9 Ibid. p. 5020

of the first fellows of Trinity college in Cambridge, afterwards master, dean of Norwich, and bishop of Chichester, was most probably composed as a Christmas-play for the same society. It is to be noted, that this play is on a religious subject'. Roger Alcham, while on his travels in Flanders, says in one of his Epistles, written about 1550, that the city of Antwerp as much exceeds all other cities, as the refectory of saint John's college in Cambridge exceeds itself, when furnished at Christmas with its theatrical apparatus for acting plays'. Or, in his own words, “ Quemadmodum aala yo

bannis, theatrali more ornata, feipfam post Natalem fuperat'.” In an 'audit-book of Trinity college in Oxford, I think for the year 1559, I find the following disbursements relating to this subject. Pro apparatu in comoedia Andria, “ viil. ix s. iv d. Pro prandio Principis NATALICII eodem tem

pore, xiii s. ix d. Pro refe&tione præfe&torum et doctorum magis ! illustrium cum Bursariis prandentium tempore comoedia, iv 1. “ viid.” That is, For dresses and scenes in acting Terence's ANDRIA, for the dinner of the CHRISTMAS Prince, and for the entertainment of the heads of the colleges and the most eminent doctors dining with the burlars or treasurers, at the time of acting the comedy, twelve pounds, three shillings, and eight pence. A CHRISTMAS PRINCE, or LORD OF MISRULE, corresponding to the IMPERATOR at Cambridge just mentioned, was a common temporary magistrate in the colleges at Oxford: but at Cambridge, they were censured in the sermons of the puritans, in the reign of James the first,

< Buchanan has a tragedy on this subject, written in 1554. Hamlet seems to be quoting an old play, at least an old song, on Jepthah's story, Haml. Act ii. Sc. 7. There is an Italian tragedy on this subject by Benedict Capuano, a monk of Casino. Florent. 1587. 4to.

• There is a latin tragedy, ARCHIPROPHETA, five Johannes Baptista, written in 1547, by Nicolas Grimald, one of the first

Stadents of Christ-church, Oxford, which protably was acted in the refectory there. It is dedicated to the dean, doctor Richard Cox, and was printed, Colon. 1548. 8vo. This play coincided with his plan of a rhetoric lecture, which he had lett up in the college.

Aschami EPISTOL. p. 126. b. Lond. 158.


as a relic of the pagan ritual". The last article of this dirbursement shews, that the most respectable company in the university were invited on these occasions.

on these occasions. At length our universities adopted the representation of plays, in which the scholars by frequent exercise had undoubtedly attained a considerable degree of skill and address, as a part of the entertainment at the reception of princes and other eminent personages. In the year 1566, queen Elizabeth visited the university of Oxford. In the magnificent hall of the college of Christ Church, she was entertained with a Latin comedy

[ocr errors]


• Fuller, C.. Hist. Hift. of Cambridge, P. 159. edit. 1655. See OBSERVAT, on Spenter, ii. 211. In the court of king Edward the fixth, George Ferrers, a lawyer, poet, and historian, bore this office at Greenwich, all the twelve days of chriftmas, in 1552. " Who fo plea fantly and wisely behaved himself, that the king “ had great delight in his Pastimes. Stowe's Chron. p. 632. Hollingshead says, that “ being of better credit and esti"'mation than commonlie his predecessors “ had beene before, he received all his “ commissions and warrants by the name of " the MAISTER OF THE KING'S PASWhich gentleman

well supplied his office, both in Thew of fundrie fights and devi es of rare inventions, and « in act of divers INTERLUDES, and matis ters of pastime plaied by persons, as not « onlie satisfied the common fort, but al“ so were verie well liked and allowed by “ the COUNCILL, and others of skill in the “ like PASTIMES, &c.” CHRON. iii. p. 1967. col. 2. 10. The appointment of To dextrous and respectable an officer to this department, was a itroke of policy; and done with a design to give the court popularity, and to divert the mind of the young king, on the condemnation of Somerset.

In some great families this officer was called the ABBOT OF MISRULE. In Scotland, where the reformation took a more severe and gloomy turn, these and other feftive characters were thought worthy to be fuppressed by the legislature. See Parl. vi. of queen Mary of Scotland, 1553: “ It

“ is statute and ordained, that in all times

cumming, na maner of person be chosen “ ROBERT Hude nor Little JOHN, “ ABBOT of UN-REASON, QUEENIS of May, nor utherwise, nother in burgh, “ nor to landwart, (in the country,] in onie “ time to cum.” And this under very fevere penalties, viz. In burghs, to the chusers of such characters, loss of Freedom, with other punishments at the queen's pleasure : and those who accepted fuch offices were to be banished the realm. In the country, the chusers forfeited ten pounds, with an arbitrary imprisonment.

* And gif onie women or ucher about summer “ hees (hies, goes,] fingand (singing]... “ thorow Burrowes and uthers Landward

tounes, the women .,., fall be taken, “ handled, and put upon the cuck-stules, " &c.See Notes to the Pency House HOLD-Book. p. 441. Voltaire says, that since the Reformation, for two hundred years there has not beeri a fiddle heard in some of the cantons of Switzerland.

In the French towns there was L'ABBB DE LIESSE, who in many towns was elected from the burgefles by the magiftrates, and was the director of all their public shews. Among his numerous mockOfficers were a herald, and a Maitre d'He. tel. In the city of Auxerre he was especially concerned to superintend the play which was annually acted on Quinquagefima Sunday. Carpentier, Suppl. Gloss. Lat. Du, Cange, tom. i..p: 7. V. ABBAS LÆTITIÆ. See also, ibid. V. CHA. RAVARITUM, P. 923.


« הקודםהמשך »